The Sandlot Shrink

Publish date:

Joe Blanton, Philadelphia Phillies

Blanton, 27, is a No. 2-3 starter type. He is just 5-12 with a 4.96 ERA this season, but the Phils think he is a major upgrade to their rotation. He went 16-12 in 2006 and 14-10 last year and should be picked up in most formats. Also, Brett Myers is expected to return to the rotation next Wednesday at Shea Stadium, with Adam Eaton moving to the bullpen.

Gio Gonzalez, Oakland Athletics

In the wake of the Blanton deal, the left-handed Gonzalez could be promoted to take his place in the rotation. Gonzalez, 22, is a top prospect but got off to a slow start at AAA Sacramento this year. But in his last four starts, he has allowed only 10 hits and three runs in 28 innings. He also leads the Pacific Coast League in strikeouts. He's still young but rebuilding teams should jump on him.

Jaime Garcia, St. Louis Cardinals

Garcia, 22, is a good prospect who throws in the low-90s with a decent curve but needs to improve on his control. He is young and is not expected to have any value at this time. He began the season at AA Springfield but was promoted to AAA Memphis in May after going 3-2 with a 2.06 ERA. Overall he was 7-6 with a 3.73 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 103 2/3 innings.

Francisco Liriano, Minnesota Twins

Liriano, who underwent reconstructive elbow surgery last year, hasn't allowed a run in his past three starts for AAA Rochester and has a 24/3 K/BB ratio. In his last four starts, he is 4-0 with a 0.32 ERA, three walks and 32 strikeouts. Ron Gardenhire wants him in the rotation, but there is a chance that he could work out of the bullpen initially. Overall he is 7-2 with a 3.53 ERA and an 86/28 K/BB ratio in 97 minor league innings. His fastball has been averaging 93-mph and topped out at 95 last week. There are still no plans to recall him yet, though. The Twins are 21-7 in their past 28 games and are set with their current starters. Livan Hernandez has the worst ERA at 5.44 but has won nine games. Nick Blackburn (7-5), Scott Baker (6-2), Glen Perkins (6-2) and Kevin Slowey (6-6) are also pitching well.

Yoslan Herrera, Pittsburgh Pirates

Herrera, 27, throws a 90-mph fastball, curve and splitter. He is 5-8 with a 3.11 ERA in 17 starts for AA Altoona. He also won a spot start for Indianapolis June 27, allowing Columbus two runs in seven innings. "He's a strike thrower with a three-pitch mix," GM Neal Huntington said. Watch him but he might not be ready yet. He defected from Cuba three years ago.

Zach Miner, Detroit Tigers

Miner, 25, is likely to be recalled to start Monday against the Royals. He is 0-1 with a 3.48 ERA in three appearances this season, two of them starts, since being optioned to AAA Toledo. If he's recalled, he will remain the fifth starter for now but might not have much fantasy value. Eddie Bonine is 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA in five starts for the Tigers but now looks like he will stay in the minors for now. He was optioned last week.

Manny Corpas, Colorado Rockies

GM Dan O'Dowd indicated that Corpas, 25, would be first in line for saves when free-agent-to-be Brian Fuentes is traded this month. Corpas has a 5.24 ERA but is listed ahead of Taylor Buchholz (1.83) because they don't want to push Buchholz too quickly and risk a setback. Corpas began the year as the closer but had trouble with his velocity and slider. He has been better lately (3.38 ERA with a 23/4 K/BB ratio since mid-May. He had 19 saves last year.

Fuentes, who will be a free agent at season's end, has drawn interest from the Rays, Yankees, Mets, Cardinals and Marlins and will likely be a setup man with those teams. St. Louis could possibly use him in the closing mix. Tony La Russa said he would still go with Ryan Franklin and Jason Isringhausen in save situations.

Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers

Broxton, 24, will close with Takashi Saito out 6-8 weeks. Broxton has the stuff and demeanor to close for the rest of the season if necessary. He has a 3.40 ERA this year with 46 strikeouts in 40 innings.

The Cardinals optioned Chris Perez to AAA Memphis to sharpen his hard slider. He has a 4.18 ERA with 22 strikeouts and 13 walks in 23 2/3 innings and will be back so hold onto him. He is their closer of the future.

Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians

Cabrera, 22, was recalled to regain the second base job. He opened the season at second, but struggled (.184 in 52 games) and was demoted to Buffalo on June 9. He batted .326 with the Bisons after getting his confidence back and working on fundamentals. He helped Cleveland's pennant push last year by hitting .283 in the final two months of the season.

Bryan LaHair, Seattle Mariners

LaHair, 25, was recalled to platoon at first base (he bats left-handed) but is not a top prospect. He was hitting .263-12-53 with 26 doubles at AAA Tacoma and might be worth a flier in AL-only leagues. He has power but will hurt your batting average.

Jed Lowrie, Boston Red Sox

Lowrie, a top shortstop prospect, can also play second base but will play short with Julio Lugo out. The 24-year-old switch-hitter has some power potential with a good eye at the plate. He smacked 47 doubles last year. He was batting .268-5-32 at AAA Pawtucket and hit .310 in 42 at bats in an earlier stint with the Sox.

Juan Rivera, Los Angeles Angels

Rivera, 30, has been playing for the slumping Gary Matthews Jr. and had three home runs last week. Rivera missed most of last year with a broken leg but batted .310 with 23 homers the year before.