We're one quarter of the way through the season and we're already seeing callups to shore up injured and ineffectual rotations. As a fantasy baseball player your first question is, "Who is this guy?" Your second question, "Should I pick him up?" Your third question is, "What the heck is wrong with Yahoo's interface this year? Have they become ESPN?"
I hear you on question three, but let's just concentrate on the first two as we analyze a few new faces on the mound. Some of the newbies are true rookie callups, while others are familiar faces getting a second (or third) chance. I only included guys that have made a start in the past week, and that have had three or less starts. Note that even if the pitcher has time in the bullpen, I've only included the stats for starts.
Edgar Gonzalez (OAK, RHP, 26, 6'2", 210; 1 GS, ND, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K)
This is the same pitcher that made 35 starts for the Diamondbacks. The 2007 season was his first time to hit 100 IP, and is likely the most indicative of his skills (5.03 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 5.5 K9). He looked decent in his one start this season, but that was against the Diamondbacks, a team that rarely remembers to bring its offense. Gonzalez has good control but he's usually quite hittable. The youngsters in the Oakland rotation have much higher ceilings. Pass on Gonzalez.
Rich Hill (BAL, LHP, 29, 6'5", 205; 2 GS, 1-0, 11.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 BB, 12 K)
Most of you remember Hill from his days on Chicago's north side where he became a strikeout king. However, he completely derailed last season and scuttled the pitching staffs of many fantasy players who picked him in the first five rounds. Now he's back and he'll be the comeback kid, right? Wrong. He may help you in strikeouts, but that's about it. He plays for a team that is stingy with wins and for a defense that's helped its starting rotation amass the highest ERA in the AL. Sure he has a 3.18 ERA after two games, but the games were against the Royals and Nationals. Need I say more? Sell high while you can.
Derek Holland (TEX, LHP, 22, 6'2", 185; 1 GS, ND, 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K)
Holland impressed in Single and Double A, didn't meet expectations in Triple A, but when pressed into service in the majors, has shined. He looked very good against the Astros and just made one mistake pitch to Lance Berkman. But keep in mind he gave up 7 ER in 13 IP as a reliever. He does have skills, but watch the walks. If he keeps it going he'll keep his place in the Rangers rotation, but he's only worth a pickup in AL-only leagues. Stay away in mixed.
David Huff (CLE, LHP, 24, 6'2", 190; 2 GS, 0-1, 6.2 IP, 13 ER, 5 BB, 5 K)
Geography Quiz: What's the quickest way to get from Cleveland to Columbus? Give up three home runs to the Reds in your second start. Huff hasn't fooled anyone in his first two starts and shouldn't be starting any time soon. Forget about him.
Garrett Olson (SEA, LHP, 25, 6'1", 205; 2 GS, 0-1, 12.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 BB, 6 K)
You may recognize him as the guy that gave the Orioles 33 starts the past two years while creating ratios that would sink an ocean liner. Basically, he got slammed by the Red Sox and shut down the Giants. Nothing exciting to see here. In fact, I'd probably give Jason Vargas a look in AL-only and monitor in mixed rather than follow Olson.
David Price (TB, LHP, 23, 6'6", 225; 1 GS, ND, 3.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 BB, 6 K)
Ah, the chosen one. The most amazing thing about Price's first start was that it was overshadowed by awful Indians starting pitching, pathetic Rays relievers, and an incredible Indians comeback. Lost in all this was that Price was on a pitch count, walked five batters, and gave up a home run. He'll be better next time out, but there's no guarantee the skittish Rays will let him go five to get a decision any time soon. Obviously, he should be gone in all leagues.
Clayton Richard (CWS, LHP, 25, 6'5", 240; 3 GS, 1-0, 16.1 IP, 5 ER, 9 BB, 13 K)
I've been to both San Diego and Chicago in the summer, and if I'm Richard, Jake Peavy is my new enemy. Regardless, he's a White Sox pitcher until further notice, and his starts have gradually improved. Richard pitched well against the Blue Jays, who usually hit lefties well. Richard should be snapped up in all AL only leagues, and is at least worth a spot start against Kansas City. Monitor him in mixed, but beware the walks.
Anthony Swarzak (MIN, RHP, 23, 6'4", 225; 1 GS, 1-0, 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K)
Swarzak beat one of the hottest teams in the league last week (Milwaukee). He wasn't blowing anyone away, but he wasn't afraid to let his defense do the work. Stay away from his start against the Red Sox, but he's worth monitoring in both AL only and mixed.
Homer Bailey (CIN, RHP, 23, 6'3", 210; 1 GS, ND, 4.1 IP, 6 ER, 6 BB, 3 K)
Finally Bailey gets his start and ... kablooey (that's a technical term I learned from a scout). Bailey started out strong in Louisville, but then hit the skids, and that slump followed him to Cincinnati. For those of you storing him away as the next David Price or Tommy Hanson, he's already been sent back down and it may be a while before he gets another chance. Pass on him in mixed, and hold him speculatively in NL only, hoping for a trade where he can start over.
Billy Buckner (ARI, RHP, 25, 6'2", 215; 1 GS, 1-0, 7.1 IP, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K)
I originally included Bryan Augenstein in this list, but he was thankfully sent down. The Diamondbacks gave Buckner a shot out of the bullpen, and he responded by shutting down the A's. But then again, who hasn't shut down the A's (remember, I said the A's would stumble out of the gate, get their footing before the break, and then have a relatively strong second half). Buckner has always been hittable, and that trend shouldn't change. Pass on him.
Ross Detwiler (WAS, LHP, 23, 6'5", 185; 2 GS, ND, 11.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 BB, 10 K)
I like this guy simply because his nickname has to be Rottweiler (or perhaps Rossweiler). On the plus side he's a lefty and has thrown well, including almost a strikeout per inning. On the minus, he's a skinny young kid playing for the worst team in baseball. Wins will not be forthcoming, and that will weigh on the youngster, who will likely try to do too much and then...well you know the rest. Also, he's only pitched against Pittsburgh and Baltimore so far. Pass on mixed, but make a $1 bid in NL only.
J.A. Happ (PHI, 1 GS, 26, 6'6", 200; 1 GS, ND, 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K)
The Phillies have the worst rotational ERA in the majors (6.03), and are looking for consistency, especially as their closer is imploding like the planet Vulcan (oops, should have preempted with a "spoiler alert"). I've picked up Happ in all my leagues, as I was a year early on his bandwagon. He's a big guy that throws big and his early success is no fluke. There may be a hiccup or two -- especially with that bullpen and that ballpark -- but if you need pitching help, he's on of two guys I highly suggest (along with Randy Wells below).
Kris Medlen (ATL, RHP, 23, 5'10", 190; 1 GS, 0-1, 3.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 BB, 3 K)
So I was at least right that Medlen would get the call before Hanson. However, he looked awful in his debut, hitting pitcher Aaron Cook with the bases loaded (bases he had loaded by issuing three walks). He showed good control in the minors, so the Braves will give him another chance now that the butterflies have left his stomach. Snatch him up in NL only and get your trigger finger ready in mixed if Medlen pitches the way we know he can.
Tim Redding (NYM, RHP, 31, 5'11", 225; 2 GS, 0-1, 10.2 IP, 8 ER, 8 BB, 8 K)
Right now the Mets rotation lives by the slogan, "Johan then four days of rain." They're 12th in rotational ERA in the NL (4.46), but that includes Johan Santana's sterling 1.50. I was high on Redding being the most likely candidate to be called up the past month, but so far the results have been mixed. He pitched well against L.A. but didn't get out of the fifth inning against Boston, and in neither case did he have great control. He gets the Marlins the next time, which should be a good test. He should pitch well against them, but if he doesn't, I may not be promoting Mr. Redding any more.
Craig Stammen (WAS, RHP, 25, 6'3", 210; 1 GS, ND, 6.1 IP, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K)
Here's another Nationals pitcher who looked good in a start against Pittsburgh. However, he just won't strike out enough to overcome his team. I'd go after The Rossweiler (yes, I think I like that name better) before Stammen, and you know how I feel about Weiler. Stay away from Stammen.
Randy Wells (CHC, RHP, 26, 6'3", 230; 3 GS, 0-1, 18.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 BB, 16 K)
Wells didn't give up an earned run until his third start. And since he pitches for one of the strongest teams in the NL (yes, they've hit a rough patch, but they're still strong), he has to be on your radar. I picked him up in all my leagues, and expect Lou Piniella to keep him in the rotation as much as possible. Don't expect the strikeouts to be as good as they are right now, but he could see 10 more wins along the way.
Sean West (FLA, LHP, 23, 6'8", 200; 1 GS, ND, 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K)
West has the skills to be a big-time starter in the Majors, but he's been inconsistent since coming back from shoulder surgery. Also, the Marlins aren't a good team, especially with Matt Lindstrom pitching underhand in the ninth. The thing to like about West, though, is his strikeouts, which makes him someone to pick up even in mixed. But remember, he has had command problems, and he will have to work hard to keep the walks down.