July 24, 2009

Here's your weekly look at fantasy players to consider.

Collin Balester, Washington Nationals: Balester, 23, was recalled to the rotation to fill in for injuries. If he pitches well (he didn't in his first start), he could stay there. He went 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA in 15 starts for the Nats last year. In 80 innings pitched, he had a 50-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He was 7-9 with a 4.35 ERA in 19 starts for AAA Syracuse this year.

Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox: Buchholz, 24, rejoins the rotation after his quality start last week with Tim Wakefield on the DL. He is 7-2 with a 2.36 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP for AAA Pawtucket. After a rough season last year, he concentrated on improving his delivery in the Arizona Fall League and it's paid off. He is also using his fastball and changeup more, and not relying on his excellent curveball as much.

Sergio Mitre, New York Yankees: Mitre, 28, was called up from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take Chien-Ming Wang's spot in the rotation. Mitre (career 5.36 ERA) has a 2.40 ERA with 35 strikeouts and five walks in 45 innings. He'll have a lot of hitting support but will the command remain? He looked good in his first start.

Jon Niese, New York Mets: Niese, 22, would be the likely guy to replace Nieve in the rotation Saturday at Houston. He is a lefty curveballer with good command who can also bring his fastball up to 93-mph if he has too. He relies more on finesse than velocity tough and has a serviceable changeup. He has a 0.96 ERA in his last eight starts for AAA Buffalo.

Ryan Rowland-Smith, Seattle Mariners: Rowland-Smith, 26, will be recalled to start Friday at Safeco Field. He is 5-3, 4.31 ERA with AAA at Tacoma. He spent two months on the DL battling biceps tendinitis and is just now getting his velocity back. He has decent stuff but needs work on his control.

Jeremy Sowers, Cleveland Indians: Sowers, 25, was recalled again to join the rotation and might be worth a flier for teams desperate for starters. He went 2-7 with a 5.77 ERA in 11 games (10 starts) earlier in the year and then was sent down. A finesse pitcher, he needs to be sharp to win.

Jason Schmidt, Los Angeles Dodgers: Schmidt, 36, rejoins the rotation after a long rehabilitation following shoulder surgery. He does not throw as hard as he used to so he will have to adjust to mixing his pitches and hitting his spots. He will likely be inconsistent the rest of the way.

Rafael Betancourt, Colorado Rockies: Betancourt (3.52 ERA) was acquired from Cleveland to be the new setup man. He was one of the best setup men in baseball two years ago but lost his confidence after a slow start last season and never recovered. GM Dan O'Dowd said that he is "something of a fly ball pitcher." Not good in Coors Field.

Jhoulys Chacin, Colorado Rockies: Chacin, the Rockies top pitching prospect, was recalled from AA Tulsa to pitch in middle relief. He has a 93-mph sinker and a good changeup and throws strikes. His future should be in the rotation once he improves his curve and slider. The 21-year-old was 8-6 with a 3.14 ERA for AA Tulsa. Grade B+ for the future.

Daric Barton, Oakland Athletics: Barton, 23, was recalled from AAA Sacramento to play first base while Jason Giambi is out. He was hitting .261-9-48 but hit just .223-9-47 for the A's last year as most touts vastly overrated him.

Matt Downs, San Francisco Giants: Downs, 25, was recalled to play second base. He was batting .294 with eight homers for AAA Fresno, but he was just 7-for-36 (.194) for the Giants last month. He generally makes solid contact but is more of a utility player than starter. He can play all over the diamond and has a little bit of speed too.

Adam LaRoche, Boston Red Sox: LaRoche, 29, was acquired from Pittsburgh for two minor leaguers. He is batting .247-12-40 and will play first base when Kevin Youkilis relieves Mike Lowell (hip) at third. Grab him on reserve if you have a spot open but don't expect full time at bats.

Julio Lugo, St. Louis Cardinals: Lugo, 33, will split time with Brendan Ryan at shortstop. He hit .284 with one homer and three steals in 109 at-bats for the Red Sox this year while spending three weeks on the DL. Grab him for his speed.

Steve Pearce, Pittsburgh Pirates: Pearce, 26, gets another chance to play first base for a while. He has struggled in 189 at-bats over the past three years (.254 with four home runs) but still has power potential. He was batting .286 with 13 homers and 54 RBIs for AAA Indianapolis this year with a .373 on-base percentage, showing much better plate discipline. The Pirates think he's more relaxed now that he knows he has a set position and that they will stick with him.

Ryan Roberts, Arizona Diamondbacks: GM Josh Byrnes said they would use Ryan Roberts and Augie Ojeda at second base. Roberts, who was optioned to AAA Reno on July 4, has hit .310 (13-for-42) since being sent down. He hit .257 with the Diamondbacks. Ojeda, known more for his defense than offense, is hitting .221 in 149 at-bats.

Oscar Salazar, San Diego Padres: Salazar, 31, can hit with some power but is not very good defensively. He was originally was signed as a shortstop but has played mostly the corners in recent seasons, saying he is more comfortable at first base. Thursday night made his first start at second base and had a tough time turning the double play. He will be used in a utility role and is one of the better pinch-hitters in the majors.

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