(*) PT TOMORROW: NL West—Crawford's back. Will he play?
The Dodgers' OF playing time situation has been cloudy all year, but manager Don Mattingly recently tried to shed some light on the picture moving forward. Carl Crawford (OF, LA) will begin the second half on the bench despite being activated from the DL on July 10. This means that Matt Kemp (OF, LA) will be the everyday left fielder, while Andre Ethier (OF, LA) will start in center, and Yasiel Puig (OF, LA) in right.
Crawford hasn't lived up to much this season, other than his "F" health grade, as he's essentially been out since Memorial Day with an ankle injury. The 32-year-old has a cool $20 million salary this year, but that won't improve his status as an everyday starter on LA's star-studded club. Mattingly has been resistant to moving Crawford to other OF positions, so it appears he is firmly behind Kemp in the pecking order. Kemp is no model for health either, and he's struggled this season with a 71% ct%, .266 xBA, and 35 BPV. Crawford's value will be hampered for now given a gloomy PT picture, but don't completely write him off.
The other interesting tidbit in Mattingly's statement is the vote of confidence behind Ethier as the starting CF. Ethier has been one of the more consistent hitters in baseball throughout his career, but he's historically struggled against left-handed pitching. That's continued to be the case in 2014 as he has just a .483 OPS against southpaws (though only 42 AB).
Ethier's platoon struggles could open up the door for Scott Van Slyke (OF, LA), who has quietly posted monster power skills (193/201 PX/xPX) in 127 AB. Van Slyke has already played 17 games in center for the club this season. His subpar contact rate will likely prevent him from posting a solid BA, but he takes plenty of walks and has hit lefties well (.878 OPS in 150 career AB), so he should continue to be a sneaky power source when in the lineup.
Despite Mattingly's assertion that he's "not planning any big changes," the skills and platoon splits indicate there could be more shuffling moving forward. Stay tuned.
After being sent to the minors earlier this season, Trevor Cahill (RHP, ARI) has returned to Arizona's rotation. Cahill will take the spot of Michael Bolsinger (RHP, ARI), who posted pretty decent skills (2.8 Cmd, 3.70 xERA, 100 BPV) despite an awful 5.50 ERA over 10 games. For now, it appears Arizona brass won't give Bolsinger a chance for his skills to show through as he's been optioned to Triple-A. Bolsinger's demotion means Chase Anderson (RHP, ARI) is safe to start out the second half. Anderson hasn't put up the skills (2.5 Cmd, 72 BPV) that Bolsinger has, but his 3.64 ERA through 10 starts will give him a prolonged shot. Anderson's average skills and recent 7B prospect rating by BaseballHQ.com make him a deep-league target only.
Cahill hasn't done much to deserve the promotion as he put up a 4.45 ERA and 27/20 K/BB in 30 innings in the minors. The high walk total in the minors shows Cahill hasn't improved upon the 5.4 Ctl he posted over 41 MLB innings this season. The move to put Cahill back in the rotation doesn't change his outlook—he remains avoidable in all formats unless he can limit the free pass.
Wade Miley (LHP, ARI) has emerged as the club's best pitcher recently. His numbers over the last month (2.89 xERA, 54% GB%, 120 BPV) indicate he could be in for a big second half despite a 4.18 surface ERA. Miley has traditionally shown decent control with a good ground ball rate, but he's ratcheted up the Dom this year (8.4), which is backed by an 11% swinging-strike rate.
The Colorado rotation has been crippled by injuries to almost everyone who has started a game for the club in the first half. Both Jordan Lyles (RHP, COL) and Tyler Chatwood (RHP, COL) have recently experienced setbacks in their respective rehab assignments, so their returns are no longer imminent. For now, the back of the rotation will include Franklin Morales (LHP, COL) and Tyler Matzek (LHP, COL). Neither Matzek nor Morales hold any real fantasy value given their 36 and 45 BPVs, respectively. Are there any viable options worth speculating on here?
Eddie Butler (RHP, COL) made his first start in a rehab assignment at High-A Modesto, and he's the pitcher to watch with the most upside on the team. Butler dodged a bullet when he was diagnosed with rotator cuff inflammation and is expected to make a couple more rehab starts before returning to the team. Butler was given a 9C prospect rating with #2 starter potential upon his call-up earlier this season. His numbers in the minors weren't spectacular (42/21 K/BB, 2.85 ERA in 73 IP), but there have been reports that Colorado wanted him to focus on secondary offerings rather than throwing his best stuff this season. Butler is a fine speculative stash for those with roster space assuming everything goes well with the rehab.
Chris Capuano (LHP, COL) signed a minor league deal with Colorado earlier this month. He's made three minor league starts since the signing with a 10/3 K/BB and four ER through 12.1 IP between AA-Tulsa and AAA-Colorado Springs. Capuano floundered in the Red Sox bullpen this season (1.9 Cmd, 4.36 xERA in 32 innings). However, the 35-year-old has recently enjoyed success as a starter with 3.0+ Cmd and 80+ BPV each season from 2011-13 while he was in Los Angeles. He's still a longshot to post meaningful value in the second half, especially in Coors Field, but deep leaguers should keep tabs on Capuano as he'll likely get a shot at some point.
Carlos Quentin (OF, SD) has always been a guy who's posted excellent skills with the everlasting "when healthy" tag attached. Quentin predictably hasn't stayed healthy in 2014, but his skills have fallen when he has been in the lineup. Quentin's BA sits at an atrocious .182 thanks in large part to a 20% h%. It hasn't all been bad luck, however, as Quentin's PX and xPX sit below 100 for the first time in his career, which has resulted in just four HR. Further, his 84 career BPV has sunk to 25 so far in 2014. Quentin is far from even a reasonable bet to stay in the lineup forward, but his ineffectiveness on the field this season is a concern for the second half.
Meanwhile, fellow corner outfielder Seth Smith (OF, SD) is putting up the best skills of his career in 2014 (0.84 Eye, .298 xBA, 149 PX), though that still hasn't earned him any playing time against lefties as Smith only has 24 AB against them this season. San Diego's reluctance to try out Smith against southpaws means there will likely be a rotating door between Smith, Quentin, Chris Denorfia (OF, SD), and Will Venable (OF, SD).
Cameron Maybin (OF, SD) has received the bulk of playing time at CF after missing April with a biceps injury. Maybin has put up the best skills in the outfield outside of Smith, but they haven't translated to meaningful fantasy value at this point. Maybin's best asset is his speed, and that's remained the case in 2014 with a 138 Spd. However, he's been given a red light on the basepaths (11% SBO) and poor plate patience has resulted in a sub-.300 OBP. Maybin's value is held back by a lack of SB attempts.
The opening of the second half will not begin with Angel Pagan (OF, SF) in CF for San Francisco. Pagan has been dealing with a back injury since mid-June and currently has no timetable for a return. Pagan's absence from the lineup means more playing time for Gregor Blanco (OF, SF). Blanco has struggled this season with a .223 BA over 197 AB. He owns excellent wheels and should be a decent SB source in deep leagues (125 Spd, 20% SBO), but his inability to get on base will prohibit him from making a big impact. Blanco's .214 xBA and 14 BPV put a cap on his value moving forward.
Marco Scutaro (2B, SF) finally made his 2014 debut on the Saturday before the All Star break, but don't expect everyday playing time from him. Scutaro again mentioned back tightness after his first MLB game, and has admitted that his back is not 100% at this point. Manager Bruce Bochy has indicated that he'd like Scutaro to play as much as he can, but it's unlikely that will be on an everyday basis given the lingering nature of his injury.
If Scutaro continues to be in and out of the lineup, rookie Joe Panik (2B, SF) stands to gain an extended shot in his place. Panik, who was given an 8D prospect rating upon his call-up, has struggled so far in his first MLB audition. He's gone 11 for his first 51 without a home run or steal. Panik's reputation as a solid prospect will likely give him some leash moving forward, but continued struggles could lead to a demotion as the team is in the thick of a divisional race with LA.
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