It’s terrible to be inside on a Tuesday in the summer, but here are a couple players that will set your mind right by virtually putting you on the pitch to use a world cup metaphor. Either that, or they will help you win your league.
Aaron Heilman, Arizona (9% owned)
The worst bullpen in the majors is moving their closer out of the role according to AJ Hinch today. This, despite Chad Qualls being the only pitcher in the pen with an xFIP under four. Well, no matter, it looks like the team will be giving interim save chances to Heilman, the only pitcher in the bullpen with an FIP under four. Seriously, this pen is terrible – their league-worst ERA (7.33) is almost two runs worse than second-to-last place (Milwaukee, 5.88). The only other option is possibly Esmerling Vazquez, who has the best strikeout rate in the pen (9.53 K/9) but has a correspondingly high walk rate (4.76 BB/9) and a mediocre-to-poor groundball rate (37.3%). At least he doesn’t have Juan Gutierrez problems with the fly ball (27.5%). Last but not least is newcomer Sam Demel, fresh off his trade from Oakland – but let Joe Pawlikowski and David Golebiewski run you through the Arizona ramifications for the big trade today. It seems Demel has some hurdles to clear first, like actually pitching well in the major leagues. In the meantime, there’s Nick Pieocoro, the Arizona Republic beat writer, saying that AJ Hinch announced that Heilman gets the save chances for now, and my more lengthy run-down over at Bloomberg Sports.
James McDonald, Los Angeles (0% owned)
This is pure speculation that is most useful to those in the deepest of leagues. But let me lay out the reasons McDonald might be up soon. First, Chad Billingsley went on the 15-day DL today with a groin strain. Second, the replacement for the injured Vincente Padilla, Ronald Belisario, has started two games since 2007. Third, Vincente Padilla himself just got rocked in his first rehab start and may miss another start to extended rehab. Fourth, McDonald is on the 40-man roster and is currently starting. Sure, he has a 5.05 ERA and 1.51 WHIP right now, but he’s playing in a tough league and and still has 47 strikeout in 46.1 innings so far this year. The only other pitcher at AAA that’s showing anything is Seth Etherton, who is not on the 40-man roster. Etherton is a name to remember, though, because he does have a non-adjusted 3.25 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 39 strikeouts in 36 innings. I don’t see the team wanting to drop an actual prospect from the 40-man to make room for the 33-year-old journeyman Etherton (6.18 major league career FIP). And for those that think that McDonald has no upside, there are two simple numbers that say he should be given another shot: he owns a 9.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 career in the minor leagues. THIS might finally be the year, when they turn to him with no other options and he wasn’t even pitching well in the minors. Stranger things have happened.