This week in (fantasy) baseball 7/9-7/15

It’s hard enough following one’s own fantasy team without having to keep track of an entire sport’s daily transactions. To assist you, here’s a column dedicated to recapping the most notable trades, signings, promotions, demotions and role changes across the majors over the past week as they relate to fantasy. We’ll do this on a weekly basis. If you feel I’ve missed anything important, please don’t hesitate to keep the conversation going in the comments below.

Fantasy infirmary

• Although he never had the highest ceiling, Dillon Gee was turning into a nice success story for the Mets in 2012 as he helped anchor a spot in the back end of the team’s rotation. But a blood clot in his shoulder could relegate his contributions to nothing more than a warm memory going forward, as he could be done for the season following surgery.

Miguel Batista will take over fifth-starter responsibilities for Gee, though fantasy owners are hoping the Mets pull the trigger on 23-year-old Matt Harvey, who’s posted nearly 10 K/9 in his minor league career and entered the season as one of the team’s best prospects. It was unclear Sunday night whether the team would use Harvey for an upcoming start this weekend, as the Mets seem lukewarm on rushing him. He’s pitched decently at Triple-A this year (7-4, 3.39 ERA, 1.312 WHIP) and could be worth picking up right now in deeper mixed leagues.

• Speaking of terrific 2012 success stories, Jason Hammel had emerged as Baltimore’s ace this season, posting a career-high 8.7 K/9 and a nearly 3.0 FanGraphs WAR. Unfortunately, a knee injury suffered during his start on Friday will lead to surgery and could keep him out until September. Brian Matusz had been floated as a possible replacement for Hammel, but it looks like Zach Britton will make his first start of the season on Tuesday after missing the first half with a shoulder injury. Britton’s talent alone makes him worth a flier in deeper leagues, and he pitched well in nearly 60 innings this year.

Drew Smyly landed on the DL for the second time this season after he suffered a strained intercostal muscle. Phenom Jacob Turner, 21, will return to the majors for the second time this season to spot him on Tuesday. He earned a no-decision in his one start earlier this year against the Cardinals when he pitched five innings and allowed one earned run on five walks and three strikeouts.

• It’s been a nightmare season for Sergio Santos, and he’s now received word befitting such a horrible campaign: He’ll undergo season-ending elbow surgery, knocking him out of action until at least spring training 2013. At this point, that news couldn’t really matter less to fantasy owners, who have long learned to recognize Casey Janssen as Toronto’s ninth-inning fireman.

• Houston shortstop Jed Lowrie landed on the DL with an ankle injury after getting into a collision at second base on Saturday. He’ll be replaced by fantasy nobody Marwin Gonzalez until he gets back.

Other bumps and bruises

Gavin Floyd will probably miss his upcoming start with elbow tendinitis. If he’s not available, look for rookie left-hander Jose Quintana (4-1, 2.60 ERA, 1.075 WHIP in 62.1 innings) to take the ball on Wednesday.

• An oblique strain forced Ian Desmond out of the lineup on Sunday, and it seems likely he’ll miss a few more games to start week 16. Danny Espinosa will take over at shortstop in the All-Star’s absence, while Steve Lombardozzi will see at-bats at second base.

Chad Billingsley was scratched from Sunday’s start with elbow pain and is scheduled to undergo a MRI, which sure doesn’t sound good. It was unclear Sunday who would take over for Billingsley assuming he won’t be able to make this week’s start, but one way or another, steer clear of the burly right-hander in anything resembling a fantasy baseball league this week.

Jack Wilson sprained a finger in his right hand, which could cost him some playing time, if not a DL stint.

• A blister bumped Johnny Cueto from Sunday to Tuesday.

Road to recovery

• Welcome back, Lance Berkman, things weren’t the same without you. Things, however, have changed since you were gone, since Allen Craig, when healthy, has been a significant producer while splitting time at first base and the outfield. With both Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday enjoying solid seasons, Berkman’s role is not immediately clear, though if he’s healthy, someone is going to have to make room for the Big Puma.

• Look out, world: Roy Halladay is slated to return on Tuesday against Los Angeles. When we last met one of this era’s most dominant starting pitchers in late May, he was suffering from a strained right lat muscle, which probably explained why the 35-year-old was enduring, at least by his standards, one of his most mediocre seasons in recent memory (4-5, 3.98 ERA, sub-7.0 K/9). But he is Halladay, and although the Dodgers are re-armed with Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier back in action, he’s worth starting across the board as he gears up for the season’s second half.

Carl Crawford is scheduled to return to action on Monday after suffering an elbow injury that zapped the first half of the season. With Jacoby Ellsbury back in the lineup after a similarly long absence, at-bats could be split between Ryan Sweeney and Daniel Nava, though Sweeney is dealing with a tender hamstring, so Nava could stay in the lineup this week.

• For at least the time being, Ben Sheets is back among the living/fantasy relevant, which on Sunday translated to six scoreless innings against the Mets to pick up a win. His return sent Randall Delgado back to the minor leagues.

Homestretch: The 1967 AL Pennant Race, Part 3
A tight race shows no signs of letting up.

Joe Saunders returned to action over the weekend after dealing with a left shoulder strain. His return knocked Patrick Corbin to Triple-A and demoted Josh Collmenter from the rotation to the bullpen.

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Karl, a journalist living in Washington, D.C., learned about life's disappointments by following the Mets beginning at a young age. His work has appeared in numerous publications, and he has contributed to the 2014 and 2015 editions of The Hardball Times Annual. Follow/harass him on Twitter @Karl_de_Vries.

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