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Roto Riteup: June 23, 2013

Apparently today is National Pink Day. One cannot help but feel as though it should be this coming Wednesday rather than today.

On today’s agenda:
1. Swapping outfielders in Seattle
2. Jordy Mercer is the new thing in Pittsburgh
3. Drew Smyly: more than a LOOGY

Swapping outfielders in Seattle
The Seattle Mariners placed Michael Morse on the 15-day disabled list yesterday with a strained right quad. Morse was hitting primarily cleanup before aggravating his hamstring back on May 28. Since then he has been limited to just 11 games in three weeks and has hit cleanup only twice. Morse had been flashing his trademark power and now hits the DL with 11 home runs to his name. According to manager Eric Wedge, Morse will go on a brief rehab assignment before re-joining the Mariners.

It wasn’t all negative for Seattle’s roster yesterday, as they welcomed Franklin Gutierrez back from the 60-day DL. Gutierrez powered his fifth home run in barely 60 plate appearances as part of his welcome back and is up to 11 RBIs in 17 games. Though he lacks Morse’s raw power, Guti is capable of producing the occasional dinger as well as nabbing the a rare steal. That being said, Gutierrez should be ignored in all but the deepest of AL-only formats right now. Health is always a huge question with Gutierrez as he has appeared in just 149 major league games since 2011.

Jordy Mercer is the new thing in Pittsburgh
Okay, so maybe Gerrit Cole is the real new thing in Pittsburgh, however at least at shortstop, it is all about Jordy Mercer. Now that he’ll be getting the lion’s share of time at short, Mercer makes for an interesting option. Mercer is now hitting .291/.339/.481. He has been hitting mostly in the bottom of the lineup, though he has hit second in 12 games already. Hitting eighth (and ninth in AL parks) isn’t ideal for counting stats, however for those of you in very deep leagues or NL-only formats, Mercer is playable.

Drew Smyly: more than a LOOGY
It should come as no surprise that the southpaw Drew Smyly gives left-handed hitters fits, he has also more than held his own against opposite handed hitters. Right-handed hitters have managed a .242/.315/.398 line and left-handed hitters have posted a hopeless .117/159/.117 triple slash. In over 18 innings, Smyly is yet to surrender an extra-base hit against a lefty. He’s struck out over 25% of both lefties and righties and has a 10.7% swinging strike rate to go with 26.7% overall strikeout rate. Smyly may only have seven holds on the year, but he does have the second highest WPA in the Tigers bullpen behind current closer-of-sorts-but-not-in-name Joaquin Benoit. More holds should be on the way, especially given Smyly’s usage.

Normally over-working a reliever would be a concern — Smyly has appeared  in 25 out of 73 games for a total of 43.2 innings — but Smyly may be the exception. He has thrown over 100 innings in each of the past two seasons and can carry a workload that most relievers probably couldn’t. The key difference is that the vast majority of those innings came in a starters role. As a starter there was a stricter regiment to his innings and pitches, as Smyly knew exactly when he would be called on to throw. Now a reliever, Smyly could be called upon in any given day. For now, fellow holds league players should grab Smyly and even those of you in deep leagues that don’t count holds should consider Smyly. With a 1.85 ERA and 3.16 xFIP in addition to his strikeouts, Smyly’s quality as well as his quantity is worth owning. He’s throw more innings than every reliever save Anthony Swarzak and Smyly has recorded 46 strikeouts, more than Jeremy Guthrie and just three less than Jonathon Niese. Smyly is available in 75% of CBS leagues, 80% of Yahoo! leagues, and 94% of ESPN formats.