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Friday 15th Dec 2017

Now we are six weeks into the season, and it is certainly zooming past, just as certainly as it seems a hot summer looms, at least here in the East San Francisco Bay Area.

And, there were so many interesting names that popped by over the last cycle I could not hit them all (maybe next week) and stay sane. Since last week we focused a lot on injured third sackers, this week a quartet of arms have made their presence know, so let's start with them.

The biggest name on this week's review has to be Andy Pettitte, back with the Yankees. Andy has indeed had a great career, but "un-retirements" such as this don't work out (name one that has?). Pettitte started for the Pinstripes on Sunday, tossing 6.1 innings, allowing seven hits, four walks, and four runs. Since Andy was not exactly overpowering before his retirement, I feel pretty strong that this kind of line is what can be expected from the lefty. The Yanks might be able to throw him out there and score five runs enough of the time to squeeze a win (I think they are better off with David Phelps stretched out in the rotation) but these numbers will not help your roto team.

San Diego is one of a handful of teams (also Kansas City, Seattle, Houston, among others) that are really fun to watch rebuild, and one of the things the Padres have going is pitching. With Joe Wieland in the rotation, and Robbie Erlin in waiting, along with Tim Stauffer, Edinson Volquez, and Cory Luebke (who unfortunately is broken) and another fine looking young arm in Anthony Bass. An eighth round pick in 2005, from Wayne State University, Bass put together 29-17, 3.01 minor league numbers over 68 starts and 370.2 innings. He has followed up on two terrific late season starts (2-0, 1.68) and picked it right up this year, and though he is 1-4, Bass has an ERA of 3.23, a WHIP of 1.20, and is among the league leaders with 38 strikeouts. If Bass has not been snatched up already in your league, you better grab him this weekend. And, think about him as a serious potential keeper.

Colorado advanced top prospect Alex White after demoting the once promising, now struggling Jhoulys Chacin. A first round pick of the Tribe in 2009, White was swapped to the Rockies last year as part of the Ubaldo Jimenez deal. Before the swap White made three pretty good starts at the Jake (1-0, 3.60), then seven at Chase with less than stellar results (2-4, 8.42). At Colorado Springs he was 1-3, 2.92 over five starts and 24.2 innings. White's first assignment with Colorado was good for 6.1 innings, and a pair of runs, along with a loss, but White is worthy of a gamble in an NL only format. In a mixed league, if White is not on a reserve list similarly, he is worth a grab and a stash at worst.

Scott Diamond, of the Twins, is one of those rare diamonds who was never drafted, and signed as an amateur by the Braves in 2005. He as a pretty good 36-35, 3.70 over 600 innings, though Diamond is not overpowering (470 whiffs) and carries a 1.40 minor league WHIP (653 hits, 189 walks). Last year in the Twinkies rotation, Diamond was an uninspired 1-5, 5.07. And, although Diamond was 4-1, 2.60 over six starts, and then turned in a fine seven innings earlier in the week for a win (seven innings, four hits, six whiffs, no runs) I am not completely sold that Diamond is the answer to the Minnesota woes, although in fairness, he turned in a solid second start on Sunday, tossing seven more shutout innings. Only in a deep AL format should you take a shot at this however, those first two starts are hard to argue with.

Note also the former St. Louis selection (#11 in 2006) P.J. Walters was brought forth to try and spell the Twinkies. Walters also had a pretty good first start earlier in the week, and Walters is coming off pretty good Triple-A numbers (3-1, 2.70 at Rochester) but as with Diamond I have a hard time seeing what corner he has turned to suddenly become a pitcher who can consistantly dominate at the major league level.

I have had this notion for as long as Dana Eveland that he would be better than his career 19-24, 5.50 record says. I cannot say why save like so many pitchers, he has great stuff, and when it is on, he cannot be hit. "When" is the key word, for control just flees guys like him, inexplicably. Still, Eveland is only 28-years old, believe it or not, and Baltimore brought him up no decision, walked six, three runs, and will get another shot. With 54-36, 3.49 minor league numbers, Eveland is too good for the minors, and, well, I can always hope, right? Of course, be warned, in fantasy, that is the kiss of death, so do as I say, not as I do.

OK, closer patrol. First, Dale Thayer, the flavor of the week in San Diego is a 31-year old feel good story. Three-of-three in conversions, well, as with just about everyone on this list, you do need to ride the hot hand. However, in Oakland, Brian Fuentes is now the closer in favor of Grant Balfour. Bad choice. Oh, he might convert a few games, but Fuentes will blow up a lot more than he will help, and by the All Star Break will have worn out that welcome if not sooner.

While we are on feel good stories, another is the irrepressibly named Irving Falu, a 28-year old Puerto Rican import who just as wonderfully attended Indian Hills Community College, and then logged 949 minor league games with .276-18-318 totals with 186 swipes. Falu probably does not have a future as a starter in the Royals future star stoked lineup, but, he fits in perfectly as a utility player in that scheme, and you have to root for the guy. However, his potential contributions right now are pretty lean, especially in a mixed format.

The Mets Jordany Valdespin burst onto the New York scene with a bang, clubbing a pinch-hit three-run bomb for his first major league hit and, not much else since. Still the 24-year old Dominican product has a decent minor league resume of .283-33-174 with 86 steals, but his 91 walks to 256 strikeouts is worrisome. Great story, but Valdespin is probably no more than a utility player, if he sticks. Probably not worth much interest, if that, however, in the fantasy world.

On the other hand the Dodgers Scott Van Slyke--son of former star Andy--is a fine prospect, a 14th round pick of the Bums in 2005. A big--as in 6'5", 250 pounds--outfielder/first baseman, Van Slyke had a terrific 2011 at AA Chattanooga .248-20-92, last year, with a pretty good 65 walks to 100 whiffs, a marked improvement in strike zone judgement for him. He was hitting .336-1-8 at Albuquerque when called up this week, although with just one walk to 16 strikeouts, again showing the young slugger needs some time to adjust. I like Van Slyke a lot, and think he could be a first base answer to James Loney with some actual pop.

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