Here we are, Week 13 of the season, meaning we really are hitting the halfway point of the 2014 season, amazingly.
During the weekend, I watched a lot of the Red Sox and Athletics duke it out, and I must confess that I had not really noticed just how effective a couple of their middle relievers have been, starting with Burke Badenhop, who had gone 31.6 innings--since April 18--without allowing an earned run till Sunday when he ran into the Oakland hitters. Badenhop sports an 0-2 mark, but a sparkly 1.55 ERA to go with a save and a solid 1.181 WHIP (just one homer allowed) and this time of year, stabilizing numbers is as important as simply building a base of stats at the beginning of the season.
Similarly, I hadn't noticed just how effective lefty Andrew Miller of the Sox has been. Miller is 2-5, but with a 2.70 ERA and most impressive 40 whiffs over 30 frames (14.6 whiffs per nine innings) to go with a 1.00 WHIP and also just one dinger allowed. Either of these guys is a good pick-up, particularly in a deep AL-only setup.
Speaking of Boston, let's now say goodbye to Grady Sizemore and also to Daniel Bard, both released over the last week as was Raul Ibanez. Tough game, but again, the writing of the future path of the game is on the wall: the move towards giving lower-priced prospects a chance.
Which brings me to a couple of National League call-ups of interest, starting with the Giants, who finally bagged it with their post Marco Scutaro revolving door of Aaron Hicks/Joaquin Arias/Ehire Adianza and promoted their #1 pick of 2011 out of St. Johns, Joe Panik. Panik was hitting .321-5-45 at Fresno when summoned, and has 171 walks to 180 whiffs and a nice .365 OBP over 410 games.
Panik's pop is a little low with a .403 slugging percentage, but his 78 doubles suggest future pop, and well, I saw Panik belt a couple of lasers at the AFL and he does have a quick enough bat. He is a great gamble in just about any format.
Similarly, the Marlins brought up Andrew Heaney, their first rounder in 2012 out of Oklahoma State. With roughly a season's worth of work as a starter under his belt (199 innings) as a minor leaguer, Heaney has some very nice numbers with a 17-7, 2.31 to go with 198 strikeouts over 36 starts. Heaney has a nice minor league WHIP of 1.126 and really had nowhere else to go after blasting through both Double-A and then Triple-A this year with a combined 7-2, 2.47 record. It is no secret that the Marlins are doing a great job of drafting and developing a fine young team, and Heaney just adds to the scorecard. Again, a solid acquisition.
Speaking of the Fish, with the injury to Christian Yelich, the team also brought back outfielder Jake Marisnick, the Jays' third-round pick in 2009 who went to Miami as part of the massive Jose Reyes deal in 2012. Marisnick had a 40-game taste last year (.183-1-5), although the fact that his .558 OPS so far this year is nearly 100 points higher than last year is not such an accomplishment. Marisnick might get some playing time with Yelich down, but even at Triple-A New Orleans, Marisnick could only wrangle a .710 OPS (.264-6-27 with a paltry .306 OBP), so I would probably pass.
I cannot recommend Jumbo Diaz, but his profile is so delicious that I simply cannot let it go. Jose Rafael Diaz is a 30-year-old lefty from the Dominican Republic, signed by the Dodgers in 2001. With 321 relief appearances over his 12 years in the Minors, Diaz has 105 saves and 437 whiffs over 439.6 frames. Jumbo, who earned his moniker by virtue of his 6'4" 315 pound frame, will not close at all for the Reds as long as Aroldis Chapman exists, but in baseball, the names and background and lore of the game are as much as anything, and, well, congrats Jumbo!
The Twins' Yohan Pino, a Venezuelan, is just a couple of months older than Diaz, but he is also 125 pounds lighter. Pino has been on five teams, including the Twins twice, this being his second time in the system. However, like Diaz, Pino is a rookie reliever at age 30, although he has been a starter for 153 of his 292 minor league games. At Rochester this season, Pino was 9-1, 1.92 over 61 innings and seven starts (14 total appearances) with 61 whiffs and a fine 0.934 WHIP. The Twins surely need rotation help, however, and while I would shy away from Diaz, in a deep format, I would indeed give Pino a shot, especially if you are looking for a starter.