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Monday 18th Dec 2017

Ah, Labor Day Weekend and the theoretical beginning of fall, the football season, and the time of roster expansion in the Majors, meaning a lot of wannabes or hope-to-bes will be gracing the Major League lineups, looking for playing time as we try to juggle our rosters and scrounge as many at-bats or innings as permits.

Of course there are a lot of names and players involved, so let's take a peek at a few of them, looking both for playing time this year, and maybe even beyond depending upon your league and set up.

The Dodgers, who are playing like the Cubs last year, have a ton of outfielders in general and Alex Verdugo, a second-rounder from the 2014 draft, is the latest advancement. Verdugo has had a solid line over his three-plus seasons as a pro, notching a .305-31-277 line over 421 games with a good .362 OBP accentuated by 137 walks to 200 strikeouts. However, this season Verdugo has shown great zone strides, walking 52 times to just 50 whiffs while posting a .315 average with six homers and 62 RBI. The outfielder, who is just 21, should gain some gap power, especially the way the balls fly these days, and could be a solid contributor come 2018, even getting some chances as the Bums steam towards the post-season.

Another flychaser, Greg Allen, a sixth-round selection of the Indians in 2014, is coming off a decent season displaying his speed, featuring 24 swipes (caught just twice) to go with a .267 average and 40 runs scored over 76 games. Allen is a speedstar with 145 minor league swipes over 388 games with a solid .379 OBP with 181 walks to 220 strikeouts. Allen, a switch-hitter, could develop a little power but he does seem to have the resume of a leadoff hitter. The question is if he is up to the challenge?

Another newbie outfielder would be the BoSox Tzu-Wei Lin, a diminutive (5'9", 155 lbs.) outfielder from Taiwan signed in 2012. Lin, who has 69 steals in the Minors over 501 games, does rely on speed but needs to work on his on-base skills with a .240 average to go with a .312 OBP, though the flychaser does have a pretty good 201 walks to 330 strikeouts, meaning he has an eye, but his contact rate is not too good. Lin is probably not much more than a fourth outfielder, if that.

Orioles catching prospect Chance Sisco was advanced with the call-ups following a decent .267-7-47 season at Norwich that included 23 doubles. Sisco does need to work on his plate discipline with 195 walks to 340 strikeouts, for though his OBP in the Minors was .390 over 455 games, that was augmented by a strong .311 average to go with 25 homers and 266 RBI, 98 doubles, and an .815 OPS, Still just 22, Cisco was a second-rounder in 2013 and is a little ways off from serious fantasy consideration. But come spring, he could pose an interesting option.

With the swap of Justin Verlander, maybe the next-in-line starter for the Tigers is Artie Lewicki, and eighth-round pick in 2014 out of Virginia. Over 56 minor league starts, Lewicki is 22-18, 3.36 over 337 innings with 303 strikeouts to go with a 1.23 WHIP and just nine homers allowed. He spent this year split between Erie (9-4, 3.76) and Toledo (5-0, 2.03), giving a cumulative 14-4, 3.38 line over 141 innings with 123 whiffs and a WHIP of 1.18 (135 hits, 31 walks). Lewicki, 25, makes a nice FAAB pickup for the final month and particularly going into next season. 

Most of us waited for the arrival of Rymer Liriano while he was a Brewer, but Milwaukee let him go and the White Sox grabbed the 26-year-old, who has a .275-83-430 minor league line over 861 games. Liriano has some power (.432 SLG) and major speed (195 steals), but he also strikes out a lot (318 walks to 885 strikeouts). Liriano has posted a .207-1-6 mark over 40 games at the Show, which includes nine walks to 43 strikeouts, a .273 OBP, and a pathetic .523 OPS. He has some talent, and he is in a situation wherein if he can improve his contact rate, he has some promise, and even a chance to get some playing time. But for now, he remains a disappointment. 

The Mets brought forth hurler Jamie Callahan, a 23-year-old selection from 2012 by the Red Sox who was sent to New York in a deadline swap for Addison Reed last July. In 2015, the Sox moved Callahan to the pen, where he has relieved 104 times since, converting 17 of 23 save chances. The righty has 373 strikeouts over 384 minor league frames, and he is good at keeping the ball in the yard with just 25 homers allowed and 388 hits. But Callahan does give up the walks, as in 174. Callahan is worth watching while the Metropolitans try to figure out exactly what their pen will be. As far as this year, he looks like a safe gamble, and he could develop into a solid reliever, but not just yet.

Finally, the Royals just brought up Andres Machado, a Venezuelan hurler who does have some spotty numbers as in a 13-24, 4.76 line over 279.6 innings with a 1.52 ERA. However, Kansas City moved Machado to the pen this season and he responded with 111 whiffs over 111 innings, and a couple of saves over his seven games in the pen. At age 24, Machado could indeed be one of those guys who has power, but cannot manage as a starter, and that is the thing closers are made of. So, track accordingly. 

Remember to go to the Tout Wars site for our Friday picks. And, tune into the Tout Wars Hour on the FNTSY network, hosted by me, with Justin Mason and featuring Lord Z every Thursday night at 9 PM ET.

Follow me @lawrmichaels.

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