Eugenio Velez | San Francisco | 2B/OF
True Talent: .266/.314/.398
Next Week Forecast: 0.1 HR, 1 Runs, 1 RBI, .262 BA, 0.6 SB
Schierholz’s injury opened the door for another youngster there, and Velez has made the most of it, with a 10-game hit streak since his recall, with a .419/.457/.558 line. True Talent is pessimistic that he’ll be producing at an acceptable level in all areas but steals (which he has yet to do in his recent hot streak), and he may not keep that starting gig when Schierholz returns. If he does, his best value for you is at 2B (if he qualifies there with nine games played), since his low power numbers won’t drag so much while you try to pick up those all-important steals. If you want to ride his hot bat in the outfield, that’s your choice, but he’s best suited as a MIF in NL-only leagues 15 teams and deeper, depending on how badly you need those SBs.
Lastings Milledge | Pittsburgh | OF
True Talent: .277/.345/.425
Next Week Forecast: 0.6 HR, 3 Runs, 3 RBI, .274 BA, 0.8 SB
Milledge is back in the bigs, and ready to prove himself again. He can bring power and speed, but has been struggling with strikeouts, which he didn’t improve upon in his stint in Triple-A (.55 BB/K ratio). Pittsburgh’s young offense is proving better than advertised, and if Milledge can stick near the top of the batting order, he could finally fulfill his promise. Right now, he’s struggled a bit (.542 OPS in 25 PAs with Pittsburgh) but he should prove to be a good add for 8-team NL leagues and mixed leagues 13 teams and deeper. Keeper leagues of almost any size should also consider him for his power/speed potential.
Yusmeiro Petit | Arizona | SP
YTD: 7.5 K/9, 2.1 K/BB, 5.81 ERA
True Talent: 7.1 K/9, 2.5 K/BB, 5.01 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.2 IP, 0.3 Wins, 4 K, 5.25 ERA
Petit’s reeled off two starts in a row without surrendering a run, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning last time out. He racks up the strikeouts but also gives up fly balls (45.9 FB%), which often turn into homers at Chase Field (9 of the 12 longballs he’s surrendered have come at home). Keep that in mind going forward, although that one-hitter was at home against Pittsburgh. True Talent sees an improvement in ERA with a fairly consistent K rate down the stretch; if only Arizona could get him a few more wins. That makes him a good play in a 12-team NL league or mixed leagues 15 teams or deeper.
Will Venable | San Diego | OF
True Talent: .245/.309/.369
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 HR, 2 Runs, 1 RBI, .243 BA, 0.2 SB
Venable looks like another Kyle Blanks, with five homers in his past seven games and a .481/.517/1.037 line. But he’s never shown much pop in his career, so this is clearly an anomaly, and True Talent tells you it won’t last. He needs to cut down on strikeouts to have any value—his BB/K is 0.26 in 2009—which he done during his recent binge, so it won’t be long until opposing pitchers find the holes in his swing. His eventual contributions are pretty fringe-y, but there’s nothing wrong with hitching a ride to see how long his hot streak lasts. Particularly with part-time play, he’s going to settle into an NL-only mold, offering value in very deep leagues of 16-plus teams.
Tom Gorzelanny | Chicago | SP
YTD: 7.3 K/9, 2.6 K/BB, 3.38 ERA
True Talent: 6.3 K/9, 1.5 K/BB, 4.71 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 11.2 IP, 0.7 Wins, 8 K, 4.70 ERA
The trade to Chicago earned Gorzo an instant call-up to fill in for Ted Lilly, so (barring a setback) he’s expected to give two starts, at which point he’ll likely head back to the ‘pen or AAA. He looked very good in his one Chicago start, but his True Talent predictions are just above borderline and he’s never been a strikeout guy, so he needs to control walks to succeed. He’s walked 3.1 per 9 in AAA this season, which is just outside acceptable range, and the Cubs are playing well, so he may get the offense to win. If you need a couple of starts from a borderline pitcher with a good shot at a win, roll the dice with Gorzo, but keep his short shelf life in mind.
Ryan Roberts | Arizona | 2B/3B
True Talent: .247/.326/.388
Next Week Forecast: 0.4 HR, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, .243 BA, 0.3 SB
With the trade of Felipe Lopez, Roberts slid into a platoon with Augie Ojeda at the keystone. The D-backs know that Ojeda’s just an average utility guy, Roberts is a lefty and Hinch likes his scrappy approach, so he’s going to take the bigger chunk of the platoon, and could increase his PT if he continues to hit well. He’s not going to suddenly turn into Ian Kinsler, and he’s too old to show us any new tricks, but he did hit .275/.374/.449 in seven seasons in the minors, so he’s got a little pop and can even swipe a bag or two (46 minor-league SBs and five so far this year). True Talent sees him giving back some of those gains, but even if he only hits his projections, he’s deserving of a roster spot in 14-team NL-only leagues and the deepest of mixed leagues.
Pedro Feliciano | New York | RP
YTD: 8.2 K/9, 3.6 K/BB, 3.07 ERA
True Talent: 7.9 K/9, 2.3 K/BB, 3.45 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.0 Saves, 3.23 ERA
At this point in the year, good closers and setup men are hard to come by, but Feliciano has been one of the steadiest and most-used relievers in baseball, with the stats to prove it. His recent 3 ER, 0.1 IP outing was significant in part because it was the first time he’d give up more than 1 ER in 23 appearances. Even better, True Talent doesn’t see much of a regression coming from this non-situational lefty. He’s an outside possibility to close games if K-Rod goes down, but mostly he’s going to bring in Ks at a decent clip while stabilizing your ratios. He’s probably not available in leagues that count holds, but he makes better roster filler for a fantasy team in contention than a starter with a chance at disaster.
George Sherrill | Los Angeles | RP
YTD: 8.9 K/9, 3.0 K/BB, 2.32 ERA
True Talent: 8.9 K/9, 2.2 K/BB, 3.47 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.2 Saves, 3.25 ERA
If you had Sherrill before the trade, you probably dumped him, but like Feliciano, he’s not a bad play for keeping your ratios down. Plus, Broxton has looked strong after a cortisone shot at the All-Star Break, but those wear off, and that toe might come back to haunt him again. The Dodgers traded for Sherrill for a reason—to give them extra Broxton insurance and to keep their bullpen steady—and that’s the same reason you’d want him on your team. He’ll pick up holds, perhaps the occasional save, and deliver good strikeouts and strong ratios regardless.
True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.