Sal Fasano didn't even get to unpack his bags.
One day after being reassigned by the Orioles, the veteran catcher was back with the club, a move necessitated by the injury to Javy Lopez, who underwent surgery Thursday for a broken bone in his right hand and is expected to miss at least six weeks. The injury is a significant blow for the AL's top hitting team.
Fasano and Geronimo Gil, won't be able to replicate Lopez's offensive numbers, but either would make a serviceable though unspectacular backup in AL-only leagues. Gil will see the bulk of the action initially but can't be counted on to bat much better than .240 with occasional pop. He had just four hits in his last 36 at-bats entering Thursday's game.
Fasano showed surprising power in his brief stint with the Birds, hitting two home runs in nine at-bats thus far. He'll earn more at-bats, especially if Gil remains a non-factor at the plate. Fasano is only a .215 career hitter, but his 32 home runs in 678 major league at-bats indicate that he has the ability to go deep.
The biggest winner in all of this could be Jay Gibbons, who will find himself in the lineup just about every day with Lopez out of the DH mix. Gibbons should also get the chance to hit higher in the lineup, perhaps in the No. 6 spot typically occupied by Lopez, which will translate into more RBI opportunities. That's good news for Gibbons, who, after a sluggish start, is batting .324 with five home runs and 13 RBIs in May. He should be owned in any AL league with eight or more teams and in some deeper mixed leagues.
And now a look around the rest of the majors:
- Mark Teixeira, Rangers: Has hit safely in 16 of 20 games this month and is batting .407 with two home runs in his past seven games, lifting his average over .280 for the first time this season. That's more like it.
- Alex Sanchez, Devil Rays: Light-hitting outfielder is batting .373 in May with four steals and two HRs, equaling his career high for a season. Isn't he due for a drug test?
- David Wright, Mets: Snapped out of a May swoon by batting .524 with two home runs, seven RBIs and three steals in the past seven games.
- Todd Jones, Marlins: Word is he's earned the right to co-close after Guillermo Mota returns with his seven saves, 1.31 ERA. Plus, you gotta love those handlebars.
- Chris Capuano, Brewers: Up-and-coming left-hander has a 1.86 May ERA with 30 Ks in 38 2/3 innings this month. He's allowed more than three earned runs in just one of his 10 starts this season.
- Danny Graves, Reds: Tough to say what earned him his release an obscene gesture, or an obscene May ERA (11.00). Someone will pick him up, but his closing days are done.
- Jeff Kent, Dodgers: Scuffling a bit with one hit in his past 20 at-bats, but he'll get back on track soon. Still ranks sixth in the NL with 34 RBIs.
- Clint Barmes, Rockies: Before Wednesday, the remarkable Rockie was in a 2-for-27 tailspin that has dropped his average to .343. He was bound to come back to earth at some point.
- Russ Ortiz, Diamondbacks: The embodiment of WHIP poison, Ortiz has gone 2-2 with a 7.71 ERA, 1.81 WHIP in May. That's a steep price to pay for a few wins.
- Jason Lane, Astros: After batting .295 with four homers in April, Lane is slumping badly in May 8-for-63 (.127) with one HR, four RBIs and spending more time on the bench.
This weekend's matchups
Stan, Carmel, Ind.: I have Erik Bedard, Daniel Cabrera and Bruce Chen as the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 pitchers in my rotation. Bedard is pitching great, but do you think Cabrera and Chen are worth keeping through the season, or do I have my Orioles blinders on? My fear is that Chen will drop off or that Cabrera will remain inconsistent.
Answer: Yes, no and maybe. Does that help?
Bedard in the No. 4 spot is a major luxury. With a 1.24 ERA in May, he's producing more like a No. 1 or 2.
Chen, meanwhile, has been among the biggest surprises in the game with his 5-2 record, 3.51 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. He might not be able to keep up that pace, but he'll come close. The thing that makes Chen so good is that he can throw all of his pitches for strikes, and he's completely unpredictable. He doesn't have overpowering stuff, but hitters can't seem to get a handle on him, the sign of a mature pitcher. Unless he forgets how to pitch overnight, he's an asset to any fantasy team.
The guy that worries me is Cabrera, and for the exact reason you mentioned inconsistency. He'll be great one night, then the next time out, he goes all Sidney Ponson on you, wrecking your ERA and WHIP in the process. Very frustrating. There's no doubt Cabrera has wicked, wicked stuff, but he's still learning how to pitch. As a fan, it's great to see. As a fantasy owner, not so great.
It looked like he was on to something earlier this month when he allowed one earned run in 16 innings over two games against the Blue Jays and Twins. But just like that, it was gone. I'd watch him very closely or as closely as you can from Indiana over the next few starts to see if he can get it going again. If he doesn't, and if you're not in a keeper league, I'd recommend cutting your losses. He's going to be great someday, but you can do better with someone else right now.
That's my take. Of course, keep in mind that I've got a nice set of blinders when it comes to the O's, too. Where'd you get yours?
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