Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Mike Leake, more

by Nicholas Minnix on May 25, 2011 @ 13:45:25 PDT


Your fantasy baseball cheat sheets are no longer of use.'s Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market series gives you tips on fantasy baseball players available as free agents, on waivers or for your FAAB dollars in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball league. It's time to replace your fantasy baseball busts.


Acquire Add player (in most circumstances)
Consider Add for speculation or because of need
Watch Track player, consider if trend continues
Pass Do not add player (in most circumstances)



Mike Leake, Cincinnati Reds

Dusty Baker said that the right-hander is probably the man who'll fill in for Edinson Volquez, who was demoted. To begin the season, Leake, 23, posted a 5.70 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in nine games, including six starts, while Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto were unavailable. His brief Triple-A Louisville stint (two games, one start, 7 1/3 frames) hasn't gone particularly well; he has yielded 12 hits, eight earned runs and three homers.

Cincinnati Reds SP Mike Leake
Maybe you can plug a Leake

The farm work isn't encouraging, but Baker's familiarity with him probably gives him an edge over other options. Leake doesn't have special stuff; he certainly pitched better than expected for the first few months of 2010.

For as much as he was destined to fall off last season, however, his 2011 big league marks could be expected to move closer to respectability. He issued no walks for Louisville in his time there, has handed them out at a rate akin to last season's and he was striking out two more hitters per nine innings in this year's MLB action. His increased use of his cutter may be lending to poor outcomes if he doesn't command it well. But it could also partially explain his bumps in swinging strike percentage and K/9, the latter of which should cool off a touch but still be solid.

Leake is still a pretty hittable pitcher, and using him involves some faith because of his unpredictability. He could easily be worth a shot, however. There's also no telling how long Volquez will be in detention. Last year, he struggled after returning from TJS. The Reds optioned him, but he spent little more than a week there after correcting his mechanical issues.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Javy Guerra and Rubby De La Rosa, Los Angeles Dodgers

Don Mattingly used Guerra, 25, in a save situation on Tuesday because his usual committee wasn't available. Skip's reason: He was doing it on the farm, why not let him close in the bigs? The righty pitched a clean frame, with a K, to nail it down. In five MLB stanzas, he has allowed four hits, two runs, a dinger and two walks, with four K's.

De La Rosa, 22, set him up with a similarly clean inning, except with two strikeouts, in his MLB debut. The northpaw has primarily been a starter in the minors; like Guerra, he came straight from Double-A Chattanooga.

Each throws hard and has posted quality rates of strikeouts per nine innings in his career. De La Rosa's record is probably a little more impressive because he has forged most of it as a starter. Each also has a history of control rate issues and, obviously, is very inexperienced.

Gamble if you must; one never knows. Guerra is the much better bet of the two, but don't invest much. Vicente Padilla (forearm strain) may not be back as quickly as LA hopes, but Hong-Chih Kuo (anxiety) is doing well and may return in a couple of weeks or less. This situation is a mess.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Consider

Carlos Villanueva, Toronto Blue Jays

Jesse Litsch continues to experience pain, is scheduled to have his right shoulder examined later this week and isn't expected to return when eligible. There should be some concern, since Litsch underwent shoulder surgery in 2008 and endured a long road back to big league relevance.

Villanueva, 27, started in place of Litsch this past Monday and appeared to dominate: He gave up just two hits and one run, with a walk and five strikeouts, in five innings against the New York Yankees. This season he has struck out 7.98 hitters per nine and walked 3.38 per nine 29 1/3 stanzas.

Despite the showing, Villanueva doesn't seem like a safe bet. He flamed out in similar opportunities with the Milwaukee Brewers, never sustaining his successful stretches and then totally collapsing to negate them. The home run ball has always been an issue for the right-hander, but this year he's giving them up about half as often as he has in his career. The indicators don't suggest that will continue. His .149 BABIP and 89.1 percent left-on-base percentage are certainly due for some correction, especially in the rotation.

Feel free to give him a shot in the short term. If Litsch's absence is extended, ultimately, this should become an opening for a few southpaws: Early-season castoff Brett Cecil, mediocre prospect Brad Mills or even bullpen arm Marc Rzepczynski, although Toronto seems happy with the latter in his relief role.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Pass

AL-only: Consider

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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