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Huff worth a puff?
Ryan Lavarnway, Boston Red Sox
Kevin Youkilis (back) is out for a couple of weeks, so the BoSox will fill the empty spot with Lavarnway, who has made a name for himself with his recent ascendance of the minor league ladder. He should play immediately at DH because David Ortiz (bursitis in his heel) is in pain, too, and may sit out for a week or so, at least. Lavarnway has reportedly come a long way on defense, but Boston has no need to test him behind the dish and instead can employ his potent bat, which some call major league-ready.
The 24-year-old batted .304 with 16 home runs and 47 RBIs in 236 plate appearances for Triple-A Pawtucket. Earlier this season, he hit .284 with 14 dingers and 38 RBIs for Double-A Portland. The right-handed hitter's farm numbers portray a player who possesses a good feel for the strike zone and is also aggressive. This lineup is looking for a bit of a spark right now, and Lavarnway may get a crack at providing it, for a short spell, anyway. Although he's far from a sure thing, he could make a nice impact at catcher in deep fantasy leagues.
Shallow mixed: Pass
Deep mixed: Watch
Jed Lowrie, Boston Red Sox
Kevin Youkilis' DL placement for back pain ensures that Lowrie is pretty much an everyday player again, less than two weeks after he returned from the DL for a shoulder injury. The early-season sensation was playing regularly recently because Marco Scutaro has been dealing with back problems for the last several days. Mike Aviles is an immediate beneficiary because of Scutaro's ailment, which so far hasn't been considered serious.
Obviously, Lowrie hasn't been such a huge asset since roughly the middle of May. He's hitting .256 with four home runs and 27 RBIs in 223 at-bats this season. The switch hitter might be eligible at several spots in your league and can be a real asset as an everyday player. You'd prefer to catch him at the beginning of a hot streak rather than fight others for him in the middle of one.
Shallow mixed: Watch
Deep mixed: Consider
David Huff, Cleveland Indians
The Tribe called up Huff for a three-start stretch right after the break. He went 1-1 with a 0.51 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, 15 K's and four walks in 17 2/3 frames before they sent him back down because they acquired Ubaldo Jimenez. Cleveland placed Carlos Carrasco on the disabled list with inflammation in his pitching elbow less than a week later. The club called on Huff when they needed a fifth starter, this past Sunday against the Minnesota Twins. The southpaw went two scoreless innings and struck out four before that one was called because of rain.
A small-sample miracle, if ever there was one, right? Perhaps, but credit due to Waiting for Next Year dot com for delving into the 26-year-old's numbers more deeply and unearthing possible reasons to believe. In 208 big-league frames prior to this season, he was a BP pitcher eating up innings. He was rarely aggressive. According to the numbers WFNY.com unearthed (which are, context-wise, backed up by an article in The Plain Dealer), the left-hander has simplified his delivery and is much more willing to use his fastball to set up the rest of his repertoire.
Do have that much more reason to believe that Huff is for real this time around? Perhaps not, but Huff was considered a cut above some of the club's other recent soft-tossing flameouts. At Triple-A Columbus this season, he was 9-3 with a 3.87 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, a 5.55 K/9 and a 2.52 BB/9. His numbers will undoubtedly see some correction, but the focus is on the reduced free pass rate and the increase in swinging-strike percentage. There's more reason to believe that he can be an asset in very deep leagues this time. He'll get his next chance to prove that he should stick around this Saturday in a tough assignment at home against the Detroit Tigers.
Shallow mixed: Pass
Deep mixed: Pass
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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