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Avila's hamstring woes couldn't be ignored any longer. Gerald Laird (who's dealing with his own right hamstring tightness) and newly summoned Bryan Holaday will split backstop duties. Their only value rests in single-universe playing time opportunities. Avoid dealing with this mess at all costs.
Avila, 25, remains on a similar homer pace to last year's output of 19 but hasn't had as much luck in the contact department despite an increase in liners of 25.2 percent from 21.7 last season. He's hitting more grounders as well, unfortunately, and is only hitting 30.1 percent of his connections into the air. He isn't pulling with much authority, either, so despite his continued success in spraying around the field, he's not maximizing his results.
Offseason surgery wasn't needed while he rehabbed severe tendonitis in both knees. Maybe it's still affecting him; laboring or favoring in one area of the body often leads to problems in other regions and could hinder plate work, as well.
When he's right, Avila still has a combination of useful offensive components to be at least a No. 2 mixed C with his 2011 breakthrough likely serving as his ceiling. Dropping him would be rash.
The young right-hander's Saturday start versus the Milwaukee Brewers is seemingly just the beginning. Eric Stults ("strain on the back of his left shoulder") is DLed, so the 2012 setup man whose long-term plan leans toward taking opening-inning rubbers will get a shot sooner than expected.
GM Josh Byrnes said they'll option the flamethrower to the minors following his weekend outing to stretch him out. It's just getting back on the horse, considering Cashner had been a SP throughout his professional career before serving as a bullpen artist this year.
Don't count on Cashner to pitch deep enough into tomorrow's game to qualify for a win. San Diego hopes he'll log three frames so they can piece together 'pen options together from there. He'll have to refine his control and likely take a bit off his triple-digit-touching dart to survive as a SP.
Still, considering he induces grounders frequently and already has a capable starter's arsenal, there's plenty of upside here, like a pauper's Brandon Morrow for the long term.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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