After speculating who might get the call this September, we now know which prospects are getting their feet wet in the majors. More importantly, we can decide which ones may provide some fantasy value. Unlike hitter call-ups, pitchers sometimes change roles completely when they first break in. So an arm like Taijuan Walker – whom we all know is destined to be a starter – finds himself pitching out of the pen to help the Mariners in their playoff hunt. It’s not exactly Earth-shattering and it happens often, but it means we’re not going to be streaming a start from the likes of Walker or Andrew Heaney over these last two weeks, making them all but irrelevant in anything but the deepest of redraft leagues. Here – in no particular order – are the September pitcher call-ups with varying degrees of fantasy relevance for the rest of this season…
Taijuan Walker, RHP | SEA
Don’t let the recent long-relief appearance in his game logs fool you. Walker looks to be locked into a relief role for the remainder of this season, which limits his value for those of us hoping to see him get a start or two down the stretch. Roenis Elias and even Chris Young have given the Mariners just enough to keep their rotation spots. On the bright side, the 22-year-old right-hander has struck out six in 7.1 innings this September and remains one of the best pitching prospects heading into 2015. AL-only option.
Rafael Montero, RHP | NYM
Montero is part of a very young and talented collection of arms in New York. The 23-year-old threw five scoreless innings against the lowly Rockies with seven punch-outs. The bad news is that he’ll head to the bullpen now. The good news is that Terry Collins left the door open for one more spot start during the last week of the season. That could provide some streamer value in mixed leagues if it indeed shakes out. Meanwhile, it’s starting to look like the bullpen will be where Montero starts the 2015 season. NL-only option.
Andrew Heaney, LHP | MIA
I figured Heaney would get at least a spot start this September, especially with the way Brad Penny has pitched. However as of this writing he has yet to throw a pitch since being recalled earlier this month. Heaney’s first taste of the majors came earlier this season and didn’t go particularly well (15 ER in 20.2 IP). Still, you’d like to see him get at an inning here or there instead of sitting. Despite the up and down season, I’m still in buy mode on Heaney in keeper and dynasty leagues. He should be in the Marlins’ rotation to start 2015. NL-only option.
Nicholas Tropeano, RHP | HOU
Tropeano already has a solid start under his belt and figures to stick in the rotation for the remainder of the season. That gives him more value than some of the others listed here as he can be used as a streamer/spot starter in deeper mixed leagues. Facing the Mariners, the 24-year-old threw five innings and allowed two earned runs while striking out five batters. It was only 80 pitches and I’d imagine the Astros aren’t going to allow him to go too deep into games at this point. Still, he’s worth a flier as he’s actually getting starts. Deep mixed option.
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, RHP | PHI
Still a part of the Phillies’ future plans, Gonzalez joins the major league club this September after making his way through three levels of the minor leagues in 2014. The Phils forked over $12 million for the 27-year-old Cuban import, who struck out 54 batters in 46 innings pitched in the minors. Those strikeout numbers came with a 5.1 BB/9 however. That’s a mark he’ll obviously need to improve upon. He posted a 1.62 ERA with 19 Ks in 16 IP in Triple-A prior to his call-up and the Phillies are still trying to determine Gonzalez’s future role with the team. NL-only option.
Brandon Finnegan, LHP | KC
Finnegan made the big jump from the draft to the major leagues this season. Taken 17th overall by the Royals, the 21-year-0ld is already contributing to their bullpen. He has been perfect through 2.2 innings pitched with three strikeouts and could find himself in a high-leverage situation or two in the remaining two weeks. His fastball/changeup/slider arsenal works out of the pen, but keep an eye on him as a starter down the road as well. AL-only option.
Daniel Norris, LHP | TOR
Norris has been excellent in his first taste of the majors. Like Marcus Stroman, Norris should find his way into the Blue Jays’ rotation at some point despite this first taste of relief pitching. For now, the 21-year-old has recorded a hold with two strikeouts and no runs allowed in 1.1 innings pitched. The 3-2 curveball he threw to strike out David Ortiz showed why he topped many of the Blue Jays’ prospect rankings this midseason. AL-only option.
Cam Bedrosian, RHP | LAA
Bedrosian has yet to allow a run in 3.2 relief innings for the Angels. The 22-year-old son of former major leaguer (and Phillie) Steve Bedrosian struck out a whopping 82 batters in 45 innings pitched with 18 saves across three levels of the minors this year. With the big club, Bedrosian continues to strike out more than a batter per inning, although he has had to work around a walk in each of his September appearances. Bedrosian should be a future piece in the late innings for the Angels even he doesn’t see any high-leverage situations this season. AL-only option.
Hunter Strickland, RHP| SF
Strickland has already made four appearances with four strikeouts and no runs allowed in 3.1 innings pitched for the Giants. In 38.2 innings between High-A and Double-A this season, Strickland struck out 55 batters and recorded 11 saves. Like Bedrosian, Strickland figures to be a big part of the late innings for the Giants as soon as 2015. Unlike Bedrosian, Strickland doesn’t walk many batters. He issued just four walks all season. NL-only option.
John Holdzkom, RHP | PIT
One of the names that wasn’t at the forefront of the September call-up lists was Holdzkom. But since September 2, the 26-year-old right-hander has struck out nine batters in five innings of work. He’s walked only one. Surprise, surprise but Holdzkom might be one of the most fantasy relevant arms of this group. He has already notched a save and two holds for the Pirates since his promotion. Deep mixed option.