Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Felix Hernandez, Carlos Marmol, Leonys Martin

by Keith Hernandez on June 15, 2012 @ 17:37:06 PDT's Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market gives you candid reviews and ratings of fantasy baseball players making MLB news in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball leagues. Are they trade bait or worth your FAAB dollars in your fantasy baseball games?

Felix Hernandez in a slump

King Felix has not been pitching like royalty or the staff ace that he's supposed to be for the Seattle Mariners. Even he admits it: "I'm tired of pitching like that. I've got to do something about this."

He pitched like the Felix we all know and love in the season's first month, going 2-1 with a 2.23 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 44 1/3 innings. Since then, things haven't been so pretty; he's 2-5 with a 5.19 ERA and 42 K's in 43 1/3 frames.

Chicago Cubs RP Carlos Marmol
He's back...

A sore back could be the reason for his downfall in the month of May. Hernandez is the type that would pitch through a minor ailment without bringing it up to the team until he felt it was affecting his performance. The "sore back" was enough to keep him from his start on June 6, and he had 11 days of rest before his start in a juicy matchup against the San Diego Padres this past Tuesday. That one didn't go so well (nine hits, five earned runs, three BBs and three K's in a loss), either.

Hernandez's peripherals aren't alarming; he's still fanning close to nine batters per nine innings, and his BB/9 remains low at 2.98. He's been a bit unlucky in the HR/FB department (11.8 percent), and his BABIP (.321) is the highest since his 2007 campaign. As noted in the recap from his latest tilt, against the Friars, his defense hasn't done him any favors, either.

Perhaps most telling is the fact that his fastball velocity is down a few ticks at 91.7 mph from his career average of 94.4. This would make sense, especially if his back has been privately bugging him for longer than he - or the team - has disclosed.

The expected positive regression in BABIP and HR/FB, coupled with his favorable home park for pitchers, should help to get him back on track. However, the dip in velocity - if unrelated to his injury - shouldn't be ignored. His secondary stuff is good enough, as evidenced by his still solid K/9, so there's reason to believe he can adjust and turn this around.

Carlos Marmol back in as closer

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James Russell worked a perfect eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox Friday, and Marmol was tasked with locking it down in the ninth with a three-run lead. He allowed a single, walked one and struck out a hitter but coaxed Dustin Pedroia to ground out with the bases loaded to preserve the win and record his third save of the year. An error put him in a little hot water.

Chicago Cubs scribe Carrie Muskat indicates that Marmol has the closer gig back. Lack of command of his fastball - and the hesitance to go with the heat - was the main reason Dale Sveum initially gave Marmol a break from the ninth-inning duties.

Sveum noted that Marmol's focus has changed; he's comfortable going to the fastball more and with more conviction. The fact that Marmol got the job done in a tight spot Friday probably earned him some cred with skip, too. If he's still lingering on your waiver wire, act immediately.

Texas Rangers call up Leonys Martin

Josh Hamilton (intestinal virus) is in the hospital and Koji Uehara (strained right lat muscle) was put on the DL today, leading Texas to recall Martin from Triple-A Round Rock, where he posted a slash line of .344/.414/.547 with five home runs and seven thefts in 146 plate appearances.

Hamilton's illness is likely responsible for his recent 10-for-51 slump. He's expected to be released from the hospital in the next day, although he's likely to sit out this weekend. Expect him back in the lineup next week.

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Martin, 24, was a September call-up in 2011, going 3-for-8 with a double, and he was called up mainly because of his exceptional center field defense. At three minor league levels last year, he hit a combined .295 with four home runs (all at Class AA) and 19 stolen bases in 302 at-bats.

His speed and athletic build make him a player that can make an immediate stolen-base impact, and he has power upside that could be tapped into rather quickly at the Ballpark in Arlington. Realistically, though, the power development will come down the road.

Ron Washington may prefer to keep Martin around for a while after Hamilton returns from his illness; it'll allow them to utilize Martin's speed and range in center and shift Hamilton to left. Julio Borbon (.311/356/.464, 10 SBs, six homers in 257 PAs with Round Rock) is another option if they prefer to let Martin develop more down on the farm.

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About Keith Hernandez

Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.

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