OK, yes, I saw the final strike called in the Texas/Tampa Bay game on Monday. Yes, it was an ugly call. Was it the worst call I’ve ever seen to end a game? Maybe. There have been so many over the years. But rather than dwell on something that has very little impact on your fantasy baseball team and will, in the grand scheme of things, mean absolutely nothing, I’d rather discuss something that may actually help you this season. I know it’s painful – like dentist chair painful – but let’s talk closers.
We’re barely a week into the season and already, the closer situation is looking like it’s going to be a veritable mess this year. The position is always one steeped in volatility, but save for the time Fernando Rodney got yanked from the job by Mike Scioscia inside the first week of the season a couple of years ago, it’s hard to remember things getting this ugly so early on. Already, there have been two closing gigs that have changed hands, a few more which could be sooner rather than later, and if we’re not careful, we all could be chasing saves via the waiver wire if we’re not careful. Like I said, the situation is ugly.
In truth, we all expected the switch to happen in Chicago…for the Cubs, that is. Carlos Marmol turned into a wreck last year and when the Cubs brought in star Japanese reliever, Kyuji Fujikawa, it was just a matter of time. Things didn’t take long actually as Marmol opened this year just as he finished both the spring and last season – shaky. With the Cubs up 3-0 in the ninth on Opening Day, Marmol was summoned for the save. He came in and struck out the first batter, but then hit the next, gave up an RBI-single to the one after that and then walked the one after that one. Manager Dale Sveum had seen enough and decided playing match-ups was best and two batters later Fujikawa notched his first save. Further ups and downs both by Marmol and Fujikawa throughout the week muddled the decision-making process, but ultimately, the team made the change and Fujikawa was promptly snatched up in every league if, somehow he was still available.
Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, the frustrations from watching John Axford’s mound implosions proved to be too much as he too was yanked from his job this week. Again, not a tough one to see coming as Axford’s ratios last season were a disaster and with a talented Jim Henderson lurking, the winds of change were blowing. Axford made three appearances this year so far and over a total of 2.2 innings, he allowed six earned runs and made Ron Roenicke’s decision an easy one. Henderson has become one of the hottest waiver adds in the past two days, but I wouldn’t worry if you missed out on him. Given his lack of experience in the role, there’s always the chance that things switch back at some point.
While those two situations are the only ones that have officially been changed, we seem to be on the cusp of a few more. Greg Holland is struggling in Kansas City and while manager Ned Yost has given him the public vote of confidence, he yanked Holland from one save situation in favor of Kelvin Herrera and on Monday, Yost went with Aaron Crow for the save. If you’re looking to pick up the next in line, go with Herrera over Crow. The situation in St. Louis isn’t looking too pretty either as Mitchell Boggs got smacked around yesterday (granted, in a non-save situation) and most people with familiarity of the situation believe that Trevor Rosenthal is the guy who will start seeing work if Jason Motte remains out.
You also have the situation in Detroit getting murkier with the signing of Jose Valverde. Obviously there is little confidence in either Phil Coke or Joaquin Benoit to get the job done. Joel Hanrahan looked shaky on Monday and has a few vultures hovering over him, Jose Veras hasn’t looked particularly good in Houston, people are still wondering about the Brandon League/Kenley Jansen situation for the Dodgers, and Miami’s Steve Cishek hasn’t looked too strong this year either. So keep a close watch on the closer situations this season. This could be one of those years where the turnover rate is so massive that it doesn’t matter how much or how little you’ve invested so far. You’re still going to be forced into paying more.
Now let’s hit the highlights…
Fantasy Beast of the Day
|Robinson Cano, 2B NYY||3-4, 4 R, 2B, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB|
Robbie knows BOOM! That phrase may crawl under the skin of most, but for Yankees fans and Robinson Cano owners, it is music to the ears. After a 3-for-23 opening to the season, Cano finally broke out with a multi-homer game and allowed those nervous, over-anxious fantasy owners to take their hands off the panic button. It was a smart move by manager Joe Girardi to move Cano up in the order to get him some better pitches to hit. It was a slight risk, given the fact that Cano was 2-for-15 with no home runs and zero RBI from the two-hole, but it seemed to agree with the slugging second baseman as he spent the whole afternoon raking. Cano could go through some peaks and valleys this year given the state of the Yankees lineup, but overall, he’ll retain his spot as the game’s number one second baseman.
The Fantasy Love
|Justin Upton, OF ARI||4-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, RBI|
|Travis Hafner, DH NYY||2-3, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB|
|Paul Maholm, SP ATL||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 7 K|
|Matt Harvey, SP NYM||W, 1.29 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 9 K|
|Clay Buchholz, SP BOS||W, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 8 K|
What more can you say about the way Justin Upton’s season has begun? Think he’s happy to be out of Arizona and away from all the excessive trade talk? I’d say so. But that’s all I’m going to say as his presence on three of my rosters coupled with a bit of superstition ingrained in me by my dear old grandpa who made Robert DeNiro’s character in Silver Linings Playbook look easy-going, prevents me from gushing the way I’d like to.
Remember last year when I used to always say that the sun shines on a dog’s ass at least once? Yeah, what’s up, Travis Hafner?
Some more killer pitching on Monday which just compounds everything I said the day before when the five front-line aces got torched Sunday. Paul Maholm really amped up his game when he was dealt to the Braves last year and that seems to have continued, Matt Harvey is proving that he could be gaining that “ace status” by the end of the season and Clay Buchholz is looking sharper and sharper right now – a place we thought he’d stay after that no-hitter he tossed in his rookie season. None of them cost you much on draft day and all three are going to provide some awesome return value this year.
The Fantasy Angst
|Rickie Weeks, 2B MIL||0-5, R, 3 K|
|Brian Dozier, SS MIN||0-4, 2 K|
|Will Middlebrooks, 3B BOS||0-3, 2 K|
|Mitchell Boggs, RP STL||L, 162.00 ERA 18.00 WHIP|
|Roy Halladay, SP PHI||L, 15.75 ERA, 2.25 WHIP, 3 K|
You know…..the usual here. It’s a bummer to see your players’ names show up in this section, but it happens to everyone. Yes, some more than others, but sooner or later, everyone gets a turn here. So is there concern over any of them? Well, I mentioned Boggs earlier so that’s obviously not a situation that gives you the warm fuzzies, but the one that really hurts is the downfall of the Doc. Roy Halladay used to be such an automatic. Remember? Now, he’s a cautionary tale. I can’t even say that this is a prime opportunity to buy low because I don’t know if he ever rights the ship again. He might not be as bad as he was Monday all of the time, but he is no longer the intimidating force on the mound that he used to be. Tread lightly here as we could be watching him ride off into the sunset soon.
Nolan Reimold, OF BAL – hamstring (day to day)
Carlos Santana, C CLE – wrist (day to day)
Chris Narveson, SP MIL – finger (questionable for next start)
Wandy Rodriguez, SP PIT – hamstring (questionable for next start)
Jeff Niemann, SP TB – shoulder (likely out for season)
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a vaiety of web sites. You can find his personal musings on RotobuzzGuy.com and for questions, thoughts or comments, you can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at email@example.com.
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