It’s déjà vu all over again, right Yogi? Pablo Sandoval hitting the DL with the exact same injury as last season? Kung Fu Panda joining fellow third sackers, Evan Longoria and Ryan Zimmerman, just as he did one year ago today? Brutal. Just brutal. Fantasy owners that invested in a top third baseman because of how thin the position remained this year are banging their heads against the wall trying to find an adequate replacement on the waiver wire, something that probably doesn’t exist even anymore. By the time Sandoval owners got the news, third base-eligible waivers had already been picked clean by owners of Longoria, Zimmerman and throw in Kevin Youkilis this time for good measure. Shallow league owners are likely deciding between Pedro Alvarez and Chris Johnson while deeper league victims are probably staring at Wilson Betemit, Alex Liddi and John McDonald and just shaking their heads both in disgust and disbelief.
And there’s really no replacing any of these guys at this point in the season. Waivers have been scavenged over the last month as the season is still fresh enough that everyone is in full-participation mode and jumping at every flavor-of-the-week they can find. There really is no one left to even come close to matching the level of production you would be getting from a full season of the guy(s) you just lost. You’re just going to have to suck it up, find some sort of a band-aid for the situation and alter your in-season strategy to help compensate for the loss. Maybe you bulk up on some cheap steals to give yourself a push in that category. Or perhaps you turn around and start raiding the waiver wire for the abundance of part-time closers that seem to now be popping up these days. You’re going to have to do something, because you’re about to start losing points in some of the offensive categories because replacing a .316-5-15 Sandoval who will likely hit for similar, but slightly higher totals over the next six weeks with a .188-0-3 Brent Morel just ain’t gonna cut it.
The closer situation is obviously one to explore given the fact the current Mariano Rivera disaster. Man, when it rains, it pours, huh? That image of him being lifted and carried to the cart with that dejected look of sadness mixed with pain and anguish will forever be burned in my brain. To see him go down like that is just devastating, both for general baseball fans and fantasy players alike. You never want to see a player get hurt like that, but it is compounded even more when the victim is an icon; a legend of the game. Even just sitting here writing about is making me sad. Not just because I own him in one league, but because of who he is as a player and what he’s meant to the game all these years.
But alas, the show must go on and you need to stay on top of who is closing for whom now. I’ll be updating the Closer Grid and throwing out some more news and information later in the day in the Closers section, but for now you’re going to want to look at David Robertson and possibly Rafael Soriano for the Yankees, and with the news that the Cubs are pulling Carlos Marmol from the closer’s role in Chicago, names like James Russell and Rafael Dolis should be on your radar.
Now if you’re not too depressed, let’s try and find some of the good that happened on Thursday…
|Brandon Morrow, TOR||9.0||3||0||0||0||8||0||0.00||0.33|
Now this is the Brandon Morrow we all expected to see this year. After a few lackluster starts, Morrow has turned in a pair of performances much more indicative of his talents and our expectations. After Thursday’s complete game, three-hit shutout, Morrow has now thrown 15 scoreless innings over his last two starts, allowing just eight hits and no walks while striking out 17. His K/9 is now 6.26 and climbing while his 1.73 BB/9 is the best it’s ever been. The strikeouts have always been a plus for Morrow, so the reduced total this season was alarming for some. However, seeing what he has been doing lately, the adjustments he has made to his game, leads me to believe that the double digit K/9 that we’ve grown accustomed to is on its way back and we’re going to see him take his game to a whole new level. The window to buy low on him is rapidly closing, if it hasn’t fully shut already.
|Jason Kipnis, 2B CLE||2-3, 2 R, 3B, HR, 4 RBI, BB|
|Pedro Alvarez, 3B PIT||2-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI|
|Mike Moustakas, 3B KC||2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI|
|Jeff Keppinger, 2B TB||2-2, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB|
|Joe Blanton, SP PHI||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.33 WHIP, 6 K|
The irony of seeing two third baseman who are on the rise here today, in the wake of all the injuries, is almost too much for me to handle right now. I’m much more of a believer in Mike Moustakas as an overall fantasy contributor, but the recent performance of Pedro Alvarez really has me wondering if he truly has turned a corner. He is now sitting on a six-game hit streak with three home runs and eight RBI and has five multi-hit performances. He’s raised his batting average from an atrocious .176 to a much more respectable .257 and if he truly has made the necessary adjustments/improvements to his game the nthat number should continue ot climb alongside the power totals. If you are in a shallow league and have lost a top third baseman, then Alvarez makes a rock solid choice as a replacement right now.
Watching Jason Kipnis mature as a hitter has been fun to watch as well. He’s now working a seven-game hit streak with four multi-hit games, one home run, six RBI and two stolen bases. Overall, he’s hitting .292 with four home runs, 17 RBI and five stolen bases. I don’t know about you, but that certainly smells of 20-20 potential here, no? Slightly odd batting stance, but he sure looks like a strong option at the keystone, not just for this year, but for the future as well. Keeper league owners should make a note if they already haven’t done so.
As for Jeff Keppinger and Joe Blanton, each have their merits but a strictly role player material at best. Blanton is someone to stream still as he definitely struggles against some of the stronger offenses and is not someone you want active with a match-up in a hitter’s park. Kepp might be a good fill-in candidate in the real world, but he’s just not going to see enough consistent playing time to even make him a decent plug-and-play candidate to stash on your bench.
|Juan Francisco, 3B ATL||0-3, 3K|
|Adam Lind, 1B TOR||0-4, 3 K|
|Wilson Valdez, 2B CIN||0-4, 2 K|
|Michael Saunders, OF SEA||0-4, 2 K|
|Buster Posey, C SF||0-4, 2 K|
Lots of swinging and missing here, but nothing that you need to be freaking out about. Well, maybe you should be a little concerned if you’re an Adam Lind owner. Normally a fast starter to the season, Lind is batting a dreadful .193 with just one home run and seven RBI. But he’s got a fantastic 10.8% walk rate and his 17.2% strikeout rate isn’t outlandish at all. It’s the .227 BABIP that’s killing him right now, but that should, hopefully, be on the rise soon.
I’m actually, given the current third base situation, jotting down Juan Francisco’s name for my player watch list. Solid power potential but the strikeouts are killing him….and us. If he can start to cut down that K-rate, then perhaps the power blossoms even more and he becomes a viable option down the road. Again, noit for now, but I’m watching him.
As for the injuries, well, the big ones have all been covered. I’m only going to depress myself…and you…more by typing out their names here. Just go to your fantasy league’s host site and track the added injuries there. I’m too sad right now.
::dons #42 pinstriped jersey, turns on Enter Sandman, walks off into sunset::
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over ten years on a variety of web sites including his own, The Fantasy Baseball Buzz. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at email@example.com.
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