|Closer Carousel Keeps on Spinning!|
|AL or Nothing|
|Written by Ryan Carey|
|Thursday, 10 May 2012 05:06|
The closer position is just insane right now in fantasy. Log onto any message board or website and people are talking about closers. Who blew a save today? Who got hurt? Who’s going to get save now? It’s been relentlessly endless since spring training when Ryan Madson and Joakim Soria blew out their arms. In the NFBC there were so many different threads dedicated to closers blowing saves or losing jobs that finally KJ Duke started a thread titled “Closer Fail” which has served as a one-stop spot for owners to kvetch about their struggling stoppers, speculate on who’s next to get injured or lose their job and of course talk about who’s next in line.
The biggest news of course was the season-ending knee injury suffered by Mariano Rivera while shagging fly balls during batting practice last Thursday. It was shocking news to fantasy owners everywhere, who like the Yankees themselves, have been spoiled by the consistency of the future Hall of Famer for the past 15 years. His untimely demise sent owners scrambling to the wire this past weekend to grab either David Robertson or Rafael Soriano.
Robertson far and away was the more highly sought target, especially after a lights out audition on the Friday after Mo’s injury, where he struck out the side in a non-save situation. While he was already owned in many deeper formats, he was readily available in 12-team leagues and went for bids that easily averaged about $500. Soriano was scooped up by others as a much cheaper consolation prize, on the hopes that he will be able to secure at least a share of the save opportunities for the Yankees the rest of the way.
After locking down his first save on Tuesday, Robertson came out yesterday and had an absolute meltdown. After not being scored upon in his first 13 appearances this year, he allowed four runs on three hits and a walk, the big blow being a three-run blast by Matt Joyce. Soriano owners were no doubt giddy with excitement at the news, and it would seem that the vet will indeed get a few chances himself, at least in the short-term. If you spent at least half of your FAAB on Robertson, then all you can do is take this one on the chin and hope that the young flame-thrower can shake it off before his next opportunity. You put your money down, so you’ll have to ride it out, and in this case I think you’ll still be rewarded. It could be worse as you could have spent hundreds of FAAB dollars on Hector Santiago or Francisco Cordero.
About an hour after the news on Rivera broke and was rippling through the fantasy world, new Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura decided to make things even more interesting when it was announced that promising young pitcher Chris Sale was going to be removed from the starting rotation and placed in the closer’s role. Santiago was out and Sale was in.
As someone heavily invested in Sale this year, and enjoying his solid start to the season, I for one was totally caught off-guard by the news. Why was this happening? What’s going on? Having also invested heavily in Addison Reed, I was perplexed at the news as I had been waiting patiently for Reed to step into the role.
Apparently, Sale was complaining about some elbow soreness, so the Sox decided a move to the bullpen was in order to avoid over-taxing his arm. Okay, I can buy that, I guess. I have heard all the stories about the 6’6”, 180 pound pitcher's thin frame and his violent delivery and how some in the organization doubted his ability to ever handle a starter’s workload. The Sox made statements saying he wasn’t hurt and he would be available to start closing out games the following Monday. Over the weekend, no new news broke on Sale or his health, and it seemed like we had a new closer and Sale owners at least could console themselves with the fact that while they were likely losing the 200-K upside that they had drafted Sale for in the first place, they at least would still get something out of him as a closer.
So what happens next? On Tuesday, the White Sox were up 3-0 on the Indians in the eighth inning, and after starter John Danks gave up two consecutive singles to open the inning, Sale was summoned from the bullpen for his first appearance since the move was announced. I caught wind of it on a message board and the first thing I thought was likely what others who owned him did. What the heck is Ventura doing bringing him in now? Being a Tribe fan, I hopped over to MLB.com and tuned in.
Johnny Damon and Jason Kipnis were the first two hitters slated to face Sale. Okay, I thought, they are both lefties, so I get the move to Sale now I suppose. Fellow southpaw Matt Thornton had just blown a game the night before and I guess Ventura really wants to win this game. Well, it didn’t work, as Damon reached on an error by SS Alexie Ramirez, loading the bases. Kipnis drove in a run on a fielder’s choice. Asdrubal Cabrera drew a slightly controversial walk before Carlos Santana tied the game with a base hit back up the middle. Sale’s night was finished and instead of a save all we got were more questions. To make things even more interesting, Addison Reed came on in the tenth inning, after the White Sox took the lead again in the top half, and notched his second save in impressive fashion.
While Jake Peavy and the offense gave the back of Ventura’s bullpen the night off yesterday, news broke that Sale would be going in for an MRI on Thursday. WTF? This came after Sale was quoted after Tuesday’s game saying that he still wanted to be a starter and that his arm felt fine. The pitching coach Don Cooper compared the situation to what the Rangers had done with Neftali Feliz earlier this year. That would seem to indicate that Sale would or at least could get moved back to the rotation.
All we can do now is wait for news of Sale’s MRI today and then see how Ventura and Cooper decide to proceed. I for one am very glad that I decided to hang onto Reed just in case. I am also holding out hope that they just put Sale on the D.L. (like they should have in the first place), let him rest for a couple weeks, then bring him back and let him start. That would be the best option for me and sorry, I’m feeling a little selfish right about now.
Around the League
Francisco Cordero has been removed from the role after blowing his third save for the Blue Jays. Casey Janssen has been named as his replacement and will see if he can hold down the fort until Sergio Santos is ready to return in a couple weeks. He’s worth a grab if you are scrounging for saves, but he’s a likely stopgap option.
Chris Perez blew the save for the Indians in the aforementioned game against the White Sox and my money is still on him to be the next closer to lose his job.
I wonder if Will Middlebrooks knows the name Wally Pipp? I am pretty sure Kevin Youkils knows his baseball history. I’ll admit I was skeptical of the kid and didn’t make any moves on him last week. I even cut him in a deep keeper league that I could of held onto him in, mainly because I was already stashing Nolan Arenado there. He made me regret that decision with his recent play and I just don’t see how the Red Sox don’t make room for him before the year is out. If you took a chance on him, congrats, he looks like a keeper.
Doug Fister finally returned from his D.L. stint and looked good on Monday pitching seven scoreless innings against the Mariners. Octavio Dotel flushed the victory down the drain in the ninth subbing in for Jose Valverde, who was unavailable, so Fister will look to get his first victory this weekend against the Oakland A’s.
Lawr Michaels’ sleeper Kyle Seager has woken back up in May and looks like he is back in the M’s lineup to stay for now. After being challenged for playing time by Chone Figgins and Alex Liddi, Seager has been the most consistent weapon in a lineup desperate for offense. He even got a start at 2B the other day.
In case you didn’t hear Josh Hamilton hit 4 home runs against the Orioles on Tuesday. He’s been an absolute monster and I’m sure Buck Showalter’s gang was not sad to see yesterday’s game rained out. Hamilton is mocking all of us who passed on him in our drafts right now. Still, he dropped in drafts for a reason and that reason hasn’t gone away. He’s still an injury prone superstar. If he stays healthy all season, he’s going to win the MVP again. But odds are he’ll get hurt again. If you have him you can’t trade him, so just enjoy the ride and hope he stays off the trainer’s table.
The Twins mercifully have banished Francisco Liriano to the bullpen, where he will likely stay for quite awhile. The bright side is you don’t have to worry about enduring another disastrous start this week. If you haven’t cut him already, now is the time.
The Royals have recalled second baseman Johnny Giavotella. It could be just a temporary move since the Royals have a lot of left-handed pitchers coming up on the docket and wanted to get another right-handed bat in the lineup. Still, he’s worth a flier, since Chris Getz is still Chris Getz.
Andy Petitte will be recalled from the minors to start on Sunday against the Seattle Mariners. He hasn’t exactly been lighting it up in the minors, but the Yankees need him to provide a boost to the back-end of their rotation. His presence is also needed in the clubhouse in the wake of Rivera’s devastating injury.
Razzball Experts League Update
I’m happy to report that the Mastersball Carey squad is sitting in first place with 86.5 points, 8 points ahead of the nearest competition. It's been fun to jump out of the gate so strong in this league and I've been having a lot of fun with the guys over at Razzball.com in the process. If you haven't read their stuff, they are pretty funny guys over there. I have slumped a bit from a high of 99 points just a couple weeks ago, but I’m hoping for a boost from Mike Trout, Doug Fister and Kenley Jansen to keep me rolling. Dash Davidson and Dalton Del Don from Rotowire , Tim Dierkes of Roto Authority, Yahoo’s Andy Behrens and the Razzball boys Grey Albright and Rudy Gamble are all bunched up behind me so I won’t be getting complacent anytime soon. Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue to avoid any major injuries (I did lose Andrew Bailey) and keep riding Jake Peavy as long as I can.
Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanpcarey