The volatile closer situation seems to have settled a bit... for now. We do have one emerging end of game prospect and the usual collection of starters who have hit a hot streak. This week's list has some good young talent that you could be catching on the front end of a break out season.
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Nate Eovaldi LA Dodgers- Called up following Memorial Day weekend from Double-A to take the spot of the injured Ted Lilly, Eovaldi has exceeded expectations. Thrust into the rotation the same day, he worked seven strong innings, allowing only a two run shot to Ryan Braun. In his second start, Eovaldi again allowed only a pair of runs, working into the seventh at Coors Field. Saturday night, he worked six scoreless innings, but was up against the Seattle no-hitter. Three quality starts is enough in my book!
Clay Buchholz Boston- On the heels of a horrible start, Buchholz has put together four excellent starts since Memorial Day. Entering this season, I thought Buchholz had the best potential for growth on the BoSox staff and he is finally proving me right. Buchholz has allowed only five earned runs over his last 31 innings of work which included a four hit shutout against Baltimore. Clay also has the strikeout pitch working with 28 K's and only six walks during the four quality starts.
Ryan Cook Oakland- Closer Alert! Closer Alert! We can't promise how long it will last, but Cook is the man.... for now in Oakland. Former closers Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes appear slotted for setup duty as Cook gets his turn after posting 11 holds. Cook has 24 scoreless appearances this season with a two-run outburst by the Twins at Target Field the only blemish. Ryan is averaging a strikeout per inning, but 16 walks over 27 innings is certainly worth keeping an eye on.
Chris Young NY Mets- After missing much of the last two seasons following shoulder surgery, Young's fastball has been clocked short of 85 on the radar gun. Not so fast my friend? On the contrary.... recent studies indicate that the 6'10" right hander's stuff more resembles mid-90's to opposing hitters due to his extended reach to the plate. In a pair of June starts, Young has worked into the sixth, allowing only two runs on the road at Nationals Park and at Tropicana Field. 15 hits allowed in ten and two-thirds is a big alarming, but we need more of a sampling to be sure.
Brian Matusz Baltimore- Matusz is the perfect example of an elite prospect who started so badly that many have written him off for good. Matusz was knocked out in the third at Fenway on Thursday, but his recent body of work is worth a look. Over five starts since he was shelled against the Rangers, Matusz allowed only ten earned runs in 31 and a third innings of work, going 4-1 in the process. Matusz posting a 28/9 strikeout to walk ratio during the May sampling. Brian was hit in the face during a bunting drill this week, but x-rays came back negative and he is not expected to miss his scheduled start.
Matt Harrison Texas- I picked up Harrison in mid-April, based on his 2011 numbers; 14-9-.3.38. After Harrison was rocked to the tune of 22 hits and 14 earned runs by Toronto and Tampa, I lost patience and dumped him. Mistake. Harrison has gone 5-1 in seven starts since, including a five hit shutout at San Francisco on Friday night. Acquired along with Elvis Andrus in the trade that sent Mark Texiara to Atlanta, you know Harrison is going to get plenty of run support. With only 16 earned runs allowed in seven starts since the second of May, don't be surprised if Harrison winds up a 20-game winner.
Clayton Richard San Diego- A key piece in the deal that sent Jake Peavy to the White Sox, Richard has never been short on potential Richard had a "breakout" season in 2010, going 14-9-3.75. Richard was headed towards a repeat performance last season until an injury limited him to 18 starts. Richard has been solid at spacious Petco Park this season but has struggled on the road. Since beating the Dodgers on May 16th, Richard is 2-2 with 14 runs allowed in nearly 40 innings of work covering half a dozen starts.
Justin Masterson Cleveland- If you can avoid the occasional disaster, Masterson can contribute to your rotation. Three starts have spoiled his overall numbers with a total of 21 earned runs allowed in starts at Seattle, Fenway and against Kansas City. Masterson has been masterful in his other ten starts, allowing only 22 earned runs in 65 and two-thirds innings of work. A big (6'6" 250) durable workhorse, Masterson has allowed half of his earned runs this season in just 15 innings across those three bad starts. Justin was solid a year ago: 12-10-3:21 and just entering his prime at age 27, could be worth the gamble.
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Up next, a look at the top pitching options on the way with the Farm Report.
Tom Blaz is a writer for Fantasy Alarm and co-owner of The Recruiting Eagle a website focusing on Auburn University Athletics.
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