Given the way the Red Sox pitching staff has opened the season, it’s hard to argue against any decision John Farrell makes. So when he opted to go with Junichi Tazawa for his new closer instead of the well-proven Koji Uehara, there was little backlash from the fantasy community. Sure, there were some grumblings from the eager-beaver waiver hounds who remain glued to their league’s waiver wire and snatched up Uehara moments after Joel Hanrahan was hurt, but most of them were still fairly quick on the draw the following morning when it was announced that the choice made was actually Tazawa.
But in truth, what this tells me is something I already know and have preached to many over the last few years – sometimes the best reliever is not the guy a manager wants closing out games in the ninth inning. To many, it is more important to have the best reliever available in the late seventh/early eighth so that they can clean up and potential messes and bridge the gap to the eventual closer in the ninth. We saw it back when Mariano Rivera was setting up for John Wetteland in the mid-90’s, and for the years between 2007 and 2009, we saw that with Carlos Marmol and the Cubs. Many expected him to be named the team’s closer only to see him continue his dominance in the eighth as manager Lou Pinella knew that he had a gifted commodity with a rubber arm able to get ready at a moment’s notice. It was more important to him to have Marmol stymie any late rallies in the seventh and eighth than it was for him to start him fresh in the ninth.
We also saw some of that in Detroit earlier this year as manager Jim Leyland said that he much preferred the reliability and talents of Joaquin Benoit in the eighth than he did in the ninth. Because the rest of his bullpen was so dicey, he was ultimately forced into moving Benoit into the closer’s role, but it was so far from his first choice that they went back to Jose Valverde. Benoit’s ability to get his arm ready quickly and his ability to dominate hitters had a much greater purpose in the middle innings.
So pay attention, owners of Kenley Jansen. His eventual emergence as the Dodgers’ closer isn’t such a foregone conclusion after all. Brandon League hasn’t exactly been all peaches and cream this season, but it really doesn’t look like Don Mattingly is pulling the plug on him anytime soon. Same thing for you Ernesto Frieri owners who don’t believe in Ryan Madson. Frieri has had some struggles as the closer but not enough to remove him from the role. But when Madson comes back and Mike Scioscia has someone to chuck into the ninth with the hopes that Frieri becomes the dominant eighth inning guy he once was, that move just might be made quicker than you’d like.
Other situations you might pay attention to: Cubs when Kyuji Fujikawa returns; Heath Bell vs David Hernandez in Arizona should J.J. Putz land on the DL; Wilton Lopez vs Rex Brothers in Colorado should Rafael Betancourt get traded.
Now let’s do a quick check in on some of the highlights from Tuesday as games are starting real early here on Wednesday morning…
Fantasy Beast of the Day
|Matt Harvey, NYM||9.0||0||1||0||0||0||12||0.00||0.11|
Is there really much more we need to say about Matt Harvey these days? Awesome numbers across the board and his peripherals are all looking nice and tasty. Do we run a bit of a risk seeing him throw his slider more than 20-percent of the time? Possibly, but we haven’t seen any red flags just yet, so let’s try and think positive here.
|Jose Altuve, 2B HOU||2-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB|
|Shin-Soo Choo, OF CIN
||2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI|
|Chase Utley, 2B PHI||3-5, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI|
|Scott Diamond, SP MIN||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP, 2 K|
|Zach McAllister, SP CLE||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 4 K|
Nice to see Shin-Soo Choo continue his hot-hitting ways and it’s good to see Jose Altuve kick in the rare power display, but the real story so far has been Chase Utley. He was a huge injury risk coming into the season (probably still is to a certain extent) and many shied away from him because of that; yours truly included. Now he’s batting .276 with a team-leading seven home runs, 23 RBI and he’s also kicked in four stolen bases. The other shoe may still drop at some point, but for now he’s looking pretty damn tasty.
Both Scott Diamond and Zach McAllister are looking pretty good right now, but I’ll take less strikeouts and the current/projected ratios and peripherals from Diamond over McAllsiter in the long run. McAllister’s numbers, from his FIP and SIERA to his current BABIP tell me that he’s going to start giving up some runs pretty soon.
|Alejandro De Aza, OF CHW||0-4, 3 K|
|J.P. Arencibia, C TOR||0-4, 3 K|
|Brandon Moss, 1B OAK||0-4, 3K|
|J.A. Happ, SP TOR||ND, 27.00 ERA, 4.50 WHIP|
|Craig Kimbrel, RP ATL||L, BS, 27.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 1 K|
The rarity that we see Craig Kimbrel here is only matched by the regularity of J.P. Arencibia. I love a power hitting backstop, but his strikeouts and weak average can be a killer sometimes, even from a catcher with fewer Abs than a regular position player.
Sorry to have to put J.A. Happ ion this section after taking a liner off the noggin, but his pitching line isn’t going away because of it. Your team is still collecting those earned runs no matter how bad you feel for the guy. Incidentally, he is fine and the CT scan did not reveal any damage to the skull. He’ll probably hit the DL though just to be on the safe side.
J.J. Putz, RP ARI – hand (day to day)
Miguel Gonzalez, SP BAL – thumb (out for May 9 start)
Joel Hanrahan, RP BOS – forearm (15-day DL)
Will Middlebrooks, 3B BOS – side (day to day)
David Ross, C BOS – quadriceps (day to day)
Troy Tulowitzki, SS COL – groin (day to day)
Rob Brantly, C MIA – finger (day to day)
Donovan Solano, 2B MIA – side (15-day DL)
Eduardo Nunez, SS NYY – ribs (day to day)
Josh Reddick, OF OAK – wrist (day to day)
Jarrod Parker, SP OAK – neck (day to day)
Roy Halladay, SP PHI – shoulder (15-day DL)
Russell Martin, C PIT – neck (day to day)
Jose Tabata, OF PIT – hamstring (day to day)
Carlos Quentin, OF SD – knee (day to day)
A.J. Pierzynski, C TEX – oblique (day to day)
J.A. Happ, SP TOR – head (day to day)
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety 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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