Thursday, June 9, 2011

2011 MLB Closers

***MLB closer report updated 6/9/11 @ 12:28 AM CST***

Latest news:

***6/8/11***Casey Janssen (2.08 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 1 S) becomes the sixth Blue Jays pitcher to earn a save chance in 2011 and converts his first of the season in a wild, 9-8 victory over the Royals. Janssen wasn't so smooth on the way to his eighth career save giving up a run on a pair of hits, but he got it done. Add his name to the mix at the back of the Blue Jays bullpen. It would appear any one of five different relievers could get saves chances moving forward.

***6/8/11***Craig Kimbrel (3.19 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 18 S) blows his fifth save in an eventual 3-2 Braves loss to the Marlins in 10 innings. Kimbrel gave up two runs on a walk and two hits in the ninth, but he did strike out the side while throwing 28 pitches. Jonny Venters fans will say Venters deserves to be the Braves close with his stellar numbers, but the reality of the situation is Kimbrel is near the league lead in saves and pitching well on most nights. The Braves will continue to trot him out there as long as he's performing well most nights. That said, Venters, a lefty could easily earn the job if Kimbrel falers. With Eric O'Flaherty, another lefty, available to set up in his place, Atlanta is covered if a change is ever needed.

***6/8/11***Sergio Santos (2.10 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 11 S) drops his second loss as he allows the Mariners to get past the White Sox, 7-4 in 10 innings. Santos worked the top of the 10th in a tie game and surrendered the three runs on three hits and a pair of walks. It was just Santos' second bad outing of the season, but both have been real clunkers. Much of the time he looks like a No. 1 closer, but then there are nights like tonight. Consider Santos a high-end No. 2 option with potential for great upside.

***6/8/11***Matt Capps (4.50 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 8 S) suffers his third blown save in his last four chances as he coughs up the lead in an eventual 3-2 Twins victory over the Indians in 10 innings. Capps entered the ninth with a one-run lead, and after retiring the first two batters, he offers up a home run to Jack Hannahan. Capps did earn the win after Chris Perez gave the lead right back in the bottom of the inning. Phil Dumatrait earns the save for the Twins, but he owns just one hold in nine innings. That means he's highly unlikely to make a run at Capps job. Joe Nathan is Capps' biggest threat, and Nathan remains on the DL. Consider Capps a low-end option for saves in fantasy play. He's not pitching terribly badly, but he's gone just eight for 13 in save chances on a bad team.

***6/8/11***Chris Perez (2.70 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 15 S) stumbles to his second loss of the year in a 3-2 Indians faltering at the hand of the Twins in 10. Perez gave up a double and RBI single in the ninth inning. Most troubling, however, continues to be his lack of dominance in terms of strikeouts. With no strikeouts today, his K/9 is weak: 5.0, and his K/BB rate is just 1.1. He's still incredibly difficult to hit (.226 BAA and .268 BABIP), but those numbers are elevated over his career averages a touch. Over the course of the season things should even out for Perez who is still 15 for 16 is saves chances, but right now he's no better than a higher-end No. 2 closer.

***6/8/11***J.J. Putz (2.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 17 S) surrenders his second blown save in three chances in the 10th inning as the Diamondbacks eventually lose to the Pirates, 3-2 in 12 innings. Putz entered with a one-run lead but gave up two hits, including an RBI single to Neil Walker to blow the lead. Putz did strike out two Pirates and remains a high-end No. 1 option as a closer.

***6/8/11***Brandon League (4.50 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 17 S) saves his eighth straight game in a 7-4 Mariners win at the White Sox in 10 innings. League hasn't allowed an earned run since way back on May 13th, and his ugly start to the season is almost forgotten. He's working his way up the ranks as a legitimate No. 2 closer right now, thanks in great part to the Mariners' winning ways.

***6/8/11***Ryan Madson (2.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 14 S) is still perfect in saves chances - now 14 for 14 - in a 2-0 Phillies win over the Dodgers. Madson worked a shutout ninth after a run on two hits the last time out. The long-time setup man appears poised to emerge as a No. 1 closer, but he's not quite there yet. Three messy innings in his last eight leave a little to be desired, even if he's perfect in saves chances.

***6/8/11***Kyle Farnsworth (1.17 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 13 S) finishes off his eighth straight save in a 4-3 Rays win over the Angels in 10 innings. Farnsworth continues to roll like never before in the closer role. He'll fall back to earth eventually, so peg him as a No. 2 closer for the time being.

***6/8/11***Kevin Gregg (2.96 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 12 S) posts his fifth straight save in a 3-2 Orioles win over the Athletics. Gregg has looked good over this recent stretch, but his WHIP is still sky-high. He can only be trusted as a low-end option for saves, or as a emergency No. 2 if needed.

***6/8/11***Carlos Marmol (3.21 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 11 S) bounces back from a pair of blown saves with his first save since May 29th in a 4-1 Cubs win at the Reds. Marmol did not record a strikeout, but he does go 1-2-3 in the ninth for the first time since May 12th. Marmol tends to have plenty of up-and-down moments, but he's good enough to be trusted as an above-average No. 2 closer.

***6/8/11***Mark Melancon (1.78 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 6 S) puts together his fifth straight save in a 4-1 Astros victory over the Cardinals. Melancon worked a one-hit, shutout ninth for his sixth save. There's news that regular closer Brandon Lyon will be brought along slowly once he returns from a rehab assignment. That means Melancon can still offer fantasy owners value into next week with regard to saves.

***6/8/11***The White Sox recall Lucas Harrell (9.00 ERA, 2.50 WHIP, 0 S) to fill the injured Jake Peavy's roster spot. Harrell will work out of the bullpen in long relief.

***6/8/11***The Yankees place Joba Chamberlain (2.83 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 0 S) on the 15-day DL retroactive to June 6th. Chamberlain is suffering from a right elbow flexor strain. He had been one of the better fantasy options in terms of setup men. The Yankees will likely turn to a committee approach with both Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano (5.40 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, 1 S) out.

***6/8/11***Alfredo Aceves (3.29 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 1 S) earns his third career save in an 11-6 Red Sox blowout of the Yankees. Aceves worked 3 2/3 innings for the save and gave up one run. He's done a nice job in multiple roles for the Red Sox, but closing games will not be asked of him.

Current list of MLB closers and candidates for the 2011 season. Closers are listed at the top under each team name. Their competition follows. This list will be updated throughout the regular season:

Arizona Diamondbacks:
J.J. Putz
David Hernandez
Esmerling Vasquez
Juan Gutierrez - 15-day DL as of May 24, 2011 (Right shoulder inflammation)
Sam Demel - 15-day DL as of May 22, 2011 (Right shoulder tendinitis)
Aaron Heilman
Joe Paterson (L)
Zach Kroenke (L)
Kam Mickolio
***6/4/11***J.J. Putz (1.80 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 17 S) bounces back from his first blown save to file away No. 17 in a 2-0 Diamondbacks win over the Nationals. Putz continues to put together an all-star-type first half to his season. The last time he made the Midsummer Classic was 2007. Putz is looking like a sure-fire No. 1 closer and can be considered one of the game's elite once again.

Atlanta Braves:
Craig Kimbrell
Jonny Venters (L)
Scott Linebrink
George Sherrill (L)
Eric O'Flaherty (L)
Christhian Martinez
Scott Proctor
Cory Gearrin
Peter Moylan - 15-day DL as of Apr 15, 2011 (Lower back strain)
Kris Medlen - 15-day DL as of Mar 27, 2011 (Recovery from right elbow surgery)
***6/7/11***Craig Kimbrel (2.70 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 18 S) cruises to his seventh straight save in a 1-0 Braves victory over the Marlins. Kimbrel looked dominant. He fanned the first batter he faced and allowed just a two-out walk before getting Chris Coghlan to loop a liner to short to end the game. Kimbrel hasn't allowed a run now in five straight outings. He's worked seven straight saves without blowing a single game. Kimbrel can be considered a low-end No. 1 closer at this time, although that save total of 18 is second-best in baseball. Kimbrel doesn't have much room for error with Jonny Venters and arguably the best bullpen in baseball backing him up.

Baltimore Orioles:
Kevin Gregg
Koji Uehara
Michael Gonzalez (L)
Jim Johnson
Jeremy Accardo
Alfredo Simon
Clay Rapada (L)
Chris Jakubauskas
Kevin Gregg (3.09 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, 11 S) completes his fourth straight save in a 4-2 Orioles win over the Athletics. Gregg worked a t ninth with two strikeouts, throwing nine of is 14 pitches for strikes. He hasn't allowed a run since May 20th and still sports an ugly 1.69 WHIP. That's all you need to know. Gregg may be on a run of good luck, but bad luck is always lurking with this low-end saves option.

Boston Red Sox:
Jonathan Papelbon
Daniel Bard
Dan Wheeler
Bobby Jenks
Franklin Morales (L) - 15-day DL as of May 26, 2011 (Strained left forearm)
Matt Albers
Rich Hill (L) - 15-day DL as of Jun 2, 2011 (Sprained left elbow)
Scott Atchison
Tommy Hottovy (L)
Alfredo Aceves
Dennys Reyes (L) - restricted list
***6/7/11***Jonathan Papelbon (4.50 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 12 S) converts his seventh straight save in a 6-4 Red Sox win at the Yankees. Once again, Papelbon coughs up a run - the fifth time that's happened in his last seven outings. This time he walks the leadoff man and yields an eventual RBI single to the light-hitting Jorge Posada. Don't criticize Papelbon, too much, though. Posada produced three hits on the night, and Papelbon struck out two Yankees in the frame. While some have Papelbon on watch with the young and talented Daniel Bard producing stellar numbers (and throwing a shutout eighth), consider that Papelbon also reached a milestone on this night: his 200th save. Papelbon is the fastest ever to that mark, which means his track record is second to none in terms of volume of saves. That alone means his job is safe, even with the recent struggles. Papelbon also appealed his three-game suspension for this past weekend's ejection which leaves his status as active until the process concludes. Continue to view Papelbon as a No. 1 closer.

Chicago Cubs:
Carlos Marmol
Kerry Wood
Sean Marshall (L)
John Grabow (L)
Jeff Samardzija
James Russell (L)
Brian Schlitter - 60-day DL as of Mar 22, 2011 (Strained right flexor pronator)
***6/5/11***Carlos Marmol (3.33 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 10 SV) surrenders to the Cardinals in the ninth for his fourth blown save in a 3-2 Cubs loss in 10 innings. Marmol struck out a pair of Cardinals but allowed Ryan Theriot to double in the tying run before getting the final out of the inning. It's Marmol's second blown save in five days. He sees his ERA jump from 1.17 a week ago to the low-to-mid threes. Marmol is looking like a No. 2 closer at this time due to his inconsistency and the poor starting pitching the Cubs are routinely throwing in front of an otherwise setup group.

Chicago White Sox:
Sergio Santos
Matt Thornton (L)
Jesse Crain
Chris Sale (L)
Will Ohman (L)
Tony Pena - 15-day DL as of May 28, 2011 (Right elbow tendinitis)
Brian Bruney
Lucas Harrell
***6/6/11***Sergio Santos (1.24 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 11 S) makes good on his 5th straight save in a 3-1 White Sox victory over the Mariners. Santos went 1-2-3 in the ninth with a strikeout giving him 6 1/3 no-hit innings since blowing his only save of the year on May 20th. Santos also yielded his only runs in that outing. His only blemish is a rather high walk rate (4.5 BB/P entering Monday). It's not much a problem, however, as he's well over a strikeout per inning and has limited opponents to a mere 13 hits in 29 innings. Santos' stuff looks outstanding, and despite his minimal track record he's emerging as a must-own fantasy closer. Elite level? Perhaps.

Cincinnati Reds:
Francisco Cordero
Nick Masset
Bill Bray (L)
Logan Ondrusek
Jose Arredondo
Sam LeCure - 15-day DL as of May 23, 2011 (Strained right forearm)
Jeremy Horst (L)
Carlos Fisher
Aroldis Chapman (L) - 15-day DL as of May 16, 2011 (Left shoulder inflammation)
Jared Burton - 60-day DL as of Mar 29, 2011 (Right shoulder inflammation)
***6/3/11***Francisco Cordero (1.65 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 11 S) makes it back-to-back converted saves in a 2-1 Reds win over the Dodgers. Cordero is a bit of an enigma at this time with his sparkling numbers and yet just 11 saves. He doesn't strike batters out like he used to (6.6 K/9 in 2011), and his three-year numbers suggest he won't return to the double-digit K/9 he had produced for his career previously. The Reds stand just two games over .500 at this time, meaning he's been partially limited by his teams play in terms of chances. Cordero should be regarded as a high-end No. 2 closer at this time. He can rack up big saves numbers if the Reds go on a run.

Cleveland Indians:
Chris Perez
Rafael Perez (L)
Tony Sipp (L)
Joe Smith
Chad Durbin
Vinnie Pestano
Frank Herrmann
***6/7/11******6/7/11***Chris Perez (2.42 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 15 S) nabs his 10th straight save in a 1-0 Indians win over the Twins. Perez punched out Michael Cuddyer to end the game with a strikeout. His strikeout rate (5.24 K/9) is concerning, especially considering Perez's walk rate is almost identical (4.84 K/9). He is, however, getting the job done with 15 saves in 16 chances. If Perez can improve on those numbers he has a shot to become a No. 1 closer in fantasy play. Until then, he's hovering as a mid- to high-end No. 2.

Colorado Rockies:
Huston Street
Matt Belisle
Rafael Betancourt
Matt Lindstrom
Matt Reynolds (L)
Rex Brothers (L)
Matt Daley - 15-day DL as of Jun 1, 2011 (Right shoulder inflammation)
***6/6/11***Huston Street (3.54 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 16 S) produces back-to-back saves for the first time since May 20th in a 3-0 Rockies shutout of the Padres. Street fans two batters and goes 1-2-3 in the ninth, and that gives him 2 1/3 innings of spotless frames over his last three outings. Street is now strikeout out 8.4 batters per nine innings. He manages to find a bumpy road here and there, but overall he's a solid play as a No. 1 closer.

Detroit Tigers:
Jose Valverde
Joaquin Benoit
Brad Thomas (L) - 15-day DL as of May 11, 2011 (Left elbow inflammation)
Daniel Schlereth (L)
Al Alburquerque
Charlie Furbush (L)
Enrique Gonzalez
David Purcey (L)
Adam Wilk (L)
Joel Zumaya - 60-day DL as of Mar 30, 2011 (Right elbow inflammation)
***6/1/11***Jose Valverde handles save No. 14 in a 4-2 Tigers triumph over the Twins. Valverde, who recently worked three saves in two days thanks to a weekend double header, was less than brilliant. He walked two Twins including an intentional pass to Justin Morneau, but he got out of the inning unscathed. In fairness, Valverde is pitching more like a No. 2 closer right now, but he's got the saves total and the overpowering stuff that fantasy owners love to see.

Florida Marlins:
Leo Nunez
Brian Sanches
Mike Dunn (L)
Clay Hensley - 15-day DL as of Jun 2, 2011 (Sprained right shoulder)
Randy Choate (L)
Burke Badenhop
Ryan Webb
Edward Mujica
***6/3/11***Leo Nunez (3.54 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 19 S) scuffles to his second blown save and second loss of the season in a 6-5 Marlins loss to the Brewers. Nunez served up a two-run homer to pinch hitter Ryan Braun in the ninth inning, which could happen to any closer. Nunez entered the game with a 3:1 K/BB ratio and a MLB-leading 19 saves. He has enjoyed one of the better stretches of his seven-year career over the first two months of 2011. His job is very much safe despite the second blown save, but his status as an elite or even No. 1 closer should be in question moving forward. Nunez' numbers suggest he'll fall back to the pack over the remainder of the season and serve more as a high-end No. 2 closer.

Houston Astros:
Brandon Lyon - 15-day DL as of May 5, 2011 (Right biceps tendinitis & rotator tear)
Mark Melancon
Jeff Fulchino
Enerio Del Rosario
Wilton Lopez
Jose Valdez
Sergio Escalona (L)
Fernando Rodriguez
Alberto Arias - 15-day DL as of Mar 22, 2011 (Recovery from right shoulder surgery)
***6/7/11***Brandon Lyon (7.15 ERA, 2.12 WHIP, 4 S) continues to progress in his attempt to return from a biceps issue and partial rotator cuff tear. A perfect inning at Triple-A in his first rehab stint is a step in the right direction. There's no guarantee he returns to the closer role in Houston with Mark Melancon outpitching Lyon's early-season work, but he'll at least stand next in line for a guy that's never been a bullpen stopper in the past.

Kansas City Royals:
Joakim Soria
Aaron Crow
Tim Collins (L)
Blake Wood
Louis Coleman
Everett Teaford (L)
Greg Holland
Henry Barrera - 60-day DL as of Mar 13, 2011 (Right elbow sprain)
***6/6/11***Joakim Soria (5.33 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 7 S) picks up his 4th win in a 3-2, 11-inning Royals win over the Blue Jays. Soria threw a stress-free 10th and 11th inning giving him five straight innings of no-hit baseball. Soria owns just a single strikeout over those frames, but it's a positive trend compared the the previous three blown saves he stumbled thru from May 24th thru 30th. Soria is more than capable to bounce back from his setbacks, but while he's pitching for a sub-.500 Royals team with lackluster numbers Soria is climbing back from low-end closer status. Aaron Crow managers will be upset to learn that Soria has reclaimed the team's closer job while Crow never even sniffed a save chance. Crow has the superior numbers this year, but track record falls heavily to the Soria side of this closer battle.

Los Angeles Angels:
Jordan Walden
Fernando Rodney
Scott Downs (L)
Hisanori Takahashi (L)
Trevor Bell
Rich Thompson
Kevin Jepsen
Francisco Rodriguez - 15-day DL as of May 10, 2011 (Sore right shoulder)
***6/4/11***Javy Guerra (3.24 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 1 S) earns his first MLB win in a 4-1 Dodgers triumph over the Reds in 11 innings. Guerra is in the mix for saves in a battered Dodgers bullpen, but he's perhaps too erratic to get many chances (5.4 BB/9 in AA). Vicente Padilla is expected back off the DL soon and will likely take over the interim closer role for the Dodgers while Jonathan Broxton is on the shelf.

Los Angeles Dodgers:
Jonathon Broxton - 15-day DL as of May 4, 2011 (Bone spur, right elbow)
Hong Chih Kuo (L) - 15-day DL as of May 10, 2011 (Anxiety disorder)
Vincente Padilla - 15-day DL as of May 14, 2011 (Right forearm discomfort)
Javy Guerra
Matt Guerrier
Mike MacDougal
Kenley Jansen - 15-day DL as of May 29, 2011 (Right shoulder inflammation)
Blake Hawksworth
Scott Elbert (L)
Ramon Troncoso
Josh Lindblom
***5/20/11***Mike MacDougal faces just one batter to record his first save of 2011, a 6-4 Dodgers extra-inning win over the White Sox. With the Dodger bullpen in flux due to the absence of injured closer Jonathan Broxton and setup man Vicente Padilla, McDougal is a fringe option for saves moving forward. Matt Guerrier actually started the inning for the Dodgers but couldn't get through. Fireballer Kenley Jansen provides a third option until Padilla returns, which should be back on May 29th. Any fantasy waiver-wire Dodgers bullpen pickup should last you just over a week until Padilla returns, unless someone gets hot enough to hold the spot.

Milwaukee Brewers:
John Axford
Kameron Loe
LaTroy Hawkins
Zach Braddock (L)
Mitch Stetter (L) - 15-day DL as of May 15, 2011 (Labral irritation, left hip)
Marco Estrada
Sergio Mitre
Tim Dillard
Brandon Kintzler - 15-day DL as of May 5, 2011 (Strained right triceps)
Takashi Saito - 15-day DL as of Apr 6, 2011 (Strained left hamstring)
Mitch Stetter - 15-day DL as of May 15, 2011 (Labral irritation, left hip)
***6/5/11***John Axford (3.29 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 16 S) earns his 13th straight save in a 6-5 Brewers win at the Marlins in 11 innings. Nothing seems to change with Axford who gives up a walk and a hit and still manages to work through the jam for the save. He threw just nine of his 17 pitches for strikes. To his credit, Axford often gets the job done, but it's rarely pretty. Despite being among the league leaders in saves with 16, Axford is a candidate for a severe meltdown due to his wildness. His stuff looks great, but he looks like a No. 2 closer in fantasy play. Axford may get Monday off after working in three straight games.

Minnesota Twins:
Matt Capps
Joe Nathan - 15-day DL as of May 24, 2011 (Right flexor muscle strain)
Glen Perkins (L) - 15-Day DL a as of May 22, 2011 (Right oblique strain)
Kevin Slowey - 15-day DL as of May 21, 2011 (Abdominal strain)
Phil Dumatrait (L)
Alex Burnett
Jose Mijares (L)
Jim Hoey
Chuck James (L)
***6/6/11***Matt Capps (4.33 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 8 S) earns his first save in almost three weeks as he pitches the Twins past the Indians, 6-4. Capps walked the leadoff man but battled back with a strikeout and double-play ground out. He blew his last two save chances back on May 21st and 23rd, but Capps hasn't allowed a run in 4 outings since then. He's been erratic is the closer role in the past, and with the Twins struggling to string wins together, Capps is more of a low-end option at this time.

New York Mets:
Francisco Rodriguez
Jason Isringhausen
Taylor Buchholz - 15-day DL as of May 30, 2011 (Right shoulder fatigue)
Tim Byrdak (L)
Mike O'Connor (L)
Pedro Beato
Bobby Parnell
Manny Acosta
***6/7/11***Fernando Rodriguez (3.03 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 17 S) makes it 16 straight saves in a 2-1 Mets win at the Brewers. K-Rod finally flashes some dominance going 1-2-3 in the ninth with a pair of strike outs, but he topped out at just 90 MPH on the gun with his four-seam fastball. Instead, he used breaking pitches and changeups to get the job done. Rodriguez had given up eight earned runs over his last 4 1/3 innings on 11 hits, so this is at least a step in the right direction. Despite his 17 saves, K-Rod is looking more like a No. 2 option for closing games at this time. That he's recorded 16 saves since his last blown save is remarkable considering a shaky 1.52 WHIP and recent performance.

New York Yankees:
Mariano Rivera
Rafael Soriano - 15-day DL as of May 14, 2011 (Sore right elbow)
Joba Chamberlain - 15-day DL as of June 6, 2011 (Right elbow flexor strain)
David Robertson
Boone Logan (L)
Hector Noesi
Luis Ayala
Lance Pendleton
Jeff Marquez
Pedro Feliciano (L) - 60-day DL as of Mar 22, 2011 (Strained left rotator cuff)
Damaso Marte (L) - 60-day DL as of Mar 30, 2011 (Left shoulder & labrum inflammation)
***6/5/11***Marino Rivera (1.90 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 16 S) produces his third straight save in a 5-3 Yankees win over the Angels. Rivera pitched himself into a jam this time out, allowing a pair of singles with one out before getting Torii Hunter to bounce into a game-ending double play. Baseball's active all-time saves leader finishes off No. 575, leaving him 26 away from the record Trevor Hoffman set last season. Rivera remains the elite option in fantasy play at closer.

Oakland Athletics:
Andrew Bailey
Brian Fuentes (L)
Grant Balfour
Brad Ziegler
Michael Wuertz
Joey Devine
Craig Breslow (L)
Bobby Cramer (L)
***6/4/11***Andrew Bailey (3.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 0 S) blows his first save opportunity of the year in the 11th of an eventual 9-8 Athletics loss to the Red Sox in 14 innings. Bailey struck out two, gave up back to back doubles, intentionally walked Dustin Pedroia and then struck out Drew Sutton to finish his frame. Bailey touched 95 MPH on the radar gun a few times with his four-seam fastball. He's still the A's closer despite the shaky outing, and Bailey is good enough to re-emerge as a No. 1 closer in fantasy play.

Philadelphia Phillies:
Brad Lidge - 60-day DL as of Mar 25, 2011 (Strained rotator cuff)
-or- Ryan Madson
Jose Contreras
Danys Baez
Antonio Bastardo (L)
Kyle Kendrick
J.C. Romero (L)
Michael Stutes
David Herndon
***6/6/11***Ryan Madson (2.08 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 13 S) makes it a perfect 13 for 13 in saves chances in a 3-1 Phillies win over the Dodgers. It wasn't a clean performance. Madson gave up double, single and RBI ground out before punching out the last two batters he faced. Madson has only allowed runs in four of his 26 innings, but he's given up five earned over his last seven. He's all but taken over Brad Lidge's closer job, and Lidge is now suffering from elbow pain while rehabbing his shoulder. Madson ranks as a high-end No. 2 closer due to his limited experience as a closer on a good team.

Pittsburgh Pirates:
Joel Hanrahan
Jose Veras
Evan Meek
Joe Beimel (L)
Chris Resop
Daniel McCutchen
Tony Watson (L)
Mike Crotta - 15-day DL as of May 11, 2011 (Right elbow inflammation)
Kevin Hart - 60-day DL as of Mar 18, 2011 (Right shoulder soreness)
***6/7/11***Joel Hanrahan (1.63 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 15 S) is 15 for 15 in saves chances as he closes out an 8-5 Pirates win over the Diamondbacks. Hanrahan struck out Kelly Johnson and Justin Upton in the ninth inning, giving him 25 K in 27 2/3 innings. He's limiting hits and walks and working his way up the closer rankings steadily as a potential No. 1 option, though is track record suggests he's a notch lesser than that tier.

St. Louis Cardinals:
Fernando Salas
Eduardo Sanchez
Miguel Batista
Trever Miller (L)
Jason Motte
Ryan Franklin
Bryan Tallet (L)
Bryan Augenstein - 60-day DL as of Apr 13, 2011 (Right groin strain)
***6/7/11***Fernando Salas (1.88 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 11 S) earns his first save in exactly one week in a 7-4 Cardinals win at the Astros. Salas worked two innings on the night for his 11th save of the season and struck out three while yielding a run. His short time in the closer role in St. Louis gives him a small sample size in terms of his numbers, but they're good numbers. Salas remains a No. 2 closer. His 44 pitches make him a candidate for a day off on Wednesday, so look for Eduardo Sanchez to get a shot at a save chance for the Cardinals.

San Diego Padres:
Heath Bell
Mike Adams
Chad Qualls
Luke Gregerson
Cory Luebke (L)
Ernesto Frieri
Pat Neshek
Joe Thatcher (L) - 60-day DL as of Mar 22, 2011 (Strained left shoulder)
***6/7/11***Heath Bell (1.73 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 17 S) is a model of efficiency in locking up his 10th straight save, a 2-0 Padres win over the Rockies. Bell throws nine of his 12 pitches for strikes and gives up a single and uncorks a wild pitch along the way, but the outcome was never in doubt. Bell remains an elite source of saves in all fantasy baseball formats.

San Francisco Giants:
Brian Wilson
Jeremy Affeldt (L)
Sergio Romo
Javier Lopez (L)
Guillermo Mota
Ramon Ramirez
Jose Casilla
Santiago Casilla - 15-day DL as of Apr 1, 2011 (Right elbow inflammation)
***6/5/11***Brian Wilson (3.00 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 17 S) owns five straight saves after dominating the Rockies in a 2-1 Giants victory. Just when we doubted Wilson's recent run of outings he produces his best inning since May 19th. Wilson goes 1-2-3 for the first time since May 20th and strikes out a pair of Rockies along the way. We know he's a No. 1 closer, and this may be a step toward pitching that way on a consistent basis.

Seattle Mariners:
David Aardsma - 15-day DL as of Mar 22, 2011 (Recovery from labral left hip surgery)
Brandon League
Aaron Laffey (L)
Chris Ray
Jamey Wright
David Pauley
Jeff Gray
***6/5/11***Brandon League (4.68 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 16 S) works a perfect ninth for his 7th straight save in a 9-6 Mariners win over the Rays. League hasn't allowed a run since May 13th, but he isn't quite as dominant as other closers (.251 career avg. against). While the pitching-heavy Mariners are winning close games, however, League is a viable option for saves. He's converting at an 84% rate which is good enough to be trusted as a No. 2 option. He may suffer through periods of ineffectiveness going forward.

Tampa Bay Rays:
Kyle Farnsworth
Joel Peralta
Juan Cruz
J.P. Howell (L)
Adam Russell
Cesar Ramos (L)
***6/7/11***Kyle Farnsworth (1.23 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 12 S) picks up his seventh straight save in a 4-1 Rays win at the Angels. Farnsworth struck out one over a perfect inning to collect save No. 12 on the night. More strikeouts would be welcomed as that 5.7 K/9 rate is underwhelming to say the least. Still, Farnsworth is limting hits (14 in 22 innigs) and owns just one walk in 2011. He's no better than a No. 2 closer, but he's pitching like a No. 1 for the time being. Having pitched on four of the last five days, however, look for Farnsworth to earn a well-earned day off or two.

Texas Rangers:
Neftali Feliz
Darren Oliver (L)
Arthur Rhodes (L)
Dave Bush
Mark Lowe
Tateyama Yoshinori
Michael Kirkman (L)
Darren O'Day - 60-day DL as of Apr 27, 2011 (Torn labrum, left hip)
Tobin Mason - 60-day DL as of Apr 20, 2011 (Right elbow inflammation)
***6/5/11***Neftali Feliz (1.25 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 13 S) works his third straight save in a 2-0 Ranger win over the Indians. Feliz has been spotless over the three chances and looks to be restoring his No. 1 closer status. He should be active in all fantasy formats and should continue to pitch at a high level.

Toronto Blue Jays:
Jon Rauch
-or- Frank Francisco
-or- Octavio Dotel
-or- Jason Frasor
Shawn Camp
Casey Janssen
Mark Rzepczynski (L)
Luis Perez (L)
Jesse Carlson - 60-day DL as of Mar 29, 2011 (Strained left shoulder, biceps)
***6/7/11***Jon Rauch (3.65 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 7 S) earns his second straight save in an 8-5 Blue Jays win over the Royals. Rauch went 1-2-3 without a strikeout, and he owns just 17 Ks in 24 2/3 innings, hardly the stuff of your higher-end closer. That's why Rauch is in his typical battle for a closer job with Frank Francisco. At this point Rauch apears to be winning the battle. He's earned both of the Blue Jays' save opportunities over the past 12 days, and he's pitched decently over his last five outings. Francisco has gone the opposite direction. Rauch should continue to see save opportunities while he's going this well.

Washington Nationals:
Drew Storen
Sean Burnett (L)
Tyler Clippard
Todd Coffey
Doug Slaten (L) - 15-day DL as of Jun 4, 2011 (Ulnar neuritis, left elbow)
Henry Rodriguez
Cole Kimball
Craig Stammen
Chad Gaudin - 15-day DL as of Apr 26, 2011 (Right shoulder inflammation)
Elvin Ramirez - 60-day DL as of Mar 30, 2011 (Right shoulder soreness)
***6/7/11***Drew Storen (2.59 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 12 S) makes quick work of the Giants for his third straight save in a 2-1 Nationals victory. Storen needed just six pitches to get through the inning, throwing four for strikes. He's mixed in some stellar outings with some real downers of late. That makes him more of a No. 2 option going forward. Storen has pitched in three straight games, so he could be in line for a night off soon.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Top pitching matchups - 6/7/11

The most intriguing fantasy matchups tonight:

Best Battles:
7:05 PM EST
Red Sox - Lester
@ Yankees - Garcia
No surprise here - it's the Red Sox and Yankees, afterall. What wasn't anticipated before the year, however, was such a good year by Freddy Garcia. A tough matchup against the BoSox may help determine the extent of that resurgence.

8:05 PM EST
Diamondbacks - Hudson (6-5, 4.22)
@ Pirates - Correia (8-4, 3.40)
It's rare for a Diamondbacks-Pirates matchup to headline, but with two good pitchers on the hill this could be special. Hudson has had his ups and downs, but he's still potential ace material. Correia was the first pitcher to 8 wins this year.

8:05 PM EST
Mariners - Hernandez
@ White Sox - Humber
Phil Humber looks to prove he can compete with another high-end opponent.

6:05 PM EST
Dodgers - De La Rosa (1-0, 1.80)
@ Phillies - Oswalt (3-3, 2.70)
Rubby De La Rosa makes his first big league start. after a few good bullpens he has a legitimate shot to compete against Roy Oswalt. Oswalt has struggled recently, but he has the better offense backing him and therefore the advantage.

6:05 PM EST
Braves - Hanson (6-4, 2.28)
Marlins - Hand (0-0, NA)
Little known Brad Hand tries his arm at the big league level out of Double-A.. He's a pretty good prospect, so it's a shame he has such a tough draw the first time out. Still might be worth a desperate flier in fantasy play.

9:05 PM EST
Rays - Cobb (0-0, 5.91)
@ Angels - Haren (5-3, 2.29)
With Haren battling a health issue and Cobb having reversed his luck in a second no decision in two starts, why not gamble on the young gun? It's not like the Angels offense sets the world on fire.
Sure Thing:

No brainer:
8:05 PM EST
Mets - Capuano (3-6, 5.19)
@ Brewers - Marcum (6-2, 2.78)
If Capuano is available on the waiver wire, you're better off without him. Marcum is the best bet off all starters to get a win tonight.

Games of the Day - 6/6/11

Update - 6/7/11 @ 12:20 PM: Not a prediction. All four matchups lived up to their billing, and John Danks got his first win. He's a great waiver wire add. Tomlin's recent struggles should be very worrying if he's anything but a low-end option on your fantasy team.

Top pitching matchups tonight (6/6/11):

7:05 pm EST
Dodgers - Lilly (4-4, 4.22)
@ Phillies - Lee (4-5, 3.94)
***Both lefties have struggled to live up to expectations in 2011. Lee recently lost badly to weak-hitting Washington and Jon Lannan. We'll see if his offense can help against a tougher veteran lefty in Lilly.

7:05 pm EST
Athletics - Gonzalez (5-3, 2.49)
Orioles - Matusz (0-0, 1.59)
***Gotta like a matchup of two promising young lefties. Matusz won his first outing on June 1st after a lengthy DL stint. Gonzalez is looking to prove he can maintain consistency as a an above-average fantasy starter.

7:05 pm EST
Twins - Baker (4-2, 3.86)
@ Indians - Tomlin (7-2, 3.27)
***The focus is on Tomlin. He gave up 7 earned runs last week but still beat the Blue Jays. A light-hitting Twins order without Joe Mauer and potentially without table-setter Denard Span would look to get Tomlin back on track. If not, his fantasy status takes a major hit.

8:10 pm EST
Mariners - Pineda (6-2, 2.60)
@ White Sox - Danks (0-8, 5.25)
***Pineda is rolling. Danks looks like he might roll right out of the Sox rotation. Then again, against one of the worst offenses in baseball, this could be his chance to turn things around. The Sox own some slumbering big bats in a small ballpark. Let's see if Pineda can overpower them.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Young guns Sunday

A ton of young starters throw on Sunday looking to prove they belong, or continue to belong, in major league rotations. Here's a look at what to watch for:

1:05 PM EST - DET: Andy Oliver (0-0, NA) vs. Clay Buchholz, BOS
1:10 PM EST - PHI: Vance Worley (2-0, 2.14 ERA) vs. Jonathon Niese, NYM
1:35 PM EST - WSH: Yunesky Maya (0-0, NA) vs. Dustin Moseley, SD
2:05 PM EST - ARZ: Josh Collmenter (3-1, 1.19 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ, HOU
3:05 PM EST - KC: Danny Duffy (0-0, 3.86 ERA) vs. Alexi Ogando, TEX
4:05 PM EST - OAK: Guillermo Moscoso (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Zach Britton, BAL

***Oliver is a solid prospect hoping to earn Phil Coke's rotation spot. A lefty, Oliver was solid across the board in the minor leagues.

***Worley is getting his second shot at starting, this time for the injured Joe Blanton, who is on rest before needing a rehab stint. Worley is hoping to hold onto the job for the interim.

***Maya isn't really a prospect. At 29 years old he's simply holding a place for Tom Gorzelanny until the Nats deem their lefty ready to return from an elbow issue. Maya, a Cuban defector, did nice work in the minors.

***Collmenter has been a star at starter since sliding into the role from a bullpen spot. He isn't getting much love in fantasy circles despite just two earned runs in 16 1/3 innings as a starter. His minor league numbers are strong, however, and he's worth a flier at this point.

***Duffy possesses dominant stuff and didn't walk a lot of hitters in the minors, but that's been his issue at the MLB level. Chalk it up for nerves in each of his first two starts. He could put it together at any moment.

***Moscoso won his first start filling in for injured Tyler Ross. The 27-year-old has toiled in the minors a long time, but he's got the numbers to suggest he can hang around at the MLB level.

No sidetrack on Swarzak

Twins fill-in starter Anthony Swarzak pitches a gem in his first major league start since 2009, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning before Angles center fielder Peter Bourjos breaks it up with a double. Swarzak earned a no-decision as the game was decided in extra innings, 1-0 Twins.

Fantasy Impact: Before this performance, Swarzak wasn't expected to last long in the Twins rotation. With Francisco Liriano expected to return after missing this one start, Swarzak doesn't have much chance of seeing another start. He's posted decent minor league numbers over his eight-year professional career, but his 7.71 ERA in relief this year with the Twins and 6.25 ERA over 12 starts in 2009, leaves much to be desired. It looks like one day of brilliance for the right-hander and little fantasy value moving forward.

Astros call up Lyles

Jordan Lyles, former first-round pick of the Houston Astros will make his MLB debut for the 'Stros on Tuesday against the Cubs. Lyles is just 20 years old and already in his second season at Triple-A.

Fantasy Impact: We've seen uber-young starting pitchers hit the big leagues in recent seasons, so the sticker-shock of Lyles age shouldn't be too scary. He's got to have an impressive makeup to reach the big leagues so quickly. That said, Astros management may be reaching to save their jobs with this one. Lyles is not putting up the kind of numbers to make you believe he'll succeed immediately at baseball's highest level. For starters, he owns a losing record (20-29) across parts of three minor league seasons with six different teams. At Triple-A he's 3-6 and is struggling to punch hitters out (6.3 K per nine). Lyles has given up more than a hit an inning at the minor league level, which doesn't inspire a ton of confidence at the MLB level even if he's limiting the home run ball (0.6 per nine over his MiLB career). We'll reserve further judgment until after we've seen him pitch against the Cubs on Tuesday, but the recommendation is to leave him on the waiver wire until he proves he can put things together against a big league team or two.

Bailey Reds' latest pitching problem

News of Homer Bailey hitting the DL with a sprained shoulder adds to the compounding problems the Reds are having with starting pitching. Chad Reineke appears to be the spot starter for Bailey's supposed short DL stint.

Fantasy Impact: Bailey had been pitching well and deserves a DL spot in fantasy play. Reineke, despite some decent MiLB numbers at Triple-A this year, is not much of spot-start option in fantasy.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Nicasio nice in first effort

Newly recalled Rockies starter Juan Nicasio dominates the Caridinals with seven shoutout innings on his way to a 15-4 win in his MLB debut. Nicasio walked two and yielded just six hits on the day. He profiles as a project, but with that high-end fastball Nicasio is capable of big things in his career, especially if he improves that slider.

Fantasy Impact: With Aaron Cook expected back with the big league team after a broken pitching hand derailed the start of hi season, it appears this may have been one and done for Nicasio. If that's indeed the case, it might be a good thing for fantasy owners tempted to scoop up the young fireballer. Nicasio has pitched just this season above A-ball, which means he's still working his way through the minor league system. This one-off start was likely a reward for his good work at Double-A (2.22 ERA, 62 K in 56 2/3 innings). That said, the back end of the Rockies rotation (Cook and Clayton Mortensen) is less than inspiring. We fully expect Nicasio to head back to the minors and continue to work on harnessing his impressive stuff. Unless the Rockies are big gamblers, there's only an outside chance we see Nicasio again.

Smoke on the Dodgers

A cloud of smoke is wafting into Dodger Stadium along the first base side. Apparently there's a fire in a warehouse nearby. Fans are being moved to other areas of the part. It's an odd scene.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

MLB transactions report - May 22, 2011

Players listed in red included in notes section below.

Disabled List:
Glen Perkins, LHP/RP, MIN - 15-Day DL as of May 22, 2011 (Right oblique strain)
Marlon Byrd, OF, CHC - 15-day DL as of May 22, 2011 (Facial fractures)
Reid Brignac, SS, TB - bereavement list
Juan Uribe, 3B, LAD - 15-day DL as of May 21, 2011 (Strained left hip flexor)

Clay Hensley,, RHP/RP, FLA - returning from DL for left rib contusion (AAA New Orleans)
Rusty Hughes, LHP/RP, MIN (AAA Rochester)
Justin Berg, RHP/RP, CHC (AAA Iowa)
Felipe Lopez, 2B, TB (AAA Durham)
Rafael Furcal, SS, LAD
Greg Reynolds, RHP/SP, COL (AAA Colorado Springs)

Ozwaldo Martinez, SS, FLA (to AAA New Orleans)

Yem Prades, OF, KC - (assigned to A+ Wilmington)

Released/Designated for assignment:
Felipe Paulino, RHP/RP - Designated for assignment (Colorado Rockies)

MIN - Dusty Hughes' replacement of Glen Perkins as a lefty reliever leaves just Hughes and Phil Dumatrait as Minnesota's bullpen southpaws. Hughes saw the hill 12 times for Minnesota earlier this year to Dumatrait's meager four outings. Dumatrait's got the better numbers (3.00 ERA to Hughes' 10.13), but either could be used as a lefty specialist in setting up closer Matt Capps. Dumatrait's 6.95 ERA over his short career suggests Perkins' 1.59 ERA and 1.19 WHIP will likely be missed.

FLA - Clay Hensley served as Florida's primary setup man prior to hitting the disabled list. He even closed out 7 saves in 2010. Expect Florida to work him back into late innings opportunities as he's deemed fit. Hensley's not the most dominant setup man in baseball, but he's proven capable over stretches.

CHC - Justin Berg provides some relief pitching depth as Marlon Byrd hits the DL with facial fractures after getting hit by a pitch against the Red Sox.

COL - Greg Reynolds was recalled to step in for a spot start against the Cardinals on Saturday. He holds little fantasy value.

Crane Kenney won't throw it back

Cubs president Crane Kenney is causing quite an internet stir for not throwing back a home run ball he caught at Fenway off the bat of Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Cubs tradition says a bleacher bum should throw the ball back. Some observers say throwing a ball back is stupid. It's been long debated whether or not throwing a baseball back is a true form of fandom or otherwise.

But honestly, Who cares? Is it worth the debate? This will be the first and last post on the matter in this blog. Do whatever you wish.

MLB transactions report - May 21st

Players listed in red included in notes section below.

Disabled List:
Josh Johnson, RHP, SP, FLA - 15-day DL as of May 17, 2011 (Right shoulder inflammation)
Brad Thomas, LHP, RP, DET - 15-day DL as of May 11, 2011 (Left elbow inflammation)
Alex White, RHP, SP, CLE - 15-day DL as of May 21, 2011 (Right middle finger soreness)
Pedro Alvarez, 3B, PIT - 15-day DL as of May 20, 2011 (Right quadriceps tightness)
Donnie Murphy, 3B, FLA - 60-day DL as of Apr 30, 2011 (Right wrist inflammation)

Pedro Ciriaco, SS, PIT (AAA Indianapolis)
Alfredo Simon, RHP, RP, BAL (Restricted list)
Micah Owings, RHP, SP, ARZ (AAA Reno)
Jay Buente, RHP, SP, FLA (AAA New Orleans)
Charlie Furbush, LHP, RP, DET (AAA Toledo)
Lance Pendleton, RHP, RP, NYY (AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
Josh Judy, RHP, RP, CLE (AAA Columbus)

Amauri Sanit, RHP, RP, NYY (to minors)
Jason Berken, RHP, RP, BAL (to minors)

Lenny DiNardo, LHP, RP, OAK (Long Island Ducks - Atlantic League)

Released/Designated for assignment:

Russell Branyan, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks

FLA - Josh Johnson's repeated arm problems need to worry fantasy owners about his long-term viability. He's already suffered Tommy John surgery, missed the end of last season with arm problems and now a first DL stint of 2011 in May.Jay Buente owns encouraging minor league numbers that make him look like a potential flier as a starter at the MLB level. The again, his MLB numbers as a reliever haven't cut it (11 BB in 11 IP, 6.55 ERA).

CLE - Alex White went down with middle finger inflammation. His DL stint opens the door for Mitch Talbot's return. Talbot performed as a middle-of-the-road starter for Cleveland last season. White may end up in the minors after his recovery, but could also be on the heels of Carlos Carrasco for the Indians' fifth starter spot. He's one to watch as a promising young prospect who looked poised the the major league level.

PIT - Pedro Alvarez's DL time opens the door for former Angel Brandon Wood in Pittsburgh. His marginal fantasy value is worth a flier if you're desperate for a third baseman. There's some upside there, but Wood has shown time and again he's baffled by big-league pitching.

DET - Brad Thomas's injury means rookie Charlie Furbush jumps up to the big leagues as a potential impact arm. With 400 strikouts in 378 1/3 MiLB innings, Furbush has been able to limit walks and win more than he lost as a starter. The lefty could push his way into a setup role for the Tigers relatively quickly.

ARZ - Micah Owings earned a spot start for the D'backs and pitched fairly well (5 1/3 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K). He'll likely head back to the minors soon with starter Zach Duke on a rehab assignment and nearing a return to the parent club. Russell Branyan's release will open more time for Xavier Nady and Juan Miranda at first base, but those two will likely steal at bats from one another in a platoon of some sort. At this time neither inspires more than younger options at the position garnering more playing time.

Ciriaco called up; Pirates 3rd base thoughts

The Pirates recalled 25-year old infielder Pedro Ciriaco from Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday. Despite taking the place of injured Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, Ciriaco owns just one appearance at the position in the minors. Brandon Wood should continue to see starts in Alvarez's absence.

Fantasy Impact: Ciriaco provides little fantasy interest outside of his speed. He's stolen 152 bases in 202 attempts in the minors, but his .650 career MiLB OPS and .190 average this year leaves much to be desired. He should carry little interest with fantasy owners. Wood is an intriguing stop-gap player who has never put it together at the major-league level. He's show a touch more ability at the plate since joining the Pirates (.217 avg, 26% K rate) after leaving the Angels (.168 avg, 33% K rate). Alvarez was striking out nearly 34% of the time before his injury and hitting just .208 with limited pop. If Wood continues to perform at this pace or even slightly better, he's arguably the man for the job in Pittsburgh. That makes him a low end fantasy option with some upside due to his former prospect status at the minor league level.

Friday, May 20, 2011

White out early

Indians starter Alex White only lasted three innings against the Reds due to an apparent right middle finger injury. White cruised through the better part of two innings before recoiling awkwardly on a third-inning pitch. After initially staying in the game, White did not return for the next frame. He struggled to throw strikes and threw no off-speed pitches after getting check out by the Indians' trainer.

Fantasy Impact: White is not your typical sinkerballer. The rookie right-hander hits the mid 90s with consistency and has shown composure on the mound of a pitcher far his senior. With fellow Indians starter Mitch Talbot having completed a rehab assignment you have to wonder if an injury to White could allow Talbot back to the Indians at White's expense. Whether that is via a disabled-list stint for White or demotion to the minors, he's certainly in limbo if the injury forces him out of his next start.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Royals' third shot at Tomlin

Keep an eye on Indians starter Josh Tomlin tonight and this week. Tomlin, who has looked extremely effective in his seven starts this season (4-1), faces the Kansas City Royals for the third time Monday night. The previous two meetings, the Royals failed to string together hits and save for a pair of solo homers in game two put little pressure on Tomlin. Now with a new and potent lefty bat in the lineup in Eric Hosmer, we'll see if the third time is the charm for Kansas City. Tomlin's gotten by while surrendering a hefty eight home runs in 46 2/3 innings so far this season. If Tomlin does get past KC, he'll face a tough lineup in the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend.

Fantasy Impact: We'll see if the Royals can better game plan for Tomlin after seeing him twice in the span of six days back in late April. Tomlin's peripheral numbers are underwhelming. He's striking out just five batters per nine innings and the longball could eventually become a problem - that is if at team can produce some more hits against him. Tomlin has sparkled, allowing just 1.7 walks per nine innings and six hits per nine. The hits numbers are atypical for a guy who doesn't strike people out. Tomlin has pitched like a fantasy ace over the early part of this season. We'll see if the team that's seen him the most can actually expose him. Otherwise, we might be witnessing the emergence one of those few guys that can really pitch and get by without much help from strikeouts.