This week the big news is the Reds’ closer hitting the disabled list, so we’ll start today’s article in Cinci. From there, we’ll get updates from TOR, CWS, LAA and BAL. I’ll give my two cents on the Rays “Opener” strategy and wrap up with the three stars of the week.
Closer Raisel Iglesias was placed on the DL this week with a strained left biceps. I find this a bit peculiar as Iglesias is a right-handed pitcher. While the DL-stint is expected to be a short one, it makes me wonder if there isn’t something else up. In any event, with Iglesias out the Reds will look elsewhere for someone to close games.
One option is setup man Jared Hughes who owns a 1.23 ERA and 0.89 WHIP on the season. He notched his first save yesterday to go along with 4 holds on the year. Not a big strikeout guy, Hughes has 22Ks in 29.1 innings of work. His success comes from the ability to limit the long ball, evidenced by a HR/9 of 0.31 in 2018, and further supported HR/9 rates below 1 for every season in his career, and he’s pitched at least 59 innings in relief 5 of the last 6 seasons. Hughes is also doing a nice job limiting walks this season with a 1.84 BB/9, although this is the lowest walk rate in his career and may regress toward his career average of 3.
Another option is lefty Amir Garrett. I wrote about Garrett back in April as a converted starter who could provide that multi-inning high K relief role that is so valuable in today’s game. Garrett has done just that going 28.2 innings in 23 relief appearances while recording 35 strikeouts. Garrett’s ERA and WHIP were 1.35 and 0.94 until his two most recent outings where he got touched up a bit, allowing 3 ER on 2 home runs over 2 innings. Still, his 2.20 ERA and 1.05 WHIP on the season are more than respectable.
Other less enticing options include Michael Lorenzen who was recently activated from the DL and has pitched just 1 inning in 2018; David Hernandez, who has a bit of closing experience and is pitching to a 2.40 ERA and 2.71 FIP, although he has 7 non-intentional BBs in 15 innings; and Wandy Peralta, who owns a has a 3.47 ERA but has walked 19 batters (not a typo) compared to 18 strikeouts in 23.1 innings.
Actions to take: Jared Hughes has seen his ownership rise and I think the masses are right on this one. Hughes may not have the strikeout potential that Garrett does, but he limits walks and limits the long ball. Additionally, Garrett being a LHP is a great weapon for a manager to have in the early innings as matchups dictate. Garrett is my second choice and worthy of an add if Hughes is already taken. If I had to pick one of the other 3 candidates, I’d go with Hernandez due to his experience, but these are hardly consolation prizes.
Toronto Blue Jays
Roberto Osuna’s administrative leave was extended 7 more days to May 28th. His court appearance is not scheduled until June 18th, so it seems likely MLB will continue renewing his leave every week until the court date if not longer if needed. It is an unfortunate situation for the 23-year old and the Jays, but I think we should start planning for 2018 without Osuna.
Since last week, Tyler Clippard picked up the Jays lone save, but he also blew 2 saves and allowed a total of 6 runs in 3 innings of work, while walking 5 batters. John Axford wasn’t much better, pitching 2.1 innings to a 27 ERA and 3.86 WHIP, and Seunghwan Oh has an 8.10 ERA in 3.1 innings of work.
Ryan Tepara was a bight spot, pitching 4.1 innings and picking up 2 holds to a 2.08 ERA and 0.69 WHIP. He’s still my first choice for the closer role.
Danny Barnes was also recalled from the minor leagues. The 28-year-old has a 3.12 ERA in 17.1 innings in 2018. The walks are high at 4.7 per 9 innings, but the strikeouts are solid at 8.8. He may get a save chance here or there.
Actions to take: Tepara is still the add if he’s available. I trust him most out of all the Blue Jays relievers. If you added Tyler Clippard last week, you knew what you were getting into. I don’t recommend owning him, but I don’t think he’s seen his last save opportunity either. With Danny Barnes back in the bigs, he should see holds opportunities and is worth an add in such leagues.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have moved away from Joakim Soria closing games. In the last week, Nate Jones has picked up 3 saves and Jace Fry has picked up 1. As many predicted in the pre-season, Jones has taken over the closer role based on performance. While he hasn’t been lights out, his 3.32 ERA and 1.26 WHIP are much better than Soria’s 4.96 ERA and 1.53 WHIP.
The bigger surprise is the rookie left-hander Jace Fry. He’s pitched just 9.1 innings on the season and allowed just one hit. He’s also struck out 12 compared to 3 walks. I wouldn’t expect Fry to challenge Jones for save opportunities just yet, but he’s worth an add in holds leagues.
Actions to take: Jones is no doubt owned in your saves league, but Fry may be available in your holds league. He’s worth an add, and if used situationally against left handed batters he may pick up some inhered runners stranded too. Soria may still get one more crack at saving games, but not worth hanging onto unless your desperate for saves.
Los Angeles Angels
Blake Parker was called upon for the Angel’s two save opportunities this week. He got the job done in both but did allow 3 hits and 1 run in yesterday’s save against the Blue Jays. With how good Parker has been pitching the last month, this is hopefully just a blip on the radar. Justin Anderson had himself a good week, picking up 4 Ks in 2.2 innings of work, and though he walked 2 he did not allow a run.
Action to take: Parker seems to be the closer for now, and Anderson the second option. Parker should be owned in saves leagues, while Anderson will provide value in holds leagues.
Zach Britton is set to begin a rehab assignment beginning May 30th.
Actions to take: While he’s probably still 2-3 weeks from being MLB ready, it’s a good time to stash him if he is available in your league.
Tampa Bay Rays
The innovative Rays have been experimenting in using an ‘Opener’, or in other words using a relief pitcher for the first 3 or 4 outs, then bringing in that days ‘Starter’. The strategy has worked so far, with Sergio Romo pitching two scoreless first innings last weekend and the Rays’ winning one of the two games. I think the strategy can be successful long-term. Every pitcher fares a little worse each trip through the batting order. Often the SP is yanked when in a jam in the 5th inning to prevent the SP from facing the top of the order a 3rd time in a big spot. With the Rays strategy, the ‘starter’ will be able to face the bottom half of the order 3 times before facing the more talented top of the order 3 times, allowing a team to get some extra mileage out of their pitchers.
Time will tell if the strategy sticks. From a fantasy perspective, if you are in a league with a start limit you can get around that rule by using the Rays’ long man on the days they deploy this strategy, as they will not be credited with a start when the enter the game in the second inning. The ‘starter’ will likely still get awarded the win if they pitch a solid 5-6 innings of ball, but the negative is they will not qualify for a quality start. Additionally, the RP who starts the game will lose fantasy value since they will not be able to contribute a win, save, hold, or QS. Right now, Sergio Romo’s fantasy value is plummeting. If more teams deploy this strategy, it will throw a wrench into our scoring formats and the fantasy baseball community may need to consider adjusting the scoring accordingly.
Actions to take: If the Rays continue using Sergio Romo to start games, he won’t be recording any holds or saves. He’s droppable if other holds/saves options become available in your league.
Three Stars of the Week
Seranthony Dominguez, Phi – Dominguez went 5 innings. Striking out 4 and recording 1 save and 3 holds. He did not allow a run and finished the week with a 0.20 WHIP. The rookie is off to a fantastic start to his MLB career. He’s worthy of an add in holds leagues and may notch a save here and there when Hector Neris is unavailable or not pitching well.
Kenley Jansen, LAD – Jansen pitched 5.0 innings recording 4 saves, 8 strikeouts and 0 walks. He finished with a 0.00 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. This is the Jansen we expected to see.
Edwin Diaz, SEA – Diaz stuck out 7 over 4.0 innings. He also picked up 3 saves and had an ERA of 0.00 and WHIP of 0.50 for the week. Diaz has a rough patch in 2017 but other than that he’s been an elite closer in his young career.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading and hope everyone has a good Memorial Day Weekend!
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday May 20th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #121 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will discuss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Our guest this week is Andy Macuga former Head Coach of Borrego Springs High School in San Diego. Andy is also a veteran owner in Major League Fantasy Sports leagues covering baseball and football.