Fantasy Fare: Ninth-inning overhaul

Chris Sale has been lifted from the White Sox rotation to replace Hector Santiago as the team's...

Chris Sale has been lifted from the White Sox rotation to replace Hector Santiago as the team's closer. (Getty Images)

Joel Colomby, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:51 PM ET

In need of some saves? Just wait a minute and chances are a new closer will become available on your waiver wire. This past week alone, four closers lost their jobs — Mariano Rivera because of a possible career-ending knee injury, and Jordan Walden, Carlos Marmol and Hector Santiago all because they couldn’t get the job done. For the record, that makes 11 teams — or, 36% of the majors — that has replaced its closer since training camp. Let’s run down the recent replacements:

Rafael Soriano and/or David Robertson will replace Rivera on the Yankees. Soriano has the experience (45 saves for Tampa two years ago), but Robertson is younger, stronger and, with 12 spotless innings (and 21 Ks), is having the far better year. He was also the RP tabbed to eventually take over when Mo retired ... Same situation at Wrigley where RH Rafael Dolis and LH James Russell will share Marmol’s duties depending who is at the plate. Dolis got the save Friday, but Russell may be the sneaky pick here with a far superior strikeout rate ... In Anaheim, Scott Downs is the new Angels closer over Walden. The ex-Jay should do the job when called upon, but is actually more valuable to the team as a situational lefty. Walden will get his job back eventually ... With a 7.36 ERA and two blown saves, Santiago’s ouster by the Chisox is no surprise. His successor is. Sort of. Chris Sale moves out of the rotation to claim the job, a move many observers have feel is about a year overdue. If you own Matt Thornton or Addison Reed, you can only shake your head, again.

- The only thing likely saving Orioles 3B Mark Reynolds from being dumped in most leagues is that April is over. Reynolds’ brutal first month was eerily similar to last year’s April, which he followed with an eight-HR May breakout and 37 dingers overall. Sure enough, Reynolds cranked his first long ball of the year on Friday and his second on Saturday. Is he back? We’d say yes, but his 49% strikeout rate in April was the highest of his career and he’ll have to cut that back before we buy in again.

- Aramis Ramirez’s slow start is more about bad luck than anything else. Of the balls the Brewers’ 3B has put in play, only 23% have gone for hits. The major-league norm for BABIP (batting average for balls in play) is around 32% and these things always tend to even out.

- Here is a statistic that, no matter how you look at it, is truly jaw-dropping: In Ervin Santana’s past five starts this season, the supposedly potent Angels offence has produced exactly zero runs for him. That’s right zero. Five consecutive shutouts. No wonder he is 0-6.

- Nick Johnson of the Orioles has gone 4-for-9 his past two games with three of those hits doubles. That’s significant because the veteran 1B went hitless in his first 26 ABs.

- Russell Martin may be batting just .172, but thanks to a 12-16 BB-K ratio, his OBP of .329 keeps rosterable in leagues that count both stats. Other players whose OBP exceeds their AVG by more than 150 points include Joey Votto (.282/.441), A.J. Ellis (.297/.451), Ben Zobrist 162 (.189/.339) and Seth Smith (.215/.366). The widest gap actually belongs to A’s OF Collin Cowgill who was demoted after just four ABs but carries the amusing AVG/OBP split of .000/.429 with three walks.

WAIVER WATCH

With fantasy rating out of 5

Tony Campana

OF, Cubs

* * * *

We’d have listed him earlier, except he wasn’t playing much. But having started four of five before Saturday, he’s a nice source of steals (7 in 35 ABs) and AVG, despite cooling off lately (1-for-8 in May).

Michael Taylor

OF, Athletics

* *

His penchant for striking out has tarnished his top-prospect status a bit, but he’s a tempting mix of speed and power and whether his .347 AVG in triple-A arrived with him this week will be the key to if he sticks around.

Jerome Williams

SP, Angels

* * *

Was Halos’ tentative fifth starter out of camp before landing on the DL, but finally made his season debut Wednesday, tossing a three-hit shutout. Went 4-0, 3.68 for the Angels last season after kicking around the NL for eight years. Could have some AL-only value once the team figures out how to hit.

Conor Gillaspie

3B, Giants

* * *

He gets first call on the hot corner with Pablo Sandoval out for up to eight weeks. LH bat should hit for a solid AVG with his good eye and compact swing but expect line drives and only the occasional HR.

Will Middlebrooks

3B, Red Sox

* *

Kevin Youkilis’ fill-in was hitting .333 with 9 HRs and 3 SBs at triple-A and seems to have carried the hot streak to Fenway.

INJURY UPDATES

Ryan Braun is being held out this weekend with a sore Achilles tendon … Lance Berkman (calf) should finally return early next week … TJ surgery is a possibility for Cory Luebke (elbow) … Huston Street will likely land on the DL with a strained lat … Barring a setback, Stephen Drew should make his 2012 debut next week … Doug Fister (ribs) is slated to start next Monday … Justin Morneau is out with a sore wrist … Mat Gamel (knee) is done for the season … The Yanks are without Nick Swisher (hamstring) and Brett Gardner (elbow), Neither is considered serious … Phils should have Cliff Lee (oblique) back Wednesday … Evan Longoria (hamstring) and Pablo Sandoval (hand) are both out until around the third week of June … Ryan Zimmerman (shoulder) should be back by midweek.

WEIRD SPLIT

Jesus Montero SEA

As a DH As a C

At-bats 61 32

Average .197 .469

Homers 1 3

Strikeouts 15 5

HOT AND NOT

Hitters, the past two weeks

Derek Jeter NYY

.460, 1 HR, 4 RBIs

Jason Kipnis CLE

.444, 9 RBIs, 4 SBs

Jay Bruce CIN

.417, 5 HRs, 13 RBIs

- - - - - -

Albert Pujols LAA

5-for-50, 0 HRs, 1 RBI

Hanley Ramirez MIA

5-for-47, 1 HR

Saturday not included

JUST RANTING

As a Brett Lawrie owner, I loved the walkoff HR against Texas on Tuesday, but was mortified by the exaggerated vertical leap at the plate. Does he not remember Kendrys Morales who broke his leg that way in 2010? All those Jays happy feet, just waiting to be landed on. Easy, big fella. We need ya.

 

 


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