• If you were hedging your Jonathan Papelbon closer bets with Jake Diekman, well, you can probably stop. With Papelbon having tossed three straight games, the Phils turned to Diekman to try and wrap up a one-run game Monday night. It blew up in the faces, with the lefty demonstrating a complete inability to hit the strike zone (he walked B.J. Upton, that’s how bad it was) before he served up a hanging spinner to Dan Uggla. Granny style. Diekman has always struggled with control (5.05 BB/9 in the minors, 4.88 in the majors) and righties own a career .335 wOBA against him. He has the potential to be a nice half of a lefty/righty platoon, but he doesn’t have the skill set to be profitable in an everyday ninth inning role. Look elsewhere if you need Papelbon insurance (if you’re so inclined, Mike Adams was activated after the game).
• On the Braves side, Diekman’s implosion masked a similar meltdown by Luis Avilan. Avilan gave up five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to turn a four-run lead into a one-run deficit. The lefty’s 1.52 ERA was all smoke and mirrors last year (4.02 xFIP) and he’s been shaky to open the season. As a guy with serious platoon split issues and a below-average strikeout rate, he’s not interesting in fantasy leagues.
The Braves also made an interesting choice in the ninth inning, turning to David Carpenter to lock down the three-run lead while TV shots showed Craig Kimbrel sitting in the bullpen. After the game, Fredi Gonzalez noted baseball’s best closer was day-to-day with a sore shoulder. Uh oh. Hopefully he’ll be fine with rest but Kimbrel owners, hold your breath. Carpenter wasn’t quite as good last year as his 1.78 ERA indicated, but the 28-year-old has the stuff (28% K%, 12% SwStr%) to be an well above-average option in the late innings if need be. It’s somewhat overdue, but we’ve moved Carpenter to first chair in the Braves bullpen. Jordan Walden is no slouch, but the usage doesn’t lie. I’d grab Carpenter in all available deep leagues and hold until we are sure Kimbrel’s injury is really just “day-to-day” and not something more sinister.
• There was some chatter in the comments last night about Maikel Cleto being an option in the White Sox bullpen. The 24-year-old rightly routinely posted a sub-2/1 K/BB at multiple stops in the minors. That’s bad. While he does throw hard (97 mph so far in 2014), he owns a mind-numbingly low 41.1% Zone% over 104 batters faced. The owner of a 3/4 K/BB in 2014, he hasn’t allayed any fears over the first few weeks, either. Robin Ventura might be flirting with the idea of using him in the ninth inning, but that has the feel of driving a gasoline truck into a bonfire. I would still be heavily investing in Daniel Webb and possibly Nate Jones if I wanted to speculate long-term here.
• An MRI showed Boston closer Koji Uehara is not dealing with any sort of structural damage. Exhale, Koji owners. The Red Sox relief ace will travel with the team to Chicago for their series starting Tuesday. It is unclear whether he’ll be immediately available, however, so hopefully you treaded lightly in leagues with weekly lineups. While Junichi Tazawa is probably the better pitcher, Edward Mujica will get any stray save opportunities while Uehara is sidelined. I wouldn’t cut the former Cardinals closer until I see Uehara in a game and confirm he’s over the hump.
• If you blinked, you may have missed the fact that Dane de la Rosa returned last week. After one game, the righty has been optioned to Triple-A and is “getting evaluated on some medical things and having some tests.” His fastball velocity was only at 88 mph after sitting 94 last season, so there should be some degree of concern amongst Angels brass. Owners hoping to use him in holds leagues are going to have to wait longer.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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