• Papa Grande is back and he’s back big! Two bits of news today sent Jose Valverde‘s value skyrocketing in fantasy leagues. OK, “skyrocketing” is an exaggeration. But first, the Mets demoted popular sleeper Vic Black early on Wednesday. Black’s control issues reared their ugly head in Florida, as the 26-year-old walked 10 in 9.1 innings. He has the stuff to be elite (33+% K% the last couple years between minor league stops), but will work on his command in Triple-A. If you bought in dynasty leagues, hold on, but he’s droppable in redrafts. He’ll be sitting on the wire if you need him later in the season.
Marc Carig also reported that the Mets plan on easing Bobby Parnell back into action in 2014, throwing him out there no more than two days in a row. Snide remarks about the Mets needing a closer more frequently than that aside, if that situation persists throughout the entire month of April, there probably are a few scab saves to be had. And it sounds like Valverde is the guy. The blonde-bearded righty wasn’t terrible last year in his brief return to the Tigers, but his 22% K% didn’t match up well with his 8% SwStr%. If he can keep the walk rate down (it’s dropped each of the past four seasons) he can pass for a competent reliever, but without stuff to put past people, I wouldn’t invest too heavily unless I was really, really desperate for early-season SV.
• Setup man Dane de la Rosa will start the year on the disabled list. The big righty posted a 3.34 SIERA and was likely second in line in the Los Angeles bullpen. Unfortunately, his forearm hasn’t been cooperating and he’ll cede early-season setup man duties to Joe Smith with Kevin Jepsen (every time I say his name the theme song from The Jetsons plays over and over in my head) moving up the totem pole. Smith won’t rack up the whiffs like de la Rosa can, but his low arm slot has helped him post a steady diet of 3.40ish SIERAs the last three years. He’s a pretty good bet for holds. If you drafted de la Rosa with the idea of handcuffing Ernesto Frieri (or gambling on Frieri’s control being a major issue), he’s dumpable. Remember, he’s now got a bullpen ladder to reclimb and there are other juicy middle relievers sitting in “underowned land” (ex: Kelvin Herrera remains unowned in 19 of 20 Yahoo! leagues).
• Jeremy Affeldt is going to the DL to open the season. Javier Lopez becomes your new left-handed setup guy for the time being if you are scrounging for holds. Luke Hochevar injury replacement Louis Coleman is looking likely to miss the start of the year with a bruised finger. Before getting too excited about (insert Triple-A fodder here), it sounds like the Royals might go with 11 pitchers until Coleman is ready. Jesse Crain will throw his first bullpen after offseason biceps surgery on Thursday. I’m always leery about relievers coming back mid-season from major injury, but with the fluidity that is the Astros bullpen, he’s a name to file away on your watch list.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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