Happy “Opening Night!” Well, domestically at least. An early version of the Bullpen Report tonight since your author is on his way to San Diego (unfortunately, I’ll be in the air during Dodgers/Padres and not in a seat).
• The big surprise this afternoon was the annoucement Casey Janssen will open the season on the disabled list with a back strain. The news is odd timing; Janssen had battled shoulder weakness during the spring, but had just made his spring debut last week (and pitched Thursday and Friday). If the team had any inkling he’d have to open the season on the DL, they likely wouldn’t have thrown him in major league games, because his stint is now backdated to March 29th, meaning he’s not eligible to return until around the 3rd week of the season (at the earliest).
If Sergio Santos hasn’t been claimed in your league, go grab him. After major shoulder surgery in 2012 and dealing with other arm woes that cost him most of 2013, he finally appeared to have his punchout stuff and velocity back in September. He remains an injury risk, but, unlike guys like Jose Valverde, he could conceivably “reverse Pipp” the ninth inning and has top-15 closer upside if that happens.
• The White Sox continue to be coy about their closer situation. There has really been nothing to indicate it won’t be preseason favorite Nate Jones, but Matt Lindstrom has the most “proven closer”(TM) experience in the pen. To further complicate matters, Javy Guerra was slipped through waivers (after being claimed last week) and will open the season in the minors, opening a spot for the hard-throwing Daniel Webb. Lindstrom has the weakest peripherals of the three, but both Jones and Webb have the SwStr% (12+%) to operate as elite arms. I’d still probably want Jones if I had the choice between the three, but I might snag the other two if I had the roster space to burn the first week of the season. Remember, this is the same team that opened last year with Hector Santiago in the ninth.
• Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton will both open the season on the DL. I still like J.J. Hoover‘s stuff here, but his weak spring is probably going to hurt his standing as the lone wolf in the ninth. Don’t be surprised if Reds lean on Sam LeCure, too. Last year he put up similar predictors to Hoover, just with a bit weaker punchout rate. My suggestion for chasing here is to grab Hoover or LeCure if you have the room and watch the box score. I’d bet the guy with the first clean save gets a bit of a leash.
• Other notes: Kevin Gausman has been sent to Triple-A. I think he’d make a fantastic closer if the Orioles can’t make room for him in the rotation in 2014, but they’ll keep him stretched out in the minors. The team hasn’t come out and say “Tommy Hunter, you’re the guy” but the job is his until further notice. David Hernandez has a torn UCL. Sounds like Tommy John is in his future. Drop him if you were hoping for a bounceback season in the holds department.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]