• Just in case anyone was living under a rock the last few days, Jason Motte decided to undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow and will be out for the remainder of 2013 and possibly (likely?) the early part of 2014. There were red flags implying this seemingly minor elbow issue in spring could prove worrisome for the Cardinals and fantasy owners, so hopefully you’ve already done your due diligence in snapping up Cardinals relievers. With Motte out for the season, Edward Mujica has one less guy peering over his shoulder. He only keeps helping his cause by racking up save after save (even though he’s given up a couple runs in his last three appearances) so keep running him out there on your fantasy squad.
Only four weeks after he was the Cardinals closer, Mitchell Boggs and his 12.44 ERA (6.14 xFIP) have been sent to the minors. That news wasn’t so shocking, but St. Louis’ decision to replace him with uber-prospect Carlos Martinez was. Martinez, who opened the season as the #4 prospect in a loaded Cardinals system, brings a fastball that touches the upper 90’s along with a power sinker in the low-90’s. While that type of heat would be plenty powerful for a bullpen arm, scouting reports say his curveball is actually his best pitch. If he’s available in your keeper league (maybe plays aren’t eligible until they are in the big leagues?) run, don’t walk, to pick him up. He’s a pretty big longshot to see the ninth this year, so he’s somewhat less appealing in redraft leagues, although if you’re hurting for K’s and ERA/WHIP he’s a nice gamble.
• Andrew Bailey continues to battle biceps soreness and will undergo an MRI in Boston on Monday morning to rule out anything serious. Even if tests show nothing troubling, Bailey hasn’t pitched since April 28, so it’s very possible the Red Sox might backdate a 15-day DL stint to get another fresh arm ready to go for an upcoming full week. Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa have given up a few longballs in their last few outings and may be a bit fatigued since both sit in the top-25 in reliever appearances. Bailey’s injury breathes new life into Joel Hanrahan‘s fantasy value, although he has continued to look shaky since his return and needs to show he can once again put up an above-average K/BB if he’s to be a safe ninth inning option for the BoSox. With the Red Sox once again looking like contenders in the American League, Bailey and Hanrahan should still be owned until this shakes out.
• Brandon League was asked to go a second inning last night in San Francisco and it ended badly for the Dodgers after he gave up a walkoff shot to Guillermo Quiroz. League’s xFIP continues to be an extremely pedestrian 4.56, in large part because his K% has plummeted below 10%. However, since he is 8-for-9 in save situations there is likely little impetus for Don Mattingly to make a change. I’d still either be trying to buy Kenley Jansen and/or sell League if I was one of his owners. His velocity is down for the second straight year, and while one month is too small of a sample to write him off, there are a few markers of concern.
• J.J. Hoover earned save number two because Aroldis Chapman was unavailable after throwing a boatload of pitches the last two days. His doesn’t have plus-plus stuff, but shave a few points off his walk rate and he could be a very solid setup man for a dynasty squad. Glen Perkins keeps chugging along with his seventh save. Don’t be fooled by his 4.22 ERA, he holds a ridiculous 36% K% and a 10% BB% and is an elite option whose value is only hurt by the team he pitches for. Grant Balfour notched his 23rd consecutive save (dating back to last season) in the Bronx this afternoon. A drop in his K% to 21.6% is driving an unspectacular 4.12 xFIP, but his SwStr% is actually up from last year, so I expect this whiffs to tick up again as the weather gets warm.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]