10 Stories From 04/22/14 Box Scores: Who Will Close In Oakland, Salazar’s Struggles & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

To say that it was an exciting day of baseball would be an understatement.  You had an epic matchup between Jose Fernandez and Alex Wood.  You had Albert Pujols (2-4, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R) reaching the 500 HR plateau.  But what else was there that fantasy owners need to know?  Let’s take a look:


1) Has the time come for to move on from Danny Salazar…
It was yet another disappointing outing for Salazar who allowed 5 R (4 earned) on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 4.1 innings.  Sure he has generated strikeouts, but he also owns a 7.85 ERA and 1.96 WHIP.  In his last three outings he has not gone 12.2 innings giving up 14 ER in the process.  He’s struggled with his control (4.91 BB/9) and to keep the ball in the ballpark (2.45 HR/9, 18.5% HR/FB).  Has there been some bad luck?  Of course, with a .420 BABIP, but there are obvious concerns here.  There’s no reason to dump him, as he should right the ship, but be cautious with him until he shows signs of turning things around.


2) Edinson Volquez continues to pitch well…
While Johnny Cueto (9.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 4 K) is going to get a lot of the attention from the Reds-Pirates matchup, Volquez’ performance is more noteworthy for fantasy owners.  He went 7.0 innings giving up just 2 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 3.  He now owns a 1.93 ERA and 0.93 WHIP on the season allowing 2 ER or fewer in each of his four starts while generating 11+ groundballs in each of his past three (he had 14 yesterday).  His strikeouts are down this season (5.14 K/9), his 8.7% SwStr% offers a little more upside), though it has come with much better control (1.61 BB/9).  There has been some luck (.233 BABIP), so there is going to be a regression.  Still, the longer he finds the strike zone consistently the bigger believers we are going to become.  I’d continue to have hesitations, but so far so good.


3) Has Steve Lombardozzi earned the Orioles 2B job…
Manny Machado is getting ready to begin his rehab assignment and reports have J.J. Hardy’s strained hamstring as being mild.  That means only one of Lombardozzi, Ryan Flaherty (0-2, .204 average) and Jonathan Schoop (0-4, .242 average) is going to be able to play on a regular basis before long.  Lombardozzi went 3-4 with 1 R yesterday and is now hitting .318 with 0 HR and 2 RBI on the season.  That said he owns just 5 HR and 10 SB in his career and, even if he is playing regularly, doesn’t have significant offensive upside for fantasy owners.  Look for the situation to be more of a platoon, as the Orioles would likely prefer Schoop to heat up and grab hold of the job.


4) Did the bubble burst on Kyle Gibson…
The Rays beat him down, giving David Price (9.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 12 K, W) plenty of room to operate.  Gibson lasted just 3.0 innings allowing 7 ER on 10 H and 2 BB, striking out 3.  While his ERA is still a solid 3.63, his WHIP is 1.48.  It’s not excessive bad luck (.306 BABIP, though a 15.3% line drive rate) and he also has yet to hit a home run.  The fact is he’s simply not generating strikeouts (5.24 K/9 courtesy of a 6.2% SwStr%) and his control has been subpar (4.43 BB/9).  He has the ability to improve in both areas, to go along with his 54.2% groundball rate, but he will have to take that step if he doesn’t want to continue to watch his numbers regress.


5) Where does Oakland’s closer committee currently sit…
Luke Gregerson allowed 2 ER on 3 H in his inning to blow his second save of the season (which have come in two of his past three outings).  Considering the other options that the team has, would it be surprising if he was officially out of the committee?  Just look at what the others are doing:

  • Ryan Cook – He allowed 1 H in his 1.1 innings yesterday and now owns a 1.35 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.  He pitched in the seventh inning yesterday, but easily could be pushed back later in the game now that he’s had time since returning from the DL.
  • Sean Doolittle – He has struggled over his last few outings, allowing 3 ER over 3.0 innings of work.
  • Jim Johnson – He has been terrific in his past four outings, allowing 3 H and 2 BB with 5 K over 5.2 innings.

It’s not impossible that Johnson is returned to the role full-time, or Ryan Cook could also be given a few opportunities.  Regardless, Gregerson will likely be moved out of the ninth for now and Doolittle’s recent struggles could easily mean no opportunities as well.


6) Collin Mc-Who?!  McHugh recalled and turns heads…
To say that he had an impressive outing would be an understatement.  A former Met/Rockie (he was traded from the Mets to the Rockies for Eric Young last season), he was unbelievable over 6.2 shutout innings against the Mariners.  He allowed just 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 12.  Where exactly did this come from?  He did own an 8.7 K/9 in the minor leagues, including an 8.0 mark in 187.2 innings at Triple-A.  Of course we can’t expect anything reasonably close to last night’s performance and he has consistently struggled with the long ball in the Majors (11 HR in 47.1 innings entering yesterday).  While it made for a great story yesterday, don’t buy into it.


7) Moving on from Taylor Jordan is fairly easy at this point, or is it…
That’s not to say that he doesn’t have upside and he also has a date with the Padres on Sunday.  Still, it seems like a foregone conclusion that he will be removed from the rotation in favor of Doug Fister when he’s ready to retun.  Jordan allowed 6 R (4 earned) on 8 H and 0 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 innings and did generate 8 groundballs.  In other words, the complete skillset with strikeouts, control and groundballs were there, as they have been in his four starts (7.06 K/9, 2.49 BB/9, 52.5% groundball rate).  Yesterday it was Albert Pujols who cost him, but overall it’s been poor luck (.350 BABIP, 57.5% strand rate) and decreased velocity (89.5 mph).  In other words, while he has had his issues the upside is still there.


8) Tyler Skaggs has one of his best outings…
He allowed 2 ER on 3 H and 4 BB, striking out 5, over 7.0 innings to defeat the Nationals and improve to 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.11 WHIP.  He has not generated strikeouts this season (5.14 K/9), but has enjoyed an impressive groundball rate (58.3%).  Since 2011 in the minors he owns marks of 9.89 and 42.7%, so we have to wonder if there is a change in philosophy or if this is nothing more than a small sample size.  Time will certainly tell.


9) Has Brett Lawrie turned things around…
He went 1-3 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R yesterday, giving him 3 HR and 12 RBI over his past eight games.  Of course those are basically the only hits he has, as he’s still struggling to a .135 average.  Strikeouts aren’t a problem (19.8%), he’s simply not able to hit the ball with an authority (5.2%) and it’s led to an abysmal BABIP (.109).  He should get hot, sooner or later, and the fact that he’s showing power and run production while struggling is promising.  Don’t give up hope.


10) How long will the Yankees stick with Yangervis Solarte…
We all knew that he was going to slow down, eventually, so this shouldn’t be a huge surprise.  He went 0-5 with 3 K yesterday and is now 0-12 over his past three games.  Since April 9 he also has mustered just two extra base hits, as well as 2 RBI and 2 R.  Don’t be surprised if Dean Anna, who we have already said could have the higher offensive upside, starts to find his way into the lineup.


Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Minor League Central

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  1. jon says:

    Hey Prof – Love both this feature and the new site design wanted to get your opinion on my pitching staff in my league settings, which features Salazar and similar upside-but-wild types.

    Can you let me know if I have these guys ranked right in your mind for a 10-tm Roto league with a 200 games started limit and these categories: ERA, WHIP, QS, K/9, SV, IP ? Redraft league.


    Meanwhile, Tyson Ross and Martin Perez are on WW still. Wondering many SPs you’d recommend carrying in this format and which ones (including Ross and Perez) you’d carry at the back end? I feel like all these guys have breakout potential and I’m just trying to guess right! Only 4 bench spots. Alas.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      First off, thanks!!

      The ranking seems about right, though from Kluber down could be debated (though Ventura/Salazar get a major boost given the K/9 category).

      At this point I’d probably try to get Martin Perez, though it’s hard to justify dropping any of your other options. Salazar is getting close at this point, but there’s still too much upside (especially with the K/9 category)

  2. JT says:

    Thank you so much for the detailed statistics and info plus a valuable opinion on fantasy baseball. I’m always going to your site for info. I have 2 questions. I bought into the Jedd Gyorko Koolaid and have failed miserably! Would you drop him for Brett Lawrie? Or wait? Also, are you convinced Adam Eaton is and will stay healthy? He is a beast but made of glass. I could pick up Matt Adams as a utility if needed. Thank you so much for you website. Your input is very valuable!!!!!

  3. Doug DeLorean says:

    Just want to say how much I love the new look of the site. Already was a regular visitor but now I come back daily (sometimes twice daily) with it being so much easier on the eyes. Thank you for all the great, USEFUL fantasy advice.

  4. Rotoprofessor says:

    Doug – Thanks for the support and I’m glad you are enjoying the new look. We are still fine-tuning a few things, but I’m very excited for this and the next step in the development of the site.

    JT – If Matt Adams is available, he is a no-brainer add. Don’t give it a second thought. As for Gyorko/Lawrie, I preferred Lawrie preseason and I would continue to lean that way (though it is close).

  5. bbboston says:


    Got to second Doug’s commentary.

    Is Ryan Flaherty the odd man out now? Or, should I hang onto him? Not much on the waiver wire now and based on your earlier Flaherty commentary, this past week I decided to stick with him as opposed to bid FAAB on a WW pick-up.

    Lastly, contract with Doolittle appeared to come out of nowhere, making me wonder if Oak was really just locking in their anticipated longer term closer at set-up man $. > Thoughts?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      First off, thanks!! It is very much appreciated.

      Flaherty – Until Machado is back, Flaherty should continue to get an opportunity. Hopefully he’s heated up by then and can slide into the 2B job full-time (he does have the highest offensive upside), but that’s hardly a guarantee.

      Doolittle – It’s possible, but for now it’s just going to remain a platoon. This season it’s hard for me to believe they are paying Johnson all that money and he isn’t going to return to the role at some point, though.

      • Bbboston says:

        The guy I was considering picking up was nick franklin, but now he’s been sent down, so ostensibly I did the right thing. That being said, Franklin’s upside seems more likely/higher than Flaherty’s. This might be my chance to trade for franklin (for Flaherty). Thoughts? Thanks!

        • Rotoprofessor says:

          I would agree Franklin has the higher upside, but the real question is where will he play and when will he get the opportunity. If you have the ability to stash him for long term purposes, then he def. is the better option. You may just be waiting for a while, when Flaherty could make an impact now.

          • Bbboston says:

            Yes…might as well enjoy the counting stats for now… I guess my concern is Flaherty may be demoted to, then my counterpart will definitely not make the trade.

  6. fiji.siv says:

    I have to apologize on Solarte. I picked him up recently to cover until Sandoval starts hitting. LeMahieu has a nice streak of favorable parks starting next week. I may drop Solarte and curse LeMahieu instead.

  7. Jayson says:

    Salazar–“There’s no reason to dump him”.
    1) owns a 7.85 ERA
    2) and 1.96 WHIP
    3) struggled with his control (4.91 BB/9)
    4/5) (2.45 HR/9, 18.5% HR/FB)

    I don’t know, but those seem like reasons to me.
    He is more looking like a Bullpen guy.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I was not a very big supporter of Salazar to begin with. That said, it’s 4 starts and he still has the strikeout upside that few possess.

  8. Bryan says:

    In a 10 team head to head I need 4 rest of the season and interested in your thoughts.

    B Colon
    D Salazar
    J Paxton
    AJ Burnet
    Y Petit
    AJ Griffin
    A Reed
    J Johnson

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Reed/Burnett are the obvious two that are musts.

      After that, it gets really cloudy. Salazar probably has the highest upside, Johnson could close, Colon should get better and Paxton should be solid as well.

      My first thought is Colon/Salazar, but it’s close.

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