Around the Majors: April 17: Ryan Franklin, Edinson Volquez & More

Franklin Fails Again
For the fourth time in 2011 Ryan Franklin blew a save.  After Trevor Miller started the inning (allowing a double to Andre Ethier), it took Franklin five pitches to allow a two-run walk off home run to Matt Kemp (3-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R).  You have to think that Tony LaRussa has finally seen enough, with Franklin sporting an 11.57 ERA.

Who could the Cardinals turn to?  The candidates include:

  • Mitchell Boggs, who pitched the eighth inning and has been dominant all season (2.00 ERA, 12 K in 9.0 IP).  He gave up 2 ER in his first outing of the season (a 3.0 IP stint against the Padres), but is unscored upon in his last six innings.  In fact, he’s allowed just 1 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over that span. He would appear to be the favorite to get the first shot.
  • Jason Motte was originally expected to be the next in line.  He appears to be getting things together after a slow start, but still has just 3 K vs. 4 BB over 7.0 innings of work.  It’s not unthinkable, though, for him to get a look.
  • Miguel Batista is the dark horse, if for no other reason than he’s done the job before (albeit back in 2005).

The bottom line is that no one knows for sure which direction LaRussa is going to go.  Stashing both Boggs and Motte, if you have the room, is advisable.

Other Notes:

  • Grady Sizemore’s return to the Indians lineup was better than anyone could’ve asked for.  He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R in his first action since May 16, 2010.  It’s possible that he needs a few random days off over his first week or two back, but if you are in a five-outfielder format it would appear safe to activate him for Week 3.
  • It hasn’t been the start to the season that many expected from Carlos Santana, but he did go 1-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday.  That improved him to .196 with 2 HR and 7 RBI on the year.  Considering that both Santana and Shin-Soo Choo (.214, 2 HR, 6 RBI) have struggled so badly, coupled with Sizemore’s absence, it is unbelievable that the team has gotten off to an 11-4 start.  You know that, sooner or later, both Santana and Choo are going to start producing so sit tight.
  • Jimmy Rollins had his hitting streak stopped at six going 0-3 with 1 R and 1 SB.  Over the streak he has gone 8-26 with 0 HR, 1 RBI and 4 R.  Hitting streaks are nice, but if you aren’t being productive with them does it really matter?  On the season he has 0 HR, 1 RBI, 10 R and 4 SB, so despite a .298 average, he has still managed to disappoint.
  • The ball was flying out of Cincinnati, but Jay Bruce’s day may be the most noteworthy.  He went 4-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R giving him a modest four-game hitting streak (7-16 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 5 R).  It would appear that patience is finally paying off.  Bruce has tremendous upside and could be one of the elite outfielders by year’s end.
  • The first inning struggles of Edinson Volquez continued, allowing 4 ER in the first inning bringing his total to 13 ER in just four innings of work.  He finished the day with a line of 5.2 IP, 6 ER, 5 H, 6 BB and 5 K.  He also allowed 3 HR (Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata & Garrett Jones).  The struggles continue and, at this point, he should be benched until he proves worthy, especially with his next start coming in St. Louis.
  • It was the bottom of the Red Sox order that did the damage yesterday, hopefully a boost for both players.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia went 2-4 with 3 RBI and 1 R, bringing him to .182 with 5 RBI on the year.  Still, in a high-powered offense, he is worth considering in two-catcher formats.  Jacoby Ellsbury, who was demoted to the ninth spot in the order, went 1-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R putting him at .196 with 1 HR, 8 RBI, 8 R and 3 SB.  He has proven to be healthy, which makes him a great play in all formats despite the slow start.  Hitting ninth is like being the second leadoff man, meaning he should still score plenty of runs.
  • Jon Lester finally got his first win of the year, allowing 1 ER on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP.  Obviously you don’t love the WHIP, but are you really going to be that picky?  It will be the first of many.
  • Matt Capps got his first save of the year, pitching a perfect ninth inning.  With the way Joe Nathan had struggled, it shouldn’t be a surprise that he was finally replaced for closing duties.  Long-term it is possible Nathan reclaims the job (I would almost call it likely), so milk Capps for as many saves as you can while he’s getting the opportunities.
  • Jason Kubel went 1-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, his second consecutive game with a home run.  He has also scored a run in five of his last six games, making him a solid option in all five-outfielder formats.  He’s often overlooked, but right now he’s hitting third in the Twins lineup, giving him a lot of upside potential.
  • It was Jared Walden who got the save chance for the Angels, and he got the job done despite allowing a hit and two walks (he allowed 0 ER and struck out one).  Fernando Rodney was perfect in the eighth, striking out one, and he clearly is going to be in the mix in the ninth.  Will he reclaim the job?  At some point, he probably will, but my guess would be that it would only be short-term.  He’s a disaster waiting to happen, so if you have Walden don’t worry if he loses the job.  He clearly has become the long-term answer in LA.
  • Dan Haren improved to 4-0 after allowing 2 ER on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 6, over 6.1 innings of work.  His 2010 struggles are clearly behind him, wouldn’t you say?
  • Michael Pineda continued to excel, allowing 1 ER on 3 H and 4 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 innings against the Kansas City Royals to improve to 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA and 1.03 WHIP.  His control had not been an issue in his previous two starts, so don’t look at that too much.  He has another favorable matchup, getting the Oakland Athletics in his next start.  He is a must use option in all formats.
  • If you want to know how shaky the Mets bullpen is, both Chris Capuano (0.1 IP) and R.A. Dickey (1.0 IP) were used yesterday in Atlanta.  The group has been overworked and underperforming, certainly not a good combination.  Francisco Rodriguez, however, was able to get the job done.  He pitched a scoreless ninth, walking one and striking out one, to claim his second save of the day.  The games finished is certainly something worth monitoring, but he should remain one of the better closers in the game while he has the job.
  • David Wright went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts yesterday.  He’s now 0-11 in his last three games and has struck out 19 times in just 63 AB.  The inability to make consistent contact is going to cost him any chance of hitting .300, so keep that in mind when valuing him.
  • Nick Hundley continued his impressive start to the season, going 2-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R.  He’s now hitting .348 with 3 HR, 9 RBI and 10 R on the year.  Entering the year with a career .247 average and 23 HR in 768 AB, did anyone see this coming?  It feels too good to last, so don’t do anything drastic.  If you need a short-term fill-in in shallower formats he’s viable, but don’t view him as a long-term solution.
  • Interesting to note that Austin Jackson was hitting second yesterday, with Will Rhymes in the leadoff spot.  Are the Tigers really starting to lose confidence in Jackson?  It certainly is beginning to feel that way and his 1-4 day (raising his average to .175), certainly doesn’t help matters.
  • Trevor Cahill allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 9, over 8.0 innings to improve to 2-0 with a 2.49 ERA.  He has been trading off good and subpar starts, though look for him to buck that trend in his next outing against the Mariners.
  • Jonathan Herrera just continues to produce, going 1-4 with 1 RBI and 2 R while hitting second for the Rockies.  As long as he can continue to get on base, with Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki behind him he is going to score a lot of runs.  He appears to have taken over the 2B job, at least for now, and is worth owning in all deeper formats.
  • Chad Billingsley was absolutely dominant, tossing 8.0 shutout innings allowing just 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 11.  Chris Carpenter tried to match him pitch for pitch, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 6.  Too bad neither figured in the decision.
  • Madison Bumgarner continues to struggle, allowing 4 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 6.2 innings of work against the Diamondbacks.  He is now sporting an ugly 7.36 ERA and 1.98 WHIP on the year.  His next start comes against the Braves, one that he should be on fantasy benches for.
  • Think that Adrian Beltre was destined for a regression coming off a contract year?  Well, he’s now on an 8-game hitting streak after going 3-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R.  On the season he’s hitting .250 with 4 HR, 13 RBI and 10 R.  Obviously, you’d like to see a better average, but at least he is still producing elsewhere.
  • Yovani Gallardo looked good early on in game one of the double header, but the wheels fell off before long.  He went 5.1 innings allowing 7 ER on 10 H and 0 BB, striking out 5, to raise his ERA to 4.62 and WHIP to 1.38.  That’s back-to-back poor outings, allowing 9 ER over 10.1 IP.  Granted, at least he started showing a little bit more strikeout potential, but we obviously needs to see more from him.  Look for him to get back on track against the Astros this week.
  • Danny Espinosa had just two hits in the double header (2-7), but he made the most of them with 1 HR, 6 RBI and 1 R.  He appears to be the leadoff hitter, at least for now, though Ian Desmond could regain the job before long.  Desmond was equally as impressive yesterday, going 4-8, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R and 1 SB in the two games.

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