Mid-Summer Homerun Derby
Before I get into my normal column about the soap opera of closers, I wanted to take a few moments to at least acknowledge the Classic Homerun Derby. And I might be in the minority on the homerun derby, but I happen to enjoy watching this event.
Every year we hear the same old story about the ill effects it has on the players. Some people complain about how it ruins their swings in the second half of the season, or that the contestants get too tired during the festivities, blah, blah, blah. Get over it people, how is this any different than batting practice, really? Do you realize how many swings hitters take before games? And then people wonder why there are so many oblique injuries. Here is an idea, minimize the amount of swings before games - it’s not rocket science.
Anyways, without further ado here are the athletes participating in this year’s affair: The American League’s participants are Captain Cano, Chris Davis, Prince Fielder and “Yo Knows” Homeruns. The National League will use a meager bunch with Captain America or David Wright (not a fan of the nickname), Pedro Alvarez, Michael Cuddyer and Bryce Harper. On paper, or strictly by name, the AL should demolish the NL - but stranger things have happened. I would have to think that Prince Fielder is the favorite to win at this point because he has been there and done that twice.
To make the home run derby more interesting, each year I make a prediction on who will win. If you look at the dimensions of Citi Field, the park tends to favor right handed batters a little more than left handed hitters. Despite the park factors, I am picking Chris Davis to win because he can spray the ball to all fields. To go a little further, I am picking Chris Davis to defeat Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. If any of my readers make a prediction, enjoy and good luck to ya. One last thing about the All-Star game, and I don’t care what anyone says, but the fact that Yasiel Puig is not in the All-Star game is utterly preposterous. This kid, “put da team on his back doe,” and if the rest of the season is anything close to what he has shown so far, he will be getting MVP votes. Plain and simple he is a star, and isn’t that who we put on All-Star teams? Now onto the closers and saves...
Kevin “I have 2 First Names” Gregg: The Cubs signed Kevin Gregg to a minor league contract on April 14 and two days later he was summoned to the majors. Their bullpen was such a meh that the thought of him closing again wasn’t out of this world. He recorded his first save on April 23rd and has not looked back since, converting 15 saves in 17 chances on the season. With the trade deadline looming his fantasy relevance will most likely be coming to an end, when he gets traded. The team that trades for Gregg will probably use him in the 7th or 8th innings as their closer position will already be solidified. It’s probably not a matter of if but when he gets traded, so who will fill the vacancy? The three usual suspects would most likely be: Blake Parker, James Russell and Pedro Strop. On June 30th, Dave Sveum mentioned that Parker COULD be the favorite if Kevin Gregg is traded. Could is the key word in that last sentence, and this was also stated before they acquired Strop. If Strop can continue to pitch as good as he has since he has come over from Baltimore, than I think he will fill the void left by Gregg.
Rafael Soriano: Soriano is by no means in any danger of losing his job, but there is something about him that has me slightly worried. Notice I said, slightly, so it’s nothing urgent - but worth noting. Soriano has 4 less saves than he has strikeouts. His K/9 ratio has dropped from 9.18 last year to only 6.63 this year. He is still pitching great and his velocity is good, but maybe he is just locating his pitches better without using his slider as much. There is nothing that suggests that he is hurt, but one has to wonder why he is not using his out pitch (slider) as much? So with all of that in mind, let’s take a look at his replacement options if he were to get injured; Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. Drew Storen is technically the set-up guy but he has not pitched well this season. Both Storen and Clippard have closing experience but I would handcuff Soriano with Clippard. Tyler Clippard is consistently good every year and I believe he is next in-line.
Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks officially do not have a closer, so it’s closer carousel time in Arizona. I still believe in David Hernandez but take your pick (J.J. Putz, Brad Ziegler, Heath Bell). Good Luck, to ya!
Kenley Jansen: Is Nailz!
Jonathan Papelbon: Rumors are that he gets traded, but I don’t think it happens. To be safe I’d grab Antonio Bastardo. Bastardo is not a great option but probably their only alternative at this point.
Koji Uehara: I believe he keeps this job the rest of the way.
Chris Perez: Perez (shoulder) seems to have solidified his job by converting 5 saves since coming off the DL.
Joaquin Benoit: Appears to be the closer for Detroit until further notice.
Tom Wihelmsen: Wilhelmsen struggles continue, but he's still the closer.
Be sure to stay up to date on all of the MLB closers and fantasy baseball saves situations around the majors. Our closers and saves depth charts provide a summary of each MLB team and their current closer situation, including who's next in line.
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