The first week of May is in the books and what a May so far. We had a team no-hitter by the Los Angeles Dodgers using four pitchers versus the San Diego Padres in Monterrey, Mexico. That was the first ever MLB no-hitter thrown outside the U.S. or Canada. Albert Pujols recorded the 3,000th hit of his career. Coincidentally, those events both happened on the same day.
Then James Paxton of the Seattle Mariners, a Canadian, threw a no-no on his homeland turf at Rogers Centre against the Toronto Blue Jays. With these non-U.S. no-hitters, maybe the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees shouldn’t play two games in London, England next season.
Speaking of the team many think will represent the American League in the World Series, the Yankees flexed their muscle to the tune of winning nine of their last ten games and 17 of 18. That is… pretty good.
In fantasy baseball closers news, things are active on that front too. An elite closer could be returning from the DL soon to potentially be a big trade chip at the deadline or sooner.
Who is it, Brad Brach or Darren O’Day? Brach picked up a save against the Kansas City Royals Wednesday night to push his season total to four. O’Day has two saves on the season. Who is “the guy” for the Orioles?
Two things come to mind when looking at this situation. First, if Brach and O’Day are a team’s closers and they combine for six saves, the team isn’t very good. Thank you Captain Obvious.
Second, it’s a moot point when Zach Britton comes back at the end of May (he’s hopeful), as he should slot right back into his closer role. But will Britton even be around in June? The Orioles are quickly approaching sell-off mode, which was anticipated with their pending free agents and aging roster, if they aren’t competitive.
Holding on to Brach and O’Day could be worth it if Britton gets dealt. If you drafted Britton in the late rounds and stashed him, your patience may be rewarded soon whether he stays with the O’s or (hopefully for Britton owners like yours truly), is traded to a contender.
Corey Knebel was activated this week after about a month stay on the DL. During his time on the shelf, Josh Hader really solidified himself as, at the very least, a lock down set up man. Hader has five saves and an unbelievable 46 strikeouts in 22 innings while also sporting an unheard of 0.50 WHIP. Hader is the real deal.
However, Knebel in 2017 had 39 saves and 126 strikeouts in 76 innings of work. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, manager Craig Counsel stated that Knebel won’t have a defined role, at least at first, when he comes back.
If I’m Craig Counsel, then I love this, even if Knebel is less than thrilled. No one likes losing their starting spot due to injury but unfortunately it happens. The Brewers have potentially two solid closer types who can not only flip-flop roles, but can get the big strikeout when you need it.
From a fantasy standpoint though, it’s a bear. Hader was on a roll in Knebel’s absence and one of the top pitching prospects in the Brewers organization. Knebel is making over $3 million a year while Hader is a little over $550k. The Brewers may decide that having that money invested in Knebel gives him the upper hand in retaining the closer role.
Bottom line, if you have one of the two, you may want to consider trading for the other one given the current uncertainty about who will be the primary closer (if there is one). Both are valuable, so hold either for the time being.
Toronto Blue Jays
Usually, I try to gear this article towards a little humor while offering fantasy baseball advice. The situation in Toronto with closer Roberto Osuna is not the least bit humorous.
According to CBC, Osuna was arrested Tuesday morning for assaulting his girlfriend and was immediately put on administrative leave by Major League Baseball. Osuna is not allowed to be around the team during his suspension.
Manager John Gibbons stated that he would go with a closer by committee approach. If I had to guess, I would say John Axford would be the main 9th inning guy for the Blue Jays. Although on Wednesday Axford appeared in the 7th of a tie ball game, Ryan Tepera pitched the 8th and Tyler Clippard the 9th, earning the save, striking out two and giving up one hit.
The Minnesota Twins placed Miguel Sano on the DL, again. This time, the offensive production that they missed in the past isn’t missing this time around. Eduardo Escobar is more than handling his own at third base. If Sano wasn’t so young and had so much potential, I’d really look at trading him for pitching. Maybe even to the Brewers?
Clayton Kershaw is on his annual trip to the DL. This time it’s much earlier in the season. The good news is it isn’t his back. The bad news is the Dodgers are in a tail spin and losing Kershaw for an extended period of time won’t make it any easier for their club, or the highly drafted ace for your fantasy team, to turn things around.
Reminder – Mother’s Day is Sunday. Take her to a ball game! If that isn’t going to fly, then at least buy her a card, give her a call or FaceTime her, and absolutely make sure you tell her you love her. Until next week.