Rotisserie by the Numbers: J.J. Putz Leads Pack of Problem Players

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Rotisserie by the Numbers: J.J. Putz Leads Pack of Problem Players
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

If a player slumps during April, fantasy owners normally write it off as just a bad month by a slow starter that may need a few extra weeks to get cooking.

But two bad months in a row is a pretty good indication that the panic button should be pressed.

Here are four players fantasy owners should be thinking about replacing, or at least should be really, REALLY concerned about, starting with the New York Mets’ new mop-up man.

 

J.J. Putz, Mets

Putz never had a problem pitching in the ninth inning when he was with Seattle, but now his eighth-inning troubles with the Mets have gotten him demoted to seventh-inning duty.

Putz has been temporarily replaced as the set-up man by young fireballer Bobby Parnell. He has dealt with a sore arm, a forkball that never forks into the strike zone, a fastball that has no hair on it, and mental makeup issues regarding adjusting to his role as a setup man.

In other words, he cannot wrap his head around pitching in non-save situations. I guess holds do not mean much to him.

Considering Francisco Rodriguez is in no danger of losing his closer job anytime soon, and that seventh-inning relievers have about as much fantasy value as backup shortstops, Putz’s fantasy value is dwindling at a rapid rate. There is no reason to have him on a fantasy roster right now.

 

Philip Hughes, Yankees

When you get bounced out of the starting rotation for a guy with a 34.00 ERA, that is not good news for your fantasy value.

Hughes has been sent to the Yanks bullpen to make room for Chien-Ming Wang and his flatlining sinkers. Hughes had another chance to stick as a starter, but he failed another audition when he only had two quality starts in seven games (5.45 ERA).

Do not be surprised if being a long man does not suit Hughes, either, and he gets dropped back to Triple-A. Or worse, packaged for a better pitcher when the July 31 trade deadline rolls around.

 

Joakim Soria, Royals

Kansas City is having more trouble scoring than an alcoholic at a dry party.

The Royals have crashed back to Earth in a hard way. Even though Soria has returned from the disabled list, you have to wonder just how many save opportunities he is going to get.  His team only manages two runs per game—on good nights.

The rare times K.C. wins these days is when Zack Greinke pitches, and he usually finishes his own games. Soria could be lucky to get a save a week from here on out.

 

Melvin Mora, Orioles

Mora looks like Father Time suplexed him off the top of Boog’s Barbecue and through a picnic table.

After his shocking 104-RBI season last year, Mora’s bat has slowed to a stop and his power has dried up. He has not driven in a run in his last 17 games.

You know how hard that it is to do when you bat in the middle of an American League lineup? It would be easier turning water into wine or Britney Spears into an opera singer.

It gets worse. Mora has not hit a home run in his last 23 contests. Remember, he plays half his games at Camden Yards, not known for being a pitchers park.

Mora was scintillating during the second half of last season, so he maybe he just needs warmer weather for his bat to heat up.  But I think his best days are behind him and a new role as a utility player off the bench is ahead of him.

 

Hitting and Running

Congratulations to Nate McLouth for finally receiving his "Get Out of Pittsburgh" card.

The Atlanta Braves have always been a boon to the fantasy values of incoming offensive players thanks to their hitter-friendly ballpark and a stacked lineup that generates plenty of run-scoring opportunities. Now that McLouth is surrounded by Chipper Jones and Brian McCann instead of the LaRoche brothers, his fantasy worth should skyrocket.

How cruel have the baseball gods been to Josh Hamilton and Edinson Volquez? Only Jon and Kate have had more problems than this duo this year.

The twosome was the toast of the fantasy baseball town in 2008 when they were traded for each other and turned in the two biggest breakout performances of the season.

Now look at them. Both have just landed on the disabled list for the second time this season.

Hamilton has an abdominal injury that should shelve him for two months, while Volquez, who was only one day removed from coming off the DL, has tendinitis in his pitching elbow that will shut him down for at least two weeks.

Even when Hamilton and Volquez have been healthy this season, they have hurt their fantasy owners more than they have helped.

Hamilton is hitting .240 with six homers and 24 RBI in 35 games. Andruw Jones almost has the same numbers. Hamilton’s on-again, off-again injury issues this season have given his fantasy owners ulcers.

Volquez is missing bats with his pitches—his .191 opponents’ batting average is among the best in baseball—but he is also missing the plate with his pitches \(32 walks in 49.2 innings).

His WHIP is a very average 1.33. He is 4-2 with a 4.33 ERA and 47 strikeouts, solid numbers but probably not as good as his fantasy owners were expecting.

And to get activated from the DL for a two-start week only to last one inning and go back on the DL the next day is grounds for a stoning in some circles.

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