Greetings fantasy baseballers, and welcome to another edition of the Wire.
Hopefully you heeded the past weeks’ advice and picked up Pat Burrell, Mike Minor, Daniel Hudson and others, before it was too late. This week is sort of a special edition with a look at a trio of closers—mostly of the present, and mostly with no future. Regardless, they have one thing in common—they will receive the lion’s share of save opportunities for their respective teams.
That translates to the potential to rack up some fantasy points all over the land. And the first contestant is…
Hisanori Takahashi, RP, NYM: Owned in 18 percent of CBS leagues
Mr. Takahashi has been somewhat of an enigma for the Metropolitans this season. He had success as a reliever early on, often times bailing out the starters by providing two or three innings of solid relief.
In fact, in his first 15 relief appearances for the Mets, he went two-plus innings seven times. Before being moved into the rotation on May 21, Takahashi put up three wins with a 3.12 ERA in 24.2 IP and a 33:14 K:BB ratio—not too shabby.
At that point, the Mets rotation started to fall apart and he was summoned to the rotation. In 12 starts, he did not fare nearly as well, posting a 4-4 record with a 5.01 ERA while surrendering 73 hits in 64.2 innings. In addition, opposing hitters batted a robust .291 against him in those starts.
Manuel had seen enough of Takahashi the starter and summoned Takashi the reliever, replacing him with Pat Misch in the rotation. Now, with the Francisco Rodriguez meltdown and subsequent thumb injury, Manuel has named Takahashi his closer. He brings a year of closing experience from his tenure in the Japanese league.
In his sole save opportunity, he closed out the Astros in a hitless inning this week.
You can ride Takahashi for as long as Manuel keeps him as the closer. Keep in mind that the Mets also have Bobby Parnell, who has pitched well as of late. Manual may throw some save chances his way to see how he performs in a late-inning role.
Hong-Chih Kuo, RP, LA:Owned in 13 percent of CBS leagues
The main difference between Kuo and Takahashi is that Kuo has been in a late inning relief role for his team, the Dodgers, the entire season. Furthermore, he has posted great stats thus far and has been the bridge that every team searches for to get the ball to the closer.
Unfortunately for Jonathan Broxton, the now-deposed closer, Kuo has pitched so well that he’s replacing Broxton, for the time being at least. If the Dodgers have any chance of making the playoffs, they cannot afford any more meltdowns by the usually-dominating Broxton. This was the main impetus behind Joe Torre’s decision to switch their roles in the pen.
Including Kuo’s first two save opportunities, he has put up an ERA of 1.48 on the season, which was inflated by more than half a run after his implosion against Atlanta. Torre summoned Kuo in the eighth inning, much like he used to with Mariano in his Yankee days. Kuo ran into trouble in the ninth and blew the save.
In 42.3 innings pitched this season, Kuo has a tremendous 52:14 K:BB ratio with a minuscule 0.85 WHIP along with three wins and four saves. Kuo has been nothing short of dominant this season and now stands to gain a boat-load of value in fantasy leagues. One would have to believe that as long as he’s successful in the closer’s role, Torre will leave him there.
The Dodgers also have Octavio Dotel to vulture a few saves, but for now Kuo is the closer in LA. He’s a must-add to fantasy rosters as CBS owners have demonstrated, making him the most added player in CBS fantasy leagues. His ownership will jump to 47 percent next week, which is still rather low. Grab him while you can.
Trevor Hoffman, RP, MIL:Owned in 27 percent of CBS leagues
Mr. Hoffman has had a rocky 2010 thus far. In the first half of the season, he was tagged for four losses and blew five of his 10 save opportunities.
He had an ERA of 8.33 heading into the All-Star break. In 27 innings, he gave up 25 runs on 34 hits along with an unimpressive 17:13 K:BB ratio. These are hardly the numbers expected from Hoffman, or any closer in the league for that matter.
Since the All-Star break, Hoffman has had a bit of a resurgence. In 12 appearances, his ERA is a more respectable 3.09 along with a 10:4 K:BB ratio. Opposing batters are hitting only .227 against him versus .306 before the break.
With Milwaukee out of the playoff race and not much else to play for, manager Ken Macha has decided to give Hoffman save opportunities once again. The Brewers would love for Hoffman to reach the 600 save mark and give them something to cheer about in the closing weeks of the season.
John Axford will presumably continue to get his chances as well, which makes Hoffman far from a sure thing to score significant points for your team. Regardless, Macha will give him every chance to add to his save total.
If you have the stomach for it, pick up Hoffman sooner rather than later and hope for the best, especially if you need to bolster your Save category.
Omar Infante, 2B, ATL: Owned in 34 percent of CBS leagues
Filled in admirably for Martin Prado at 2B and will get regular AB’s with Chipper out for the season. Hits righties and lefties well. Batting .361 since the break with a .862 OPS and has hit over .300 every month except for one this season.
Jose Guillen, OF, SF: Owned in 45 percent of CBS leagues
Guillen will get a decent amount of AB’s in SF. While he won’t hit for average, he surely has some pop left in his bat. Hitting .375 for the Giants since the trade and has 17 HRs on the season.
Chris Denorfia, CF, SD: Owned in four percent of CBS leagues
Denorfia is batting .321 since the break with a 1.039 OPS. He has six homers and 16 RBI plus four SBs in the second half. Solid pick up for deeper leagues.
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