Spring Training Fantasy: Neftali Feliz Starting, Andrew Bailey Hurting and More

Ryan HallamAnalyst IMarch 15, 2011

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 18:  Neftali Feliz #30 of the Texas Rangers warms up prior to spring workouts at Surprise Stadium on February 18, 2011 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

The landscape of the closing situation for a few teams might have changed in the short-term, or perhaps even the long-term on Monday as three of the better closers in baseball either want to change roles, experienced some soreness, or likely suffered season ending injuries. A few guys who had next to zero fantasy value yesterday could be good late round sleepers tomorrow. There is also news of some young pitchers and hitters trying to make a name for themselves and earn roster spots as we are now just 16 days away from Opening Day. 

Neftali Feliz wowed everyone when he came in today and allowed just one run over four innings and struck out five.  He brought everyone to full attention when he said he had a renewed intention of joining the Rangers' starting rotation. Just one week after saying that he preferred to be the Rangers' closer, Feliz pulled a 180 and now has his sights set back on the rotation. The reports are that he has added a cut fastball to his already impressive arsenal of pitchers, and with this new ability to get batters out, he feels more comfortable starting.  I still think that this situation is up in the air and the final decision is yet to be made. However, you might want to give Alexi Ogando a look as a sleeper closer if Feliz does indeed join the rotation.

I hope you don't have Andrew Bailey on your fantasy team if you have already drafted.  Me?  I've drafted two teams so far and he is on both of them. Well Bailey left the game today after throwing a pitch in the seventh inning in which he immediately started hopping around in pain and removed his glove. He stayed bent over for a while before finally dropping to a knee with his arm held close to his body. This has all the looks of a serious elbow/forearm injury. Even worse is that Bailey already has an appointment with renowned season killer Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday.  So, we await the results, but this is not going to be good folks. If you do already have Bailey, I would immediately run to the waiver wire to pick up Brian Fuentes and then open yourself a beer because it is going to be a long season with Fuentes as one of your closers.

Brad Lidge was scratched from his appearance on Tuesday with what the team is calling bicep soreness and they are unsure when he will pitch again. It was called just usual yearly soreness, but with a guy with a long injury history, as well as a history of being inconsistent, this doesn't bode well for Lidge.  The Phillies are saying that he is still clearly on track for Opening Day, and he could pitch as early as Thursday but nothing is certain yet. He hasn't had overly good stuff this Spring, but if he is healthy he is no doubt the Phillies closer and should be considered a mid tier guy at the back of your fantasy bullpen.

Jake Peavy might have come away with his second loss, but the left hander took another huge step towards getting back on the mound in the regular season with another strong performance on Tuesday. Peavy might have allowed three earned runs, but he was able to throw 67 pitches over four innings and struck out two. It hasn't been announced officially yet, but I really think that he all but has the fifth spot in the White Sox rotation locked up and is worth a flier at the end of drafts as he has the chance to be far better than anyone else you can get at that point.

23-year-old Mike Minor is certainly making his case to be the Atlanta Braves fifth starter as he shut down the Cardinals with five, two-hit innings with four strikeouts. Minor is still in a competition with a couple of other guys, but he is looking more and more like he belongs with the big club.  He struggled some in 2010 when he was called to the majors with a near 6.00 ERA, but he did collect 43 strikeouts in 40 innings.  He will certainly still have some growing pains if he sticks with Atlanta, but he has great strikeout potential and could be worth a late round pick, or at worst could be a nice streaming option. 

Kevin Slowey was awesome today against the Marlins as he threw four shutout innings and struck out three. Slowey has immense talent and if he could ever stay consistent and healthy, he could be a great pitcher. For now he is a good option as a late round option as he should be at worst good for your wins and WHIP as Slowey rarely walks a batter. There is still an outside chance he doesn't make the rotation, but the way he is pitching right now I would put my money on Slowey.

Houston's Chris Johnson continued his torrid spring as he doubled and homered and drove in his eighth run of the spring against the Phillies. He is now hitting .344 for the exhibition season and still looks like a great late round sleeper at a weak third base position if you miss out on the top guys. I still can see Johnson hitting .300 with 18-20 home runs for the season, and considering where you are able to draft him, that is pretty good value. 

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