April 30th Pitching Night: Salas Saving, Shields Scorching, Drabek Drops a Dud

Ryan HallamAnalyst IApril 30, 2011

ST PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 30:  Pitcher James Shields #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the game at Tropicana Field on April 30, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

There was not a lot of offense around the major leagues today so this version of Rounding The Bases is going to be all about the pitchers.  Well, we will discuss two position players, but other than that it is all about the pitchers. We have a couple of bullpens with major questions in them and a lot of starting pitching.  We have guys who are on incredible rolls, and others who were just disastrous.  But whether they were good or bad, we will tell you what to expect from them in the future and what you should do with them.

Craig Kimbrel gave up the game-winning run and took the loss the day after blowing a save against the Cardinals and I am betting that some of you are starting to sweat about Kimbrel.  I am going to tell you to relax about this one as I don't see Kimbrel's job in jeopardy at this point. Johnny Venters has been very good as a setup man, but I would be surprised to see the Braves make any kind of move to replace Kimbrel. If you are really hard up for saves and have a wasted roster spot you might want to pick up Venters, but I really don't see a need for that, as Kimbrel will be just fine.

On another hand, what is going on in the St. Louis bullpen?  Mitchell Boggs had been "named" the closer and had been doing a decent job for the Cards.  However, last night he entered the game in the seventh inning and today he pitched the eighth while Eduardo Sanchez and Fernando Salas earned saves over the past two days.  This situation is going to be a mess. 

First, St. Louis has many options at who could close out games for them, and secondly, manager Tony LaRussa loves to play things unconventionally. I still like Eduardo Sanchez to eventually take this job and run with it as I think he has the best stuff of everyone in that pen, but right now anyone in that group is hard to own and feel confident about. This definitely could be a committee situation for a while, but when the dust clears my money is on Sanchez.

Jonathan Niese might have fallen to 1-4 on the season after taking a loss to the Phillies, but he has been pitching much better lately for the Mets.  Niese allowed just two earned runs over 6.1 innings and struck out three.  This is now three straight starts that he has allowed just two earned runs, although since he has started allowing fewer runs his strikeout rate has dropped. 

He hasn't gotten much in the way of run support for the Mets, but if you are in a league with more than 12 teams I like Niese for a guy at the bottom of your rotation.  In a standard 12-team league I like Niese as a guy that you can stream and rent with the option to buy and keep on your roster if he starts to catch a few breaks.

James Shields?  Is this really James Shields?  He broke his streak of two-straight complete games when he ONLY went eight innings on Saturday and struck out 12 and was a blown save away from another win.  There is no way that Shields is going to continue to pitch this well and you need to try to capitalize on this and trade him away for a better pitcher. He has always had plenty of talent, but the guy is pitching out of his ass so you need to not fall in love with him, but try to find someone who has.

Kyle Drabek had what you might call a rough day at Yankee Stadium.  Drabek was only able to survive 2.1 innings and he gave up five earned runs while allowing seven hits and issuing four walks. Fantasy players had fallen in love with Drabek after his fairly strong start to the season, but this kind of outing should bring everyone back to reality.  Drabek is a decent pitcher and an exciting young arm, but he isn't going out and win the Cy Young this year. Look for 10-12 wins with a 4.00 ERA and an average number of strikeouts.  Don't feel bad about thinking about pulling the plug on young Drabek.

Brett Anderson took one on the chin in a big way from the Texas Rangers, and while sometimes I have a hard time when one of my pitchers performs this poorly, it is hard to get too mad at Anderson when a beating comes at the hands of the Rangers' potent lineup. Granted I am still unhappy with Anderson's results, but this doesn't change my opinion of him in the least.  He is still going to have a very strong season.

Carlos Santana hit a home run for the third straight game for the Indians on Saturday, and while it is nice for him to show a sign of life, I am still a little concerned about his horrendous batting average. Those three home runs were his only three hits over that span, and he is still below the Mendoza Line. I am confident that Santana will get out of these doldrums and fulfill his potential to hit for an average near .300 but I once thought he had a chance to hit much higher. There is no reason to panic about this kid, especially in keeper leagues, but you might want to temper your expectations on him as far as batting average is concerned.

Alfonso Soriano is on one of his patented rolls as he is hitting home runs in bunches. He now has hit home runs in three straight games and has four total over that span. I am so far from being a Soriano fan, but I do understand his value.  He is going to end up with 25+ home runs, and although he isn't going to win you a batting title, his average has been better than where it normally sits.  Now's not the time to try to deal for Soriano, but once he gets into a funk, which is inevitable, maybe he will be available on the cheap.

Wandy Rodriguez didn't get the win, but it is amazing to see what a different pitcher he is when he is in the friendly confines of Minute Maid Park. Brandon Lyon blew his save chance so Wandy still has just one win, but he was dominant as he threw eight shutout innings and struck out six. He has no allowed just five earned runs in his last three starts, so things are turning around for the Magic Wand, but you have to look at his split stats and know that most of the time he is a total disaster on the road, and unless it is against a horrible team you probably shouldn't have him in your lineups if he is not at home.

What are we supposed to think about Philip Humber? Everything about him screams mediocre pitcher, but he has been throwing pretty well lately.  On Saturday he allowed just two runs over seven innings and struck out five, and this comes after a performance where he held the Yankees to one hit over seven frames. I don't want to believe in Humber and I haven't made a move on him in any league, but he now has my attention, and he should be on your watch list to see if this improbable run continues.

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