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Fantasy Baseball: Motte What We Wanted to Hear

Cardinals reliever Jason Motte remains sidelined and a recent MRI confirmed ligament damage in his elbow. The closer will rest until May 1, but if no improvement in show, he could be facing Tommy John surgery. It’s a big blow for a guy who was a consensus top-5 closer on draft day and is a serious risk to leave fantasy owners with a big fat goose egge for the season.

Now, the Cardinals have never been a team to fret over uncertainty in the bullpen. If you think back to Motte’s breakout season in 2011, you’ll recall that Motte was never really even named the closer even as he was stopping games night after night for the Cardinals as rolled to a World Championship. We are also reminded of their previous World Series win when a young Adam Wainwright was used in the stopper role during their payoff run. Clearly this is a team that is willing to get creative with their bullpen.

Mitchell Boggs is currently occupying the closer role, but there are other options as well. Young flame-thrower Trevor Rosenthal is looming and other arms with closer experience are also waiting in that pen: Fernando Salas, Edward Mujca, etc. Boggs was very solid last year, posting a 2.28 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over 73.1 innings pitched while racking up 58 strikeouts against 23 walks. Boggs, of  course, was obliterated in the Cards’ home opener on Monday, allowing six earned run on two hits and four walks while recording just one out. Fantasy owners in head-to-head leagues are likely going to have trouble competing in ERA and WHIP this weeks, and roto owners will need a couple of weeks to recover from the blowup.

Still, that wasn’t enough to shake the Cardinals on their late-inning plans. Tuesday evening, Trevor Rosenthal pitched the eight inning in a three-run game with Mitchell Boggs taking the ninth inning. Boggs failed to get the save because the Card’s scratched across an insurance run in the bottom of the eight, but the team is clearly sticking with Boggs for the time being.

Still, Rosenthal remains a very intriguing talent. Lats season he posted a 2.78 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and a nice 9.93 K/9 rate for the Cardinals and has ability to hump it up into the upper 90’s. Rosenthal remains the most talented arm in that bullpen and we’d expect Rosenthal to see time in the big chair before all is said and done this year. It’s probably best to add the 13% owned reliever while he is still widely available.

Around the League

  • The Angels got some bad news on Jered Weaver (elbow) who has fractured his non-throwing arm. Weaver will be down for 4-6 weeks with the ailment, a huge blow to onwners who invested a fourht or fifth round pick in the ace on draft day. Top starters avialable in >60% of standard leagues include A.J. Griffin, James McDonald (see below) and Chad Billingsley, who will make his first start of the season on Wednesday.
  • Before the Cards’ bullpen could get it’s hand on the ball. Lance Lynn struck out 10 batters in just 6.0 innings on his way to a 5-1 victory. He walked one and allowed one run on four hits.
  • Here come the Yankees. They got another quality start from Andy Pettitte ( 7.o IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) and the offense took over. Robby Cano went 4-for-6 with a home run, two runs and five RBI. Brett Gardner crossed the plate three time while going 4-for-5 with a pair of RBI. Kevin Youlklis, Brennan Boesch and Lyle Overbay also got into the mix and even Ichiro decided to bring his power stick to the yard on  Tuesday.
  • Miguel Cabrera did his thing Tuesday, blasting  his first homer of the year on his way to a four hit, four RBI performance.
  • Anibal Sanchez pitched well for the Tigers’ striking out eight against just one walk over 7.0 innings. He allowed two runs on five hits while grabbing his first win of the season.
  • Nats first baseman Adam LaRoche went deep twice for the Nationals after missing most of the weekend with a minor back injury. Apparently he’s feeling better. Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond also homered on the day.
  • Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard popped his first home run of the year ion support of a strong effort from Cliff Lee (8.2 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K). Third baseman Michael Young, however, was the star of the show with a home run, a triple and a single on a 3-for-4 night.
  • Braves starter Kris Medlen had enough to out-duel Wade LeBlanc on Tuesday (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K) but the single strikeout represents a mild dissapointment for fantasy owners. Medlen has just four strikouts in his first two starts and he wasn’t really dominant in that area last season (<8 K/9). He put up solid numbers for sure, but not quite at the level of an elite fantasy ace… unless, of coure, every other number he has is superb as it was last season.
  • Royals closer Greg Holland got back on the mound and picked up a save Tuesday, walking a pair of batters and allowing a hit while striking out two. It wasn’t the cleanestof appearences, but Holland got he job done. If he struggles, Kelvin Herrera and Aaron Crow are looming.
  • Pirates starter James McDonald took a bit of a step back in his second star of the year, allowing four runs in 5.0 innings with five strikeouts, but most concerning is the four walks on the day. When McDonald has his control, he’s a top-20 starter, but that is looking like something that will be tough to bank on.
  • On the offensive side of things, Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte continues to play well in the early going. Marte went 2-for-5 on Tuesday with two runs and two RBI and now has four straight multi-hit games. With 20/20 skills and a clear path to playing time, the 38% owned Marte makes for an excellent flier early in the year.
  • Coco Crisp, John Jaso and Brandon Moss all homered for the A’s as they beat division rival Anaheim 9-5 on Tuesday. Though the offense was clicking, starter Jarrod Parker struggled again, allowing nine hits and three walks in just 3.1 innings pitched. His poor performance is a concern in the early going following a poor spring.
  • The Astros also went on a bit of a power binge, with former Athletic Chris Carter leading the charge with a pair of long balls. Carter put up some pretty impressive numbers last year in a platoon role and remains a nice source of power. He will continue to see a huge volume of at-bats and is only 8% owned in Yahoo leagues.
  • Giants’ former ace Tim Lincecum continued his shaky start to the season, walking four batters and allowing six earned runs ver 6.0 innings pitched. Timmy did strike out seven,  but control was a major issue as he threw just 61 of 104 total pitches for strikes. It’s getting close to panic time for Lincecum owners.
  • The always underrated Angel Pagan went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI in the Giants’ win. Pagan is a top-30 outfielder but doesn’t quite get that respect.
  • We knew about the power, but Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario caught us off guard with his blazing speed! Rosario swiped a pair of bases and is off to a dynamic .348-4-3-6-2 start to the season. Let’s have some fun with small sample sizes and stretch that line to a 162 game season to show a monstrous .348-93-70-139-47 line… all from a catcher!

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