If you were wise and purchased the 2012 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide, you would have noticed that we had Kenley Jansen ranked well ahead of Javy Guerra, even though Guerra was entering the season as the unquestioned closer. The reasoning, of course, is that we felt Jansen was a dynamic talent whose ability would eventually find its way into the ninth inning.
Barely a month into the season, Don Mattingly now is seeing things our way.
The Dodgers’ skipper announced the change at closer Monday, saying Jansen will be his guy going forward. Jansen’s major league career has gotten off to a rousing start, as he’s averaged an absurd 15.2 K/9 over his first 92 appearances while limiting the opposition to a lowly .150/.262/.224 batting line. Yes, he’s also walked 4.4 per nine innings, but when you’re missing so many bats and giving up so few hits, you can get away with a few free passes.
Obviously, Jansen should be scooped up right away if he still happens to be sitting on the waiver wire in your league. He has the tools to be a top-flight fantasy closer right away.
Big Night for Big Z
There’s no doubt that the Marlins were taking a gamble when they dealt for Carlos Zambrano over the offseason. His on-field tantrums have been well-documented, and he simply wasn’t a very good pitcher his last couple years in Chicago.
But, fellow Venezuelan native Ozzie Guillen felt he could coax the best out of Big Z in south Florida, and so far, he’s been right. The big right-hander notched his first shutout since 2009 Monday night, limiting the Astros to just three hits while walking one and punching out nine. Zambrano now boasts a 1.98 ERA and 1.02 WHIP through his first six starts with the Fish.
Of course, we can’t help but think Zambrano will go through his rough patches. He’s sporting a 3.1 BB/9 rate right now, which is much better than his career rate, but he walked six in a start in April against the Astros, so he’s still prone to wildness at times. He was also averaging just 89.1 mph (according to Fangraphs.com) going into Monday’s start, which would be the lowest mark of his career.
But, Big Z is pitching in a big new home park, and he seems to be in a good place right now, saying his faith has changed him. We're optimistic he can hold some mixed league value this season.
Carp Unlikely for First Half?
When Chris Carpenter originally went on the disabled list with a nerve issue in his pitching shoulder, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said he was optimistic that the veteran righty would be back sometime in May.
Now, it appears we might not see Carp at all in the first half.
Mozeliak is now referring to Carp’s absence as "open-ended," but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Joe Strauss writes that the club is “rapidly approaching a time when Carpenter's availability any time prior to the July 9-12 All-Star break is in question.” He notes that the 37-year-old will need a minimum of 5-6 weeks of recovery and conditioning once he's ready to return to the mound. He’s still currently working on strengthening his shoulder.
Of course, the Cardinals haven’t really missed Carpenter to this point. His replacement, Lance Lynn, became baseball’s first six-game winner Monday, lowering his ERA to a microscopic 1.40 in the process. Kyle Lohse (2.11 ERA) and Jake Westbrook (2.12) have been good, as well. The Cards no doubt would love to get Carp back, but there’s no reason for them to rush him.
National League Quick Hits: Josh Thole is likely to be placed on the 7-day disabled list following a collision at home plate Monday with the Phillies’ Ty Wigginton. Mike Nickeas should get most of the playing time during his absence … Carlos Quentin (knee) thinks he could be ready to rejoin the Padres as early as Friday. He started a rehab assignment early last week and has been happy with how his surgically-repaired knee feels … Chris Young (shoulder) hopes to go out on a minor league rehab assignment this weekend. If he accomplishes that goal, a return sometime next week seems likely … Drew Pomeranz left Monday's start against the Padres with a right quadriceps contusion after being hit with a comebacker. He initially stayed in, so it’s probably not a big deal, but his next start is up in the air for now … Jhoulys Chacin has been placed on the DL with inflammation in his shoulder. But, Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd notes that Chacin’s mind and delivery need as much work as his health … Guillermo Mota has been suspended 100 games after a second positive test for a performance-enhancing drug. He’ll appeal … Cole Hamels has been suspended five games for plunking Bryce Harper Sunday and later admitting to doing it on purpose. He’ll simply have his next start pushed back a day.
American League Quick Hits: Will Middlebrooks went 3-for-5 with a pair of homers and five RBI in a win over the Royals, giving him three homers and nine RBI over the last two games. Though he’s making a case to stay even after Kevin Youkilis (back) returns, we still doubt he will … Josh Beckett (lat) has been cleared to start Thursday after a successful bullpen session Monday. He had his last start skipped … Ernesto Frieri or Jordan Walden is expected to receive save chances until Scott Downs (knee) returns. Downs isn’t expected to be out long, though … Desmond Jennings was diagnosed with a sprained left knee after exiting Sunday’s game. He’s day-to-day … Blake Beavan left Monday’s start after three innings after being hit by a liner on his pitching elbow. We should know more about his status Tuesday … Miguel Tejada has passed his physical and will officially become an Oriole Tuesday. He’ll go to extended spring training first … LaTroy Hawkins could miss 4-to-6 weeks because of his fractured right pinkie finger … Tommy Hunter was optioned to Triple-A by the Orioles Monday after posting a 5.00 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in six starts. It’s not clear at this point who will take his spot in the rotation … Francisco Liriano was blasted again Monday, this time by the Angels for four runs on five hits and three walks over five innings. His grip on a rotation spot can’t be strong at this point, as he has a woeful 9.45 ERA and 2.10 WHIP over six outings.