The Wonderful Wei-YinWednesday, May 16, 2012
The Orioles carried a unique approach into free agency this past offseason, ignoring most of the available big-ticket major leaguers and instead focusing their efforts (and dollars) on a couple of under-the-radar starting pitchers from Japan's top professional league.
The older of the two international signees, 31-year-old Tsuyoshi Wada, has been ruled out for the year following Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. He didn’t throw a pitch in a regular-season game.
But the other is making a strong claim for an American League All-Star nod.
Wei-Yin Chen, a 26-year-old native of Taiwan, allowed just four hits and two earned runs in seven impressive innings Tuesday night against the Yankees. He’s now 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 32/14 K/BB ratio through the first 44 innings of his big league career. The regression is coming and it could hit him hard, but the left-hander is worth grabbing in all fantasy formats until his early-season magic runs out.
Baltimore is off to a surprising 23-14 start, good enough for a share of first place in the American League East.
Tigers Pull Valverde Due To Back Discomfort
Detroit closer Jose Valverde was one strike away from wrapping up a victory Tuesday afternoon against the White Sox when he began experiencing tightness in his lower back. A trainer was called out and Valverde exited the field after a short chat, leaving Octavio Dotel to close things out for his first save of 2012.
It doesn’t sound like a serious injury, but there’s a good chance Valverde will be rested for the Tigers’ next handful of games -- leaving an opportunity for a dedicated fantasy owner’s favorite thing: vultured saves.
Dotel got the opportunity Tuesday against Chicago, but Joaquin Benoit seems like the guy to grab in fantasy leagues. He has a 2.87 ERA and 25 strikeouts through 15 2/3 innings of setup work this season, and is capable of locking down any save chances sent his way.
Missing Mo And Dave, Yanks Turn To Raffy
The Yankees were hoping that David Robertson, one of the top setup men in the sport, would grab ahold of the ninth-inning role and run with it in Mariano Rivera’s extended absence.
But Robertson was diagnosed Tuesday morning with a strained left oblique and could need around three weeks of recovery time. Which means Rafael Soriano is suddenly relevant again in non-holds fantasy leagues.
Soriano saved 45 games in 48 chances alongside a 1.73 ERA and 8.2 K/9 in 2010 with the Rays. He hasn’t achieved that kind of dominance since agreeing to a take on a setup role with the Yankees for three years and $35 million before the 2011 season. But he has been significantly better this year and needs to be owned in all fantasy formats as the closer-by-default on one of baseball’s best teams.
Lawrie Likely Facing Punishment For Helmet Throw
Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie was rightfully upset about those back-to-back called strikes in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to the Rays. They were both hideous.
But he crossed the line by hurling his batting helmet in the direction of home plate umpire Bill Miller and seems likely to hear from the commissioner's office within the next 48 hours about a lengthy suspension. The 22-year-old plays with admirable and infectious intensity, but he’s already a crucial part of Toronto’s offense and that’s a team that needs every win it can get this year in the AL East. If he’s out five games, it’s going to make a dent.
Lawrie is batting .289/.333/.394 with three home runs, five steals and 17 RBI through 152 plate appearances this season. The Jays are in third place in baseball's toughest division with a record of 19-18.
National League Quick Hits: Nationals phenom Bryce Harper homered in a second straight game Tuesday … Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said Chris Young (shoulder) could return from the disabled list this weekend … Vance Worley has been scratched from his scheduled Wednesday start against the Cubs due to arm soreness … The Cardinals placed center fielder Jon Jay on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder sprain … Cliff Lee fanned 10 batters and allowed just one run Tuesday in a no-decision against the Astros … Cardinals closer Jason Motte was charged with his second blown save of the season on Tuesday afternoon, but picked up the relief win … David Wright went 2-for-2 on Tuesday night and is now batting .408/.497/.608 this year … Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg was bothered by stray heating ointment in his jock during his tough four-inning effort Tuesday against the Padres … Michael Morse (lat) has begun taking batting practice in indoor cages … Omar Infante went 4-for-5 with a pair of RBI in Tuesday’s defeat of the Pirates … Mets prospect Jenrry Mejia may be shifted to the bullpen at Triple-A Buffalo … Travis Ishikawa belted two home runs in the Brewers’ blowout victory over the Mets on Tuesday … Dexter Fowler (eye) is expected to return to the Rockies’ starting lineup on Wednesday … Reds ace Johnny Cueto was handed his first loss of the season Tuesday by the Braves … Giants manager Bruce Bochy has pegged Gregor Blanco as his new starting right fielder … The Cubs signed veteran reliever Mike MacDougal to a minor league contract.
American League Quick Hits: The Angels fired longtime hitting coach Mickey Hatcher after Tuesday’s game … Yoenis Cespedes (left hand strain) has been cleared for most baseball activities … The Twins are planning to activate Justin Morneau from the disabled list on Wednesday … Mike Moustakas hit his fifth home run of the season on Tuesday and is now batting .310/.371/.540 on the season … Adam Dunn is expected to play the outfield for three games this weekend against the Cubs … Orioles closer Jim Johnson is now tied for the major league lead with 12 saves … Mike Trout went 3-for-4 and hit his eighth career home run in Tuesday’s win over the A’s … Adam Jones hit his 11th home run of the season and collected his 23rd RBI in Tuesday’s defeat of the Yankees … White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski went 5-for-5 and tallied three RBI in Tuesday’s loss to the Tigers … Curtis Granderson is already up to 13 home runs … The Rays are deciding between Alex Cobb and Chris Archer to fill Jeff Niemann’s rotation spot … Kevin Youkilis (back) is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment Wednesday with Triple-A Pawtucket … Rays closer Fernando Rodney is up to 11 saves … Edwin Encarnacion hit his 12th home run of the season in Tuesday’s loss to the Rays … A’s second baseman Jemile Weeks already has 10 stolen bases … Vladimir Guerrero reported to the Blue Jays’ spring training complex on Tuesday morning … Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold may need a second epidural in his back … Brandon Inge is still day-to-day with groin soreness … Manny Ramirez is scheduled to join the A’s on May 30 in Minnesota.