D.J. Short

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Major League Headache

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Dodgers manager Don Mattingly decided against making a change at the closer gig one month ago, but he might not have a choice any longer as the team tries to dig themselves out of last place in the National League West.

Yes, Brandon League struck again on Monday night, blowing his fourth save of the season by giving up four runs in the ninth inning as part of an eventual loss to the Diamondbacks. It spoiled a solid effort by Clayton Kershaw, who tossed seven innings of one-run ball. League was the victim of some perfectly-placed grounders, but that's the risk you run with a closer who is often at the mercy of his defense.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times after Monday's game that he likely would have used Kenley Jansen if Arizona had the heart of their order up in the ninth inning as opposed to the eighth, but it's high time to wonder whether League should simply pitch in some lower-leverage situations for now. The 30-year-old right-hander now has an ugly 6.03 ERA for the year while opposing batters are hitting .304 against him. An official switch in the ninth inning might not be far off, so make sure Jansen is owned in your league. As of this writing, he was still out there in 38 percent of Yahoo! leagues. That's too many.

Read Matthew Pouliot's take on Gerrit Cole and Zack Wheeler in this week's Strike Zone column. And make sure you're following @Rotoworld_BB while you're at it.

Hello, Giancarlo

After Logan Morrison made his return from knee surgery on Sunday, the Marlins received an even bigger boost to their lineup Monday, as Giancarlo Stanton was finally activated from the disabled list and went 1-for-4 with a single in his first game back.

Stanton strained his hamstring on April 29 against the Mets and ended up missing around five weeks. The 23-year-old slugger was hitting just .227/.341/.387 with three home runs in 20 games prior to the injury, though pitchers didn't give him much to hit with the likes of Greg Dobbs and Placido Polanco around him in the lineup. He was only seeing 37 percent of pitches in the strike zone before he went on the DL. That would be second-lowest in the majors if he had enough at-bats to qualify. Stanton is obviously capable of much better and while the Marlins' lineup is still pretty bad, there are at least a couple of interesting pieces around him now.

Marcell Ozuna, who was rushed from Double-A to fill in for Stanton in right field, will now get a chance to play center field on a daily basis. With a .324/.364/.462 batting line, it's fair to say that he exceeded all expectations so far. Of course, he has done that on the strength of a BABIP north of .400 and his plate discipline is an issue. While I'm expecting some regression, it's understandable why the Marlins would prefer to run him out there every day over Justin Ruggiano, who doesn't look like a long-term piece. We could see another infusion of youth soon if or when Christian Yelich or Jake Marisnick are deemed ready for the majors. Marisnick might actually make it first, as Yelich is currently sidelined due to an abdominal strain and was struggling a bit prior to the injury.

Time For Myers?

We're getting to that point in the year where the Super Two cut-off date is projected to fall, so many have speculated that Rays prospect outfielder Wil Myers will soon be on his way from Triple-A Durham. Not so fast, apparently.

Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune reported over the weekend that the Rays have no plans to promote Myers in the next week. Meanwhile, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times opines that there's no room for him on the roster right now. Of course, it's worth noting that both Luke Scott and Kelly Johnson have cooled off significantly in recent weeks. Things could change in a hurry if one or both continues to fade.

It didn't look like this would be much of an issue after Myers got off to a slow start this season, but he has been red-hot for a few weeks now, hitting .378 with eight home runs, 28 RBI and a 1.218 OPS in 17 games coming into play Monday night. I fear that strikeouts will be an issue for him in his first taste of the big leagues, so don't expect a high batting average, but his power potential should make him worth an automatic flier in most formats. I still think he'll get his chance soon enough.

National League Quick Hits: Ryan Braun could miss the entire series against the Marlins this week due to a nagging thumb injury … Matt Kemp (hamstring) could begin a minor league rehab assignment as soon as Friday … Jason Heyward homered twice in Monday's loss to the Padres … The Dodgers are hopeful that Hanley Ramirez (hamstring) will be able to return to the starting lineup this weekend … Brandon Phillips hit a grand slam through the fog and drove in six runs in Monday's win over the Cubs … Yasiel Puig was moved to the cleanup spot Monday and went 3-for-4 in a loss to the Diamondbacks. He's now hitting an even .500 (16-for-32) through his first eight games in the majors … Yovani Gallardo tossed eight scoreless innings in Monday's win over the Marlins … The Padres placed Jedd Gyorko on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin … Huston Street (calf) will begin a rehab assignment Wednesday with High-A Lake Elsinore … A.J. Ellis (oblique) hopes to be activated from the disabled list on Friday … Erik Kratz needs surgery to repair a medial meniscus tear in his left knee … Rickie Weeks went 3-for-5 with a solo homer Monday against the Marlins … The Reds will call up left-hander Tony Cingrani to start Tuesday against the Cubs … With Ike Davis in the minors, the Mets could go with Daniel Murphy at first base and Jordany Valdespin at second base … Tyler Skaggs was optioned to Triple-A Reno on Monday while Josh Collmenter is the most likely candidate to fill his spot in the rotation … Mets general manager Sandy Alderson incited Monday that prospect right-hander Zack Wheeler will make his major league debut next Tuesday against the Braves …

American League Quick Hits: Miguel Cabrera launched his 18th home run of the season Monday against the Royals … Jose Bautista blasted two home runs and matched a career-high with five RBI on Monday against the White Sox … David Price (triceps) will have to make it through another bullpen session Wednesday and a simulated game Saturday before going out on a rehab assignment …  Ian Kinsler (intercostal) felt fine after a workout Monday and could be activated from the disabled list by June 20 … Adam Jones delivered a two-run homer and a sacrifice fly in a rain-soaked win over the Angels on Monday … R.A. Dickey gave up seven runs over five innings Monday against the White Sox and now holds an ugly 5.11 ERA … Clay Buchholz (neck) said Monday that he feels "a lot better," but he may have his next start pushed back … Hisashi Iwakuma allowed an unearned run in seven innings Monday against the Astros and now owns a 1.79 ERA  …  Chris Perez pleaded not guilty Monday to misdemeanor marijuana possession charges … Salvador Perez had a two-run triple in Monday's win over the Tigers and currently owns a six-game hitting streak … Derek Jeter (ankle) expanded baseball activities Monday by taking 25 dry swings and fielding 20 grounders in Tampa … Adam Dunn went 4-for-4 with two homers and five RBI in Monday's win over the Blue Jays … Daniel Nava knocked in the go-ahead run in a win over the Rays in 14 innings on Monday … Brandon Morrow (forearm) is expected to miss at least another 2-3 weeks … Mitch Moreland (hamstring) did running drills at 60 percent on Monday and is optimistic about returning from the disabled list when he's first eligible on June 21 … Will Middlebrooks (back) went 1-for-7 with an RBI single in his return from the disabled list Monday… Peter Bourjos (hamstring) went 2-for-4 on Monday in his return from the disabled list … Matt Harrison (back) will begin playing catch next week … Orioles prospect right-hander Dylan Bundy (forearm, elbow) resumed a throwing program Monday … Aaron Hicks was placed on the disabled list Monday while Oswaldo Arcia was called up from the minors …



D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
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