Daily Dose: Wheeler DealingFriday, June 20, 2014
Marlins rookie left-hander Andrew Heaney commanded most of the attention from fantasy owners for his major league debut Thursday against the Mets -- and rightfully so, as we love our shiny new toys -- but it was his opponent Zack Wheeler who delivered the gem.
One year and one day removed from his major league debut, Wheeler threw his first career shutout in a 1-0 victory over the Marlins in Miami. The young right-hander allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out eight batters. He faced one batter over the minimum with the help of three double-play grounders and needed 111 pitches to finish off the gem. His final pitch was clocked at 96 mph.
Mets fans were spoiled by the early success of Matt Harvey, so Wheeler has faced some unrealistic expectations so far in the majors. With most young pitchers, progress isn't a straight line. While Heaney was fine in his major league debut, remember that if he has some early struggles. Wheeler has had some ups and downs so far in the majors, but he owns a 3.66 ERA and 171/81 K/BB ratio in 187 innings across 32 starts. Not bad for someone who just turned 24 less than one month ago. If he can improve his command and remain healthy, there's every reason to believe that the best is yet to come. We got a glimpse of his potential on Thursday.
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Thursday afternoon put two closer situations into focus around MLB, but both of them have unanswered questions and quite a few names in the mix. Let's dig in.
We'll start with the Pirates, as Jason Grilli blew a save after giving up a game-tying solo home run to Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco in the ninth inning. The Pirates went on to win the game in 12 innings, but Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said after the game that the team's closer situation will be evaluated.
The blown save was Grilli's first since way back on April 20, but he simply hasn't been all that effective of late. He served up the game-winning home run on Tuesday night and has allowed five runs on eight hits and five walks over 6 2/3 innings this month. He hasn't stuck out a batter in his last six appearances spanning 23 batters. That's a pretty alarming trend. Mark Melancon was solid as a fill-in closer while Grilli was sidelined with an oblique injury earlier this year, so he's probably the best option if you want to speculate in fantasy leagues. Tony Watson, who has been dominant this season, could also be in the mix. Still, Melancon likely has the edge since he throws from the right side.
The situation with the Angels might be more confusing. Most assumed that we would see Ernesto Frieri come on for the save after Albert Pujols hit a go-ahead two-run single in the 10th inning against the Indians, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia surprisingly called on rookie right-hander Cam Bedrosian instead. The decision backfired, as Bedrosian got himself into a bases-loaded jam before Scioscia turned to Frieri, who served up a walk-off grand slam to Nick Swisher.
When Scioscia was asked about his thought process after the game, he explained that he wanted to give Bedrosian an opportunity against a team who had never seen him before. He also indicated that he has no set closer and will play the matchups. Frieri has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, so one could argue that he deserves to be on shaky ground, but Scioscia essentially set him up to fail on Thursday. Also, to be fair, Frieri was pretty solid from late-April until his blowup last Saturday. Still, it's anybody's guess where this situation is going. Bedrosian can't be trusted in the late innings yet, so at the very least we could see Joe Smith get another look on a temporary basis until Frieri has a string of clean outings.
Floyd Suffers Elbow Fracture
Gavin Floyd was working on his best outing of the season on Thursday night against the Nationals, but it all came to screeching halt in the bottom of the seventh inning. After tossing six scoreless innings, he threw a 77 mph curveball to Jayson Werth to begin the seventh before he felt a pop in his elbow and was forced to exit the ballgame. X-rays revealed that he suffered a fractured olecranon bone in his right elbow.
As of now, it's unclear how much time Floyd will need to miss, but it's still a brutal blow for someone who underwent Tommy John surgery last May and endured a lengthy rehab process to make it back to the majors within a year. Signed to a one-year, $4 million contract over the winter, the 31-year-old has been a pleasant surprise with a 2.65 ERA and 45/13 K/BB ratio in 54 1/3 innings over nine starts this season, but now the Braves will have to turn the page.
The good news is that the Braves have a capable replacement, as Alex Wood was optioned to the minors earlier this week in order to be stretched out as a starter. The 23-year-old left-hander was a victim of the numbers game (both in starters and innings) when he was moved to the bullpen in May, but he owns a 3.30 ERA and 98/31 K/BB ratio in 101 innings over 18 starts in the majors. He possesses major upside, so be sure to pick him up if he's still available in your league.
AL Quick Hits: Edwin Encarnacion launched his 21st home run of the season in Thursday's loss to the Yankees … Scott Kazmir allowed two runs over seven innings against the Red Sox on Thursday to improve to 9-2 on the season ... Anibal Sanchez tossed seven innings of one-run ball in a win over the Royals on Thursday … Chris Archer spun 6 2/3 scoreless innings in a win over the Astros on Thursday … Joe Mauer went 2-for-4 with two RBI in Thursday's win over the White Sox ... Alex Gordon was a late scratch from Thursday's lineup due to flu-like symptoms … Glen Perkins (back) returned to action Thursday against the White Sox and tossed a scoreless ninth inning for his 19th save of the season ... Clay Buchholz (knee) tossed six scoreless innings Thursday in a rehab start with Triple-A Pawtucket and is expected to rejoin the starting rotation for the Red Sox next week … R.A. Dickey (groin) will have his next start pushed back from Friday to Sunday … Brett Lawrie (hand) was held out of Thursday's lineup and remains day-to-day … Nori Aoki (groin) went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored in his return to action Thursday … Erasmo Ramirez tossed six scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Padres on Thursday … The Rays placed David DeJesus on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a fractured left hand … Felix Doubront (shoulder) will be activated from the disabled list to start in place of the suspended Brandon Workman on Friday against the Athletics … Corey Hart (hamstring) will begin a minor league rehab assignment Saturday with Triple-A Tacoma … Brad Mills will start for the Athletics against the Red Sox on Friday … David Phelps allowed two runs over seven innings in a win over the Blue Jays on Thursday …
NL Quick Hits: David Wright provided the only offense with a solo homer in Thursday's 1-0 win over the Marlins and continues to show signs of busting out of his slump … The Cardinals will skip Michael Wacha's next start in order to give him extra rest … Carlos Martinez will now start in Wacha's place Sunday against the Phillies … Justin Upton (head) missed his second straight game Thursday … Andrew Heaney tossed six innings of one-run ball Thursday in his major league debut against the Mets … Yovani Gallardo limited the Diamondbacks to one run over seven innings in a win on Thursday … Wilson Ramos (hamstring) could begin a minor league rehab assignment this weekend … Gerrit Cole (shoulder) is on track to rejoin the Pirates' rotation on June 28 … Chris Johnson stayed hot Thursday by going 2-for-4 with three RBI in a win over the Nationals … Dillon Gee (lat) could be ready for a minor league rehab start early next week … Jedd Gyorko (plantar fasciitis) is back in a cast and protective boot after it was determined that he's not progressing as hoped … Ryan Howard went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI in Thursday's win over the Cardinals … Mets manager Terry Collins said Thursday that Juan Lagares (intercostal) is expected to play in a rehab game soon … Ryan Ludwick was scratched from Thursday's lineup due to back tightness … The Padres placed Yonder Alonso on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with right wrist tendinitis … Jesse Hahn allowed only an unearned run over seven innings in a win over the Mariners on Thursday … CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports that Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin might be open to waiving his no-trade clause …