Closing Time: Garrett Richards, still dealing

Andy Behrens
May 15, 2014

Garrett Richards dominated the Phillies on Wednesday, delivering his best start yet in an excellent season. Richards went 7.0 innings against the Phils, scattering five hits, allowing no runs and no walks while striking out eight.

If you haven't seen the nastiness this guy has been dealing, we invite you to check Wednesday's tape. That breaking thing is evil; the fastball is 96-97 mph with movement. Unfair, basically.

Richards lowered his season ERA to 2.42 with the win (2.48 FIP), and his WHIP dropped to 1.06. He's now struck out 54 batters over 52.0 innings. Entering the day, he owned the third-best average fastball velocity in the majors among qualified starters (95.8 mph), behind only Yordano Ventura and Nathan Eovaldi. Walks have been a minor issue for Richards, but less so lately — in his last four starts, he's issued just six free passes in 27.0 frames.

Here's what I'm getting at: Richards should be owned everywhere at this point. Following Wednesday's start, he's the 43rd highest ranked player in fantasy, regardless of position. And still he's hanging out there in one-third of Yahoo leagues. Do what needs to be done, you guys. He's legit, and his next two starts should be friendly home matchups with Houston and KC.

There's one additional piece of news from the Halos' 3-0 win that we probably need to cover: Ernesto Frieri took the eighth, retiring the top of Philadelphia's order cleanly, and Joe Smith pitched the ninth, earning a save. So we might just have a co-closer situation on our hands. On Tuesday it was Smith with the hold, Frieri the save. The bottom line here, obviously, is that Smith cannot be dropped just yet. And Scioscia is kind of a nuisance.

Kyle Farnsworth earned a save for the Mets on Monday (barely), and he was cut loose on Wednesday — released to save the team a relatively modest amount of money. "I am very bitter right now," said Farnsy. Understandable, I suppose. Your Mets closer candidates now appear to be Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Papa Grande (but I wouldn't actually add those last two guys). Go crazy.

Kevin Gausman wasn't quite everything we hoped he'd be in his 2014 MLB debut, coughing up six hits and five earned runs to the Tigers over 4.0 innings. The assignment was a little rough, so hopefully you weren't streaming Gausman. There are better days ahead here. The 23-year-old righty has mostly cruised at Triple-A this season, striking out 26 batters in as many innings, posting a 2.08 ERA.

Oakland's John Jaso is only owned in 5 percent of leagues at the moment, which seems a bit light. He homered against the White Sox on Wednesday, his fourth of the year, and raised his season slash to .307/.398/.511. You can't use that sort of production from a catcher? And did we mention he was DH'ing, batting in the leadoff spot? Well, he was.

Jake Odorizzi took another quality turn for the Rays, throwing 6.0 scoreless innings at Seattle, allowing just one hit and two walks, striking out seven. His full-season ratios are still a mess, but he's been excellent in back-to-back starts. He'll get the A's next, and he's approved for use.

The Brad Ziegler takeover in Arizona hit a snag on Wednesday, as Ziggy was battered by the Nats (0.1 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 2 BB). Addison Reed owners are not unhappy. Ziegler's horrid showing followed 8.0 outstanding frames from starter Brandon McCarthy, who held Washington to two hits, one run and no walks, punching out seven. McCarthy lowered his WHIP to 1.22. His velocity has spiked this year — 93.0 mph average fastball vs. 90.8 last season — and the Ks have followed. McCarthy is clearly in the spot-start discussion.

The Tribe got 5-hit games from both their No. 6 hitter and their No. 8 hitter on Wednesday, which is something you don't see every day. I doubt you'll be super-eager to actually add either David Murphy or Lonnie Chisenhall, however. But it's worth noting that Lonnie is now slashing .361/.418/.470 over 93 plate appearances, with nine doubles (but no homers).

We should also mention that Cleveland right-hander Corey Kluber fanned nine Jays, earning his fourth win of the season and dropping his ERA to 3.38. These are Kluber's strikeout totals from his past five starts: 11, 5, 13, 9, 9. Kluber (like Richards) is still unowned in 33 percent of Yahoo leagues, somewhat mysteriously.

Yangervis Solarte? Yup, still hitting. He homered against the Mets on Wednesday — his fourth of the season, second of the series — and scored two more runs. Solarte is working on a nine-game hitting streak, batting .336/.414/.521 for the season. Will it last? Well, his career minor league slash-line is .286/.336/.397. He hit .276/.323/.403 at Triple-A last year with 12 homers and three steals. So I would have to say that Solarte is not likely to continue his Blackmonian binge, but I've been (horribly) wrong before.

K-Rod appears to have picked up a slight flutter. He allowed four hits and three earned runs against the Bucs, taking his first loss of the season. Three days earlier against the Yankees, he suffered his first blown save. Of course Rodriguez is still working on a brilliant season — 0.77 WHIP, 1.64 ERA, 16 SV, 28 Ks in 22.0 IP — so his owners have already profited, massively. He's obviously in no trouble whatsoever.

Nick Tepesch didn't necessarily dazzle anyone as a rookie in 2013, positing a 4.84 ERA and 1.37 WHIP over 93.0 unhelpful innings. But I spot-started him in a couple places Wednesday, because A) he was facing the Astros, and B) he's been kind of a badass at Triple-A this year. Check the minor league stats: 6-1, 1.58 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 45.2 IP, 9 BB, 41 Ks. He'd allowed just one run over his last four starts for Round Rock.

Tepesch didn't earn a decision against Houston, but he delivered a useful collection of stats for fantasy purposes (5.1 IP, 2 H, R, 3 BB, 8 Ks). Keep him in your streaming plans, when the matchup works.

Baltimore manager Buck Showalter was understandably reluctant to endorse Tommy Hunter when given the chance on Wednesday. Asked if Hunter would be in line for the next save chance, Buck said, "I don't know yet. We'll see." Which almost certainly means, "Hell no. He's been terrible." Darren O'Day and Zach Britton are the adds.