We've had a lot of fun with Joaquin Benoit this year, especially in the last month. But it looks like the Padres might be clearing way for a new closer.
Benoit is dealing with a sore shoulder and hasn't pitched since Aug. 13. The Padres steered a closing chance to Kevin Quackenbush on Wednesday night, and the unheralded 25-year-old righty did the job (one hit, no runs). He's posted a 2.29 ERA and 0.97 WHIP this year, nifty work over 39.1 innings. (He also has the facial hair you look for in a relief ace.)
Quackenbush doesn't light up the radar gun (91.3 average fastball), but he's doing the things we want a reliever to do. He's striking out just under a batter per inning, he's issued just 10 unintentional walks, and he's allowed but one home run. This is certainly a profile that can work in the ninth inning.
Benoit might need a trip to the disabled list, and the Padres have no reason to rush him back (given their place in the standings). Feel like kicking the tires on a saves-speculation play? Quackenbush is free to add in 96 percent of Yahoo leagues. Long live the Mighty Duck.
• No MLB trade can be fairly judged a month or two after execution, but the Cubs have to be feeling pretty good these days. They loaded up their farm system nicely through a deal with the Athletics, and Oakland's new pitchers haven't been meeting expectations.
Jeff Samardzija will probably be fine eventually, and his ERA in Oakland is a misleading 4.07 after Wednesday's rough turn. The 1.04 WHIP paints a truer picture, along with his strong K/BB ratio (43 strikeouts, nine walks). I'd keep using him in any fantasy format.
It's a different story with Jason Hammel, who has been a hot mess through seven Bay Area turns (6.75 ERA, 17 BB, 21 K, 1.88 WHIP). The A's are going to skip Hammel's next turn, and there's a chance he might be lifted from the rotation completely. He shouldn't be owned in any mixed leagues down the stretch.
It will be interesting to see if Jesse Chavez or Drew Pomeranz re-enter the mix for Oakland. Both of those guys had some useful moments in the first half.
• The way Travis Snider is hitting right now, nothing is going to knock him out of the Pirates lineup, not even the gridlocked roster. Snider rapped out two more hits in Wednesday's victory, making him 18-for-41 over the past 11 games. He's homered three times in that span, producing against all sorts of pitching.
Keep in mind Snider is still just 26, and he was a ballyhooed Toronto prospect in the previous decade. You never know when the light might go on. If you're in a post-hype mood, you'll find Snider available in 89 percent of Yahoo leagues.
• Usually offensive streaming is something we focus on for Monday and Thursday, when the schedules are lighter, but there's a case to be made for some Miami bats at Colorado on the weekend. Gravity, your longtime friend. Certainly the Rockies pitching staff isn't anything to be afraid of (they'll be throwing De La Rosa, who's okay, Lyles, unproven, and TBD, the ultimate unknown, in this series).
Marcell Ozuna homered in each of the last two nights, and he's still unowned in more than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. Most of his pop has come at home, but Coors can make anyone feel comfortable.
• If you're doing traditional streaming on the mound, the Friday card has lots of intriguing options. Drew Smyly (32 percent) has done enough to move past the streaming pile, and yet he's only owned in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues. The Blue Jays are a tough draw (in Toronto), but Smyly is in my Circle of Trust. He's yet to have a bad turn for the Rays, he's striking out three men for every walk, and he offers dual eligibility at the Y.
Hector Santiago becomes more important to the Angels now that Garrett Richards is hurt. A date at Oakland is no picnic, though we've seen Santiago come through in tricky spots before. He has the Behrens endorsement, if you wanted to know. The Anaheim lefty has a 1.52 ERA and 1.01 WHIP over the last month.
I'd like to see more strikeouts from Kevin Gausman, but a start at Wrigley Field is a good draw this year. He's unclaimed in 84 percent of Yahoo leagues.
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- Kevin Quackenbush
- Joaquin Benoit