Closing Time: Jimmy Nelson re-arrives, Alcantara hangs around, everyone else is hurt

Andy Behrens
July 11, 2014
Milwaukee Brewers v Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FL - MAY 25: Jimmy Nelson #52 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on May 25, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Milwaukee Brewers prospect Jimmy Nelson hasn't allowed a run, earned or unearned, in any of his last three starts for Triple-A Nashville, and his year-to-date minor league numbers are silly: 10-2, 1.46 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 9.5 K/9. On Saturday, Nelson will bring his scoreless innings streak with him to Miller Park for a degree-of-difficulty start against the Cardinals. Marco Estrada has been exiled to the bullpen.

If you can find a use for a National League starter with swing-and-miss stuff and the backing of a quality lineup, give Nelson a look. He's a gigantic right-hander (6-foot-6, 240-ish) who features a tailing, mid-90s fastball and terrific slider. In case you missed his work for Milwaukee earlier in the year, check the tape. It ain't bad.

Nelson's re-arrival is well-timed for the fantasy community, because an A.L. ace hit the DL on Thursday...

Masahiro Tanaka had been rolling until very recently, posting a 12-4 record and 1.01 WHIP over the first-half of the season, piling up Ks and generally destroying whatever conservative preseason projections many of us had. He'd been a beast. But we've now learned that Tanaka has a small-but-scary partial tear in his UCL, an issue that will cost him at least six weeks. He'll go the PRP route initially, then attempt a throwing program. There is a limited history of such things working well (details in the excellent piece from Passan), but this story could obviously take another bad turn. If Tanaka eventually undergoes Tommy John surgery, we can't expect a meaningful contribution until 2016.

But wait, there's more horrible injury news: St. Louis will reportedly lose Yadier Molina for 8-12 weeks, as he's dealing with a torn thumb ligament. So that's awful. These are the risks when you spend big on the vanity catchers, friends. Kurt Suzuki's name has popped up as a sensible trade target for the Cards, and there's a decent chance he's one of the better available Cs in your league's free agent pool, too. Other priority targets include the scorching-hot Stephen Vogt (18 percent owned), Russell Martin (20), Travis d'Arnaud (10), or power-only play Mike Zunino (22). You've got options. Let's not pretend that Molina has been carrying your fake team to this point, great as he is.

Nope, still not done with the injuries: Brandon Phillips has also suffered a thumb ligament malfunction, and he's looking at a minimum six-week absence (although that seems optimistic). If you need a Phillips placeholder, you're looking luminaries such as Kolten Wong (17 percent owned), Brad Miller (34), Josh Harrison (47), Jed Lowrie (51), Scooter Gennett (34), or Omar Infante (23). Or in an only league, perhaps this guy...

Cubs prospect Arismendy Alcantara will extend his stay with the big league club, following his 4-for-5, 3-RBI performance in Thursday's extra-inning win over the Reds. Alcantara isn't mentioned often enough among Chicago's collection of upside prospects — Bryant, Baez, Almora, Russell, et al. — but he's crept up everyone's rankings with an excellent season at Triple-A Iowa (.307/.353/.537, 10 HR, 46 XBH, 21 SB). Let's hope he continues the tear in the majors, because Alcantara pretty clearly has all-category talent.

It just seems completely unfair that the Pads' lineup was fed to Clayton Kershaw on Thursday night, but that's what happened — with the expected results (W, 9.0 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 11 Ks). But please take note of the stat line delivered by losing pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks. Despaigne's stuff doesn't seem overpowering at all times, and command is a concern. But no big league club has put up a big number against him yet (0.98 WHIP), and he has a deep arsenal, full of diving pitches. Highlights here, in case you're interested.