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Closing Time: Justin Verlander's bad dream continues

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Panic in Detroit (USAT)

If you came for the Andrew Heaney party, we direct you here. For those that stick around, let's fire up some bulleted content.

• Is there anything new to say about Justin Verlander? The Royals got him for 12 hits and seven runs Monday, as the chaos music plays on and on. Verlander's been batting practice in too many of his recent starts: over his last seven turns, he has a 7.83 ERA and 20 walks against 26 strikeouts. If you prefer a bigger sample, consider his last calendar year: 11-15 record, 4.13 ERA, 1.42 WHIP.

I thought I was on the low end of Verlander expectations in the most recent pitcher Shuffle Up (where I put a $15 tag on him), but even that looks awfully optimistic at this point. He's become the worst kind of player: someone too good to cut, too risky to play, too difficult to trade.

Keep the fastball velocity well in mind here. While Verlander doesn't exactly trot the ball to the plate, he has dropped pace on his fastball in each of the last five years. He was a 95.6 mph gun back in 2009; he averages 92.6 mph on the heater in 2014.

Anyone rostering Verlander has to consider benching him until things turn around (and maybe, mercifully, a trading window shows). At Cleveland this weekend, I'd skip that one. Perhaps he can rally at Houston the following week.

And maybe we have to accept that a heavy workload catches up to just about everyone eventually, even a horse like Verlander (6-foot-5, 225 pounds). He has pushed past 200 innings in seven straight years (with a cap of 251 in 2011), not including all the playoff work. (By way of comparison, Max Scherzer has topped 200 innings just once.)

• The Mariners posted a tidy 5-1 victory over San Diego, with James Jones sparking the way (5-2-1-0 line, three stolen bases). I'm surprised Jones is available in 97 percent of Yahoo leagues; he's a little more than a speed specialist.

To be fair, you're getting no pop from Jones: zero homers, six RBIs. That's a hit in two categories, I get it. But a .281 average plays in any format, and he's scored 22 runs and swiped 10 bases through 146 at-bats in the majors. The Mariners have him parked at the top of the order, using him in the No. 1 and No. 2 slot. I'd take him over Eric Young (20 percent) or Denard Span (19 percent), to name a couple of more popular rabbits.

If you'd prefer an NL play, maybe Jake Marisnick is more your speed. The Marlins recalled the 23-year-old outfielder Monday and he came through with a 2-for-6 game out of the leadoff spot, with a couple of bags. Marisnick was hitting an ordinary .264 at Triple-A, but he did have six homers and 17 steals. Mmm, category juice. He'll get a chance to play while Christian Yelich rehabs.

Brock Holt is long-gone in the deeper pools, but let's get the medium and shallow-league owners on board. Holt carries a tasty .333/.375/.456 line through 36 games, with reasonable run production (15 RBIs, 19 runs) and four stolen bases. He grabbed the leadoff spot in late May and hasn't let go since. 

He's only hit one homer in the majors, but a good lineup spot and a Fenway Park home schedule (where he carries a .955 OPS) seem to agree with him. And if you make the addition, you're getting potential coverage at three positions (first, third, outfield). Holt remains unowned in two-thirds of Yahoo leagues. 

• In many instances when a team says "bullpen committee," it's really just buying time until someone emerges and can take full ownership of the baton. Maybe the Rays are the rare example of a team willing to turn the closer gig into true lottery.

Grant Balfour had that crazy seven-out handshake from last week, Jake McGee closed Sunday, and Juan Carlos Oviedo got the job done Monday (working around a Delmon Young solo homer). Where's Esteban Yan these days? Some bullpens are best avoided. Heck, this is a last-place ballclub, anyway.

• At least the Orioles have closure with their catcher situation, there is that. It's finally been determined that Matt Wieters needs Tommy John surgery; he's officially done for the year.

Baltimore's in no-man's land in the AL East, five games behind Toronto (and a half game behind the Yankees). Should the team try to move for a significant catcher upgrade, or just accept hacking Nick Hundley and Caleb Joseph? The Orioles acquired Hundley on the cheap a few weeks ago; he's 5-for-34 since joining the club (two walks, 12 strikeouts). Joseph isn't hitting a lick, either.

• There's been some Rougned Odor talk around the water cooler these days, but I'm not seeing too much past the .303 average. The rookie has a couple of homers over 29 games, and he's 0-for-3 on steals. It all mashes out to nine runs, 14 RBIs.

He's only walked twice, which might be part of why the Rangers keep hitting him ninth. Then again, I have no idea what Ron Washington's thought process is. Maybe we all need to watch Moneyball again. (Takeaway: it's incredibly hard.)

If Odor catches your fancy, he's ready to go in 96 percent of Yahoo leagues. To be fair, the kid's just 20 – I definitely like his future. But I'm going to skip this story for 2014, at least until something more develops. If I miss out on the pickup window, so it goes. 

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