Closing Time: Backing up Matty Capps

Scott Pianowski
May 6, 2009
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If you're in a league where every save matters, it's time to audit the Pittsburgh bullpen. If you're in a shallow mixed league where guys like Huston Street(notes) and Joe Beimel(notes) aren't owned, you have my permission to skip down to the bulleted content.

Matt Capps(notes) has fluid and a bone bruise in his pitching elbow, and it's going to keep him out of the next two games against St. Louis. Tests done on Capps Tuesday revealed no structural damage and the team doesn't sound too worried about him, but with a pitcher and an elbow, you never know. John Russell says he'll mix-and-match the late-innings while Capps is out, which puts Tyler Yates(notes) and John Grabow(notes) in a possible position for saves.

If you've got one spin to take on this situation, go with Grabow. He's got the bias against left-handed closers working against him, I suppose, but he picked up four saves last year when Capps was on the shelf, and despite a recent rough patch, he's proven to be far more effective than Yates over the last year and change. If you can look at Yates's career numbers and find a reason to be optimistic (5.08 ERA, 1.56 WHIP), that's your business.

Carlos Guillen(notes) (shoulder) went on the disabled list Tuesday and that essentially was the first domino in a handful of changes to the Detroit lineup. Jim Leyland went with Josh Anderson(notes) at the leadoff spot Tuesday, newly-recalled Clete Thomas(notes) hit third, and slugging Curtis Granderson(notes) shifted into the No. 5 spot. It was a happy ending for all of these cats; the underrated Anderson set the table nicely (5-1-2-1), Thomas filled up the box score (4-2-3-2), and Granderson whacked his ninth home run, going back-to-back with Miguel Cabrera(notes) in the fourth inning.

Leyland insists the changes aren't permanent, and it's possible we'll see a different grouping Wednesday when the Tigers face left-hander Mark Buehrle – Ryan Rayburn will probably start, perhaps in place of Anderson – but this new configuration was particularly interesting with Grandy in the No. 5 spot and Magglio Ordonez(notes) dropped to sixth. For all the talk about David Ortiz's(notes) poor start in 2009, Ordonez is probably the biggest brand-name scuffler in the junior circuit. His average dropped to .232 after Tuesday's collar, and keep in mind he has just two extra-base hits over 99 at-bats. When does a bad start become a bad season? You decide.

The Michael Bourn(notes)/Jason Bourn jokes have been all written and played out, so you're on your own there (Identity, Supremacy, Ultimatum, knock yourself out). But it's certainly time to re-evaluate the player, who has shortened his swing and become a surprisingly useful player at the top of the Houston offense. He rapped out two more hits and scored two runs in Tuesday's crazy suspended game with Washington, pushing his average up to .301. He's scored 16 times, and he's 8-for-10 on the bases, and while you won't get any power here and there's ultimately some batting-average risk as well, I think we have to at least consider the possibility that this new version of Bourn is capable of hitting around .270 and stealing 40-plus bases. There's always utility with a player like that.

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Is it time to start taking Alberto Callaspo(notes) seriously? Generally I want all of my roto players to offer speed or power and he's not much of a source of either, Tuesday's home run to the side. But that pretty .379 average gets your attention (along with 13 doubles), he consistently batted for a high average in the minors, and he's got 10 walks against just four strikeouts. This is the profile of a .300 hitter, and dual-position eligibility is always a nice. Maybe Callaspo can turn into a poor man's version of Freddy Sanchez(notes).

Brett Myers(notes) picked up his second win at St. Louis, not that he was missing any bats – he allowed nine hits and five runs over 5.1 innings, and the Cards took him deep a couple of times (the gopher ball has always been Myers's biggest problem). Wednesday's Shuffle up and Deal will audit all of the starting pitchers worth owning in a typical mixed league, and don't look for a lofty price to be attached to Myers, the perennial fantasy tease.

Clint Hurdle was patient with Chris Iannetta(notes) and it's paid off of late; the Colorado backstop clubbed his sixth homer of the year Tuesday and has settled into an 11-for-39 stretch over the last two weeks. He'll strike out a little more than you'd like but he's also got 12 walks – zone management looks fine to me – and eventually the thin air of Colorado is going to play to his advantage (something that was oddly lacking last year). I'm still seeing a Top 10 catcher here.

I am a little worried about Ian Stewart(notes), however. It's not really the 2-for-26 slump, but rather how Hurdle loves to jerk him in and out of the lineup with regularity (he was double-switched out of Tuesday's game). I can't imagine how Stewart can develop any confidence and consistency when he's basically going to the park every day not knowing what position he'll be asked to play, and when he'll eventually get pulled from the game. I don't have a stake with the player, but it would be nice to see Stewart get a chance to do his thing.

Max Scherzer(notes) was solid again on Tuesday (6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K), but you know the problem with Arizona – this offense just can't score runs. The Diamondbacks have given Mad Max just five runs of support over his last four turns, which is why he's still winless. It's nice to see Conor Jackson(notes) and Chris Young running (each swiped a base), but how about a big hit every now and again, fellas? Lo-Jack is down to .195, and Young is at .177.

The recycled Jeff Weaver(notes) held Arizona down for five innings on the other side (5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K), and the Snakes couldn't do a thing against the LA bullpen (Ronald Belisario(notes) and Jonathan Broxton(notes) struck out five of the six men they faced).

Not an Injury Blog: Jorge Posada(notes) (hamstring) hit the DL Tuesday and will be gone 2-3 weeks. Jose Molina(notes) is the quintessential "good glove, no hit" backstop, and shouldn't be on your radar. … Ryan Braun (back) was able to go for the Brewers Tuesday, pushing Rickie Weeks(notes) back to the leadoff spot. … Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes) (shoulder) threw 2.2 scoreless frames in a Triple-A rehab start. … Rick Ankiel(notes) was released from the hospital after Monday's scary face-first wall crash; it's not clear when he'll play again. … Brandon Morrow(notes) (biceps) did some throwing with no problems Tuesday and looks on schedule to return on the weekend. … Josh Hamilton(notes) (ribs) was able to have a catch and shouldn't be on the DL past the minimum. … Brad Ziegler(notes) (flu) rejoined the A's and worked a clean inning, striking out two. … Aramis Ramirez(notes) (calf) should be able to play Wednesday . … Jacoby Ellsbury(notes) tweaked his hamstring trying to make a diving catch and is day to day. Teammate Kevin Youkilis(notes) (side) didn't play. … Chase Utley(notes) has a bone bruise in his foot and didn't play Tuesday.

Handshakes: Brian Fuentes(notes) picked up a cheap save at Oakland, getting the final two outs after Scot Shields(notes) served up a two-run homer to Matt Holliday(notes). Jose Arredondo(notes) had worked in three of the four previous games. … Joel Hanrahan(notes) worked another scoreless inning, working around three hits. Kip Wells(notes) did a credible job (one run over 2.2 innings), but Julian Tavarez(notes) (three runs) and Garrett Mock(notes) did not represent themselves well. … Heath Bell(notes) mowed down the Rockies for two innings (four Ks) and picked up a win when the Pads took the game in the bottom of the tenth. … The Royals also had a walk-off win at home, with Juan Cruz(notes) (scoreless inning, two strikeouts) picking up his second victory. … Francisco Rodriguez(notes) allowed a couple of unearned runs at Atlanta, no big deal on a three-run lead. … Takashi Saito(notes) finished for the Red Sox but his save opportunity was counterfeited by Boston's run in the top of the ninth. Jonathan Papelbon(notes) recorded five outs the previous night.

You never hear a good thing about Troy Percival(notes) these days, but he's got four saves and seven straight scoreless appearances. He finished up Matt Garza's(notes) win over Baltimore, striking out Melvin Mora(notes) to end it. … Albert Pujols(notes) took Brad Lidge(notes) deep in the ninth, just to remind us that he can. Lidge got the other three batters, working in a non-save situation. … Jason Motte(notes) recorded a couple of outs and hasn't been scored upon in nine straight outings; he's clearly the No. 2 guy behind Ryan Franklin(notes) right now. … Carlos Villanueva(notes) scored a rogue save while the Brewers rested Trevor Hoffman(notes). … Andy Behrens will be your captain Wednesday night, he'll give you shelter from the storm.