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Scott Pianowski

Closing Time: Brad Penny hits the lottery in St. Louis

Scott Pianowski
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If you're looking for details on Black Wednesday, the day three closers died, let's point you to the Andy Behrens Experience. The Brian Fuentes(notes) story is here; the Mike Gonzalez news is here; and the Jason Frasor(notes) skinny is here. For the rest of Wednesday's fantasy breakdown, read on.

Location, location, location, the Brad Penny(notes) story. There's still time to get on board with this solid, affordable mixed-league starting pitcher.

Penny had his way with the Astros Wednesday night (like everyone else, I suppose), allowing just one unearned run over seven crisp innings. It was Penny at his best – two-seam fastballs on both sides of the plate, good command of his off-speed pitches, plenty of ground balls. He's now worked 14 innings through two starts, with dynamite results (9 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K). Why is this guy owned in just 21 percent of Yahoo! leagues? We can't blame it all on the streamers.

I can't guarantee you that Penny will do well next week at Arizona, but he's spotted for a big season overall. The NL Central environment certainly looks cushy, Busch Stadium doesn't hurt the cause, the Cardinals have plenty of plus defenders at key positions (especially catcher Yadier Molina(notes) and shortstop Brendan Ryan(notes)), and Dave Duncan is around to smooth out any of the rough edges. What's not to like?

I always root for guys like Jeff Francoeur(notes) because the statheads hate him. I know we're looking at a tiny sample, but Frenchy has a .429 average and three homers after Wednesday's play, along with six walks (one intentional) and just three strikeouts. He also was quietly effective in half a season with the Mets last year (.311/.338/.498); the OBP gets everyone upset, but those other numbers are in place. He's mixed-league worthy in my book.

David Aardsma(notes) and Ryan Franklin(notes) were panned by a lot of roto scribes this past winter because they had the nerve to outperform their peripheral stats in 2009. Okay, it's important to note when someone's ERA isn't supported by their component numbers, I completely grant you that. But when it comes to handicapping the saves chase, possession of the job and the endorsement of the manager probably means more than everything else. It's not that hard to get three outs with no one on base (while nursing a lead of 1-3 runs), and both of these guys were solid at the gig in 2009 (Aardsma converted 38-of-42, while Franklin went 39-of-43).

Both of these working-class closers are off to good starts in 2010; Aardsma hasn't allowed a run en route to four saves (including one Wednesday against Oakland) and Franklin has come around after an opening-day meltdown in a work-inning (he snagged his third save Wednesday). Trust, it's a wonderful thing.

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A couple of intriguing American League starters met up in Cleveland Wednesday night, with Colby Lewis(notes) (5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 10 K) getting the better of Justin Masterson(notes) (6 IP, 4 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K). Masterson was on the sleeper radar after what he showed us late last year (a 12-strikeout effort out the door against Chicago) while Lewis was honing his craft in Japan. I'd probably prefer Masterson for the long haul – he's shown better control so far and he's got an easier home park – but both pitchers look streamable when the matchup is right. The challenges get harder next week; Masterson works at Target Field, while Lewis reacquaints himself with Fenway Park.

Whenever a team has a closer change, you want to pay extra attention to the next save chance and how the bullpen is handled. With that in mind, consider how the Angels closed up their Wednesday victory at New York - Kevin Jepsen(notes) had a solid eighth (scoreless, one walk) and Fernando Rodney(notes) worked a perfect ninth. The first step is the most important in this gig; Rodney just bought himself a longer leash while Brian Fuentes rehabs.

Not an Injury Blog: The Phillies put Jimmy Rollins(notes) (calf) on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday but they're whistling an optimistic tune; they think he can return in 2-4 weeks. Shane Victorino(notes) picks up the leadoff assignment while Rollins is out, while the roto-insignificant Juan Castro(notes) steps in at shortstop. … Kelly Johnson(notes) left Wednesday's game early with a stiff back. … Miguel Montero(notes) doesn't have any ligament damage in his knee, so look for him to return in 4-6 weeks. … Jayson Werth(notes) (hip) was kept out of the starting lineup Wednesday but later appeared as a pinch hitter.

Speed Round: David Ortiz(notes) will get a much-needed day off Thursday. He's off to a 7-for-26 start, with 13 strikeouts and a .269 slugging percentage. … When Jonathan Sanchez(notes) has his good stuff, you wonder how anyone gets a foul-tip against him. Wednesday was one of those days as he toyed with the Pirates (8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 11 K). … Old friend Ty Wigginton(notes) is getting some infield play in Baltimore while Brian Roberts(notes) rehabs. Wiggy had two hits Wednesday on the heels of a two-homer game Tuesday, and he's carrying three positions of eligibility. … Jorge Cantu's(notes) starting to have that 120-RBI look to him, isn't he? … The trimmed-down Andruw Jones(notes) clubbed his third homer Wednesday, if you wanted to know. … Welcome to the season, Julio Borbon(notes) (2-for-4, stolen base). … Brett Myers(notes) deserved a better fate at St. Louis, taking the loss despite a very useful line (7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K). His curve was outstanding all night. … Tommy Hanson(notes) restored order in San Diego, working six sharp innings (6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 7 K) and keeping the ball in the park. … So much for LaTroy Hawkins's(notes) tidy start – he made a mess in the eighth inning at Chicago (four runs) and picked up the loss. The Brewers went quietly in the ninth, as the electric Carlos Marmol(notes) struck out the side.

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Photos courtesy US Presswire

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