Closing Time: Travis Wood nearly perfect, not good enough

Andy Behrens
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Cincinnati rookie Travis Wood(notes) simply picked a bad night to oppose Roy Halladay(notes), that's all.

Wood pitched brilliantly at Philadelphia on Saturday, retiring the first 24 batters he faced (eight via strikeout) and carrying a perfect game into the ninth. The left-hander lost his no-hit/perfection bid on a Carlos Ruiz(notes) double, but he managed to complete nine scoreless innings against the defending N.L. champs … and he took a no-decision, because Halladay is a monster.

Halladay countered with nine shutout innings and nine Ks, per his usual. But fantasy-wise, he isn't the story. Wood's performance was the actionable event.

The Reds' rotation is about to get crowded, with Aaron Harang(notes) (back) and Edinson Volquez(notes) (elbow) expected back from the DL shortly, but it's tough to imagine Wood getting bounced following Saturday's effort. You'll recall that he battled Mike Leake(notes) for Cincinnati's fifth starter gig in spring training, delivering a 3.50 ERA and 17 Ks in 18.0 Cactus League innings. He was also spectacular across two minor league levels last year (13-5, 1.77 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 7.2 K/9), and he posted a 3.12 ERA and 1.08 WHIP at Triple-A earlier this season.

So the stats are there. Wood's fastball was better than advertised on Saturday (92-93 mph, perfectly located), and his secondary stuff (cutter, change, curve) did whatever he needed it to do. Check the highlights. In three appearances for the Reds, he's now struck out 17 batters in 20.2 innings.

On the chance that Wood could make two starts in Week 16 — Cincinnati will face the Nationals, then the Astros — I've made a few speculative pick-ups. But this is strictly an add-and-hope situation. There are no guarantees. Again: Wood isn't a lock to stick in the rotation. Harang and Volquez could mess this whole thing up (and Edinson just threw 7.0 one-hit innings for Louisville, striking out nine).

While you run the risk-reward analysis on your own rosters, please enjoy some refreshing bullets…

Brad Lidge(notes) very nearly allowed the Reds to score in the tenth on Saturday, but he escaped following a messy inning (26 pitches, 1 H, 2 BBs, SB). Over the past month, Lidge has an 8.22 ERA and 1.96 WHIP. His manager is endlessly loyal, however. You'll grow old and bitter waiting for Lidge to lose his job.
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We should probably offer the option to ignore all Diamondbacks bullpen updates. Rest assured, we here at Roto Arcade don't want to write about Arizona's relievers any more than you want to read about 'em. But such is our fate.

On Saturday, Chad Qualls(notes) was handed the ball in the ninth inning with a three-run lead. He promptly committed an error, allowing the leadoff hitter to reach base, then gave up a double to Mike Stanton(notes) and a two-run single to Ronny Paulino(notes). Qualls was then replaced by Juan Gutierrez(notes), who converted the save.

There are really no good options in this 'pen. It's a situation to avoid, not to embrace — unfortunately, not everyone has that luxury.

When manager Kirk Gibson was asked about the decision to remove Qualls, he replied with this gem: "I had to. Come on. That's not even a question. He wasn't locating." Arizona is simply a team without a closer right now. Gutierrez could very well get the next save opportunity; he's struck out one batter this month and his season ERA is 7.18. I dare you to add him.

Zack Greinke(notes) was scratched from his Sunday start due to "soreness in the back of his right shoulder." This is clearly a concern, but Greinke's manager reportedly said, "It's not anything serious." Here are a few details:

“He didn’t do it throwing,” Yost said. “It’s not a throwing injury. It was a sensation that he felt in his arm when he went to cover third base and jerked back. It effects the part of his arm back here (points behind shoulder) that is on the decelerating process. It’s not on the throwing process. It’s on the decelerating process.”

Cliff Lee's(notes) Texas debut wasn't exactly a gem: 9.0 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 2 K, 3 HR. By now, everyone has reminded you that Lee didn't exactly win the home-park lottery when he was dealt to the Rangers. Let's not overstate the importance of his career stats in Arlington, however. (Lee shut down the Rangers at the Ballpark earlier this year, for what it's worth). If you're looking to deal him now that he's left Seattle, I'm willing to take him off your hands.

There's a chance that 21-year-old prospect Michael Pineda(notes) will replace Lee in the Mariners' rotation, and he'll be worth your waiver priority when he arrives. The right-hander is 10-1 across two levels this season, with a 2.72 ERA and 106 Ks in 99.1 innings. And Rob Steingall loves him like a pet. Here's Pineda in super slow-mo:


Can't imagine that video helped you in any way, but we like to break up the blocks of text with a few pictures. Anyway: When Pineda gets the call, make the add.

Carlos Beltran(notes) should make his long-awaited return to the lineup on Thursday, when the Mets begin an 11-game road trip. He's hit .367/.439/.469 during his rehab stint, though he's without a homer or a stolen base attempt. Angel Pagan(notes) is expected to start in right when Beltran rejoins the Mets. (No surprise; he's been on a tear). Here are the details on Jerry Manuel's short-term outfield rotation, via

Manuel said his tentative plan has the lineup reading: Jose Reyes(notes), Pagan, David Wright(notes), Beltran, Ike Davis(notes) and Jason Bay(notes), followed by that day's catcher and second baseman.

That leaves current starting right fielder Jeff Francoeur(notes) out of the fold, but Manuel said that he will likely start Francoeur, who has hit .302 against lefties and .256 against righties for his career, against left-handed starters. Above all, Manuel will look to keep Francoeur sharp, even if the team doesn't draw a lefty for a stretch.

Tom Gorzelanny(notes) earned his second win of the week on Saturday, giving up just one earned run to the Dodgers over six innings. He struck out seven and lowered his season ERA to 3.16. Gorzelanny now has 76 Ks in 74.0 innings. With any luck, he'll get a start or two against Houston in the weeks ahead; the Cubs face the Astros six more times in July.
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Octavio Dotel(notes) did nothing to enhance his modest trade value on Sunday. He fell behind all three hitters he faced, eventually giving up a walkoff two-run shot to Corey Hart(notes). Dotel and Joel Hanrahan(notes) both registered blown saves for the Bucs, which is no simple trick. John Axford(notes) picked up a cheap win for the Brewers after giving up two hits and one run in the ninth; he's pitched in each game of the Pittsburgh series, earning a save and two wins. All the key members of the Pirates bullpen have been giving up runs lately, including all-star Evan Meek(notes).

Also roughed up on Sunday: Kerry Wood(notes). The Rays ended his five-inning scoreless streak, as Jason Bartlett(notes) hit a game-ending single to score Carl Crawford(notes). This will not help my efforts to give away trade Wood in the Friends & Family League. For the record, Chris Perez(notes) pitched a scoreless frame for the Tribe, walking two. Perez has issued six free passes in 3.1 innings in July, yet he hasn't allowed a hit.

Adrian Beltre(notes) checked out early in Sunday's win over the Jays, due to a left hamstring strain. We don't yet know the severity, but you hate to see the day-before-ASB injury.

You're no doubt sick of hearing fantasy analysts push Madison Bumgarner(notes), so we'll make this quick: He scattered seven hits over six innings against the Nats on Sunday (and hit two batters), allowing just one run while striking out six. Give him a look if you're in need — ahead of Wood, ahead of Gorzelanny. Bumgarner has delivered four straight solid outings for the Giants, posting excellent fantasy ratios over 28 innings (2.57, 1.04) and recording 22 Ks. In his last appearance in the Pacific Coast League, he struck out 11 batters in 7.2 innings.


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