MLB Skinny: Two for One

1st Chair: Vacant
2nd Chair: Kenny Ray, Mike Remlinger, Chris Reitsma
Skinny: Truth of the matter is that there isn't a player currently in the bullpen that deserves a first chair nod here. Ray gave up three runs to stick a fork in the Braves on Saturday. Remlinger is only likely to figure into the mix in the ninth inning when crucial outs against lefties are needed. Reitsma allowed four runs (two home runs) in an inning of work on Sunday. If the Braves, who are seven games back, decide they are still in the playoff hunt, they would likely deal for a closer. If the team decides that it's not a contender, perhaps they'll give a shot to someone on their farm. Either way, none of their current options offer much help in fantasy.
1st Chair: Jorge Julio
2nd Chair: Jose Valverde
Skinny: After blowing back-to-back saves during a rough stretch at the end of May, Valverde was removed on a temporary basis from the closer's role. Julio has closed out two games since then – he's allowed just two hits and one run in six outings (6 IP) since coming to Arizona – but Valverde has pitched well in a set-up role and could soon be getting his closer job back. Said manager Bob Melvin, "The point all along was to get him back into the closer role … We'll play it day by day, but that's still the way I look at it. Right now, we're just mixing and matching, doing the best we can that particular game. But our feeling is that at some point in time, he gets back in that role. Whether it's sooner or later, today or tomorrow or whatever, we're not sure yet."
1st Chair: Ambiorix Burgos
2nd Chair: Mike MacDougal
Skinny: Despite allowing 15 runs in his past 10.2 IP (9 G), Burgos is the closer of record for the Royals past two conventional saves – Elmer Dessens did pick up a 3.1 inning save on Sunday. MacDougal, who has been sidelined with an upper arm strain, is getting closer to a return, and you can bet he won't have to prove himself too much to get his old job back.
1st Chair: Joe Borowski
2nd Chair: Logan Kensing
Skinny: Kensing has the stuff to be a closer says Marlins pitching coach Rick Kranitz. And Florida plans to work him into save situations in the near future. Borowski is still the top option, but that could conceivably change if Kensing and his mid-90s fastball prove worthy in his ninth inning opportunities. Said Kranitz, "This is a great learning experience for him to be able to get outs late in ballgames."
1st Chair: Todd Coffey
2nd Chair: David Weathers
Skinny: Since moving into the closer role, Coffey is 2-for-3 in save chances, blowing an opportunity in the 10th inning on Sunday. He did wind up winning Sunday's game, but it should be noted that he's allowed five runs over five innings in his past five outings. His job is still relatively safe, but he hasn't exactly seized this opportunity yet, although a perfect inning to close out St. Louis on Monday was a positive step.
1st Chair: Eric Gagne
Injured: Takashi Saito, Jonathan Broxton
Skinny: Gagne pitched a scoreless inning on Friday and looks set to take back his closer role. He's not expected to pitch on back-to-back nights for a few weeks, so Saito and, perhaps, Broxton could piece together a couple saves during that time.
1st Chair: Derrick Turnbow
2nd Chair: Dan Kolb, Matt Wise
Skinny: Turnbow came under scrutiny after blowing three straight saves recently. But manager Ned Yost stuck by his guy, and Turnbow responded with a perfect ninth inning on Monday to earn his 16th save.. "That's part of being a closer," Yost said. "You've got to have the make-up to deal with it, and the extra scrutiny that comes with it. He's getting the ball up. When you're going good, they foul them off or pop them up. When you're going bad, they hit it out of the park."
1st Chair: Brad Lidge
2nd Chair: Dan Wheeler
Skinny: Lidge is looking like his former self over his past five outings – 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 10 K. In fact, he's allowed a run in just one of his past 10 outings. The team hasn't had a save chance in June, but it's pretty apparent that Lidge will be the one getting the call when opportunity knocks.
Andrew Miller, Luke Hochevar, Tim Lincecum, Evan Longoria, Drew Stubbs – they're not household names yet, but they could wind up being players that many of you will draft for your fantasy team a few years down the road. These players are expected to be among the first few to be selected in Tuesday's MLB amateur draft. While these potential future stars are taking the first steps of their professional careers, let's take a look at the established major leaguers, and what went down on the diamond this past weekend:

WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days

  • It was the strain heard around the fantasy world. Albert Pujols, the undisputed leader of the roto realm heading into the weekend, strained his oblique muscle on Saturday chasing a foul pop up by Aramis Ramirez. He quickly was placed on the 15-day DL and examined on Monday to try and determine the extent of the injury. Unfortunately, that exam yielded inconclusive results, meaning that the ominous speculation of a six-week recovery time still exists as a possibility. Said Pujols on Monday, "It could be two weeks, it could be three, four, five or six. Whatever weeks it's going to be, I'm going to take my time. It's terrible, but what can I do? I don't want to shoot myself." Jim Edmonds, who was likely headed to the DL had Pujols not been injured, will fill-in at first base, where his abdominal injury has a better chance to hold up than in centerfield.

So, what are Pujols owners to do? Obviously, you can't apples-to-apples replace the best fantasy hitter in the game, but there are some players that are available that can help ease the pain of Pujols' absence a bit. And in fact, you could take an unconventional approach of using two players to replace Pujols, if you have an extra roster spot to work with. I'm talking about the Cleveland first base platoon of Ben Broussard (42-percent owned in Yahoo! leagues) and Eduardo Perez (1-percent owned) – through Sunday, they had combined for a .350 BA, 17 doubles, 14 home runs and 46 RBIs in 56 games. Of course, the move would mean a maintenance hassle of having to sub them in and out of your roster based on whether the next game's pitcher was a righty or a lefty.

A more conventional move would be to pick-up Oakland full-time first baseman Dan Johnson, who struggled mightily for most of the first two months of the season but has hit .368 in the past week with two home runs. He could finally be breaking out of his swoon, and he has 25-30 HR potential and a good eye at the plate. Kendry Morales and Sean Casey are a couple others to highly consider.

  • Notable injury updates: Jim Thome has a strained groin muscle, but he's expected to be back in the White Sox lineup on Tuesday … Carl Crawford has been day-to-day with a strained knee … Rocco Baldelli has about a week left on his 20-day minor league rehab assignment. At Triple-A Durham, he's hit .405 in his first 42 ABs … Mark Prior is set to make his third rehab start on Thursday. He fastball still doesn't hit much higher than 90 mph, but Cubs brass feel that he'll be back in the mid-90s as his arm strengthens. As for his return: "We don't know if it's going to be one, two, three more rehab starts or whatever," manager Dusty Baker said. "Personally, with [Kerry Wood] going only five or six [innings], we'd rather have Prior over-ready than under-ready, if possible." … Derek Jeter added his name to the list of banged-up Yankees when he was hit in the thumb on Sunday. He was not in the lineup on Monday and is considered day-to-day. … A.J. Burnett (elbow) threw a bullpen session on Saturday. "If all goes right and there are no setbacks he should be able to start (for the Jays) June 23 or so," said manager John Gibbons.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues

  • Kevin Youkilis, Bos, 1B/3B
    Youkilis has hit in 14 of his past 16 games and has batted .299 or better in each month. The OBP machine (.500) has contributed a bit in HRs (7) and SBs (3), while leaving more of a mark with his Runs (42) and batting average (.317). As of Monday, he was still available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues, but certainly some Pujols owners will have use for a guy that has it going like this.

PROSPECT WATCH: Top players down on the farm

  • Joel Guzman, LAD, 3B,OF (ETA – Now)
    Guzman, one of the Dodgers top hitting prospects, was called up this past week and made his first start on Friday, hitting cleanup and going 1-for-4. He went 3-for-11 with an RBI in each of the weekend games against Philly – He rested Monday. Guzman doesn't have a positional home yet, and he'll likely play at both 3B and OF while with the big club. Guzman has a live bat and excellent power potential, so NL-only owners should take notice.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Freddy Sanchez, Pit, 3B – Sanchez's 13 hits led the majors last week. His hot bat has earned him a continued spot in the starting lineup at 3B, despite the fact that Joe Randa is healthy again.

Jose Castillo, Pit, 2B – Castillo has been on a tear that has included 19 RBIs in his past 10 games – he homered in five straight games during that stretch.

Jered Weaver, LAA, SP – In his first two major league outings, Weaver has fanned 13 and allowed just two runs and seven hits in 13.1 IP. He's won both his starts.

Corey Patterson, Bal, OF – Patterson is on an amazing base stealing tear – he's swiped a base in nine straight games and has 11 SBs without being caught in that span.

Kevin Mench, Tex, OF – Mench has gone 10 games without a HR and 18 sans a RBI.

Yahoo! Experts League Update
My Y! – Funston squad sits in second place, 10 points back of juggernaut RotoWire_Liss. I've been joined in second place by KFFL – Anderson, and the two of us have swapped spots between second and third in the past few days. Among the latest pickups are Moises Alou, Matt Kemp, Placido Polanco, Jonathan Broxton, Dan Johnson and Gary Matthews Jr.