Closing Time: Hanson debuts, Francisco exits, Ricky returns, Pads and D-backs still playing

Tommy Hanson(notes) is pictured over there on the right, looking stunned. Greg Norton(notes) had just been announced as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning, ending Hanson's day. The 22-year-old gave up as many earned runs in his MLB debut as he'd allowed in his previous six starts at Triple-A.

That's not to say that Hanson was unimpressive on Sunday. In fact, he was perfect through three innings, and he struck out the side in the second. Hanson coaxed several flinches and half-swings with his slider and curve, and his fastball was 94-97 mph in the early frames.

But if he didn't know it already, Hanson soon learned that velocity isn't enough. After JJ Hardy(notes) reached base on a fielding error in the fourth inning, Hanson threw a waist-high fastball to Ryan Braun, who lost it in the first row of the left-field bleachers. Video here at

By the sixth inning, Hanson was cooked. His velocity dipped slightly (92-94) and his command was poor. He opened the inning with a walk to Hardy, then he left fastballs way up in the zone to Braun, Fielder and Cameron. Those pitches resulted in two more home runs (Braun, Cameron) and a near-decapitation (Fielder).

This was Hanson's final line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. He threw 91 pitches, 61 of which were strikes. Nobody touched Hanson's breaking stuff today, though many tried. All six hits were off fastballs. It's a pitch that has plenty of horizontal movement, but Hanson was sloppy when facing the most dangerous Brewers.

These were his postgame comments:

"It's not going to matter what kind of offspeed offerings you have if you can't command your fastball," Hanson said. "I'm just going to try to chalk it up as today happened and I'm just going to keep working and get ready for the next one. ... If I keep my command, I think it turns out a lot better."

If you can buy-low, this would be the time to do it. Hanson' stuff is real, even if Sunday's line was a letdown.

For the record, my current investment here is minimal (one team, mixed). Back when Hanson was the staff ace of the Gwinnett Braves, I flipped him in order to fill multiple needs in a highly incentivized NL-only league. Elite prospects are always great trade chips; sometimes they make you regret the deals.

And no, we're not prepared to declare a prediction contest winner just yet. There were many entries and none of the first 250 commenters nailed it. Please stay tuned. Enjoy some bullet points while you wait...

Gordon Edes is both an exceptional baseball writer and a friend to the fantasy community. Earlier tonight, he sent the following message to Matt Romig:

Hey, Matt, I'm at Fenway. Did you notice Rangers didn't use Francisco in the save situation today? Ron Washington said the plan is for Francisco to be examined in Texas tomorrow. Right now they're just calling it tightness in his shoulder. Thought you fantasy boys would want an update, if you didn't have it already.

Romig immediately added CJ Wilson(notes) across the board. Then, much later, he forwarded the message. That's teamwork. That's corporate synergy.

You'll find confirmation of the Frank Francisco(notes) injury here and here. Wilson picked up the save at Boston in Francisco's absence. He was mostly a mess in '08 (6.02 ERA and 1.64 WHIP), and non-save situations never seemed to go well. Still, the lefty managed to save 24 games before hitting the DL with elbow issues.

Ricky Nolasco(notes) took the loss on Sunday in his return from the minors, but he was facing Tim Lincecum(notes), so there was a high degree of difficulty. He allowed 10 hits, but held the Giants to just a pair of earned runs in seven innings and he struck out four. It was definitely an encouraging effort for Nolasco loyalists. Here's propaganda from John Baker(notes), via the Miami Herald:

''He looked more like the Ricky of last year,'' Marlins catcher John Baker said. "He was much better. I saw more confidence out of him, and he pitched his way out of trouble. I don't think the 10 hits were really indicative of how he threw the ball.''

Randy Wells'(notes) winlessness is completely ridiculous. He had yet another no-decision for the Cubs today. In his four NDs, the 26-year-old has allowed three earned runs over 24.2 innings.

JP Howell(notes) has blown saves in the eighth inning on consecutive days in New York, but nothing was hit particularly well on Sunday. The Rays don't have a closer, nor do they have a controversy. They have one-out Randy Choate(notes).

Lyle Overbay(notes) is still streaking. He homered off Kyle Davies(notes) -- it was a bomb off the restaurant, actually -- and extended his hitting streak to 13 games.

Jose Valverde(notes) threw 40 pitches in two innings of a simulated game prior to the Bucs-Astros tilt. He could be activated by Friday.

Cleveland shortstop Luis Valbuena(notes) went 1-for-2 with two walks and a homer against the White Sox. He's well positioned for short-term playing time, and he was hitting .321/.436/.538 at Triple-A prior to his call-up in early May.

If I'm writing the column, you know that Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) is dominating someone, somewhere. He struck out nine Cardinals and allowed just four hits over eight innings, winning for the fourth time this season -- and he might be 4-0 when I have CT duty.

Facing the A's on Sunday, Rich Hill(notes) turned back the clock to April '08. Check the play-by-play from the Yahoo! box score:

The final line: 0.2 innings, one hit, one HBP, four walks and three earned runs.

Hill's opponent, Vin Mazzaro(notes), was much better. He pitched 7.1 scoreless innings, struck out four, and avoided the walks that made his previous start so worrisome. The 22-year-old was effective at Triple-A (2.38 ERA, 44 Ks in 56.2 IP), though his minor league K-rate isn't spectacular (6.67 K/9). He's a streaming option at San Francisco next weekend, but he's not a prospect you need to jump on immediately.

Sean White(notes) earned a save for the Mariners because David Aardsma(notes) had pitched in back-to-back games. Nothing to see here. Move along.

There were plenty of storylines in the 18-inning marathon played by the Pads and Diamondbacks on Sunday, including nine no-hit innings from the Arizona 'pen. The game deserves a post of its own. Mark Reynolds(notes) won the game for D-backs when he homered off a shortstop.

But for fantasy owners, there were really two headlines: "Chad Qualls blows save" and "Justin Upton injures shoulder." Qualls gave up a two-out, three-run homer to pinch-hitter David Eckstein(notes) in the ninth, which never happens. (Proof here). It's tempting to write that off to lousy luck, but Qualls has been dealing with forearm discomfort in recent days. Tony Pena(notes) is the handcuff, although dashing lefty Clay Zavada(notes) still hasn't allowed a run.

Upton injured his left shoulder while striking out in the tenth inning and, because he's on a ridiculous number of my teams, we'll pay close attention to this situation in the week ahead. Ryan Roberts(notes) replaced Upton in Arizona's lineup with Gerardo Parra(notes) shifting to right field. Roberts could get a short-term value boost, depending on the severity of Upton's injury.


Photos via Getty Images

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