Closing Time: Michael Wacha shines in debut; Nick Franklin powers M’s

Michael Wacha actually collected his first major league hit as a batter before he'd allowed a hit (or a base-runner) as a pitcher, so it would be safe to say the St. Louis right-hander made a strong first impression.

Wacha was brilliant in his MLB debut on Thursday night, retiring the first 13 batter he faced, yielding just two hits and one run over 7.0 innings. He struck out six, issued no walks, and threw 67 of his 93 pitches for strikes. Wacha featured a fastball that ranged from 92-96 mph and a put-away change-up, plus he mixed in the occasional curve.

He certainly looks like a keeper. No way he'll leave the Cards rotation if he continues pitching as he did on Thursday. The 6-foot-6 Wacha was a first-rounder in 2012, and he raced out to a strong start at Triple-A this season. In his nine starts for Memphis, he posted a 4-0 mark with a 2.05 ERA, and he never allowed more than two earned runs in any game. Wacha recorded 34 Ks in 52.2 innings in the PCL, so we can't necessarily say he was overpowering in the minors. But consistent? Check. In command? Check.

His next start for the Cards should be at home next week against the D-Backs, and you're encouraged to use him. And yeah, it's pretty annoying that St. Louis seems to have a never-ending supply of MLB-ready prospects.

Before we hit the bullets, we should probably mention that Mitchell Boggs was called upon to protect the 2-1 lead that Wacha handed his bullpen, and, well ... he Boggs'd things up. (Edward Mujica needed an off-day after closing four straight; Trevor Rosenthal was apparently unavailable as well.) Jeff Francoeur led off the ninth with a game-tying shot, then Boggs walked the eventual winning run before being pulled. They're still booing in St. Louis — everyone is still in their seats, because the game just ended, like, eight minutes ago.

So this Nick Franklin kid might just stick. On a day when some not-very-homery hitters went deep for the Mariners — Endy Chavez cleared the fence, as did Brendan Ryan — Franklin hit a pair of bombs in Seattle's 7-1 win. Both blasts were solo shots.

Fantasy owners shouldn't expect an extended power binge from the 22-year-old Franklin; he'd hit four homers this year at Tacoma before his call-up, 11 at two levels in 2012. But he certainly has the potential to give us a .280-ish average, with low double-digit homer and speed totals. As a deep league MI, he'll play.

If you're looking for additional scouting notes, we'll refer you to USS Mariner for some thoughtful, grounded analysis.

When the wind is screaming at Wrigley and the scoreboard flags all look like this, then runs are gonna be scored. Bushels of runs.The box score can get cluttered. It's almost unavoidable. So don't get too down on Jake Peavy, even if he did give up a grand slam to the opposing pitcher. (OK, that's awful.) Conditions were ridiculous. Tip your cap to Travis Wood, who kept the White Sox bats mostly quiet, continuing his useful season.

Also: We all shoulda just benched Kevin Gregg. [Expletive] non-save situations.

Dillon Gee gave us the no-way-did-I-see-that-coming line of the day, striking out 12 Yankees over 7.1 innings, allowing just four hits and one run. Gee has been hammered this year, fairly consistently (1.58 WHIP), so it's good to see signs of life. His rotation spot wasn't terribly secure entering Thursday's start against the Yankees. Gee will get the Nats in his next turn.

Jim Johnson tossed another clean inning, his second in as many days, earning another save. He's had a miserable May, so he needed these conversions in the worst way.

There are a bunch of statistical red flags with Jeff Locke, so I've buried him down here in the lesser bullets. He'd had tremendous good fortune on balls-in-play entering Thursday's action (.224 BABIP), and he wasn't striking out batters at a roto-friendly rate (5.98 K/9). But still, we should acknowledge that he took yet another good turn, this time facing the Tigers. Locke pitched 5.1 scoreless innings, allowing seven hits and striking out three. He's now working on a run of 18.1 innings without allowing a run. And he still feels like a ticking WHIP bomb. Too many BBs, too few Ks. Move along.

Rays prospect Wil Myers hit a ridiculous fourth-deck moonshot earlier this week, and has the footage to prove it. Whoa. That thing was destroyed. Myers started slow this season, but he's been on a tear in recent days, with five bombs over his last seven games. He hit 37 homers across two levels last season, so no one should doubt his power potential. Sure, he'll pile up Ks, and he isn't likely to hit for average. Nobody ever promised he'd be a five-category fantasy asset. Just think of him as a potential second-half power boost.

Hector Ambriz and Jared Burton earned rogue saves on Thursday, for the Astros and Twins. Neither experienced much trouble. Jose Veras and Glen Perkins had each appeared in three straight games. You shouldn't be handcuffing either Veras or Burton, so this bullet really contained very little actionable fantasy intel.

The Royals have named George Brett their interim hitting coach, which can't possibly hurt. He knows a few things about hitting, many of them taught by Charley Lau, back in the day. I sincerely wish KC would name Brett player-manager, so I could add him in AL-only. And drop Moustakas like a flaming sack of [expletive]. Alas, he's merely a coach. Shame.

Chris Johnson's fantasy value got a bump on Thursday with the surprising news that Juan Francisco had been DFA'd by the Braves. Francisco wasn't hitting for average (not that anyone thought he would), but his power was evident. He seemed like an ideal platoon partner for Johnson, but the organization no longer feels that way. He'll draw interest, since he's a 25-year-old (soon to be 26) with plenty of pop. Here's hoping he lands in a friendly spot. Stay tuned.

You didn't start Brandon McCarthy at Texas on Thursday, right? Great. Because that would have been a disaster. The Rangers drilled him for six runs (all earned) and nine hits, including three doubles and a homer. He recorded just eight outs, none via K. Mitch Moreland nearly toppled the foul pole on this shot to right.

Please note that Fernando Rodney has pitched in four straight for the Rays (saving two games, allowing zero hits), so it seems unlikely he'd be available on Friday. Joel Peralta could get the save chance, although he's been awfully busy lately, too.

It sounds like Tony Gwynn Jr. will get the call to replace the DL'd Matt Kemp — not Joc Pederson, not Yasiel Puig. So thanks, Dodgers. Bah.

Chris Archer will get the start for the Rays on Saturday at Cleveland, so he's on the radar for head-to-head owners who might be chasing Ks at the end of the week. Archer has whiffed 52 batters over 50.0 innings at Triple-A Durham this season, and he struck out 139 in 128.0 frames at the same level in 2012. I won't make any promises about walks or runs, but the Ks should be there. Use as needed.

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