Closing Time: Late season Lindstrom revival?

Matt Lindstrom(notes) fits the Hollywood closer prototype – imposing size (6-4, 220 pounds) and exploding fastball (96.3 mph average in '09, sixth fastest among pitchers with at least 10 innings logged). But before landing on the DL in late June with a sprained throwing elbow, he was too wild (20 BB in 29 IP) and too hittable (.297 BAA). Those issues contributed to an unsightly 6.52 ERA and a set-up role to Leo Nunez(notes) upon his return from the DL.

A couple things about Lindstrom seem very important to mention today in light of Nunez's blown save attempt at Washington, in which he allowed three runs (two home runs) in the bottom of the ninth without recording an out – this after Florida took a two-run lead in the top of the final frame. First, Lindstrom only blew two saves in 16 opportunities before his elbow injury hiatus, and he only allowed an earned run in three of those 16 save chances. Another note to chew on is that his walk allowed today during a scoreless seventh inning was his first free pass issued in his 17 games (14.2 IP) since his return to the mound. Meanwhile, Nunez has blown two of his last three opportunities and is now tied for third in the league with six blown saves – that represents a quarter chunk of his save opportunity pie.

This was a huge loss for the Marlins, as they are 4.5 games back in the wild-card hunt. Asked about the loss, manager Fredi Gonzalez stated, "This time of year, all of them (losses) are tough, especially when you have leads in the eighth and ninth inning."

You can see where I'm going with this. Lindstrom is owned in less than half (48 percent) of Yahoo! Plus leagues, and he seems ripe for the picking if you are still scavenging for saves.

Alright, it's Labor Day weekend, meaning that I'll be short and sweet the rest of the way…

Drew Stubbs(notes) hit only three home runs in 107 games at Triple-A Louisville this season, but his raw power has had scouts believing that he could hit 20-plus in the majors down the road. And since making his MLB debut in mid-August, he's provided further validation of those claims. Going 3-for-5 out of the leadoff spot in the Reds' 4-2 extra-inning victory at Atlanta today, Stubbs hit his fifth home run for Cincinnati, four coming in his past seven games. Already a player of intrigue for those chasing steals (he was 46-for-54 on the bases at Louisville), Stubbs is suddenly more than just a mere speed option. He's scoring runs at better than a one per game clip, he's running and, now, he's hitting for power. His pedigree backs him up here. He has the kind of skills worth test driving in fantasy leagues, where he's just 15 percent owned in the Yahoo! Plus community.

Stubbs' home run today cost Atlanta starter Tim Hudson(notes) what would have been his second victory in as many outings this season. Stubbs tagged reliever Mike Gonzalez(notes) with the blown save for allowing the solo shot in the eighth inning to tie the score. Prior to that, Hudson was a model of efficiency, retiring the final 14 batters he faced en route to a seven-inning, one-run performance, lowering his ERA to 2.19 (12.1 IP). The final buying opportunity for Hudson (67 percent owned in Yahoo! Plus leagues) is officially underway.

After Colorado's Seth Smith(notes) hit his second home run of the game today against Arizona, the announcer stated that if someone beats out Smith for Player of the Week honors, he wants to meet him. Smith's past seven games, indeed, would be tough to top. In that span, he's hitting 14-for-25 (.560) with four home runs, 12 RBI and 10 R. His OPS mark post-break is now over 1.000, but his ownership in Yahoo! Plus leagues is still in the sub-20 percent neighborhood. This is a pretty good looking bandwagon.

Arizona's Chris Young, who nearly joined the 30/30 club as a rookie in '07, is on the verge of rising above the Mendoza Line (.198) for the first time since late July. He hung a bunch of threes on the Rockies today, as in three hits, three runs, three RBI and three home runs. I find him way too volatile for my tastes, but he's been decent each of his past two Septembers, so it's understandable if you find yourself wanting to buy in again on this perennial fantasy heartbreaker.

Brandon Lyon(notes) picked up the save for Detroit today at Tampa. Rodney threw 35 pitches in picking up the save a couple nights ago, which seemingly is the reason Lyon was asked to fill in today. Meanwhile, the Rays' bullpen remains a mess. Counting today's blown save by Russ Springer(notes), the team has eight blown saves in the past 28 games. Closer J.P. Howell(notes) walked a batter in the ninth and was promptly pulled. But manager Joe Maddon said the use of multiple relievers in the ninth was predetermined because of matchups. Clearly Maddon is struggling to find an approach that works for the end game right now. Howell's still the one to own, but this situation can go any which way given the circumstances. Oh, it needs to be mentioned that the Rays latest blown relief effort wasted a mighty fine MLB debut for touted prospect Wade Davis(notes), who got a no-decision for his seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball – he also whiffed nine. Definitely keep him in spot-start consideration going forward.

Sreamables: Scott Richmond(notes) (29% owned): Richmond has been lit like a Christmas tree of late, but a few things work in his favor on Monday. He's at home, where he's been appreciably better than his road efforts. And he's facing a Twins team that has scored more than four runs just once in the past 10 games – his only prior meeting with the Twins came in April, when he held them to just one earned run in 6.1 IP to pick up his first victory of the season. He's a widely available K-per-inning type with a good setup in his next start with job security on the line. Kind of the ideal stream to fish from, if you ask me.

Brad Penny(notes) (33%): Penny was strong in his '09 NL debut this past week – 8.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, W @ PHI. For his follow-up, he won't be asked to face the NL's No. 2 offense in their very hitter-friendly home park. Rather, he'll face the NL's worst offense (San Diego) at home.

Alright, it's up to you to fill in the blanks. Enjoy therest of the holiday weekend…


Photo via US Presswire

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