Closing Time: Welcome to the 2010 season, Drew Stubbs

Earlier this year, Drew Stubbs(notes) seemed to be dealing from an endless deck of 0-for-5's.

After back-to-back hitless games on May 4th and 5th, Stubbs' batting average was .174 and his OPS was just .549. He was a wreck. The Reds mercifully dropped him from the leadoff spot; fantasy owners dropped him from their outfields.

But in his new role as Cincinnati's No. 7 hitter, Stubbs has been useful — in fact, he's been exactly the player you thought you'd drafted back in March. Entering Monday, he was batting .283 with two homers and four steals when hitting in the bottom-third of the Reds' lineup. He collected three more hits against the Pirates tonight, including a double and a homer (pictured), raising his season average to .218.

Of course that's still a terrible batting average, but it's progress. We're talking about a guy who hasn't been north of .210 since April 12. It may have helped that he faced Brian Burres(notes) and Jeff Karstens(notes) on Monday.

No one ever promised you a batting crown with Stubbs — or even a .275 season — but as long as he clings to a spot in the Reds' batting order, he'll provide modest power and outstanding speed. He's stolen 11 bags in 13 attempts so far this season. Use him as needed. Stubbs is just 12 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues.

When Stephen Strasburg(notes) allows two runs in a minor league start — even when one run is unearned and he strikes out a batter per inning — it's a small disappointment. Facing Toledo on Monday, Strasburg went five innings and allowed five hits, one earned run, and no walks. He struck out five and took a no-decision in Syracuse's 6-3 win, throwing just 52 pitches. (The Nats are taking few chances with his major league debut so close, perhaps June 4). Even if Strasburg didn't have his best stuff against the Mud Hens, it still looked awfully good on the smallish media player. Toledo hitters were swinging at the first pitch whenever they could, with varying degrees of success. Nine games into his pro career, Strasburg is 6-1 with a 0.99 ERA and 54 Ks in 45.1 innings. And, no joke, if Steve Phillips were the Nationals' GM, he would trade Strasburg for Roy Oswalt in a heartbeat. Get Phillips in your fantasy league immediately, if it's at all possible.

Victor Martinez(notes) took a foul ball off his left big toe early in Boston's 6-1 win over Tampa, but X-rays were reportedly negative. The Boston Globe offers a few of the uglier details here; what you really need to know is that V-Mart's toe is bad enough to sideline him for a day or two (or three), but it isn't broken.

Clay Buchholz(notes) was excellent against the Rays, by the way, not that you can do anything with that information. He's 58 percent-owned. Buchholz pitched his way out of jams in the first two innings, then basically cruised in a six-inning, one-run, eight-K performance. David Ortiz(notes) went deep against Wade Davis(notes), which we only mention because commenters get angry if we don't. Highlight here via

Facing the White Sox, one of the lowest-scoring teams in baseball, Justin Masterson(notes) delivered the worst stat line I've streamed in a long time (perhaps since the Lynn McGlothen debacle in '77). He pitched four innings and allowed nine hits, five runs, and two walks. He struck out no one. He threw three wild pitches. Lefties are now batting .386 against him. I'm assigning him to Cleveland's bullpen in the next Closing Thoughts, even if the Tribe won't do it … although it sounds like they're close.

According to various sources, the Phillies are scouting White Sox closer Bobby Jenks(notes). Brad Lidge(notes) (elbow) is hoping to return from the DL early next week, but he's not necessarily the answer to every bullpen problem. Jenks has had excellent velocity in his recent appearances (98 mph on Monday), and he's thrown four consecutive scoreless innings. If he leaves town, the nearly unhittable Sergio Santos(notes) enters the saves discussion, along with Matt Thornton(notes).

Jason Donald(notes) nudged his batting average above the Stubbs Mendoza line with a 2-for-2 performance against the White Sox. Both of the hits were doubles, and he added a pair of walks. Donald should get a long look at shortstop while Asdrubal Cabrera(notes) is on the DL. He was hitting .277/.396/.423 with 10 steals at Triple-A Columbus before the emergency call-up.

Brett Cecil(notes) delivered another highly useful (if not quite dominant) effort on Monday, holding the Angels to two hits, two walks, and no runs in a 7.1 inning win. He struck out three. Cecil's only rough outing this year was the eight-run disaster against the Rangers; his ERA is now 4.10 and his WHIP is 1.15. The lefty will get Baltimore at the end of the week, and that's clearly a safe start. Cecil is just 10 percent-owned.

Rays prospect Jeremy Hellickson(notes) owned the Pawtucket Red Sox in a Triple-A matchup on Monday, firing an eight-inning, one-hit gem. He retired the first 18 batters he faced before walking the leadoff hitter in the seventh. The 23-year-old Hellickson is now 7-2 with a 2.79 ERA and 60 Ks in 58.0 innings. He's ready, whenever Tampa Bay happens to need him.

Everybody hurts: Homer Bailey(notes) has landed on the DL due to inflammation in his amazing shoulder, though he doesn't sound too happy about the transaction. He was replaced on Cincinnati's roster by Enerio Del Rosario(notes), a right-handed reliever who was off to a great start at Triple-A Louisville (1.46 ERA). Bailey's next scheduled start (Friday) will go to either Travis Wood(notes), Matt Maloney(notes) or Sam LeCure (not Aroldis Chapman(notes)). The game happens to fall on Wood's turn. We care about this situation, because the guy who gets the spot-start also gets the Astros. … Ivan Rodriguez(notes) hit the disabled list with a back strain, and he'll be replaced by catchers you'd rather not add (Wil Nieves(notes), Carlos Maldonado(notes)). … The Cubs are giving Aramis Ramirez(notes) a few days off to recover from a bruised/sprained thumb, and they hope he'll use the time to remember how to hit. … Alfredo Simon(notes) (hamstring) and Koji Uehara(notes) (elbow) are both facing DL stints, so Frank Mata may earn a promotion from Norfolk. Mata has a 1.86 ERA and eight saves in 18 appearances at Triple-A, and he's struck out 14 batters in 19.1 innings. The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec seems to like Will Ohman(notes) for saves in the short-term, but the O's currently enjoy the freedom that comes from having nothing but ridiculous solutions to a big problem. Add Ohman or Cla Meredith(notes) — or any Baltimore pitchers, really — at your own risk.


Photos via AP Images (Martinez) and US Presswire (Cecil)

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