Today we're combining our standard review of two-start pitchers with an early edition of Closing Time. It's two great tastes that taste great together! (Or it's a watered-down version of the Rundown, with a few player notes on top). Brad Evans returns next week with the usual insights and creepiness. Let's bullet…
• Alfredo Simon(notes) managed to protect another lead on Saturday, earning his second save for Baltimore. If you're in the market for closers, you have no choice but to add him. He's owned in just nine percent of Yahoo! leagues. Simon began the season with a nice run at Triple-A Norfolk (17.0 IP, 14 Ks, 1.59 ERA) and, despite being just a year removed from elbow surgery, he was able to pitch on consecutive days for the Orioles this week. He figures to get the majority of the Baltimore save chances in the immediate future — at least until he blows one or two.
This week's schedule is a little rough (at NYY, at MIN), but if Simon can avoid disaster, the rest of May should treat him well. The O's have an eight-game homestand coming up in which they'll face Seattle, Cleveland and Kansas City. No need to worry about Jim Johnson(notes) poaching saves; he was shipped to the minors on Saturday.
• Brian Wilson(notes) suffered a minor groin tweaking on Friday, but according to the San Francisco Chronicle he may be available pitch on Sunday. Don't get too excited about those Sergio Romo(notes) and Jeremy Affeldt(notes) pick-ups. The Giants have also activated Aaron Rowand(notes) (broken face) from the DL; he'll return to the lineup on Sunday.
• Stephen Strasburg(notes) is GETTING PROMOTED … but only to Triple-A. He's expected to get one more start at home for Double-A Harrisburg, then he'll head to Syracuse to sell a few tickets for another Nats affiliate. In his four April starts, Strasburg went 3-0 with a 0.52 ERA and 23 Ks in 17.0 innings.
• Trevor Hoffman(notes) gave the Brewers a clean inning on Saturday, picking up a save against the Padres in a one-run game. He retired Matt Stairs(notes), Jerry Hairston Jr.(notes), and Nick Hundley(notes), so it wasn't exactly a degree-of-difficulty situation. But if you own the Hoff you're just happy to see progress.
• If for some reason you started Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes) in his 2010 debut, then you paid a terrible price. He allowed seven hits, six earned runs, two homers and three walks over 4.2 innings. Ty Wigginton(notes) went deep twice, which gives him eight home runs in 68 at-bats. David Ortiz(notes) hit a pair of homers for Boston; that's only three for him in 60 ABs.
• Garrett Jones(notes) is a choker! Literally. Kind of. He was hospitalized for six hours on Saturday "because food became lodged in his esophagus." Here are the details, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Jones ate the food in question late Friday night, woke up not feeling well Saturday morning, then checked into the White Memorial Medical Center at about 1 p.m. local time. Doctors performed tests and administered medication to try to ease swelling in the esophagus and, eventually, the food became dislodged.
So that sounds like a pretty awesome day. Pirates manager John Russell said that Jones will be OK; his status for Sunday will be a game-time decision. The lesson for young ballplayers: Chew your food well. Make sure you take li'l bites.
• Frank Francisco(notes) got the save for the Rangers on Saturday, preserving a three-run lead at Seattle. Manager Ron Washington refuses to officially call anyone his closer right now, because that label has been a curse. Neftali Feliz(notes) began warming up in the 'pen after Ichiro(notes) and Chone Figgins(notes) drew walks to lead off the ninth, but Francisco eventually found the strike zone, retiring the heart of the M's order.
• Gio Gonzalez(notes) continues to be a useful streaming option. He beat Toronto on Saturday, striking out eight Jays over 6.2 innings. Unfortunately, his next two starts figure to be against the Rays and Rangers. Don't do anything reckless.
• Without question, Andruw Jones(notes) has been my worst fantasy drop of the season. He hit a pair of homers off Javier Vazquez(notes) (who was miserable), then later stole his fourth base of the year. Brad gave you all the Jones details in last week's Rundown. Alas, I cannot un-drop him.
Everybody hurts: Curtis Granderson(notes) has landed on the 15-day DL with a groin strain. Manager Joe Girardi said, "he didn't feel a pop, but it just kind of grabbed at him." This won't necessarily be a short-term issue; there's no word on Granderson's availability to blog. Brett Gardner(notes) will slide to center for the Yankees, while Randy Winn(notes) and Marcus Thames(notes) tag-team in left. … Carlos Gomez(notes) will be sidelined for a few days with a left knee strain. An MRI reportedly revealed no structural damage. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says "the area of concern is the patella tendon. It's a problem Gomez has dealt with since spring training." … JA Happ(notes) reported forearm soreness following a bullpen session on Friday, though he said it was "less severe" than what he felt a week ago. Still not the best news. According to his pitching coach, the plan is now to "quiet (the arm) down for a few days and go from there." … Erik Bedard(notes) (shoulder) survived a 55-pitch bullpen session on Friday; the best-case scenario is still an end-of-month return. … Kevin Youkilis(notes) was scratched from the Red Sox lineup on Sunday due to a sore groin. … Kerry Wood(notes) will begin a rehab assignment this week, probably at Double-A Akron.
Mauer update: Joe Mauer(notes) sits again on Sunday with a bruised left heel, so 22-year-old Wilson Ramos(notes) will make his major league debut. Ramos is a highly regarded prospect, though he was struggling at Triple-A Rochester (.179 AVG, 3 HR, 15 Ks, 3 BB). The Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Joe Christensen refers to Mauer's injury as "a deep bone bruise," which is certainly troubling. Ron Gardenhire has sent mixed signals about the severity of the issue. This from Christensen:
Asked on his weekly radio show (KSTP AM-1500) if Mauer's injury was more of a week-to-week thing than a day-to-day thing, Gardenhire said yes. Asked later, in his pregame session with the team's beat writers, if Mauer might be a DL situation, Gardenhire said, "No, not at all. It’s a situation where if you try to get him out there too quick, then this thing will never heal. We just don’t want that to be the case." … Gardenhire said Mauer tried putting on his spikes early in Saturday's game, "and he just can't walk."
So Mauer is week-to-week, but it's not a DL situation, yet he can't walk. Hope that clears things up. If you're in a weekly transaction league, you'll obviously need to develop a contingency plan.
As promised, you'll find next week's two-start pitchers listed below, hastily ranked and highly collectible. Please use this information responsibly…
N.L. Two-Start Pitchers, Week 5
1. Tim Lincecum(notes), SF (at FLA, at NYM)
2. Ubaldo Jimenez(notes), COL (at SD, at LAD)
3. Adam Wainwright(notes), STL (at PHI, at PIT)
4. Ryan Dempster(notes), CHC (at PIT, at CIN)
5. Roy Oswalt(notes), HOU (vs. ARI, vs. SD)
6. Clayton Kershaw(notes), LAD (vs. MIL, vs. COL)
7. Jaime Garcia(notes), STL (at PHI, at PIT)
8. Cole Hamels(notes), PHI (vs. STL, vs. ATL)
9. Kevin Correia(notes), SD (vs. COL, at HOU)
10. Anibal Sanchez(notes), FLA (vs. SF, at WAS)
11. Ian Kennedy(notes), ARI (at HOU, vs. MIL)
12. Mike Leake(notes), CIN (vs. NYM, vs. CHC)
13. Livan Hernandez(notes), WAS (vs. ATL, vs. FLA)
14. Joe Blanton(notes), PHI (vs. STL, vs. ATL)
15. Oliver Perez(notes), NYM (at CIN, vs. SF)
16. Paul Maholm(notes), PIT (vs. CHC, vs. STL)
17. Chris Narveson(notes), MIL (at LAD, at ARI)
18. Kenshin Kawakami(notes), ATL (at WAS, at PHI)
19. Felipe Paulino(notes), HOU (vs. ARI, vs. SD)
20. Cesar Valdez(notes), ARI (at HOU, vs. MIL)
A.L. Two-Start Pitchers, Week 5
1. James Shields(notes), TB (at SEA, at OAK)
2. CC Sabathia(notes), NYY (vs. BAL, at BOS)
3. Ricky Romero(notes), TOR (at CLE, at CHW)
4. Jon Lester(notes), BOS (vs. LAA, vs. NYY)
5. Jake Peavy(notes), CHW (vs. KC, vs. TOR)
6. Scott Baker(notes), MIN (vs. DET, vs. BAL)
7. Rich Harden(notes), TEX (at OAK, vs. KC)
8. Max Scherzer(notes), DET (at MIN, at CLE)
9. Gavin Floyd(notes), CHW (vs. KC, vs. TOR)
10. Carl Pavano(notes), MIN (vs. DET, vs. BAL)
11. Clay Buchholz(notes), BOS (vs. LAA, vs. NYY)
12. Ervin Santana(notes), LAA (at BOS, at SEA)
13. Brian Matusz(notes), BAL (at NYY, at MIN)
14. Brett Cecil(notes), TOR (at CLE, at CHW)
15. Scott Feldman(notes), TEX (at OAK, vs. KC)
16. Luke Hochevar(notes), KC (at CHW, at TEX)
17. Joe Saunders(notes), LAA (at BOS, at SEA)
18. Dallas Braden(notes), OAK (vs. TEX, vs. TB)
19. Jason Vargas(notes), SEA (vs. TB, vs. LAA)
20. Jeremy Guthrie(notes), BAL (at NYY, at MIN)
21. Mitch Talbot(notes), CLE (vs. TOR, vs. DET)
22. Gil Meche(notes), KC (at CHW, at TEX)
Photos via AP Images