Fantasy Skinny: Colon, Chavez and more

Matt Romig
Yahoo! Sports

CLOSER HOT SEAT

COLORADO ROCKIES RED HOT
1st Chair: Shawn Chacon
2nd Chair: Tim Harikkala
Skinny: Since retiring Lyle Overbay and Brady Clark with the bases loaded to preserve a win on June 23, Chacon has converted all four of his save chances. That gives him five saves and a win since allowing a game-winning grand slam on June 20. The Skinny has been pretty tough on Clint Hurdle for sticking with Chacon, but he gets probationary credit this week for his patience.

CLEVELAND INDIANS RED HOT
1st Chair: David Riske
2nd Chair: Bob Wickman
Skinny: As predicted right here last week, Riske took over as closer for Cleveland after Jose Jimenez allowed 12 earned runs in a five-game span. Equally predictable given this year's state of affairs in the Tribe's bullpen, Riske promptly blew his first two save chances. Sunday's letdown wasn't his fault. He allowed one run on a ground out, and a second crossed the plate on a throwing error. Manager Eric Wedge told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer that Wickman's role upon his return will depend on Riske's effectiveness.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS RED HOT
1st Chair: Nate Field
2nd Chair: Scott Sullivan
Skinny: It's difficult to find a pulse in the Kansas City bullpen. The last man to record a save, Shawn Camp, was sent on Saturday to Triple-A. The guy everyone thought would take over for the injured Jeremy Affeldt, Nate Field, has done mop-up work in three straight losses. Meanwhile back at Omaha, Mike MacDougal was removed from a Triple-A game with elbow soreness. That's not good. The Skinny will check back in early August when Kansas City wins another game.

ANAHEIM ANGELS HOT
1st Chair: Francisco Rodriguez
2nd Chair: Troy Percival
Skinny: Percival allowed a home run to red-hot Oakland catcher Damian Miller on Thursday but has been otherwise unscathed in three post-DL appearances. Dropping Rodriguez at this point is unthinkable. If injuries don't catch up with Percival again, ineffectiveness just might. He was miserable in May and Anaheim can't afford to let any games slip away in a tight three-team race out West.

MONTREAL EXPOS WARM
1st Chair: Chad Cordero
2nd Chair: Luis Ayala
Skinny: Cordero appeared in a non-save situation on Sunday and had to be lifted after allowing three hits, three walks and three earned runs. He walked Orlando Hudson with the bases loaded before giving way to Joe Horgan, who struck out Reed Johnson to earn his first major-league save. Cordero owners should watch closely to see how the rookie rebounds. Ayala has allowed three hits and no walks during his current streak of eight shutout innings.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX WARM
1st Chair: Shingo Takatsu
2nd Chair: Damaso Marte
Skinny: Mr. Zero saw his shutout streak snapped Wednesday at 24 appearances. His fantasy owners can only hope that what transpired on July 4 didn't break his confidence. Takatsu was lifted Sunday after allowing a single and two walks (one intentional) to load the bases. You like to see a manager stick with his closer, but Ozzie Guillen thought Marte was the better matchup against lefty Todd Walker. Walker walked. Game over. For now, it looks like Guillen is sticking with his "closer by situation" system.

CHICAGO CUBS WARM
1st Chair: LaTroy Hawkins
2nd Chair: Mike Remlinger, Kyle Farnsworth
Skinny: Hawkins hasn't walked a batter in 19.2 innings, but he's making his share of mistakes. Sunday's came in the form of a hanging breaking ball that Carlos Lee deposited over the left-field fence for a game-tying homer. It was only Hawkins' second blown save in 10 chances since taking over for Joe Borowski.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS WARM
1st Chair: Mike Koplove
2nd Chair: Randy Choate
Skinny: As expected, Koplove has taken over for the injured Jose Valverde. He picked up saves in back-to-back games last week as Arizona pieced together a rare winning streak. According to MLB.com, Jose Valverde has been shut down after experiencing pain during a bullpen session on Friday.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES WARM
1st Chair: Jorge Julio
2nd Chair: B.J. Ryan
Skinny: Julio picked up his second save of the month on Monday to match his output in that category for the entire month of June. He hasn't been scored upon in four innings, which is a welcome relief to fantasy owners who have been staring at some ugly numbers of late. How bad was his June? This bad: 9.72 ERA, 2.28 WHIP, .385 opponent's average. Ryan earned the win Monday and extended his scoreless inning streak to 17.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Jason Frasor
2nd Chair: Vinnie Chulk
Skinny: Frasor is dialed in again after weathering a rough stretch in mid-June. Frasor has converted his last four save chances and has allowed just a hit and a walk in his last five innings. Chulk has appeared in 14 games this year and allowed a run only once. Carlos Tosca and the Jays continue to guard against overworking their rookie closer, so Chulk and veteran Kerry Ligtenberg remain candidates to steal a save or two each month.

CLOSER HOT SEAT

COLORADO ROCKIES RED HOT
1st Chair: Shawn Chacon
2nd Chair: Tim Harikkala
Skinny: Since retiring Lyle Overbay and Brady Clark with the bases loaded to preserve a win on June 23, Chacon has converted all four of his save chances. That gives him five saves and a win since allowing a game-winning grand slam on June 20. The Skinny has been pretty tough on Clint Hurdle for sticking with Chacon, but he gets probationary credit this week for his patience.

CLEVELAND INDIANS RED HOT
1st Chair: David Riske
2nd Chair: Bob Wickman
Skinny: As predicted right here last week, Riske took over as closer for Cleveland after Jose Jimenez allowed 12 earned runs in a five-game span. Equally predictable given this year's state of affairs in the Tribe's bullpen, Riske promptly blew his first two save chances. Sunday's letdown wasn't his fault. He allowed one run on a ground out, and a second crossed the plate on a throwing error. Manager Eric Wedge told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer that Wickman's role upon his return will depend on Riske's effectiveness.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS RED HOT
1st Chair: Nate Field
2nd Chair: Scott Sullivan
Skinny: It's difficult to find a pulse in the Kansas City bullpen. The last man to record a save, Shawn Camp, was sent on Saturday to Triple-A. The guy everyone thought would take over for the injured Jeremy Affeldt, Nate Field, has done mop-up work in three straight losses. Meanwhile back at Omaha, Mike MacDougal was removed from a Triple-A game with elbow soreness. That's not good. The Skinny will check back in early August when Kansas City wins another game.

ANAHEIM ANGELS HOT
1st Chair: Francisco Rodriguez
2nd Chair: Troy Percival
Skinny: Percival allowed a home run to red-hot Oakland catcher Damian Miller on Thursday but has been otherwise unscathed in three post-DL appearances. Dropping Rodriguez at this point is unthinkable. If injuries don't catch up with Percival again, ineffectiveness just might. He was miserable in May and Anaheim can't afford to let any games slip away in a tight three-team race out West.

MONTREAL EXPOS WARM
1st Chair: Chad Cordero
2nd Chair: Luis Ayala
Skinny: Cordero appeared in a non-save situation on Sunday and had to be lifted after allowing three hits, three walks and three earned runs. He walked Orlando Hudson with the bases loaded before giving way to Joe Horgan, who struck out Reed Johnson to earn his first major-league save. Cordero owners should watch closely to see how the rookie rebounds. Ayala has allowed three hits and no walks during his current streak of eight shutout innings.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX WARM
1st Chair: Shingo Takatsu
2nd Chair: Damaso Marte
Skinny: Mr. Zero saw his shutout streak snapped Wednesday at 24 appearances. His fantasy owners can only hope that what transpired on July 4 didn't break his confidence. Takatsu was lifted Sunday after allowing a single and two walks (one intentional) to load the bases. You like to see a manager stick with his closer, but Ozzie Guillen thought Marte was the better matchup against lefty Todd Walker. Walker walked. Game over. For now, it looks like Guillen is sticking with his "closer by situation" system.

CHICAGO CUBS WARM
1st Chair: LaTroy Hawkins
2nd Chair: Mike Remlinger, Kyle Farnsworth
Skinny: Hawkins hasn't walked a batter in 19.2 innings, but he's making his share of mistakes. Sunday's came in the form of a hanging breaking ball that Carlos Lee deposited over the left-field fence for a game-tying homer. It was only Hawkins' second blown save in 10 chances since taking over for Joe Borowski.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS WARM
1st Chair: Mike Koplove
2nd Chair: Randy Choate
Skinny: As expected, Koplove has taken over for the injured Jose Valverde. He picked up saves in back-to-back games last week as Arizona pieced together a rare winning streak. According to MLB.com, Jose Valverde has been shut down after experiencing pain during a bullpen session on Friday.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES WARM
1st Chair: Jorge Julio
2nd Chair: B.J. Ryan
Skinny: Julio picked up his second save of the month on Monday to match his output in that category for the entire month of June. He hasn't been scored upon in four innings, which is a welcome relief to fantasy owners who have been staring at some ugly numbers of late. How bad was his June? This bad: 9.72 ERA, 2.28 WHIP, .385 opponent's average. Ryan earned the win Monday and extended his scoreless inning streak to 17.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Jason Frasor
2nd Chair: Vinnie Chulk
Skinny: Frasor is dialed in again after weathering a rough stretch in mid-June. Frasor has converted his last four save chances and has allowed just a hit and a walk in his last five innings. Chulk has appeared in 14 games this year and allowed a run only once. Carlos Tosca and the Jays continue to guard against overworking their rookie closer, so Chulk and veteran Kerry Ligtenberg remain candidates to steal a save or two each month.

Now that all the fuss over Eric Gagne's streak has subsided, isn't it time we give Takeru Kobayashi the respect he deserves for dominance in his sport? Did anyone out there not take this guy with the top pick in this year's hot dog eating draft? Fifty-three hot dogs in 12 minutes? Wow.

That wasn't all there was to digest, of course, this holiday weekend. The Skinny kept an eye on things while you were all in picnic and parade mode.

WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days

  • Can we all just agree to send Bartolo Colon and Matt Morris to Houston to pitch the home run derby? How could anyone possibly be against this? Forget about batting practice soft-toss, let's see what a focused Barry Bonds can do with a small bucket of Colon's waist-high heat. Just be sure to pass out helmets to the fans in the bleachers. In case you missed Colon's last start, he was once again greeted by the Los Angeles Dodgers as if they had an Xbox cheat code for his stuff.

He was supposed to make the difference in Anaheim's rotation – now he's struggling to stay in it. Monday's Los Angeles Times reported that Colon would remain in the rotation. The mere fact that it's up for debate speaks volumes about his season. Adrian Beltre took him deep twice and then Robin Ventura added insult by clubbing his first homer in 94 at-bats. Too promising to drop and virtually worthless on the trade market, Colon is every fantasy manager's nightmare.

  • The other side of Saturday's pitching matchup also flopped. Fantasy owners anxiously were awaiting Edwin Jackson's second start of the season, hoping to see just a little of that magic he displayed down the stretch in 2003. What they got instead was a disappearing act. Jackson was gone after just 1.2 innings. Elbow pain was the culprit, but he is expected to make his next scheduled start on Thursday.

Jackson has been battling his control all season, walking 41 batters in 78.1 innings at Triple-A Las Vegas. Saturday he walked the second batter he faced before allowing a two-run homer to Vladimir Guerrero. Jackson still is a top prospect, but he's about a year away from having any fantasy value, and that includes keeper leagues. Right now your watch list is the safest place for the guy.

  • A pair of rehab assignments made news this weekend as well. Eric Chavez was 2-for-4 with two runs scored Monday in his first game with Triple-A Sacramento. The San Jose Mercury News reports that Chavez will return no later than July 15 when Oakland returns from the All-Star break. Also hitting his way back into shape is Carlos Delgado. He homered and collected three hits for Triple-A Syracuse Sunday, then returned with a pair of hits on Monday. He is scheduled to return to the Toronto lineup for the series beginning Tuesday against Seattle.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues

  • Rod Barajas, TEX, C – Barajas hit safely in 14 of 15 games to kick off a modest buying frenzy. His 0-for-10 streak over the past few days has likely stalled his ownership figures at right around 50 percent. His June numbers (7 homers, 16 RBIs, 15 runs) compare favorably with even the best at the position. He's in the perfect lineup and ballpark to continue to put up solid fantasy numbers.

Victor Zambrano, TB, SP – Fantasy owners are slow to warm to Zambrano. Maybe we can't get past dismissing Tampa Bay as a laughingstock. Maybe it was that 6.61 ERA in May. It could be because at his worst, he can make Rick Ankiel look like a sharpshooter. Just remember how deep into the season we wrote off Esteban Loaiza a year ago. In his last three starts, Zambrano has allowed only two earned runs over 21 innings. In six of his last eight starts, he's allowed one or fewer earned runs while pitching at least six innings. And yet that WHIP continues to scare most of us off.

SPEED-O-METER: Checking the latest movements on the basepaths

  • Joey Gathright, TB, OF (Sent to Triple-A) – It was a nice run while it lasted. Gathright stole three bases in seven games with the Devil Rays and then just as quickly vanished to the minors. He celebrated Independence Day with three hits and a stolen base (his 17th in 24 games) for Triple-A Durham.

  • Kenny Lofton, NYY, OF (Only 3 steals this season) – Lofton owners shouldn't get too excited over his three stolen base attempts on June 30. Tim Wakefield was on the hill for Boston, which means that Lofton really only has one legitimate steal this year – and that was back on March 31.

  • Jody Gerut, CLE, OF (3 attempts/last 6 games) – Gerut quietly stole his 10th and 11th bases of the season last week. He needs to match his June stroke at the plate with his recent speed burst to have any value.

  • Eric Byrnes, OAK, OF (On fire again) – You can't count on this guy for long stretches of productivity, but it sure is fun to ride out his hot streaks. Hit two homers Sunday and stole his 10th base of the season in Oakland's win.

  • Scott Podsednik, MIL, OF (33-for-37 this year) – Podsednik continued his remarkable efficiency over the holiday weekend, victimizing Jason Kendall and Michael Barrett. He's been caught only 14 times in 90 career attempts.

  • Jack Wilson, PIT, SS (Career high) – Wilson's steal Monday was his sixth of the season – a new career high. It was his first steal since May 22.

  • Dave Roberts, LA, OF (Perfect since return) – Roberts stole two bases Sunday and is now a perfect 10-for-10 since returning from the DL on May 29.

  • Ryan Freel, CIN, 3B (Feelin' good at the plate) – Freel collected three hits on Monday and now has multi-hit performances in five of his last seven games. He was caught Sunday on his first stolen base attempt of the month.

  • Aaron Rowand, CHI, OF (2 steals/last 6 games) – Finished June with a .375 average and now has five steals and nine multi-hit games in his last 15 starts.

PROSPECT WATCH: Intriguing names down on the farm

  • Xavier Nady, SD, OF – ETA: Currently in San Diego
    An unfortunate injury couldn't have come at a better time for one member of the San Diego organization. Xavier Nady homered Thursday, doubled Friday and hit his 10th bomb of the season Saturday for Triple-A Portland before learning he'd be on his way to San Diego to replace the injured Phil Nevin. Nady was hitting .311 at the time of his recall. Terrence Long got the start for San Diego Monday, but he hit just .228 with three RBIs in June. Manager Bruce Bochy told MLB.com he'd go with the hot hand in left field. Right now, that's Nady.

  • Brandon Claussen, CIN, SP – ETA: Currently in Seattle
    Claussen won his seventh game of the season for Triple-A Louisville on Thursday, striking out seven and scattering five hits over six shutout innings. Claussen leads the International League in strikeouts with 91 in 87.2 innings. Unfortunately, he also tops the league with 44 walks, which is the main reason he remains in the minors. You may remember that Claussen was Cincinnati's prize acquisition in the deal that sent Aaron Boone to the Yankees. He won his only career start with New York in 2003 and should get a shot at his National League debut shortly.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Eyebrow-raising numbers
17 – Longest active save streak now that Eric Gagne's remarkable 84 consecutive saves run has ended. This modest run belongs to Mariano Rivera. Every major league pitcher with four saves or more has blown at least one save this season.

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