Monday's game between the Mets and Phillies featured two starting pitchers at opposite ends of the spectrum. While 24-year-old Matt Harvey continues to build his resume as one of the most exciting young pitchers in the game, 35-year-old Roy Halladay is desperately trying to find his way with diminished stuff. And it's pretty tough to watch.
After Halladay struggled in his season debut against the Braves last Wednesday, he was touched up for seven runs by the Mets on Monday and failed to make it out of the fifth inning. The two-time Cy Young Award winner was behind in the count for most of the evening, throwing first-pitch strikes to just 11 out of the 22 batters he faced. He now has an ugly 14.73 ERA (12 earned runs in 7 1/3 innings) over his first two starts this season. That's simply not the Halladay we're used to seeing.
According to CSNPhilly.com, Halladay said after Monday's game that 95 percent of his struggles are mental. Of course, that would be more comforting if he didn't miss nearly two months last year with a lat strain and is barely topping 90 mph with his fastball. Perhaps Halladay will adjust to this new normal in time, but it's tough to trust him in any fantasy league at the moment.
Yost Sticking With Holland
The closer carousel is off and running. In the past couple of days, we have seen Kyuji Fujikawa replace Carlos Marmol in Chicago and Jim Henderson unofficially take the job from the struggling John Axford in Milwaukee. However, while there has been plenty of speculation about Greg Holland's job security since he blew a save Saturday and was pulled in favor of Kelvin Herrera on Sunday, Royals manager Ned Yost said Monday that he isn't ready to make a change at closer.
It's the right move, as two poor outings shouldn't be enough to cost Holland his job. The 27-year-old right-hander owns a 2.65 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 129 innings since the start of 2011 and impressed down the stretch last year by going 16-for-18 in save chances following the Jonathan Broxton trade in July. The control isn't great, but he has legitimate swing-and-miss stuff.
While I think Holland can turn things around and be a productive fantasy closer the rest of the way, Herrera is plenty capable of holding down the job if the struggles continue. The 23-year-old is one of the hardest throwers in the game and compiled a quality 2.35 ERA and 77/21 K/BB ratio over 84 1/3 innings last season. Feel free to keep him stashed if you're desperate for saves. By the way, don't look too much into Aaron Crow getting the save on Monday against the Twins, as Holland and Herrera were both unavailable after pitching on back-to-back days.
Niemann Going Under the Knife
The Rays' starting pitching depth took a hit on Monday, as it was revealed that Jeff Niemann has elected to have right shoulder surgery and will likely miss the rest of the season.
Niemann was banished to the bullpen to begin the season after he showed diminished velocity this spring and lost out to Roberto Hernandez for a rotation spot. His struggles were put into greater context last week when he landed on the disabled list with what was termed as right shoulder soreness. Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that Niemann is set to have both his labrum and rotator cuff repaired on Wednesday, so it's safe to say that the Rays won't be expecting anything from him the rest of the way.
Hernandez struck out seven while allowing four runs in 6 2/3 innings last Thursday in his season debut against the Orioles and should keep a rotation spot for the time being. While the Rays have a knack for getting reclamation projects right, the man formerly known as Fausto Carmona could just be keeping a seat warm for 24-year-old Chris Archer, who struck out 36 batters over 29 1/3 innings in his first taste of the majors last year. He could have some sneaky fantasy value at some point this season. Jake Odorizzi, who was acquired along with Wil Myers in the James Shields trade, could also be an option down the road.
National League Quick Hits: Justin Upton launched his sixth home run in seven games in Monday's win over the Marlins while Paul Maholm spun seven shutout fames … Ryan Braun (neck) went 3-for-4 with two doubles in his return to action Monday … The Brewers plan to move Corey Hart (knee) to the 60-day disabled list before Tuesday's game, making him ineligible to return until May 30 … After entering the game with the bases loaded, Jim Henderson threw 30 pitches to lock down his first save of the season Monday against the Cubs … Matt Harvey struck out nine batters over seven innings of one-run ball in a win over the Phillies on Monday … Jason Motte is scheduled to have a follow-up MRI on his elbow Tuesday … Mitchell Boggs had a game to forget Monday, as he allowed seven runs (six earned) on two hits and four walks over one-third of an inning against the Reds … Hunter Pence hit his third home run of the season in Monday's win over the Rockies … David Freese (back) went 0-for-3 in his return from the disabled list Monday … Jaime Garcia notched 10 strikeouts while allowing three runs in 6 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Reds on Monday … Andrelton Simmons (thumb) went 0-for-4 in his return to action Monday… Cody Ross (calf) could be activated from the disabled list as soon as Friday … John Buck clubbed his third home run of the season Monday against the Phillies and currently leads the National League with 12 RBI … Wandy Rodriguez left Monday's start against the Diamondbacks due to left hamstring tightness … Shaun Marcum (neck) has begun playing catch, but isn't close to pitching in a game … Chris Narveson landed on the disabled list Monday with a sprained left middle finger …
American League Quick Hits: While it featured a highly questionable strike-three call by home plate umpire Marty Foster, Joe Nathan finished off Monday's win over the Rays to become the 24th pitcher in MLB history to reach 300 career saves …Robinson Cano broke out of his early-season slump Monday against the Indians by going 3-for-4 with two solo home runs and a double … Yu Darvish (finger) is expected to make his next scheduled start Friday against the Mariners … David Ortiz (heels) went 2-for-4 with a single and a double Monday in a simulated game and could be days away from a rehab assignment… Carlos Santana is day-to-day after he suffered a left thumb contusion Monday as the result of being crossed up on a Chris Perez fastball … Clay Buchholz tossed seven shutout innings in Monday's win over the Orioles … Travis Hafner homered in his return to Cleveland on Monday and has hit safely in all seven games this season … Stephen Drew (concussion) went 1-for-3 with a home run and a walk Monday in his final rehab game with Double-A Portland … Eduardo Nunez (bicep) went 0-for-4 with a sacrifice fly in his return to action Monday … Joe Saunders spun 6 1/3 shutout frames Monday in a win over the Astros, who continue to be a streamer's dream come true … Julio Borbon is expected to be designated for assignment Tuesday when the Rangers call up right-hander Nick Tepesch … The Blue Jays claimed infielder Mauro Gomez off waivers from the Red Sox …