Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers: Rookie Watch
The 26-year old rookie was great again yesterday, throwing seven innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts and only three hits allowed. This is Ryu's fourth quality start of five total this season. Additionally, this was a nice bounceback start from his last one, where he gave up five earned in six innings against Baltimore. He continues to be a work in progress as he adjusts to the MLB, but he has impressed early on this season (2-1 record, 3.41 ERA, 34 K in 31.2 IP) and is only owned 66% of Yahoo! Leagues, so he may still be available. Should be considered in all fantasy formats.
Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies: Signs of Breaking Out
Howard extended his hitting streak to eight games with a two-hit performance in Thursdays 6-4 loss to the Pirates. Howard drove in two runs, giving him nine on the year and five in his last five games. His numbers in the first 21 games won't blow you away (.284/.302/.432, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R), but people forget that he is coming off a very tough injury to deal with and the fact that he's keeping his average up while he gets his legs underneath him is a very good thing. He doesn't seem to be trying to do too much and fantasy owners should continue to play him as he has shown signs of getting that power stroke back in the past week.
Carlos Marmol, RP, Chicago Cubs: Returns to Closer Role
After struggling mightily in his first two outings of the season and losing the closer role, Marmol has notched 8.2 IP of scoreless ball, only giving up four hits in that span. Manager Dale Sveum indicated earlier this week that he was just trying to get Carlos back on track before giving him late inning work again. He got the call in the ninth yesterday and responded with his second save of 2013, albeit while walking a guy and giving up a hit. The Cubs are a bad baseball team and Marmol has still struggled with his control, walking five batters in his last three outings (3.2 IP), so that can only spell trouble. Nonetheless, Marmol is a closer who is available in over 60% of Yahoo! Leagues, so if you are strapped for saves, grab him and start him, he could get you a few in your time of need.
Bobby Parnell, RP, New York Mets: Finding the Groove
Parnell entered in yet another non-save situation on Thursday during the Mets 3-2 loss to Los Angeles. He allowed an inherited runner to score on an infield single by Juan Uribe, but was able to induce Ramon Hernandez into a double play to stop the bleeding. In 8.2 IP, the 28-year old closer has yielded just a run (1.08 ERA) on four hits while striking out 10. Equally as important is his control this season. Parnell has walked only one batter and seems to have a nice balance of confidence and comfort on the mound. He is a guy who probably benefitted from the non-save work early on. It looks like it helped him get his rhythm down and he seems to be on a roll right now. With no real threats to the closer role on the Mets roster, Parnell is looking like a better pick every day.
J.J. Putz, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks: Will he Continue Saving Games?
Putz came in and nailed down the victory as Arizona defeated Colorado last night, 3-2. It has been a bit of a battle for Putz early on in 2013. The 36-year old has blown three saves in seven chances now, but Manager Kirk Gibson has not wavered from his stance that Putz will remain the closer, at least for now. Putz had great stuff last night. His fastball sat consistently at 96 and his splitter was biting harder than I've seen in a while. He walked Dexter Fowler with two outs which brought up the dangerous Carlos Gonzalez, but Putz got him looking on a beautiful heater on the outside corner to ensure his team's triumph. Two other relievers have saves for Arizona (Matt Reynolds 2, Heath Bell 1), and David Hernandez was used in the ninth last series, but if Kirk Gibson trusts Putz, then it will be his job to lose. At the very least, Putz looked like a more confident pitcher tonight, which is the first step to success closing games.