Jason Bulger- LAA- Rise Value- With KRod nursing a sprained ankle, someone else will have to handle the save situations for the Angels until he is ready to return. Manager Mike Scioscia has said he would use the dreaded “closer committee,” which never seems to work. A leading candidate to emerge as the chairman of the committee is Bulger. At AAA Salt Lake last year he recorded 10 saves in 49 appearances and finished 23 games. In 52-2/3 IP Bulger struck out 81, walked 24 and posted an ERA of 3.76. Yesterday, no save situation arose against the Indians and Scioscia threw Darren Oliver, Scot Shields and Justin Speier out there, so they are probably not in prime seats around the committee conference table despite Scioscia’s earlier comments that they would be doing 9th inning duty. Darren O’Day also has professional closing experience, but last year was his first full year in the minors and he is appearing in his first major league season, so he is also likely behind Bulger.
Paul Byrd- CLE- Cold- Byrd had a second straight rough outing, getting smacked around for 6 runs on 5 hits (including 3 homers) and 2 walks in 3 IP against the Angels yesterday. What is most disconcerting about his first two starts that have left him with an ERA of 11.05 is that they were on the road. Last year, Byrd pitched far better away from Cleveland, recording an ERA of 3.51 away from Lake Erie and 5.68 at Jacobs Field. This continued a trend from 2006, his first season with the Indians. If Byrd has problems pitching well on the road, he will have to run counter to form and improve his game at home in order to have decent value.
Baltimore Orioles- BAL- FYI- Manager Dave Trembley said that he wants to limit the innings his bullpen throws in today’s doubleheader. Specifically he doesn’t want any reliever to pitch in both games. Considering that the bullpen has thrown at least 3 IP in 6 of Baltimore’s 7 games, trying to limit their use is probably a good idea. In order to do that, though, starters Steve Trachsel and Adam Loewen may need to have a slow hook. That could mean that they pitch beyond their maximum effectiveness and might get hammered some late in their starts, diminishing their value from today.
Jason Botts- TEX- FYI- The forgotten man of the Rangers (he has just 1 at bat in 2008) will find his name in the starting lineup for the first time in the nightcap of today’s doubleheader. Botts’ original role was to be to play 1B against lefthanders to give Ben Broussard a break. So far, though, the only lefties faced by the Rangers came on Opening Day and then in the home opener. In both cases, manager Ron Washington opted to start his usual starter, Broussard. With no special ceremony today (unless you count Dollar Hot Dog Night) Botts will face southpaw Adam Loewen. Botts has power potential and could end up having some fantasy value if you have daily transactions and the Rangers see lefties on a regular basis.
Justin Ruggiano- TB- Rookie- Ruggiano has hit at every level in the minors and was carrying a .304 average at AAA Durham when he was called up to take Cliff Floyd’s roster spot. Last year he added power to his game, slugging 20 homers in 482 ABs for Durham. The big soft spot for Ruggiano is his swing. It’s a big one and results in a lot of strikeouts, 151 last year. With 8 Ks in 23 ABs so far this season, not much progress in that department is evident. This makes it quite possible that he could be overmatched by major league pitching. If he gets a chance to play some in Tampa Bay, though, he could be a sleeper. His season debut last night with a 1-for-3 effort, is a start.