Lord Zola's Fantasy Baseball Mailbag: Pickups for saves and starts, plus Indians DHs

by Todd Zola, MastersBall.com on September 12, 2011 @ 11:02:12 PDT


It looks like not everyone has turned their attention to the gridiron as some battling in their head to head playoffs are looking for some late season advice to take home the championship. If you are still in the hunt and need a little push to put you over the top, please e-mail it to lordzola@kffl.com, post it on the KFFL Baseball Facebook page or via Twitter by following @KFFL_Baseball.

Lord Zola, I am in the semi-finals of my league and have one more move I can make. If I make the finals, I know I am going to need one more closer. I am going to put in claim for Jason Motte, but just in case I don't get him, who else should I try for? - Josh Daniels, Terre Haute, IN

Well Josh, here's hoping you get Motte as he is making a great case for finally becoming the closer many anticipated. His peripherals are solid and he has shown he is ready to handle the pressure of recording the final three outs.

San Francisco Giants SP Erik Surkamp
Coors? Lord not in Eric's Surkamp

Two other names come to mind, though neither assured of getting saves. The first is Jim Johnson, who is lurking as Kevin Gregg is really stumbling down the stretch. The second is Joel Peralta who is in line to pick up saves early this week as Kyle Farnsworth has a tender elbow. If this is just a twinge, expect Farnsworth to reclaim his ninth inning gig especially since the Rays are breathing down the Red Sox's necks. But if not, Peralta could help you down the stretch. I would check the notes and decide if you feel smoke equals fire with Farnsworth missing more than a couple of games. If you sense he is going to be out, Peralta is the better bet.

Actually, now that I think about it, since Motte is still available, that suggests that Bobby Parnell may also be there for the taking. The problem is, he has been pretty poor since being handed the role after Jason Isringhausen recorded his 300th save. Izzy is a bit dinged up and Pedro Beato is also struggling a little, so there is a good chance the Mets stick with Parnell to see if he has the meddle to close. Whether you have the meddle to roll with him is a matter of your risk tolerance.

If it were my choice and I definitely knew I needed some saves, I would reluctantly choose Parnell as I feel he has the greatest opportunity. If I was a little concerned and would like the option of having another closer, I would look at Peralta.

Lord Zola, I need you to gaze into your crystal ball and tell me who is going to play more the rest of the season, Travis Hafner or Jim Thome? I picked up Thome when Hafner got hurt and have to drop one of them. - Eddie Sullivan, Reno, NV

Sorry Eddie, the crystal ball is still on back order. And to be honest, if I ever receive it, there is a good chance I move out your way.

And I guess I am doubly sorry as I have no clue whether Hafner or Thome will receive more at bats the next three weeks. However, if I had to choose between the two, I would opt for Thome, even though the Indians got Hafner back in their lineup as soon as he was ready, and in fact he was ready sooner than they expected. I think there is a decent chance Hafner tweaks something and they just shut him down. Maybe the best way to leave it is gun to head, if he remains healthy, I think Hafner plays a little more, but I think Thome will play better and there is a good chance Hafner misses more time.

Todd, I need a little help with a starting pitching dilemma. I am in the middle of my semis and am already down five saves so I want to bench my closers and pick up two starters to help me win strikeouts and wins. Who do you like from these double dip options: Dontrelle Willis, Brad Lincoln, Ross Detwiler and Eric Surkamp? - Saul Bloomfield, Brookline, MA

As I have discussed a few times in this space, my first two filters are home starts and venue. Cincinnati's Willis is at home, which I like, but I don't like his home park. Pittsburgh's Lincoln has one home game and a date in Los Angeles, a couple of favorable venues. Washington's Detwiler is in a similar boat as he is at home for one and in Citi Field for the other. Finally, San Francisco's Surkamp has a juicy home tilt against the Padres, but will also travel to Coors Field.

Even though Surkamp's walk and strikeout rates were very impressive this past season at Double-A Richmond, he was a little old for the level so with the visit to Coors on the docket, I will give him the boot. I will call the remaining three even, leaving it to some skills analysis to decide.

Willis is fanning a good number of hitters and inducing a bunch of grounders, so he is keeping the homers in check. However, his control is still spotty and the walks are hurting him. Lincoln is also a ground ball machine so his homers allowed are low. He does not fan quite as many as Willis but walks fewer. Detwiler is a groundballer as well, but not quite to the extent as Willis and Lincoln, but if you strike batters out without waling them, fly balls are not a bad thing, especially in big parks. Wow Saul, I see why you are seeking some counseling, this is really tight.

Okay, I have made my decision and the winners are Willis and Lincoln. Saul did not specifically say he needs to worry about his ERA and WHIP and Willis is the best bet to get the whiffs he needs. Although it is usually an exercise in futility to chase wins, I think Lincoln has a little better chance for a victory or two than Detwiler. Lincoln is a good bet to go at least six innings and has a solid bullpen to pick him up. I am a little concerned about Detwiler having extra time between starts as his turn was skipped after a recent rainout.

When Todd is not calling customer service, asking for an update as to the whereabouts of his crystal ball, you can find him you can find him hanging out at the forum at Mastersball.

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About Todd Zola, MastersBall.com

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for fantasybaseball.com, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at MLB.com and SI.com, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums.

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