The Dallas Morning News reports Texas Rangers closer Eric Gagne (elbow) will begin the season on the disabled list, according to Evan Grant. The move is reportedly not for health reasons; the team wants Gagne to pitch more innings before the season starts.
Gagne is a former All-Star closer, but has been hindered the last two seasons
due to elbow, back and shoulder injuries. He had Tommy
John surgery in 1997, but avoided a second one two seasons ago. Last year
Gagne had surgery to remove a nerve and had season-ending back surgery after
pitching only two innings. He joined the team late in the spring and has pitched
only three innings.
If Gagne is injury-free, like the team claims, then this move should help his
fantasy value in the long run. If Gagne had started the season rusty, he may
have performed poorly. It's possible the team would have then resorted to relief
pitcher Akinori Otsuka, who saved 32 games for
the Rangers last season. Now, the Rangers
can be patient with Gagne, let him get up-to-speed and allow him to rejoin the
team later this month. T.R. Sullivan, of Rangers.MLB.com, reports the team expects
him to be activated from the DL April 13, when the Rangers
play the Seattle Mariners.
Otsuka will be replacing Gagne while Gagne is on the disabled list, and as such, his fantasy value skyrockets in the short term. Otsuka, who replaced Francisco Cordero as the full-time closer in late April last season, earned his 32 saves in 36 opportunities and had an ERA of 2.11.
Fantasy owners looking to replace Gagne will find the waiver wire barren of quality replacements at this time, though a few sleepers might be tried. One route would be to pick up quality setup pitchers like the Atlanta Braves' Mike Gonzalez, the Detroit Tigers' Fernando Rodney or the Oakland Athletics' Justin Duchscherer, if they have gone undrafted. They may have an opportunity to pick up saves while the full-time closer is resting, and they should help your strikeout rate. The Cincinnati Reds, who lack a true closer, are utilizing a closer-by-committee approach and provide a few options for the desperate or risky owner. Reds relievers David Weathers, Mike Stanton and Dustin Hermanson could all be short-term options. Another option that was likely overlooked in drafts is Tampa Bay Devil Rays RP Chad Orvella, who appears to have locked up the job after a very good spring.
About Andrew Stewart
Andrew Stewart has been a Hot off the Wire Analyst for KFFL since 2007.
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