Rauch should close for another week

by Andrew Stewart on April 5, 2008 @ 01:35:12 PDT


The Washington Nationals have placed closer Chad Cordero (shoulder) on the 15-day disabled list, according to The Associated Press. The move is retroactive to Thursday, March 27.

Cordero owners shouldn't be too worried about this development, as this move was most likely made so the Nationals could call up a fifth starter for their rotation. They did so by recalling starter John Lannan, who logged a 2.18 ERA in spring training. He was the club's 2007 minor league pitcher of the year. He doesn't have immediate fantasy value because he likely will be sent back to the minors shortly, but fantasy owners could keep an eye on Lannan in deep mixed and NL-only leagues.

Cordero is reportedly still improving, and he hopes to be activated Friday, April 11. He threw a side session Saturday, April 5, and it reportedly went well. It was the first time he had thrown since the end of spring training, and he threw only fastballs. Cordero said he felt no pain after the session. He has been battling shoulder tendonitis since the beginning of the season and received a cortisone shot March 31. The team just wants to give Cordero a few more days to get ready and not rush him back.

Cordero is widely considered to be a low-end No. 1 or great No. 2 fantasy closer. His name likely will come up often as the trade deadline approaches; the 26-year-old is one of the top young relievers in the game, and the Nationals may not be able to afford him much longer. Washington avoided arbitration with Cordero this year by signing him to a $6.2 million, one-year deal. In his five major league seasons, Cordero has compiled a 2.79 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP and 128 saves.

Upon his return from the disabled list, fantasy owners should immediately activate Cordero. There is some slight concern because of how long this issue has lingered, but the Nats have played it safe. Cordero's value likely would go up if he was traded to a team in contention for the World Series that had issues at the back end of the bullpen; however, his value is also in flux because it's possible that a contender could trade for him and ask him to set up.

While Cordero is held out, reliever Jon Rauch will continue to close games for the Nationals. Rauch is a solid fantasy option while Cordero is inactive; in two innings this season, he has recorded one save and allowed one run (unearned) and one hit. Rauch has a career 3.71 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over six seasons. If he still is available in your league, it is recommended that you pick him up immediately and start him in relief until Cordero returns. Fantasy owners likely will want to hold on to Rauch for a bit even after Cordero returns, in case Cordero is not over his current issues.

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About Andrew Stewart

Andrew Stewart has been a Hot off the Wire Analyst for KFFL since 2007.

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