The Los Angeles Times' Mike DiGiovanna reports Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim closer Francisco Rodriguez (ankle) will be out at least three days after having an MRI on his right ankle.
The Angels closer has been battling through soreness in both ankles, and his performance has reflected this. Through the first week of the 2008 season, K-Rod has an ERA of 8.10 and has issued five walks in 3 1/3 innings. On the positive side, Rodriguez has saved three games for the Angels this year. Rodriguez apparently aggravated the injury to his right ankle coming down the dugout steps Saturday, April 5.
Fantasy owners should be mildly concerned about K-Rod's injury. Initial indications are that he likely won't miss significant time. For the time being, K-Rod owners should look for a temporary replacement, especially because the team hasn't ruled out a stay go on the 15-day DL. Owners should keep an eye on how serious his injured ankle actually is.
A possible replacement for Rodriguez in the Angels bullpen is relief pitcher Scot Shields. Shields recently came off a DL stint of his own after he suffered some forearm tightness in spring training. In 2008, Shields has two strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings of work, but he has also allowed three hits and one walk; he hasn't allowed a run. He didn't receive much work this spring, either, so the club may have wanted him to put in a couple of innings in less crucial situations before it entrusts him with closing duties. However, Shields has experience nailing down games. He has 16 career saves, including 11 in the past three years while filling in when Rodriguez wasn't available.
Another candidate is relief pitcher Justin Speier. The Angels used Speier Tuesday, April 8, to attempt to close out the game against the Cleveland Indians. Speier ended up blowing the save after allowing a two-run home run to Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner. Speier has allowed three runs in three innings, although he has accrued two holds and one strikeout.
Shields or Speier could be considered to replace Rodriguez. Either could be a short-term pickup as a replacement for fantasy owners of K-Rod. Speier has already blown a chance, which may accelerate the Angels' desire to move Shields into the role, though; Shields was unavailable that night after pitching in two consecutive games. Fantasy owners should start looking for possible long-term replacements for Rodriguez in case his ankle injury keeps him out for longer than expected. Shields certainly seems like the better choice of the in-house candidates, and he probably won't last long on the waiver wire.
About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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