Betancourt expected to replace JoeBo

by Keith Hernandez on April 15, 2008 @ 00:42:55 PDT


The Associated Press reports Cleveland Indians closer Joe Borowski (triceps) was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right triceps.

Borowski finds himself on the sidelines after a disappointing start to the 2008 season. In just four innings pitched, he has surrendered eight runs, three home runs, and seven hits while racking up an ERA of 18.00. He has notched two saves but has blown his last two chances. Most recently, he blew the save in a loss Monday, April 14, allowing a two-run home run in the ninth inning in a 6-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox. Borowski had met with Indians staff after the game to determine why his velocity had been dropping.

With Borowski on the DL, the Indians most likely will turn to relief pitcher Rafael Betancourt. In seven innings pitched this year, he has two holds, seven strikeouts and an ERA of 5.14. Betancourt had three saves in 2007 and has 12 in his career. He was one of baseball's premier setup men last year while posting a 1.47 ERA with 80 strikeouts in 79 1/3 innings pitched.

Another possible option as the interim closer could be relief pitcher Rafael Perez. Perez has started the season with an 8.31 ERA, one hold and four strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings pitched. He has primarily been the left-handed setup man in the Indians bullpen and only has one career save in 77 1/3 innings pitched. Perez was dominant last season with a 1.78 ERA in 60 2/3 innings pitched, but his inexperience in save opportunities makes him a secondary option to steal save opportunities from Betancourt.

Reliever Masahide Kobayashi also could receive a look. The Japanese rookie has had mixed results thus far in 4 1/3 innings of work, posting a 2.08 ERA but struggling with a 1.62 WHIP.

The injury to Borowski increases Betancourt's fantasy value. His career 2.85 ERA and 1.47 ERA in 2007 suggest he has the stuff to become a competent long-term fill-in. Owners of Borowski should immediately look to pick up Betancourt off the waiver wire if he is available.

If you have Borowski on your squad, use a disabled list spot on him if you can. However, you may want to consider replacing him in the long run. His velocity has been down, and there's a slight chance the Indians could hand the permanent closing duties to Betancourt if Borowski's poor performance continues upon his return. Borowski's contract expires after this season. For now, stash Borowski and target Betancourt. Perez and Kobayashi might be serviceable consolation prizes in AL-only leagues.

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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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