Marc Lancaster, of The Tampa Tribune, reports the Tampa Bay Rays placed closer Troy Percival (hamstring) on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, July 1, with a strained left hamstring.
In a corresponding roster move, the team recalled pitcher Mitch Talbot from Triple-A Durham.
Percival finds himself on the disabled list for the second time this season with a strained left hamstring. He missed 13 games from May 29 to June 12. The veteran tweaked the hamstring during the game Monday, June 30, and had to be removed after recording the first two outs in the ninth inning.
After a solid start to the season, Percival has not been the same since returning from his first DL stint. On the year he has a 3.54 ERA with 19 saves in 21 chances. It was apparent in the past week that he was still battling the same hamstring issues, and manager Joe Maddon even said that he would give Percival a rest when he could.
Relief pitchers Dan Wheeler, Grant Balfour, J.P. Howell and Trever Miller could all receive the save opportunities with Percival on the shelf once again.
Wheeler is having a solid year and should see the majority of the save opportunities. He sports a 1.88 ERA with 20 holds and two saves, while striking out 25 and walking only 13 in 38 1/3 innings. Both of his saves came when Percival was hobbled.
Balfour recorded his second save in as many chances Tuesday, July 1. Entering the July 1 game, Balfour had an ERA of 1.17 with one save in 15 1/3 innings pitched. Howell was Maddon's choice to complete Percival's save opportunity June 30; he has an ERA of 3.00 with two saves and 45 strikeouts in 51 innings pitched this season. Miller has a 3.92 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings this year.
Setup man Al Reyes (shoulder) could return to the team after completing a rehab assignment in the near future. The Rays closer last year with 26 saves, Reyes (4.02 ERA in 15 2/3 innings) could factor into the picture once he rejoins the team.
On the fantasy side of things, the possible return to a committee setup could be messy. In his career, Wheeler has 27 saves compared to a total of four between both Balfour and Howell. Both Balfour and Howell each have recorded the first two saves of their careers this season with the Rays.
Based on experience, Wheeler should be the main fantasy target. Keeping this in mind, fantasy owners of Percival could look to pick up Wheeler off the waiver wire as a temporary replacement.
Balfour could factor more into the equation, though, since he was the only other pitcher to save a game during Percival's first DL stint and he pitched in the team's most recent save chance. Balfour, Howell and Miller could be considered fallback options in AL-only leagues. Reyes should not be targeted yet since he's not guaranteed to be back in time to potentially enter the ninth-inning carousel.
For now, Percival owners should look to stash him on the bench or on a DL spot if they have the room. His second hamstring injury is quite disheartening, and owners should keep a watchful eye on his progress. They might want to start looking for possible long-term replacements in the saves category since the hamstring issue could hamper his performance for the rest of the year.
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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