Mark Gonzales, of The Chicago Tribune, reports Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks (back) will head to the 15-day disabled as a precautionary measure Wednesday, July 9. Jenks felt fine after playing catch Tuesday, July 8, but was uncomfortable after throwing off a mound in the bullpen. He plans to be ready to return to the team after the All-Star break July 18. The move is retroactive to June 30 and the team plans to make a corresponding roster move Wednesday.
The trip to the DL for Jenks is just precautionary, so the injury does not appear to be too serious. If anything, the team is making the move to prevent further injury that would sideline him for a significant amount of time. Jenks reported that he has experienced no major setbacks since he has been resting, but the injury remains a nuisance.
Jenks has been out since June 29 because of soreness below his left scapula. He has been a reliable closer for the team, earning 18 saves in 21 chances and posting an ERA of 1.95. He has not blown a save since early June and has a 1.50 ERA in his last 17 games.
Jenks has been a reliable closer for White Sox in his four-year span with the club. In 2006 and 2007 he recorded 41 and 40 saves, respectively. He has blown a total of 15 saves in 120 opportunities in his four years in Chicago.
Manager Ozzie Guillen stated that, in Jenks' absence, relief pitchers Scott Linebrink, Octavio Dotel and Matt Thornton could be used in the ninth-inning role.
Linebrink recorded the save for the team Sunday, July 6, against the Oakland Athletics and also had an opportunity last week. Despite Guillen's statement, Linebrink might receive the majority of save opportunities. He has been solid this year, posting a 1.95 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP and 32 K's, with the one save, in 37 innings. In his career, he has just five saves, but that is mostly because he has been the setup man in both Chicago and with the San Diego Padres from 2003 to 2006.
Thornton has also recorded one save this season. He sports a 2.38 ERA and 0.88 WHIP; he has five saves in his four-year career, along with a 4.12 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. His 44 strikeouts in 34 innings are striking.
Dotel has been a closer before and has 86 career saves. This season he has a 2.95 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP and a ridiculous 56 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings. He most recently recorded 11 saves in 14 chances, with a 3.91 ERA, in 2007 with the Kansas City Royals before he was traded to the Atlanta Braves. He hasn't been the most durable pitcher throughout his career. He has nasty stuff and has been a dominant setup at times, but his mental makeup is questionable, making him a somewhat risky choice as closer.
Fantasy owners of Jenks should not be too concerned, as he does not expect to miss an extended period of time. He noted that, given the team's place in the standings, he didn't see a need to push it and would prefer to be healthy for the team's run after the All-Star break. By all means he should be stashed on a DL spot, or on a bench spot if you do not have the room. Jenks and the team seem optimistic that he will return ready to pitch by the end of next week.
Linebrink, a righty, seems to be the best fantasy pickup based on the fact that he has been thrown into the ninth inning with leads by manager Ozzie Guillen twice in the past week. He could be snatched up off the waiver wire if you are in need of a short-term replacement for saves.
Thornton, a southpaw, is a close second given his outstanding ratios and strikeout rate, the latter of which is more impressive than Linebrink's. He's tough on righties as well as lefties and has four wins. He's a definite pickup in deep mixed formats.
Dotel could also snatch some saves, and he's very tough on hitters on both sides of the plate as well; it may entirely depend upon who's available that game. However, his fantasy value had previously been limited to AL-only league formats, and he's merely a hopeful grab in mixed ones.
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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