Mychael Urban, of MLB.com, reports Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Joey Devine (elbow) will begin the 2009 season on the disabled list. He will be examined by Dr. James Andrews sometime next week and is expected to miss a minimum of three weeks. Devine said the pain in his elbow is the same pain that he experienced last season.
Devine was expected to begin the season sharing the closing duties with relief pitcher Brad Ziegler. Devine was a bright spot in the team's bullpen last year with a 6-1 record to go along with a 0.59 ERA in 45 2/3 innings.
The injury to Devine leaves Ziegler as manager Bob Geren's go-to guy in the ninth inning to start the season. Ziegler posted impressive numbers as well last season, going 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA in 59 2/3 innings, including 11 saves.
Geren will also look to relief pitchers Santiago Casilla and Russ Springer to pick up the slack in the back end of the bullpen with Devine on the sidelines. Casilla or Springer could see a few save opportunities while spelling Ziegler. Geren has shown in the past that he has been liberal with save chances based on matchups.
The latest setback to Devine's season gives Ziegler's fantasy value a big boost. He will now be the team's primary source for saves for at least the first three weeks of the 2009 season. Owners of Devine should look to place him in one of their DL spots and immediately look to swipe Ziegler up off the waiver wire if he is somehow available.
Given the randomness that could follow Ziegler, it isn't safe to make a commitment to any other option. If you're desperate, lean Casilla.
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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