Marc Topkin, of the St. Petersburg Times, reports the Tampa Bay Rays placed closer Troy Percival (shoulder) on the 15-day disabled list Friday, May 22, with right shoulder tendonitis.
For all intents and purposes, it wasn't a matter of if but when the 39-year-old right-hander was going to make this trip. He spent three separate stints on the DL in 2008 and entered 2009 coming off offseason back surgery. Although Percival has six saves, with none blown, he sports a 6.35 ERA and 1.68 WHIP.
Percival had been limited to mostly right-handed matchups lately because he was having trouble retiring lefties. At the beginning of the week, Percival was deemed ready to face left-handed hitters after he studied some video of himself. There had been no implication of an injury.
It's not clear how long Percy will be out, but he wasn't a quick healer last season. Reliever Dan Wheeler is the most logical pickup for fantasy owners. After an awful April (seven earned runs allowed 7 1/3 innings), the righty has given up only two earned in 7 2/3 frames this month. Last season, he was second on the club in saves with 13 as the primary fill-in for the majority of the time Percival missed.
Relievers Grant Balfour (5.12 ERA, 1.66 WHIP), Joe Nelson (5.60 ERA, 1.87 WHIP), Jason Isringhausen (no earned runs in two innings) and J.P. Howell (2.21 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) could also be factors. Balfour has one save and closed at times last season in the midst of his best major league showing. Nelson (two saves, both scoreless efforts) has done the job before, and Izzy was a long-time closer for the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals.
Howell (one save) isn't exactly a dark horse, although he's the only southpaw in that crew. Ordinarily that might preclude him from consideration, but he was equally effective against righties and lefties last season. He has actually had much more success against right-handers this year. Manager Joe Maddon isn't afraid to play the numbers game and ignore common perceptions - or misperceptions, as the case may be.
The situation may be handled by committee early on, but whoever demonstrates competence in the role is likely to tighten his grip.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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