Eric Gagne, CL, Texas Rangers

by Ryan Dodson on April 24, 2007 @ 16:00:00 PDT


Texas Rangers closer Eric Gagne (hip) is at it again. No, not his three-year window of dominance as a closer, which saw him set the National League single-season record with 55 saves. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hip. Gagne left Sunday's game after throwing 11 pitches to two batters. This means Akinori Otsuka will resume closer duties in Gagne's absence. Gagne had thrown 3 1/3 innings with one save, a 0.00 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. Otsuka has two saves, a 0.00 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.

This will be Gagne's second trip to the disabled list this year after he started the season inactive in order to get some innings under his belt in his return from back surgery. The injury to the right hip isn't good because the right leg is a right-handed pitcher's drive leg. He'll need to give it adequate rest for the injury to heal. It's possible that Gagne could miss a month because he may need a rehab assignment to get back.

This is great for Otsuka owners because Otsuka only got two save opportunities during Gagne's first DL stint. Otsuka, who was upset the team decided to get another closer after he nailed down 32 saves in 36 chances last season, becomes a valuable commodity for those keen enough to draft him. The 35-year-old Otsuka has a career 2.36 ERA and has proven he can be relied upon as a setup man and as a closer. The hitters' haven that is Rangers Ballpark in Arlington hasn't affected Otsuka, as he had a 1.67 ERA with a .217 opposing batting average against him at home last season.

It's possible the team gets frustrated with Gagne and finds a way to get rid of him. He signed a one-year, $6 million contract in the offseason, and it's highly unlikely any team would trade for him without giving up a lot in return or taking on much of his salary. It's also unlikely that the team would release him outright and eat his salary when they are paying New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez $7 million to terrorize American League pitching this season. It's likely, then, the team will try to get what they can out of Gagne and put him back in the closer role when he's healthy.

It's unlikely that Otsuka is available in many fantasy leagues. If he is, obviously, go pick him up. If an owner is frustrated with Gagne and releases him, pick him up and stash him on your bench or disabled list.

It's extremely hard to replace closers in fantasy baseball because owners are quick to pick up any players that get the chance at saves. Philadelphia Phillies reliever Brett Myers is available in about 43 percent of leagues polled. He can be a good source of strikeouts along with an occasional save. Milwaukee Brewers setup man Derrick Turnbow is having a fabulous season, with 17 strikeouts in 10 innings, a 1.80 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. He got a cheap save in extra innings Monday, for those who had him in their lineups. Kansas City Royals reliever Joakim Soria is available in roughly 55 percent of leagues polled. He has the upper hand at saves for the team while Octavio Dotel (oblique) is out.

If none of those players are available, take a chance on Houston Astros setup man Chad Qualls (two wins, one save, 2.25 ERA, 0.63 WHIP) or Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Matt Capps (one win, 0.87 ERA, 0.58 WHIP). Both of those players could be in line for saves if their manager decides to shake up their already shaky situations in the bullpen.

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About Ryan Dodson

Dodson is a KFFL Contributor and has been with KFFL since 2002.

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