May 7, 2012
Resident Fantasy Genius
Picking Up Saves In Anaheim
Well that was quick. Barely a week after he was given the closer’s role in Anaheim, Scott Downs appears to be DL-bound after injuring his leg Sunday while avoiding a comebacker, leaving fantasy players scrambling to find his replacement. Who that replacement will be, however, is currently up in the air. Of course, that won’t stop us from speculating. Today, I’ll try my hand at handicapping the situation.
The Yahoo! Friends & Family experts league is always an interesting barometer for this sort of thing. It’s a daily transaction league, and any time a ninth-inning changing of the guard may be taking place, owners race to the waiver wire to pick up anyone with a chance for saves. By yesterday evening, five Angel relievers had been picked up (if they weren’t already owned) in Yahoo! F&F: Downs, Jordan Walden, LaTroy Hawkins, Ernesto Frieri, and Jason Isringhausen. Let’s take a look at the chance each has of saving games for the foreseeable future.
Ernesto Frieri (40 percent)
Of course, praising a player’s skills is different than calling him your best option when the game is on the line. Still, both manager and general manager seemed open to leave the door open for such a possibility even before the Downs injury. When discussing his usage, DiPoto said, “"We're going to give him an opportunity to pitch himself into a role. What it does right now is it gives us another experienced and effective arm to put down in the bullpen and allow us to create a mix toward the end of the game." Scioscia’s thoughts in regard to eventually using him in the ninth: “It just depends on where our bullpen settles, but I don't think there's any doubt in the world that what he showed last night plays anywhere [but] in the last nine outs of the game”
Aside from great stuff and huge strikeout numbers—Frieri is the highest-skilled of our candidates—he is already being used in high-leverage situations. For example, he pitched the eighth inning last night to set up Downs. Some pointed to Hawkins replacing Downs as an indicator that he was next in line, but setting him up may be an even greater indicator. After all, had Frieri not already held down the fort in the eighth, he could have been called upon for the final two outs instead.
Scott Downs (20 percent)
LaTroy Hawkins (20 percent)
Jordan Walden (15 percent)
Jason Isringhausen (5 percent)
All in all, I’ve got my money on Frieri. Word as of this writing is that Hawkins’ injury could land him on the disabled list, which would help Frieri’s chances even more. I own him in three leagues, and I’d recommend you add him as well, wherever possible.