A somewhat wild Friday evening will leave some fantasy owners sleepless about Seattle. Hunter Strickland will undergo an MRI on Saturday after experiencing tightness in the back of his shoulder. It could be inflammation, but resulted in Strickland blowing his first save of the year after convincing his manager to leave him in. Strickland allowed two hits, including a three-run home run to Mitch Moreland, and a walk in one-third of an inning. Roenis Elias finished the ninth inning getting a strikeout versus the two hitters he faced. If Strickland does land on the injured list, this could signal a committee approach in Seattle until Anthony Swarzak returns.
Hard to say which right-handed reliever will emerge, but Matt Festa or Cory Gearrin could get save chances along with either Zac Rosscup or Elias if facing a left-handed lean in the final stanza. Plan accordingly.
Alex Cora spent the spring downplaying losing Craig Kimbrel as the closer and keeping his successor close to the vest. Friday night, Matt Barnes emerged as the leading contender for the role firing a clean ninth inning with two strikeouts for his first save since 2017. Ryan Brasier did not pitch, so Barnes may not be out of the woods, but his owners should be pleased with last night’s result. Flying beneath the radar to open the year, Brian Johnson as a setup reliever. He’s already made two appearances with four strikeouts, a 0.50 WHIP and no runs allowed.
Kirby Yates joined Strickland atop the saves leader board with his second save, in as many days. Yates did benefit from a generous strike zone with two strikeouts working around a hit and a walk. He finished last year with a strong second half and could be a part of a developing unit in San Diego. Robert Stock fired 1.2 clean innings with two strikeouts needing only 14 pitches. If he keeps the walks down, Stock could ascend in the Padres bullpen hierarchy as the season progresses.
It’s still too early to remove the committee tab associated with Tampa Bay, but Jose Alvarado notched his first save on Friday night. Alvarado did yield a hit and a walk but pitched a scoreless inning with a strikeout. Like Yates, Alvarado finished last year strong and given the primary role in the ninth inning, could surge for the Rays. Diego Castillo pitched two innings as the bridge giving up two hits with a strikeout. Chaz Roe, one-third of an inning giving up a walk, and Adam Kolarek, two-thirds of an inning split the eighth inning each netting a hold.
Keeping with the theme, Mike Shildt would not name Jordan Hicks his closer to open the year, but, Hicks pitched the ninth to preserve a four-run lead on the road. Andrew Miller worked the eighth inning yielding a home run to Christian Yelich and Hicks slammed the door in the ninth with two strikeouts in a clean outing.
Spring numbers can be taken with a grain of salt as Greg Holland can attest to. Holland recorded his first save working a clean 13th inning late last night with two strikeouts. Archie Bradley pitched a scoreless eighth but ceded two hits. For now, it’s Holland’s job to lose in Arizona, just note his 91.8 MPH average with his fastball last night.
Quick Hits: Kenley Jansen worked a clean ninth to preserve a tie with a strikeout. His bridge, Pedro Baez and Joe Kelly, allowed a combined four earned runs in two innings of work. If only to affirm the pecking order, the Angels used Hansel Robles in the seventh, Ty Buttrey in the eighth and Cody Allen in the ninth during a four-run win over Oakland. Tough night for Joakim Soria of the A’s. He allowed three hits, four earned runs and a walk without recording an out. Teammate Fernando Rodney also showed signs of rust giving up four hits and two earned runs taking a save chance away from Allen. Less than auspicious debut for Sergio Romo in Miami. He yielded three hits, four earned runs and a walk while recording one out. Drew Steckenrider pitched a scoreless inning with a walk. Tayron Guerrero allowed both inherited runners to score in two-thirds of an inning on two hits with a strikeout. Not only will Corey Knebel opt for Tommy John surgery, but Jacob Barnes got roughed up in his debut allowing three hits and three earned runs Friday night. Josh Hader owners should profit from this, but his innings and pitches should be monitored.
Avid fantasy baseball player and writer. You can find my work here chasing the next save or as the lead fantasy analyst on Fantasy Alarm. Any questions, hit me up on the Twitter machine, @gjewett9