Fantasizin’ on the Diamond by Anthony Basich

     July 24, 2006

Fantasizin’ on the Diamond by Anthony Basich

When I drafted Derrick Turnbow in the middle rounds during two of my fantasy drafts back in March, I knew I wasn’t getting a Mariano Rivera-Joe Nathan-Billy Wagner type of closer.

You know, that type of pitcher you can just plug into a “Relief Pitcher” position and just let him sit there for the whole season accumulating all kinds of saves for your team.

When you’re in the later rounds and you just want to solidify your relief pitching, it’s hard to pass up on Turnbow. The guy is just fun – from that scroungy mop hanging below the rim of his cap to that 98-mph fastball to the fact that the Brewers are one of those up-and-coming teams we all like to root for.

No, no. I knew Turnbow had some rough edges in him going back to last season when he had his breakout 39-save year. It was a game I saw of his against the Yankees. Although he did record the save that night, I knew this guy had a tendency for some gory implosions. The only reason he didn’t blow the save against the Yankees that night was because Geoff Jenkins played Derek Jeter perfectly as the New York shortstop sent a torpedo into right field where the outfielder was able to run down the scorching line drive for the last out of the game preventing the two runners on base from scoring.

I had that image in my head when I witnessed Turnbow blow save after save this month. Of course I left him in my lineup, because I was absolutely sure he’d work through it. Well that certainly didn’t happen. And as soon as I pulled the plug on him, so did Brewers skipper Ned Yost.

Now Yost didn’t say this was a permanent move, so you don’t have dump Turnbow immediately. Although with these numbers, I’m not sure you’d ever want him back into your lineup: In his last eight games which included just 3 and two thirds innings pitched, he’s blown all four save opportunities, has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4 to 8, an astonishing 4.91 WHIP and an uncanny 34.36 ERA.

No way. If you don’t have the space on your roster, then just cut him. You’ll be better off picking up someone below:

Fausto Carmona, Indians – He was just promoted to the closer last week as Bob Wickman was shipped off to Atlanta. He may your best option at this point, which may not be so bad when you look at his recent statistics. Since May 20, when he was added to the bullpen, he’s pitched 27 and a third innings with a 0.99 ERA, and while that 1.17 WHIP isn’t great, he does have 25 strikeouts in that time.

Eddie Guardado, Reds – It’s truly amazing to see what a change of scenery will do for a player. We saw it earlier in the season with Jorge Julio beginning the season disastrously with the Mets and then finding some success in Arizona. Now we see Guardado experience a meltdown in Seattle, then traded to Cincinatti to take over the closer spot for a struggling Todd Coffey and he’s become Everyday Eddie again. Since joining the Reds, Guardado has converted five straight save opportunities. There’s a good chance he is available in mixed leagues – especially if you need to replace Turnbow.

Brian Meadows, Devil Rays – He’s been largely ignored by virtual GMs being that he’s a journeyman and the team he’s closing for doesn’t win a whole lot, but Meadows has been doing a solid job in Tampa. Since June 20, he’s pitched 11 and a third innings and only yielded one earned run while converting 6 saves for the Devil Rays.

Mike MacDougal, Royals – He’s back off the Disabled List and he’s pitched pretty decently. Since he’s a Royal, I’d make him a last option. But he’s started off well, with four games and four innings pitched including a save and no earned runs allowed.

Dan Kolb, Brewers – Of course, you could always use Kolb, one of Turnbow’s committee replacements. He did achieve a save for Milwaukee on Sunday, but who will get the call tomorrow?

GARLAND WATCH

A lot of virtual GMs have dumped Jon Garland in the last few months (And yes, I did advise that move a few weeks back). Well it’s time for us to re-examine his value to our starting rotation as many of us clamor for some decent pitching. In his last seven starts, he’s 6-0 with a 2.30 ERA bringing his overall ERA from 6.19 to 4.78. He’s definitely worth another look.

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