As a Twins fan, I had the opportunity to see Joe Nathan's greatness first-hand for many years. After being installed as Minnesota's closer in 2004, Nathan immediately became one of the very best ninth-inning men in the game, dominating in spite of anxious mannerisms on the mound that belied his steady and reliable results.
It's been sad to watch things unravel for the veteran reliever in Detroit. Last year he managed to convert 35 saves but did so while struggling routinely, posting a 4.81 ERA and 1.53 WHIP. He hoped to rebound this year but instead ended up facing only one hitter before landing on the disabled list with a flexor strain.
While rehabbing the injury in the minors this week, Nathan tore his UCL, meaning he'll undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the rest of the season. He claims that he'd like to continue his career but that will be a tall task for the 40-year-old.
Joakim Soria, who has been serving as interim closer, now locks up the job permanently and is a strong fantasy option. He's 5-for-5 in save opportunities.
Editor's Note: Play one-day fantasy baseball for cash! FanDuel is hosting a $75,000 league for Saturday’s MLB games. It's just $2 to join and first place wins $7,000. Starts tonight at 7:00pm ET. Enter now!
* The situation between Josh Hamilton and the Angels has been rather uncomfortable and awkward since the outfielder's offseason relapse, and now it appears the two sides are parting ways. Reports came down on Friday indicating that Los Angeles has reached agreement to deal Hamilton to the Rangers in a cash-only deal where the Halos will cover all but $15 million of his remaining $80 salary commitment. In other words, they really wanted him gone.
The move would seem to be a fantasy downgrade for Hamilton, who's still rehabbing from February shoulder surgery with hopes of returning late next month. The Rangers certainly have a less potent lineup than the Angels, but then again, maybe the veteran outfielder will be reinvigorated by escaping from what has been an all-around rotten experience in SoCal.
* These Kansas City Royals are chippy, to say the least. Another skirmish broke out this week when Yordano Ventura (who else?) took exception to Chicago's Adam Eaton hitting a ground ball at him. Benches cleared, punches were thrown, and now repercussions are coming.
While everyone has their own opinions about this particular brand of behavior on the field, there's no doubt that it's bad news from a fantasy perspective. Six players received suspensions as a result of the melee: Ventura (seven games), Edinson Volquez (five), Chris Sale (five), Jeff Samardzija (five), Lorenzo Cain (two) and Kelvin Herrera (two).
Everyone's expected to appeal, so there's no need to make immediate adjustments to your lineup, and ultimately the practical impact for the penalized pitchers won't be that great -- one missed start for Ventura, a longer break between starts for the others -- but this is frustrating for fantasy owners who are affected by the shenanigans.
* Jose Bautista was tied up in his own little drama on Tuesday, when he spent too long admiring a "revenge homer" against the Orioles, riling up Adam Jones. Bautista hasn't played since that game due to shoulder soreness, but it sounds like he'll avoid the DL. He is reportedly available off the bench this weekend and should be back in the starting lineup by the early part of next week.
* Last week's big story was the arrival of Kris Bryant in the majors. This week the Cubs called upon another of their most highly touted prospects, promoting Addison Russell to the big leagues after a fast start in Triple-A.
Russell played shortstop exclusively in the minors up until a short five-game trial run at second base, but with Starlin Castro entrenched at short in Chicago, the rookie slots in on the right side of the bag. Russell has enough speed and power potential to eventually be an annual 20/20 threat, but don't be surprised if he takes a while to get acclimated. He's 21 and prior to his call-up had played only 11 games above Double-A.
* Speaking of Bryant, he saw an inning in center field on Wednesday night and then got the start out there on Thursday afternoon. That's interesting since he played zero outfield in his (albeit brief) minor-league career. Dexter Fowler, who usually patrols center for the Cubs, was sidelined by a minor groin injury but returned to action Friday, so don't expect to see Bryant getting too much time out there.
* Ian Kennedy has been out since straining his hamstring in his third start of the season, but returns today (Saturday) after missing only two starts. He'll draw a tough match-up against Brandon McCarthy and a Dodgers team that leads the NL in OPS, but he's coming off a strong season and should be a good bet going forward.
* Carlos Carrasco, who I've cherishingly come to refer to as "Car-Car," was cruising to another brilliant outing on Tuesday, with eight strikeouts and zero walks through five innings of one-run ball against the White Sox, but he was pulled after just 60 pitches. After the game, manager Terry Franco said that Carrasco was "tight," but downplayed any concerns. Since Carrasco recorded only two outs in his previous start before being hit by a comebacker that took him out of the game, it makes sense to take a conservative approach. The righty has been magnificent in early action, with an 18-to-1 K/BB through 11 1/3 innings.
* Arizona's expensive Cuban import, Yasmany Tomas, was called up earlier this month to serve as a bench bat, and with Jake Lamb landing on the disabled list this week the door is now open for Tomas to get an extended chance at third base. He has already looked expectedly rough at the position defensively, but fantasy players are more interested in his bat, which has thus far been pretty good. He's a decent option in deep leagues.
* Off to a red-hot start for the Rays, Steven Souza came out of Wednesday's game with a forearm cramp but was back in the lineup Thursday, suggesting that the injury was quite minor. Souza is intriguing coming off a season in which he posted an OPS above 1000 at Triple-A, and his four early homers have been a big boost for Tampa (not to mention his fantasy stock -- the previous unknown is suddenly claimed in 75 percent of Yahoo! leagues) but I'm expecting some major regression. He's striking out at a 37 percent clip, which would have led all of baseball last year.