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Bullpen Efforts Highlight Quiet MLB Wednesday

Clay Holmes

Clay Holmes

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday saw a myriad of close, low-scoring games, with just six of the 26 teams playing putting up more than four runs. Yet despite 2-0 and 2-1 games falling seemingly at the drop of a hat, we saw little dominant starting pitching outside of a couple of big strikeout performances from Robbie Ray and Cristian Javíer. No starter completed seven innings on the day. The end payoff was a bonanza day for fantasy managers who have taken a few bullpen chances this month, with nine different pitchers picking up saves when all was said and done.

Hitters with an EDGE

Joey Votto – 2-for-3, 3B, HR, BB, 3 RBI

Votto will turn 39 in September, but those tired legs still apparently have a little step in them. The triple was the 22nd of his career. The homer? His 333rd. While Votto is hitting just .161/.310/.280 with two homers and nine RBI in 28 games this season, he cracked 36 long balls during the 2021 campaign. Both of his homers this spring have come over his last four games.

Kole Calhoun – 3-for-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 3 R

Calhoun gave fantasy managers a well-rounded performance on Wednesday, with the three hits tying a season-best mark for the veteran outfielder.

Dansby Swanson – 4-for-5, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R

Hey, remember Dansby Swanson? This is how your author feels every time he sees Dansby Swanson do something on the baseball diamond. Still several steps above “Hey, remember Jurickson Profar?” at least. Former top prospect Swanson is hitting an actually-fine .268/.331/.451 with six homers, 23 RBI and six steals in 44 games this season.

Jake Burger – 1-for-3, HR, 3 RBI

Burger really didn’t go crazy with the bat on Wednesday – nobody in either dugout did – but he gets a gold star for providing the biggest hit of the contest, cracking a three-run homer off Rich Hill in the fifth inning to propel the White Sox to a 3-1 win over the Red Sox. The tater was the fourth of Burger’s major league career (38 games).

Pitchers with an EDGE

Robbie Ray – 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 2 HR

Ray posted his second 10-strikeout performance of the 2022 season in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the A’s, but this was another ho-hum outing from the reigning AL Cy Young winner, who now holds a 4.78 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 68/21 K/BB ratio in 10 starts covering 60 2/3 innings. While Mariner fans might balk at the idea that they are getting exactly what they paid for, these numbers are right in line with what Ray did during his time in Arizona. Lightning sometimes strikes just once.

Cristian Javíer – 5 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 9 K, 1 BB

Sizzling stuff. Javíer has now struck out 18 batters over his last two starts, covering 11 2/3 innings. In that space he has given up six hits and one run. If Javier can begin to routinely stretch into the seventh inning – something he has yet to do this season – look out.

Jakob Junis – 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 4 K, 1 BB

Credit to Junis for actually making it through six innings, something almost no other starter achieved on Wednesday. Junis has given up more than two runs just once in six starts this season.

EDGE Priority Pickup – Patrick Wisdom, 3B, 1B, OF; Available in 37 percent of Yahoo leagues

Wisdom won’t provide much on the average front, but fantasy managers in need of a little power boost would be wise to consider adding his position-versatile bat to their bench. 18 of Wisdom’s 26 hits this season have gone for either doubles (8) or homers (10). Just remember that all that fun stuff comes with a .223 batting average and a .288 OBP.

Closing Time

Colin Poche – SV (1), 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K

As you might be able to gather, Posh had an eventful ninth against the Marlins, but escaped before full meltdown could be achieved in the end 5-4 victory. The Rays have all kinds of options for the ninth, with Poche, Jason Adam and Brooks Raley all in the mix for ninth-inning work. Raley leads the pack with four saves over the first month-plus of the 2022 campaign.

Hunter Strickland – SV (1), 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K

Did Strickland and Poche copy off each other’s homework? Because both identically mediocre performances earned unimpressive saves. In Strickland’s case, he (kind of) helped the Reds win their 13th game of the season in a 5-4 victory over the Cubs. Strickland has an ERA north of 5.50 in 18 appearances. Even running into a save here and there, he lacks real value in most fantasy formats.

Devin Williams – SV (4), 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 K, 0 BB

No huge pyrotechnics from Williams in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Padres, but he has now logged saves in back-to-back games against San Diego while Josh Hader is away from the team to be with his wife, who is facing pregnancy complications. Call this a nice short-term trial run for Williams as capper.

Dany Jiménez – SV (10), 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 K, 0 BB

Jiménez needed 16 pitches (10 strikes) to dispatch the M’s in the ninth while sewing up Oakland’s 2-1 victory on Wednesday. The perfect frame dropped the reliever down to a fun 0.49 ERA in 18 appearances.

Tanner Rainey – SV (4), IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 K, 1 BB

Rainey had the ultimate high-wire act on Wednesday, coming on without an inch of wiggle room with the Nationals up 1-0 on the scoreboard. He escaped for the save despite a walk and hit allowed, but maybe a little less drama next time.

Liam Hendriks – SV (14), I 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 K, 2 BB

Not a perfect job by Hendriks, as he allowed the tying runners to reach base – via a pair of walks – to give the Red Sox a chance for the tie or win with Xander Bogaerts at the plate. Hendriks got Bogaerts to pop up, ending the unnecessary drama. Hendriks improved to a wobbly 14-of-17 in save opportunities this season, though he has now also posted scoreless performances in each of his last five appearances.

Ryan Pressly – SV (7), 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 K, 0 BB

Pressly made very very, short work of the Guardians in the 2-1 win, requiring just nine pitches in the ninth to secure save No. 4 on the season. He has now recorded scoreless showings in each of his last six appearances.

Clay Holmes – SV (5), 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 K, 0 BB

After surrendering a pair of ninth-inning singles, Holmes was tempting fate in what wss a 2-0 game in favor of the Yankees. He rebounded to strike out Jorge Mateo swinging to end the contest. With Aroldis Chapman going on the injured list due to an Achilles injury – always a concern, especially for an older reliever – Holmes has taken the closer’s job and run with it. Playing for a loaded Yankees team, he has potentially elite closer value across all fantasy formats. Holmes has allowed just one run in 22 appearances this season, and that one run came against the Red Sox in early April.

Andrew Chafin – SV (1), 2/3 IP, 0 R, K, 0 BB

Chafin was tasked with an immediate high degree of difficulty, entering the contest with the Tigers up 4-2 in the bottom of the 10th inning, but facing a bases-loaded, one-out scenario. It had been bases loaded, no outs, but Michael Fulmer managed a strikeout to at least give Chafin a realistic opportunity to escape his mess. Chafin did escape it, with relative ease, striking out Max Kepler before inducing Gary Sanchez to foul out to finish off the game. While Chafin scooped up the short save on Wednesday, Gregory Soto remains locked in as Tigers closer.

Thursday’s Matchup of the Day

Shohei Ohtani (LAA) at Hyun-Jin Ryu (TOR)

A sneaky fun matchup. Ohtani offers the obvious headliner in this one, and deservedly so, but don’t be surprised if Ryu steps up to match him (on the mound, at least). While Ryu holds a 6.00 ERA in four starts this season, he is coming off his best outing of the campaign in a six-inning shutout of the Reds. For his part, Ohtani has already posted two double-digit strikeout performances in seven starts. He had four in 23 starts last season, a number he could easily eclipse by the All-Star break if he stays in a good groove.

AL Quick Hits: Reid Detmers was tagged for five runs by the Rangers and that earlier no-hitter is feeling increasingly distant. … Giancarlo Stanton is working through inflammation in his ankle. … Joe Kelly was pulled against the Red Sox due to left hamstring tightness. … Yoan Moncada went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. … Cody Poteet was ripped apart for five runs in three innings by the Rays. … Wander Franco hit two doubles. … Aaron Civale is heading to the 15-day injury list due to a glute injury. … Elvis Andrus hit his third homer of the season. … Ramón Laureano will undergo a CT scan on his right hand. … Joey Gallo has emerged from the COVID-19 protocol. … Harold Castro homered twice. … Jonathan Loáisiga to the 15-day injured list with right shoulder discomfort.

NL Quick Hits: Orlando Arcia popped up in the Braves’ lineup after a nine-day absence. … Bryce Harper doubled twice as part of a no-RBI four-hit effort. … Ronald Acüna Jr. (calf) is unlikely to play on Thursday. … Reds released RHP Zack Godley. … Luis Castillo struck out six in five innings as he continues to work his way back into the season flow. … Trea Turner stole two bases and is up to 10 on the season. … Thomas Szapucki was destroyed for nine runs in his first big league start, against the Giants. … Joc Pederson followed up his three-homer Tuesday with another dinger on Wednesday. … Evan Longoria homered twice and drove in four runs. … Jeff McNeil is dealing with a left knee contusion. … Jake McGee (back) is expected to be activated on Friday.