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May 18, 2006

ESPN Fantasy Column

No Change At Closer
On Tuesday, Akinori Otsuka blew the first of his six save opportunities since taking over for Francisco Cordero. Otsuka has pitched well since the promotion: 8.1 IP, 3.24 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 3 strikeouts. Despite Tuesday’s heartbreaker against the Yankees, Texas has no intention of reverting him to setup duty in the near term. In eight innings since his demotion, Cordero has a 3.38 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and eight strikeouts. I’d retain him in any league format, though owners in smaller mixed leagues should consider dropping him when someone interesting hits the waiver wire. He may yet regain his closer status, and if not, he’ll still provide some value.

What’s On Second?
2B Ian Kinsler is making contact in his AAA rehab assignment (three strikeouts in nineteen appearances) but isn’t doing anything with it (.118/.211/.176). He may rejoin the active roster as soon as Saturday, whereupon he’ll share time with white-hot Mark DeRosa. DeRosa is batting .418 with eleven runs, two homers and seven RBI in May as Kinsler’s replacement. Since he normally doesn’t hit righties well, he should cool off and eventually cede at-bats to Kinsler. However, if the Rangers maintain their division run and Kinsler struggles, they may stick with DeRosa’s veteran presence, gritty play and all-around derring-do. In other words, the situation is fluid. Kinsler might help in larger mixed leagues but not as a part-timer.

Rotation and Matchups
Ranger rotation members have performed to mixed reviews during this ten-game road trip through Boston, New York and Houston. As you may recall, I advised benching the entire rotation in mixed leagues and considering it in AL-only formats. Kevin Millwood atoned for his disastrous nine runs allowed against the Twins by holding New York to two runs and striking out six. He takes the mound Saturday game against Houston and is the only pitcher worth starting through the weekend. Don’t bother with flyball-prone Robinson Tejeda, who draws Minute Maid Park and Roy Oswalt on Friday. Likewise, most owners should bench John Koronka on Sunday. The Juicebox makes life unpleasant for left-handed pitchers. After this weekend, Texas encounters the light offensive squads of Oakland, Los Angeles and Seattle, Start everyone as you normally would.

Tex and Nevin
Mark Teixeira will be fine. His slow start insures he won’t approach last year’s numbers, but what matters is not his recent past but the rate at which he produces henceforth. I expect glad tidings from him. Phil Nevin’s .242-with-homers will suffice in fantasy ball, if not the real world. Texas will keep Nevin in the lineup and cleanup spot long past his sell-by date, but if they do eventually reduce his role, they’ll call up Jason Botts, not Erubiel Durazo, who could and did request his release from AAA Oklahoma. Rod Barajas and his dreary .225/.282/.333 aren’t going anywhere.

Posted by Lucas at May 18, 2006 10:21 AM