Fowl Ball: Ryan Fowler Fantasy Baseball Blog for June 8th, 2011 From WhatIfSports.com image

Fowl Ball: Minnesota's Bullpen Blues

A blend of pop culture, humor and fantasy baseball

By Ryan Fowler - WhatIfSports.com
June 8, 2011

The formula was simple:

  • 1 part "Thunderstruck"
  • 1 part "Stand Up and Shout"
  • 1 part closer
  • 3 part overmatched hitters
  • Add heat

When it came to the ninth inning, Ron Gardenhire had it easy from 2002-2009. He handed the ball to his closer and five to ten minutes later hand shakes were exchanged.

Minnesota Twins fans must be yearning for the good ol' days when "Everyday" Eddie Guardado and Joe Nathan eased ninth inning anxiety attacks. In the two seasons prior to Nathan's arrival from San Francisco, Guardado saved 45 games in 2002 and 2003. Nathan followed with six seasons where he averaged 41 saves, a 1.86 earned run average and a 0.93 WHIP.

Eddie Guardado The days of "Everyday" Eddie Guardado

Tommy John saved four games in his career, but the surgery bearing his name cost Nathan the entire 2010 season. Minnesota relied on Jon Rauch (21 saves) and late-season acquisition Matt Capps (16 saves) to fill the massive late-inning void.

Fast forward to present day and Minnesota's bullpen is in shambles. So much so, the local newspaper elected to run a special section about the Twins bullpen blues. Their 4-13 record and league-worst 5.22 ERA are causes for concern.

With Nathan, who personally removed himself from the closer's role earlier this season, back on the disabled list, all save situations fall on the shoulders of Capps who has blown four saves (thanks, in part, to a 4.33 ERA) already this season. Nathan blew five games total in 2009.

To call a spade and spade, the Minnesota bullpen stinks and their members are fantasy baseball poison. But I think a canary in the coal mine presented itself this week. Perhaps as a sign of camaraderie, Minnesota's group of relief pitchers recently broke out some sideshows on their way to the outfield. The Twins bobsled team followed that up on Tuesday with an inspired canoe trip down the Progressive Field baseline.

Remember, you can't improve without improv.

Let's talk fantasy baseball.

Fowl Facts

Homer Friendly Digs
Stadium HR/GM
Ameriquest Field (Texas) 2.97
Chase Field (Arizona) 2.55
Great American (Cincinnati) 2.50

The Los Angeles Dodgers Chad Billingsley and New York Mets Jonathan Niese both graduated from Defiance High School in Ohio. The duo also possess some pretty high K/9 rates in the NL. Billingsley (who is owned in 85.6 percent of FOXSports.com leagues) is fanning 8.29 per nine innings pitched, while Niese punches out 6.90 batters per nine. Niese is only owned in 13.6 percent of FOXSports.com leagues. Over the last 14 days, Niese is 1-0 with 13 Ks and a 1.28 ERA.

While we are on the topic of strikeouts, if you can handle is 3.95 ERA, Houston's Bud Norris is the "one of these things not like the other" when it comes to K/9 rate. Surrounded by names like Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum and Clayton Kershaw, he's averaging 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings. Norris is owned in 50.1 percent of FOXSports.com fantasy baseball leagues.

Fowl Tips

Nick Swisher

For the month of May, Nick Swisher hit .200, with two homers, eight runs batted in and 25 strikeouts. He seems to be digging out of that Bronx slump. Over the last 14 days, Swisher is hitting .303 with three dingers, seven ribbies and only five strikeouts. Swisher has at least one hit in nine out of his last 10 games. He's owned in 62.8 percent of FOXSports.com fantasy leagues.

Random Nine

A list of players you probably don't own that put together a solid fantasy week.

Random Nine
PlayerRunsRBIsHome RunsSB
Jarrod Saltalamacchia4310
Michael Morse4920
Freddy Sanchez5610
Chris Johnson5310
J.J. Hardy6530
Brennan Boesch4920
Carlos Peguero4620
Michael Brantley5211
Random Nine
PlayerWERKsQS
Rick Porcello2362

Fowl Out ... of Excuses

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor announced Tuesday night that he would not return to Ohio State. It's a sad end to what Buckeye nation hoped would be an illustrious career filled with BCS titles. Instead, the fans are left with tainted Rose and Sugar Bowl wins.

If not for scarlet and grey colored glasses, Pryor's 2008 press conference should have thrown up a red flag about this young man of whom the university spent so much time and money recruiting. Following what I would assume were hundreds of phone calls, emails, campus visits, pieces of mail preaching the perks of THE Ohio State University, this top recruit was happy to take "the University of Ohio State" for a ride.

Turns out that was leased too.

Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com.

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