SleepersJanuary 10, 2006

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Sleeper Watch

By Arlo Vander

Last year, many expected Octavio Dotel to be a reliable source of saves, but unfortunately, elbow trouble caused the reliever’s season to come crashing to a halt in May. Now, the righthander has signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Yankees. Barring injury to closer Mariano Rivera, Dotel won’t be earning more than the occasional vulture save this season, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have fantasy value, particularly in 6×6 leagues.

Last year, Tom Gordon led the majors with 33 holds and provided his fantasy owners with tremendous value in leagues that included that statistical category. Gordon has since joined the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Yankees have restructured their bullpen, bringing in not only Dotel, but also righthander Kyle Farnsworth and lefties Mike Myers and Ron Villone. Given the Bronx Bombers’ potent roster, there should be plenty of holds to go around as the team tries to bridge the gap between the starters and Rivera.

The big question mark in this equation is Dotel’s health. If he’s back at full strength, he can be a force to be reckoned with. For proof, look no further than his 1.00 WHIP, 3.70 K/BB, and 1.25 K/IP marks between 2002 and 2004. That’s a considerable if, however, for a pitcher attempting to come back from Tommy John surgery.

If you’re in a league that includes holds, monitor Dotel’s progress closely this spring. Should the updates sound optimistic, consider including him in your plans when you draft a bullpen for the upcoming season.

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