SleepersMarch 26, 2008

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Sleeper Watch

By John Sullivan

A year ago, B.J. Ryan was ranked among the top closers in the league. After establishing himself as an elite closer in 2005 and 2006, expectations were high for 2007. However after only five appearances, including two blown saves, Ryan landed on the 15-day DL with a strained ligament in his elbow. He was soon moved to the 60-day DL, and finally his season was officially ended in May when he underwent Tommy John surgery.

After a long winter of rehabbing, Ryan has recently returned to live action. In his first Spring Training outing, he struck out two in a perfect inning. Granted, it is only one inning, but it is still encouraging to see him back on the hill and shutting down Major League hitters again. Barring any setbacks, Ryan is expected to be the Blue Jay’s closer on Opening Day.

Yet people seem to still be worried about Ryan. With the way the Blue Jays lied about his injury last year during Spring Training, these doubts are not unfounded, however he is still falling way too far in most drafts. On Yahoo!, Ryan’s average draft position (ADP) is 189.5, putting him behind 27 other closers. On ESPN, his ADP is slightly higher at 171.7, however 26 other closers are still going ahead of him.

The questions surrounding Ryan’s arm certainly make him a risk, and I wouldn’t expect a repeat of his 2006 line (38 saves, 86 strikeouts, 1.37 ERA, 0.86 WHIP), but in the 14th-17th round, where he is falling in many leagues, he is a risk worth taking. So if you find yourself looking at mid to lower-tier closers like Joe Borowski or Todd Jones, who go 2 rounds ahead of Ryan according to various ADP’s, and Ryan is still on the board, give him a shot. If it works out, you could have yourself a top closer at a very cheap price, and if it doesn’t work out, at least you didn’t wind up with Borowski or Jones.

John Sullivan is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with John in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of teddy ballgame.
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