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Chasing Saves: Doolittle Ready to Do More

Sean Doolittle was one of the most interesting closers to emerge from the middle-relief ranks last season. On the strength of a mid-90s fastball coupled with a slider and an occasional changeup, the reliever was able to rack up a 56:1 K:BB ratio in his first 39 innings in 2014, a ratio generally unheard of for any pitcher. Though he did start to issue a few more free passes, Doolittle finished the season with a 2.73 ERA and 89:8 K:BB ratio in 62 2/3 innings, and he managed to hold the opposition scoreless in 19 of his last 20 outings.

The offseason wasn’t as kind to the reliever as his first year in the closer role, as a small tear was discovered in his rotator cuff that caused him to open the season on the disabled list, where he eventually worked his way into game condition before going on out a rehab assignment that lasted close to two weeks.

Doolittle made his triumphant return from the disabled list this week, and it won’t be long before he back racking up saves in fantasy leagues. He struck out two while giving up one hit in his first appearance of the season on Wednesday, and while Tyler Clippard was called upon to handle a save situation the next day, Doolittle could be back in the ninth inning within the next week. He’s available in nearly half of CBSSports.com fantasy leagues, and that should change in a hurry.

Rodney in Danger?

An ugly start to the season continued on Tuesday for Fernando Rodney, who surrendered three runs on three hits and a walk to blow a save opportunity against the Rays. While Rodney has largely been able to convert his save opportunities this season, he’s dealing with a 6.98 ERA, 1.71 WHIP and 18:9 K:BB ratio in 19 1/3 innings, numbers that cause pitchers to lose roster spots and numbers we certainly don’t see from many closers.

Though the Mariners haven’t indicated that they’re close to making a change, it’s past time to grab Carson Smith off fantasy wires. He’s owned in just 12 percent of CBSSports.com leagues despite Rodney’s continued struggles and his own excellent performance. Smith has allowed just two earned runs in 21 innings while posting a 24:5 K:BB ratio. He’s allowed just three hits and one walk in 8 1/3 scoreless innings over his last eight appearances while racking up 10 strikeouts.

With the Astros far ahead in the AL West race, the Mariners simply can’t afford to give away winnable games while Rodney figures things out in the ninth inning.

Royal Pain?

Greg Holland was sidelined for more than a week while battling a stiff neck, making no appearances between May 14 and May 25. When he did return, he didn’t look like his usual self, giving up two earned runs on one hit and two walks while recording just one out. His velocity has been lower than usual in his last few appearances, and it’s possible there’s some health issue in play that we don’t know about.

Wade Davis is one of the best setup men in baseball, and as such, he’s likely not available in many fantasy leagues. However, if he is on the wire in any leagues, he should be scooped up immediately. Holland owners may want to consider selling while his value is still high, though be sure not to take too cheap an offer for him, as this could be much ado about nothing.

Pick Him Up? Rankings

Shawn Tolleson, TEX

Carson Smith, SEA

John Axford, COL

Jake McGee, TB

Brad Ziegler, ARI

Tyler Clippard, OAK

Jim Johnson, ATL

Chad Qualls, HOU

Addison Reed, ARI

Steve Cishek, MIA

Zach McAllister, CLE

Joaquin Benoit, SD

Ken Giles, PHI