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Wednesday Roto Round Up: A New Closer in Atlanta

SP Scott Baker, Minnesota Twins:  In his second start since shoulder discomfort disabled him for 15 days, Baker served-up three home runs amongst the ten hits allowed in four and two-thirds innings of work.  With 7 HRs allowed this season, I think the Twins may have their own version of Chien-Ming Wang.

OF Melky Cabrera, New York Yankees:  C.C. Sabathia's atrocious start deserves more attention, but Cabrera's two-homer game merits some, too.  With current CF Brett Gardner struggling to get on-base, 3 walks in 53 plate appearances, the Yankees may decide Cabrera's "power" merits more attention especially if the team is going to have to win higher scoring games in their new band box.

SP Paul Maholm, Pittsburgh Pirates:  The Florida Marlins entered Pittsburgh riding a 12-1 record.  The team leaves the Iron City 12-4 with the Pirates' new ace running his 2009 record to 3-0.  While Maholm walked just a single Marlin, he is still not striking out hitters at levels that would make most sabremetricians believe.  A 10:7 K:BB needs better than a 1.38 GO/FO ratio.

3B/2B Emilio Bonifacio, Florida Marlins:  I was ready to criticize Maholm for not being able to strike out Bonifacio until I checked the ice cold Marlins' recent struggles and saw he hasn't been striking out that much since a three-game spell a week ago where he k'ed 8 times in 12 ABs.  While he has got just three hits in his past 21 ABs, he has whiffed just twice.

OF Eric Byrnes, Arizona Diamondbacks:  While 1-4 isn't particularly notable, the fact Byrnes stole third base following his double is.  Wherever you stand on sitting Justin upton in favor of the Diamondbacks' $10MM man is immaterial.  If Byrnes' speed has returned, he is a good cheap SB play.

RP Rafael Soriano, Atlanta Braves:  The pitcher previously thought to be the Atlanta closer, mike Gonzalez, got one out in the 8th, and Soriano pitched the 9th for the save.  Maybe this was simply a case of Gonzalez getting the more important out in the more dire situation as Ryan Zimmerman was on 1st with lefty slugger Adam Dunn coming to bat?

OF Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds:  With a 2-4 game, Bruce is hitting just .238 with 3 HRs.  That seems disappointing but keep in mind the Reds have player less than 10% of their schedule.  Pro-rating those 3 HRs over a full season yields more than 30 bombs.  Who expected more than that for Bruce?

OF Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Angels:  With 5 HR and 17 RBIs and a .321 AVG, Ethier has been one the best hitters this season.  While the pace is unsustainable, I think this is what most fantasy players expected by this point from all their top hitters. 

SP Jeff Niemann, Tampa Bay Rays:  In his 3rd start, Niemann picked-up his 1st win of the season.  He allowed five runners over 5 and a third innings.  Right now, Niemann has done as well as one could reasonably expect David Price to have done.  Price's roto stats would likely have topped Neimann's 5.40 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and 9:7 K to BB, but two starts of two or fewer earned runs out of three is all any team could ask of its starting pitchers.

OF Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox:  Earlier I mentioned New York Yankees' CF Brett Gardner and his poor walk rate.  Ellsbury is a similar player but has demonstrated considerably more extra base ability.  That said, he has drawn just 4 walks in 67 plate appearances.  With six stolen bases and a .270 AVG, Ellsbury won't draw the same amount of scrutiny, but, right now, one must wonder when Ellsbury will begin to be compared to the Wily Tavares' of the lead-off world.

SP Brian Bannister, Kansas City Royals:  In 2008, Bannister charmed the sabre community last season like a politician offering the poor solutions to all their woes, he completely bombed.  Last night, he made his 2009 debut to six shutout innings with a 10:7 GO-to-FO.  Could he create the luck we expected in 2008 in 2009?