Itâ€™s time to start playing for points in roto formats. Find your speed guys who will help get you a few extra steals and find your extra relievers to help get to the top of the heap in saves. If youâ€™ve dug yourself a hole in any categories, this is the time to get a shovel…or rather a “shoval.”
In this case, the â€œshovalâ€ (not a misprint) you should look for is a guy who will wind up with saves or holds in the second half of the season. â€œS.H.O.Valâ€ means â€œSave/Holds Only Value.â€ Itâ€™s time to dig deep and try to prospect some saves from the deep, dark mine that is the waiver wire.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum went out of his way to mention someone called â€œBlake Parkerâ€ as the next candidate to get saves in Chicago after Kevin Gregg gets dealt. First of all, Kevin Gregg is absolutely getting dealt. The Cubs have no use for a guy that isnâ€™t cost controlled (read, pre-arb eligible) and there are a lot of contending teams in need of a competent bullpen guy. Gregg has rebuilt his value thanks to converting 13 of 14 save opportunities and a 9.55 K/9. This is a guy who was sitting at home when the Cubs offered a minor league deal. Heâ€™ll be on another team as long as he makes it through July without going full Marmol. Blake Parker will probably get a look in the ninth inning at some point after the All-star break and heâ€™s worthy of a roster spot right now.
Since 2008, Parker has shuttled between Double-A and Triple-A with an occasional cup of coffee mixed in. He doesnâ€™t really overpower hitters, but heâ€™s always managed to strike out 20%-30% of hitters faced in the minors and his high K-rate has translated to his very limited MLB career. Heâ€™s picked up a few saves in the minors and itâ€™s a surprise that he hasnâ€™t been in consideration for the Cubs closer role before. They actually went with Rafael Dolis as their closer last year. Anyone is preferable to Rafael Dolis. Parker meets the â€œnot Dolisâ€ requirement and actually appears to be a competent relief pitcher. Walks could be an issue. Parker owned a 5.09 BB/9 in Triple-A this season. It doesnâ€™t look so bad compared to Carlos Marmolâ€™s 6.83 BB/9.
Tom Wilhelmsen came out from behind a bar last season to be an actual â€œRags-to-Riches,â€ Cinderella-level comeback story. Well, he might want to go back to his night job after his recent run of form because it looks like itâ€™s closing time on his time as closer. The problem is that no one has emerged to take the job the way Wilhelmsen did last season. Carter Capps has the stuff of an heir apparent, but heâ€™s been lit in each of his last four outings. Charlie Furbush has a phenomenal name for a closer, but he hasnâ€™t been much better than Capps. Oliver Perez looks like the most likely candidate. Thatâ€™s odd to write. The only thing Oliver Perez has been a candidate for in the last four years was â€œto be released.â€
Perez still has issues with walks (11.4 BB%), but heâ€™s also struck out 35.0% of hitters faced this year. Heâ€™s also throwing as hard now as he did in 2004. Heâ€™s not tossing the 88 MPH meatballs he was throwing in 2010. He has a real fastball again. Oliver Perez being fantasy relevant again wouldnâ€™t even crack the top 10 of weird things that have happened this year. Not when Jeremy Bonderman and Scott Kazmir are starting for major league teams and Bartolo Colon is putting up double digit wins.
Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon is another bet to be dealt in the next few weeks, but there actually appears to be an obvious line of succession in Philadelphia. Antonio Bastardo appears to be next in line to get the ninth inning duties for the Phillies. His numbers arenâ€™t as fantastic as theyâ€™ve been in years previous and his velocity is currently riding a four-year decline, but he has â€œclosing experienceâ€ (eight saves in 2010) and his walk issues pale in comparison to former uber-prospect Phillippe Aumont. Aumont strikes out about a batter per inning, but he has given up 13 walks in 18 innings at the major league level this year. Bastardo (can we just call him â€œTony Bastardâ€ already?) has walked 14 in 27 2/3 innings of work, but heâ€™s also striking out a batter per inning.
Houstonâ€™s Jose Veras could also be dealt, but the Astros bullpen after him is a massive pile of bad. Josh Fields is an intriguing name in that heâ€™s one of what seems like a dozen guys to have the name â€œJosh Fieldsâ€ in the past few years. Jose Cisnero and Hector Ambriz will likely get a share of the job if Veras goes anywhere, but the group after Veras is as hard to handicap now as it was in March.