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Wednesday night's Baltimore Orioles victory featured a save occasion, but Johnson didn't come in or even warm up beforehand. An unsuccessful ninth-inning matchup mixture of O'Day and Matusz that allowed a single and a walk prompted Hunter to rescue them and wrap up the 4-2 victory, with help from a game-ending Matt Wieters CS.
Rosenthal ready to wrap up
When asked if JJ was available, Buck Showalter said he "could've pushed it" but noted that Johnson had tuned up two or three days in a row, and pitched on Tuesday (three hits, no runs in two-thirds of an inning). Showalter also said, when asked by the media if they should read into sitting his stopper, "Jimmy's our best option, one of them. ... We've got a lot of good options and we'll continue to make use of them."
Sure sounds like a quasi-committee, with Johnson in the lead. The fact that his absence may have been related to his frequent warm-up schedule points to him remaining the priority. However, Hunter is worth a grab in deep formats; despite Showalter's penchant to go with matchups, O'Day and Matusz are likely to be used more frequently in such tight situations to set up the savior, instead of doing it themselves.
It's a tricky spot, though: Hunter sits behind presumptive understudy Rodriguez, who may or may not still be nursing a groin injury. He pitched Monday night but hasn't seen game action since, and reports on his status since have been slim; they may just be easing him back into action.
Rodriguez owners should ready themselves to switch to Hunter at a moment's notice -- or lock him up now -- if the second in command must go on the DL. Of course, going further down the ladder will frustrate mixed leaguers.
It's not Code Red yet, but at this point in the season and with the "smoke, fire" principle, you must grab Rosenthal while you can just in case. (Deep-leaguers probably have already stashed him for his setup K's.)
Mujica's fatigue-related soreness and stiffness in his shoulder, mentioned in Tuesday's CHS, have been detailed as a balky shoulder, a sore lat muscle and "a knot" near his neck, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He was unavailable for the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday following treatment and shouldn't be expected Friday, either. Luckily, the arm and shoulder are structurally sound, GM John Mozeliak said.
Mujica recorded a save Wednesday but did so for four outs and only after surrendering a solo tater in the ninth. That one-plus-frame stint exacerbated a recent stretch in which three of four appearances lasted two; he had just one such gig pre-break. He's had experience eating RP stanzas before, but his expectations for use have changed this season, so the demand probably has hit him all at once.
Rosenthal, all things equal, remains next in line, but he's pitched on two straight days and probably will sit if a SVO surfaces Friday. In most setups, it's not worth trying to guess who'd come next after Rosenthal for a one-shot deal.
Mound meetings with: Rockies, Nationals, White Sox, Reds, Mets
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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