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Closing Time: Josh Reddick, ready for his close-up


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Closing Time: Josh Reddick, ready for his close-up

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Feeling like a hundred bucks (US Presswire)

You're not officially in my Circle of Trust until I add you to my phone's custom dictionary. Welcome to the club, Josh Reddick. You've forced your way into the mix.

Reddick was the big star (man, I miss Alex Chilton) in Friday's 11-4 romp over the Tigers, going 4-for-4 with a couple of homers and a stolen base. Reddick was already having a useful fantasy year, but this outburst pushes his stats into an area where even those in thin leagues have to take notice. Oakland's right fielder has a nifty .292-23-8-19-4 line through the opening 33 games of the year. If you prorate his stats to a full season, Reddick winds up with 112 runs, 39 homers, 93 RBIs and 19 steals. Sounds like someone who should be owned in more than 39 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

No one really expects Reddick to keep up this pace, of course. He was never a buzzy prospect back in his Boston days (only once did he show up in Baseball America's Top 100 prospects), and his 184-game sample at Triple-A was mediocre (.243/.300/.449, though he hit 32 homers). He's already 25. If something's going to happen, it needs to happen soon.

That established, Oakland is going to give Reddick time and space to develop; on opportunity and volume alone, he's an intriguing roto commodity. He's entrenched as the team's No. 3 hitter (even on a bad offense, that's a great slot for fantasy numbers) and his plus defense protects his job. Reddick has also shown the ability to hit left-handed pitching, through a limited big-league sample of 93 at-bats (.290/.347/.484). Ultimately his growth against right-handed pitching (for his career he's at .252/.294/.444) will determine how far he can go.

Reddick could use some work on his walk and strikeout rates (6.4 and 17.7, respectively), and that pretty .292 average isn't likely to stick (a .343 BABIP is a mild reach for him). But Reddick is also making a lot of his own luck through a 22.9 percent line drive rate , and any player who mixes power and speed as he does will always be relevant in our games. Move around some deck chairs, see if you can find a home for Reddick. Every offense in the majors has something to offer us.

There's one other thing I like about Reddick, even though it's not directly tied to a fantasy category. There's a swagger to his game, a visible confidence; he seems like the type of player who will quickly become a leader on the A's. He's fun to watch. He reminds me a little bit of the Nick Swisher we saw in Oakland, or Jayson Werth's best days in Philadelphia. Kick the tires on this one, I like where the story is headed.

Sticking in Oakland for one more minute, there's a fluky streak going on with new third baseman Brandon Inge. He's collected four homers and 16 RBIs in his last five games, with half of the damage coming against his former Detroit club. Inge's batting average is forever a problem (.234 for his career) and I wouldn't bother with him in a shallow or medium mixer, but he might be worth a short-term rental in deeper leagues while this streak runs itself out. He qualifies at two positions (second, third) and he can still run into a fastball now and then, as my friend Alex Patton likes to say. Inge is available for pickup in 94 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Elbow Room (USP)• Everyone sick of Robin Ventura and his pitching staff shenanigans, raise your hand and say "aye." Count me in. I've had it with this story, but so long as it generates news every day, we have to keep talking about it.

According to the White Sox (and that's the key disclaimer whenever you sleuth around Ace Ventura), Chris Sale's MRI came back clean and the lefty will probably re-enter the rotation Saturday against Kansas City . I'd love to see Sale hold up physically because I see star potential in him, no matter what role he's asked to fill. I didn't get any Sale shares in March but I regret that; if the elbow and shoulder don't bark, he's going to bite.

How are the White Sox going to handle the closer situation now that Sale, apparently, is out of the mix? Let's go to MLB.com and listen to what Ventura said before Friday's 5-0 victory:

So who's the closer?

"Whoever ends up in the ninth inning," Ventura said. "We're back to that."

Rookies Addison Reed and Hector Santiago, plus veteran lefty Matt Thornton have all saved games so far this season, and Ventura said he'll continue to play mix and match with that trio.

"Addy had looked great at it," Ventura said. "With Jesse [Crain] being on the DL, it kind of moves people around a little bit. The last week, we kind of moved some people around in that role. I don't see that changing.

"We've got the opportunity to use Matt, Addison and Hector in that role. You're seeing what [opponents] are lined up with and [we'll] go from there."

So if we're to take Ventura at his word (always a dicey proposition), it's a committee in Chicago. But most fantasy owners don't have the space (or the willingness) to load up om Chicago relievers. Most of us need to guess on a best option, then hope for the best — and if I have one shot to take here, today, I'm backing Reed.

Thornton and Santiago both worked at the end of Friday's victory, recording the final four outs in support of surprising Gavin Floyd (2.53/0.95). Thornton had to carry the set-up burden in the eighth inning: he was given access to a possible blown save, but he had no real chance of finishing the game out and picking up the handshake. He struck out Eric Hosmer on four pitches (leaving the bases loaded), then retired to the showers. Santiago was sharp (12 pitches, eight strikes) in a perfect, stress-free ninth inning.

Perhaps this means Reed was being saved for a standard save chance, or maybe this means Ventura liked how Santiago matched up against Jeff Francoeur and Mike Moustakas. When you're ahead by five runs in the ninth inning, strategy isn't that critical. No one can speculate on this bullpen with any confidence, but Reed's pedigree (he was a star closer in college and zoomed through the minors) and performance this year (10 scoreless innings, three walks, 14 strikeouts) make a strong statement.

• It was a recycling special at Fenway Park on Friday night, as scuffling right-handers Ubaldo Jimenez and Clay Buchholz matched up. Fantasy owners watched with nervous energy, in the park and on the Twitter .

Jimenez quickly undid all the progress from his previous turn, giving up nine hits and seven runs before taking the walk of shame in the bottom of the fifth. I can't think of any standard format where I'd want him on my roster. When you have more walks than strikeouts for the season (and in your last turn), you're dead to me. How can this guy be rostered in 69 percent of Yahoo! leagues? Give up the ghost. Don't run into a burning building.

Buchholz finally put a stop to his crooked-number tour (6.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 R, 3 BB, 0 K), but for a "good" outing, this really wasn't that promising. That zero in the strikeout column is an obvious problem, and like his Cleveland counterpart, Buchholz has more walks than whiffs for the season. Say what you want about Buchholz as a teammate or golfing buddy, but I don't have any faith in him right now — and certainly not next week at Tampa Bay. It's a shame the Red Sox never flipped Buchholz a few years ago, when he was highly regarded around baseball.

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Big League Stew - 21 hours ago

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Josh Reddick is ready for his close up. On opportunity and volume alone, he's mixed-league worthy. http://t.co/i6xICS4z

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