Friday, March 7, 2008

Texas Closer CJ Wilson Out - Joaquin Benoit & Eddie Gurdado Waiting In The Wings

Texas Rangers' closer CJ Wilson was shut down earlier this week with biceps tendinitis and will be out until at least mid-March although no definite timetable has been set for his return to the mound.

Fantasy Impact

Injuries involving the biceps tend to linger and are especially troubling for relief pitchers who are asked to pitch almost every other game. Wilson was the odds on favorite to close for Texas this season after a strong finish to 2007 which saw him get 12 saves in 13 opportunities. This injury will be an unfortunate setback for Wilson owners and will open the door for setup man Joaquin Benoit and veteran Eddie Guardado to start the season at closer.

Benoit was arguably the Rangers most effective reliever last season posting a 2.85 ERA, 1.17 WHIP while striking out over a batter an inning. Benoit has been struggling with low velocity due to some shoulder fatigue issues this spring and has been limited to bullpen sessions thus far. Manager Ron Washington insists Benoit is healthy and they are just being cautious with him due to the amount of innings he logged last season. He is scheduled to start facing live hitters mid-month, so keep an eye on Benoit's status as the opening day approaches.

Everyday Eddie was signed this offseason by Texas and has been effective so far this spring. The Rangers could use Guardado as a stopgap at closer if they want to keep their bullpen structure in place as Wilson recovers from injury. Washington has said several times that he likes Benoit more as a setup man, so Guardado might accumulate some April saves if Wilson isn't ready on opening day.

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