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December 29, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Octavio Dotel, Blue Jay

by Marc Normandin

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Octavio Dotel bounced around last season, as he began the year with the Pirates, was dealt to the Dodgers in July, and finally was shipped to the Rockies in August as they tried to make a late playoff run. This year we likely won't see a repeat of that situation, as he has picked up a bit more job security than any veteran in Pittsburgh can by signing with a playoff hopeful team in Toronto. That means there is a good chance that Dotel will remain a closer for the length of the season, putting him on a list that always seem to be shorter than we need it to be on draft day.

Dotel no longer strikes out 12 batters per nine innings, so his K/BB ratio has not been over three for the past two seasons, but he has still struck out 10.8 and 10.6 per nine, which are great rates for fantasy. The problem with Dotel is that his WHIP will most likely be lofty thanks to his walk rates—his career BB/9 is 4.5, and while he occasionally has flashes of control, they are unpredictable. Since he's a closer his WHIP won't impact your overall numbers like a starting pitcher would, and the positives his strikeouts and save totals will bring should help cancel that out to a degree.

There is one major concern with Toronto involved though, and that is home runs. Dotel has been known to struggle with the long ball on occasion, with a career HR/9 of 1.2 and 1.3 homers per nine allowed last season. The Rogers Centre is one of the more homer-centric parks in the land, for both right- and left-handed batters. Considering he has allowed a line of .272/.393/.531 to lefties over the last three seasons (with 11 homers in 239 at-bats) and he is now pitching in a very lefty heavy division, things may get ugly like they did in 2008, except this time his stellar punch out totals and acceptable free pass rates won't be there to buoy his overall numbers.

Because of that, the fact he may have a closer job all season might not be a good thing for your team. It just gives him more opportunities to implode—the high WHIP and higher-than-elite ERA are tolerable if he's racking up saves, but if he's blowing opportunities against the Red Sox and Yankees because he has to face four lefties in an inning, then he won't be able to do the one thing you drafted him for well. Dotel can help you with saves if you missed out on more reliable options, but don't confuse him with a great closer just because he is on a team that should be in contention. Though, let's remember that even terrible pitchers can get saves. It's a matter of whether the number he gets is worth the other headaches.

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On the Beat: One Last ... (12/28)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Brandon ... (12/28)
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Premium Article Transaction Analysis: ... (12/29)

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