Closing Time: Odubel Herrera wakes up

Odubel Herrera’s sweet swing has returned (AP)

Odubel Herrera is sitting on waivers in one of my leagues, a 12-teamer with short benches and limited DL space.

I’ve placed my bid.

I’m not going to get him. His comeback is too overt.

Herrera’s been on a tear over the last three days, and while three days won’t instantly erase the gigantic hole he’s trying to climb out of, it makes us feel good about where the story is headed. Herrera’s collected eight extra-base hits in his last 13 at-bats; six doubles and two homers.

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His OPS jumped almost 100 points in 72 hours. Herrera gave us a juicy 5-3-3-2 line Monday at Atlanta (one chunker down the left-field line, and two rockets to right field).

To be fair, the Phillies weren’t the first team to beat up Bartolo Colon (is this all you get for $12.5 million?). But those stats spend just the same. Herrera might not be a stolen-base factor this year — he hasn’t grabbed one in May 14 — but last year’s .286/.361/.420 slash is what I’d bet on going forward. Some pop, reasonable OBP, reasonable run production. Bat flips are on the way.

Although the Phils recently gave Herrera two days off to clear his head, he’s maintained a good batting slot just about all year. The latest binge came in the No. 2 position, where he might settle for a while.

Herrera dipped close to the 50 percent ownership line during his slump-and-sit days, but he’s bounced back with reclaims through the weekend. He’s still unowned in 43 percent of Yahoo leagues — a little heavy for the typical flow of this column, but hey, Monday wasn’t the biggest news day.

• Apparently the Astros don’t plan on losing ever again. For the rest of the AL West, reality bites. Houston scored its 11th straight win Monday, a 7-3 decision at Kansas City.

Given how the Houston offense and bullpen is sizzling, almost any Astros spot-starter is worth a go. Mike Fiers doesn’t have pretty stats (4.81 ERA, 1.51 WHIP), but he cobbled five reasonable innings at Kansas City (7 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K) and the supporting cast did the rest.

Maybe David Paulino can do something similar Tuesday. We’ve also had some Brad Peacock fun for a while, both in relief and with his medium-sized starting roles.

Although the Royals had 10 hits in the loss, Whit Merrifield took an 0-for-5 collar — an interesting coincidence with his ascension to the leadoff spot. Merrifield entered with a snappy 19-game hitting streak, cooked up almost entirely in the bottom third of the order. Merrifield has been one of the team’s best hitters since his Triple-A promotion (.296/.348/.479) and deserves to stick at the top, but you never know with Right Said Ned.

No matter how Ned Yost arranges the deck chairs, we’ll keep streaming versus the Royals aggressively (get ready with Dinelson Lamet on the weekend). This is the worst offense in the majors, and if you look merely at the AL, Kansas City is 41 runs away from Oakland. Carlos Beltran is in town for two more days, but he’s not walking through that door.

• Unfortunately for Ryon Healy, we live in a right-handed world. If left-handed pitching were more common in today’s game, he might be a full-fledged star.

There’s a list of things Healy can’t do particularly well. He’s a minus defender when asked to play either corner, and he doesn’t walk much. But when you throw a southpaw his way, the ball jumps off the bat. Healy blasted two nearly-identical homers off J.A. Happ on Monday. In the platoon advantage, Healy is slashing .408/.431/.816, with five homers in 49 at-bats.

The upcoming schedule isn’t that Healy friendly, but we’ll have fun when we can. Francisco Liriano awaits on Wednesday. There’s a CC Sabathia turn next week. But when Oakland draws a RHP, Healy loses most of his DFS and seasonal juice. He’s a .247/.277/.448 stick against them this year.

Jeff Samardzija is in fine form (DSH)

• When April ended, Jeff Samardzija was just another pitcher, carrying a crummy 6.32 ERA. He couldn’t keep the ball in the park, and his control was somewhat erratic.

Peel ahead seven starts, and he’s turned into one of the few bankable aces in this lousy pitching season. The wins have been slow to come about, but it’s no fault to Samardjiza.

Samardzija was terrific at Milwaukee (7.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K), overcoming a rocky first inning. His K/BB rate is too good to be true over this five-week stretch: 59 punchouts, one walk. He’s also starting to get a little more home-run fortune; the Cubs got him for three back on May 25, but otherwise he’s allowed just one in total.

Sometimes we wonder if pitchers can throw too many strikes, get hurt by their extreme control (Michael Pineda comes to mind). But Samardzija has some other obvious advantages — the NL backdrop, Buster Posey as a strike-stealer, the expansive confides of AT&T Park. I won’t risk Samardzija next week at Colorado, but I’ll have my popcorn ready when he draws Jose Berrios later this week. The price of the Shark Sandwich is going up.