Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Session: Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, Ryan Madson, more

by Nicholas Minnix on March 16, 2012 @ 13:30:27 PDT

 


During the regular season, the Closer Hot Seat will be your go-to guide for Major League Baseball's bullpen chatter. During spring training, KFFL's Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Session will get you tuned up for the fantasy baseball saves chase. Camp happenings don't always impact closer battles, but if there's MLB news you should know for your fantasy baseball draft, you'll find it here.

Robin Ventura doesn't plan to name a closer until near the end of spring training. His proclamation after the Chicago White Sox's exhibition contest on Thursday isn't the final word on that battle, either. But fantasy baseball owners should probably treat it as such, because they don't make the decisions, the skipper does.

Cleveland Indians RP Vinnie Pestano
Pestano still worth a pick

For as exciting as Addison Reed is, Ventura will probably more inclined to rely on Matt Thornton or Jesse Crain. "Not making it just those two, but from a body of work, they're the best options," was the quote from Ventura in the Chicago Sun-Times article by Joe Cowley.

Reed, 23, will be outstanding in short order, but he lacks experience against big leaguers. You may consider that overrated - heck, you may even be right - but the ChiSox don't have to test that theory.

As sour as roto players could be on Thornton, in 2011 he was pretty much his usual self after April. The left-hander still has a mid- to upper-90s heater and some good trimmings. He has a closer's stuff, and he's closed games effectively in the past. He's pretty unlikely to give Ventura a reason to go away from him, assuming that's the way the manager goes.

Crain, perceivably, has an advantage because he's a right-hander, and his marks from the past two seasons were quite good. He's probably due for some corrections, and he's likelier to split those duties with Thornton rather than perform them outright.

All these hurlers are worth purchases in AL leagues, make no mistake. In a deep mixed league, anything more than a final-round flier on Reed may be a waste, though. That's also what Crain is worth in such a setup, but he gets no respect there. In the final third of drafts in that format, it's time to consider Thornton.

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After his 35-pitch bullpen session on Thursday, Cincinnati Reds closer Ryan Madson said that his right elbow was feeling good. "It's pretty close to 100 percent right now," he said, per Tom Groeschen of The Cincinnati Enquirer.

***

Good news for Chris Perez, too. The Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes filled us in: The right-hander threw a bullpen session today, no problems. No reason, at this point, to think that he won't be ready for opening day. He's about as safe to choose as if he were never injured.

His peripherals, of course, make how safe you think the Cleveland Indians' closer is relative. The positive report on Perez hopefully reduces the price of Vinnie Pestano and brings him back to deep sleeper status.

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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