Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Brian Wilson, Mike Adams, Brad Lidge, more

by Nicholas Minnix on April 13, 2012 @ 13:25:44 PDT


What are the odds that you still own the relief pitchers you rostered in your fantasy baseball draft?'s Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat series gives you no-nonsense ratings of performances, injuries and managerial decisions in MLB bullpens. Get your arm loose: Let's find fantasy baseball players in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball league who'll get saves.

Job security (JS) score 1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable)
Health (H) score 1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)

San Francisco Giants

Closer: Brian Wilson
Understudy: Sergio Romo
Lurkers: Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt, Heath Hembree

Rotisserie baseball managers became accustomed to the dominant Wilson who reigned supreme in the ninth for a good portion of 2008 and all of 2009 and 2010. The Beard hitters feared made some cameos in 2011, but since San Francisco's World Series run, which undoubtedly taxed the righty, and ensuing elbow problems, he hasn't been quite the same.

Minnesota Twins RP Matt Capps
Give Capps some time

Will the 30-year-old ever be? Tough to say. Wilson seems reluctant to rely on a four-seamer that has never featured much movement and now doesn't have the same kind of oomph, just like his two-seamer. As the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman put it, after Wilson recorded his first save, on Thursday, "This is who the Beard is, bending but not breaking." We'll have to get the names of his shampoo and conditioner.

Early in his appearance against the Colorado Rockies yesterday, Wilson turned his ankle, but he remained in the game and after his save declared it a non-issue. Bruce Bochy is giving him Friday off, regardless; the twist, the 32 pitches he threw on Thursday and the 24 he tossed on Wednesday seal it. That puts Romo in the driver's seat for a night, if it comes down to it.

This isn't to highlight the demise of Wilson; his job isn't in jeopardy. Bochy is the type to be fiercely loyal. But this past spring, we surmised that the Wilson many owners were buying probably wouldn't be back, at least any time soon. It's not to say, "I told you so." It's simply to say, hey, he's more of a No. 2 closer, with legitimate risk attached to both performance and health. If someone still thinks he'll be that guy again real soon, see what he or she will swap you.

Wilson's governance among closers came at a time when he advanced his performance against left-handed hitters to something near how he handled right-handed hitters, at least in terms of his K/9. His peripheral marks have deteriorated to the point at which he's probably lost the control rate gains he made in the glory years. The diminished arsenal probably has a lot to do with his dancing around the strike zone.

Wilson will have smoother sailing at some point soon, likely. He won't make all his appearances at Coors Field. At this stage, relievers are probably still a bit behind starters in terms of preparation for this season, and the Giants took it easy on their closer in ST. He can still get the job done, but he must adapt to do it. So must fantasy owners, to this version.

Job security score: 5
Health score:

Mound meetings

  • Sergio Santos is on paternity leave. The Toronto Blue Jays are likely to use Francisco Cordero in a save situation, should one arise, on Friday. Santos is expected to return and be available on Saturday.
  • In the ninth on Thursday, with the Texas Rangers holding a three-run lead, Mike Adams did indeed fill in for Joe Nathan, who had the day off. Adams yielded a run on two hits, with one strikeout, but locked it down.
    Ron Washington has made it clear that Nathan is still his closer. A change seems unlikely, and for a little while, that'll be true, but not if the struggles mount.
    Tim suggested yesterday that the righty may not be quite ready to handle pitching on back-to-back days. If that's the case, look for Adams, who should be owned, to sub in semi-frequently in the near future.
  • On Thursday against the Cincinnati Reds, Brad Lidge blew a two-run lead. That result, plus his first save chance in place of Drew Storen (elbow surgery) in which there the wind may have knocked down what would've been a game-tying homer against him, perhaps it's too soon to call him rejuvenated.
    Perhaps Davey Johnson will give up the split closer duties between Lidge and Henry Rodriguez. Don't bank on it any time soon, but a couple of stumbles in the near future will have the skipper rethinking it. H-Rod is every bit as important to own - and maybe more so, right now.
  • Greg Holland remains a must-own, just in case, but Ned Yost isn't casting Jonathan Broxton aside just yet. Broxton has moved on from his disaster of a performance against the Oakland Athletics. That's news - good, sure, why not - even if roto gamers haven't. A short memory is also a requirement to own him, these days, but backup plans are first on the list.
  • In his three one-frame appearances this season, the last two resulting in saves, Matt Capps has failed frequently to open with a strike and has struck out only one batter. The right-hander had a difficult time closing out the Minnesota Twins' victory against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Thursday. Some think that a change is overdue.
    The good news: Capps is still throwing strikes and hasn't walked anyone. His velocity is already in better shape than it was last season, and it should increase a bit in the next month or two. He's added a splitter, and his focus seems to be on generating more grounders, early results confirming it for now.
    Capps isn't a dominant reliever, but considering how far he's come as a pitcher and the stage of the season, fantasy owners can cut him a little slack. Let's wait a month or two before demanding to see Glen Perkins, shall we?
  • Perhaps further cementing Fernando Rodney's temp appointment in the ninth from Joe Maddon: Joel Peralta's somewhat rough, two-run eighth inning on Thursday against the Detroit Tigers, with the Tampa Bay Rays already down 5-2.
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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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