What are the odds that you still own the relief pitchers you rostered in your fantasy baseball draft? KFFL.com'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)
Understudy: Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla
Lurkers: Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt, Heath Hembree
If you were busy over the weekend, you might've missed that Brian Wilson's season is likely over. He'll undergo surgery to repair structural damage to his right elbow. Gutsy way to go out, but fantasy owners are hardly consoled. We'll see him in 2013.
As for what to do in his stead, Bruce Bochy dropped the "c" word: committee. However, Bochy's the type that wants to settle on a singular option, so don't expect a traditional group effort; just a feeling-out process before a resolution.
On Saturday, Casilla pitched 1 2/3 scoreless frames, entering during a tied game in the eighth inning. Javier Lopez recorded the last out in a tied ninth frame, as well, and the Giants won it in the bottom half. Romo did not enter the game.
Bell has long leash
Was Casilla's non-save appearance an indication of setup designation or overwhelming trust that would accompany a closer? Guessing the former makes sense, considering it appeared San Fran was keeping Romo fresh if that all-important situation arose. Of course, maybe they were just trying to keep Romo fresh, period. His 'bow was also cranky this past spring - the downside of a slider-heavy arm.
Romo boasts the statistical makeup that befits this gig and is widely considered the favorite, but Casilla notched the majority of close-outs when Wilson went down late last year. In all fairness, that stretch came when Romo was on the DL with his own elbow woes and, after that stint, was still trying to round into shape. Still, considering the cred Casilla has earned, John Shea is one of a few beat reporters that speculates Casilla will repeat his coup this time around.
Exemplified by the fantasy community's near-homicidal opposition to his plans for Brandon Belt, Bochy is known to be loyal to players who've proven they can handle a particular task. Casilla compiled more saves in a month-plus last year (six) than Romo has logged in his entire body of MLB work (three). Of course, as ESPN's Christina Kahrl points out, Bochy let a green Brad Hennessey take the reins in 2007 before Wilson started his illustrious run, so Romo, an established, important bridge to saves, could cross over to the more fantasy-glorious side.
Maybe Romo's tenuous health from March will cause the Giants to limit his appearances, but he seems to be in front right now. There's ample risk of the pair flip-flopping, though. If you can't lock up both, each will at least contribute a piece to your saves search.
Southpaws Lopez and Affeldt carry the most utility in NL formats. They'll be frustrating desperation matchup plays who don't have a legit shot at becoming the regular guy.
Though he has 43 career farm saves and stellar strikeout ability, the 23-year-old Hembree probably won't join the big-league club for some time; he's a name to watch down the road in single-seasons and to stash in keeper setups.
As if this wasn't already a lot to handle, there's a rumor floating that the Houston Astros have already put Brett Myers on the trade block. The possibility that Myers or another option could be sought by San Fran on the market adds some mystery to this long-term arc.
Job security score: N/A
Health score: 5
- Sergio Santos was activated from the paternity list. Get the Toronto Blue Jays' closer back in your lineups.
- Joe Nathan displayed better velocity Saturday and Sunday, which is a step in the right direction considering both of his blown saves on the year came on the second leg of consecutive days. On Thursday and Friday, the Texas Rangers employed Mike Adams and Alexi Ogando, respectively, to net saves. This is Nathan's job, but he'll probably get frequent days off, at least until he can build on extracting longer periods of the fresher stuff he showed this past weekend.
- It will take a continued meltdown for Heath Bell to lose his Miami Marlins gig; his big contract gives him extended rope. But the 0-for-2 he has put forth in save chances at least should start the watch. He's not the overpowering pitcher he once was, instead opting to pitch more toward contact.
Edward Mujica, whom the Marlins value because he doesn't walk many hitters, would likely edge out Steve Cishek if a change were to be made down the road, but, Bell will get plenty of chances to recover as long as he's healthy.
- What if the Astros pull the trigger on a Myers deal? Though Brandon Lyon could be tabbed on the basis of his experience, fantasy speculation would turn to Wilton Lopez and David Carpenter. Lopez has the late-innings trust of skipper Bradley Mills. Carpenter has the more fantasy-relevant statistical profile, but Lopez would probably get the first crack, even if it's short-lived. Decide if immediacy or longevity is more important to you, and if you want to do the damage to your numbers that Lyon would bring with him.
- Two of John Axford's rough outings so far have come in non-save duty. In the two appearances when he has given up at least one run, the Milwaukee Brewers brought him in when they were down by four tallies. On Sunday, he was getting work because he had not appeared since Wednesday.
It's not jeopardizing his job security; it's merely leaving his fantasy owners with unfortunate, unnecessary statistics.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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