Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Sean Marshall, David Robertson, Heath Bell, more

by Nicholas Minnix on May 10, 2012 @ 14:42:56 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)

Cincinnati Reds

Closer: Sean Marshall
Understudy/Fill-in: Aroldis Chapman

In an until-then scoreless game on Wednesday afternoon, the Reds plated two runs against Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford in the top of the ninth. In the bottom of the frame, Ryan Braun led off with a solo shot against Marshall to give one right back.

The left-hander retired the next two ... before giving up back-to-back singles to put Cincy's would-be W in serious danger. "You figure that's enough," said Dusty Baker, per the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay. "You hate to take your closer out. But we needed that ball game."

New York Yankees RP David Robertson
D-Rob d-stroyed

What is enough? The damage Marshall did or the 35 pitches he'd spent to do it? Otherwise, he'd have said that were enough, right? Right! Regardless - or irregardless - Dusty's vagaries and comment indicate that Marshall isn't the most firmly entrenched closer, if he's the closer at all.

Incidentally, the right-handed Ondrusek relieved Marshall, walked the first batter he faced to load the bases and then induced a pop-up from Travis Ishikawa to record his first career save.

One day, Chapman needs to start for the Reds. But Baker likes his weapon in the bullpen, so it wouldn't be shocking to see the Cuban southpaw close at some point. (Check, just in case, but Chapman should be almost universally because of the help he provides now and probably will later, anyway.)

Those two left-handers are the only Cincy relievers whom it's clear are worth owning. Baker gave a qualified commitment to Marshall - with a "for now" - before the season began, and he's demonstrated that he'll go elsewhere to tie one down, if he believes it's necessary.

Marshall's grounder rate and K/9 are as good as ever, but the long ball (28.6 percent HR/FB) has killed him. He may remain Dusty's first choice most often, "for now," and if he settles down, he can create a stranglehold on this role. The 29-year-old would be wise to stop giving Baker reasons to look elsewhere later, though.

Job security score: 2
Health score:

Mound meetings

In the past two nights, David Robertson encountered his first pair of opportunities to fill a legend's shoes and ended up in two straight self-imposed stressful situations. The first, he managed and escaped. The second, not so much. No need to go into all the details.

Joe Girardi addressed the obvious in the post-game presser. The skipper basically said that it happens and he's not planning to make a change. Robertson is probably unavailable on Thursday, but that's reportedly primarily because of the number of pitches he threw in those two games (43). Rafael Soriano has a better chance of stepping in, but he's also uncertain.

Robertson has reacted as any roto owner of his would hope. Nothing has changed; he's an incredibly good pitcher. He was working on a streak that would've been hard to continue in any situation. But there's a lot that comes with replacing the GOAT. Soriano is an indifferent sort and may be more immune to what all this means than Robertson.

Girardi has used Robertson as his closer despite saying that both relievers would be involved. Perhaps that changes in the coming days. The heat goes up if Soriano does pitch in a save sitch and get the job done easily. Still, Robertson may not lose much collateral until he screws up again.


Heath Bell pitched a scoreless bottom of the 10th in the Miami Marlins' 12-frame win against the Houston Astros on Wednesday. The stanza came after Steve Cishek failed to close things out. It's a positive step for Bell, but Ozzie Guillen is unlikely to give him the job right away back because of it. He gave up a single and no walks, but a caught stealing helped his cause.

As for Cishek, he pitched pretty well. Half of the BS should go to Giancarlo Stanton. The right fielder allowed a Carlos Lee blooper to become a joke of a triple and Lee the eventual tying run. Brian Bogusevic's weak single drove in Lee, but Cishek was in command for most of the frame.

Remember, though: Bell will get his job back, sooner or later. He swears. If someone is willing to deal him, listen.


Save your receipt. The Chicago White Sox are still unsure about where they'll use Chris Sale, who's having an MRI on Thursday. The left-hander told interviewers that he feels fine, but the club is probably going to await interpretation of the results of that exam before they consider using him.

The lack of commitment means that Sale is a possibility when the ChiSox have a lead in the ninth inning. In all practicality, however, Addison Reed is the most obvious and best solution. Don Cooper indicated that the young righty was probably the man in a save sitch on Wednesday night.

For whatever reason, Reed is the reliever Robin Ventura appears to have been most reluctant to nominate. Fantasy owners should stick with him, though. Ventura just needs to stop thinking too much.


The Pittsburgh Pirates are placing Joel Hanrahan on the bereavement list because the right-hander's grandmother passed away. Jason Grilli or Juan Cruz will likely handle save chances that arise.

Perhaps Tuesday's blown save was the side effect of a heavy heart. He nailed the door shut on Wednesday night, but not before he hit a batter and gave up a double right behind it, with only one out. He should be back on Sunday.


The Toronto Blue Jays are in better hands. On Wednesday afternoon, Casey Janssen had no problems in his first save opportunity as the proxy for former fill-in Francisco Cordero. The righty threw 15 pitches, 10 for strikes; he fanned one and didn't allow a base runner.

Janssen will be first up while Sergio Santos is out for another few weeks, but don't rule out others - Darren Oliver, Carlos Villanueva, Luis Perez, etc. - getting involved.


Axford ran into a cooped-up offense yesterday. He fanned the first two he faced, but Drew Stubbs, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips came up with hits to gain a 2-0 lead. The lone walk was intentional, but in the early going opponents have a .480 BABIP against him.

Judging from his marks, opponents are just sitting on fastballs, getting them more often than not and driving those on which they connect. The numbers will undergo some correction, but he'll need to mix things up more often, too. No need to be concerned; his stuff appears to be fine.


Mariano Rivera will wait for a blood clot in his calf to dissipate before he undergoes surgery to repair his torn ACL. Considering Mo's age, any delay puts his timetable - to be ready by spring training - in some question.

Other Wednesday saviors

Brandon League (8), Mariners  
Jonathan Broxton (7), Royals Escaped 2nd-and-3rd, 1-out jam
Jason Motte (6), Cardinals Mitchell Boggs gave up 3 hits to open 9th, created SV opp in 7-2 W
Rafael Dolis (3), Cubs BBs a problem? None issued since 4/24
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Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat | AL depth charts | NL depth charts

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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