Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Tyler Clippard, J.J. Putz

by Nicholas Minnix on May 23, 2012 @ 13:17:39 PDT'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)


Washington Nationals

Closer: Drew Storen DL
Understudy/Fill-in: Brad Lidge DL, Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett
Lurkers: Henry Rodriguez, Craig Stammen

On Tuesday afternoon, Davey Johnson confirmed that he was removing H-Rod from the closer's role. The grizzled skipper has an affinity for his flame-throwing right-hander, who'll serve in a less strenuous capacity in the near future, at least. If Rodriguez gets his ish together in short order, he may receive consideration for ninth-inning duty again.

But if that were to happen, by then, Lidge (hernia surgery) will probably be back. The former stopper for the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies had some rough appearances before he hit the disabled list, but he's had no arm issues yet and was throwing well in spring training. In deep mixed leagues, he remains worth stashing, as long as the stasher isn't sacrificing much.

Clippard was Johnson's first man up in a post-Rodriguez save opportunity, which arose on Tuesday evening against the Philadelphia Phillies. Handed a three-run lead, the righty retired the side with relative ease, unsurprisingly.

Johnson plans to go with a committee based on who's rested - and, perhaps to some degree, the matchups. It seems that the manager, justifiably so based on the numbers, can trust his two best setup men - Clippard and Burnett - against men who bat from either side of the dish, though. Those two have been Johnson's most trustworthy relievers to date, and - in that order - are whom owners should target for fantasy servitude.

Job security score: 1
Health score:

Mound meetings

In the past several days, J.J. Putz had recorded a couple of saves without much of a scare, so it was a little disappointing to see him cough up a lead to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. It was his third blown save opp and third loss of the regular season.

The Arizona Diamondbacks handed Putz a 7-6 advantage heading into the ninth. The right-hander retired a batter before walking the next two. The latter of the pair was the patient and smart Bobby Abreu, who recognized that Putz was having trouble hitting the strike zone and trotted to first after five pitches without a swing.

It was discouraging to see Putz's velocity down a couple of miles per hour overall in the appearance, and in particular against Abreu, from where he's been lately. He must've reached for something extra against Andre Ethier, whom he fanned on four offerings. The damage came off the bat of Ivan De Jesus, who drove the first pitch he saw for a two-run double.

Consider this outing a setback on Putz's road to statistical recovery, but on the whole, roto players should probably be patient as he tries to gain consistency with the mechanical corrections he's made. That doesn't mean he gets a pass. The 35-year-old had pitched on four of the past six days, but he had a day off between his last two appearances, so he should've been somewhat fresh.

Let's hope that general direction remains forward. Don't be surprised to see someone else in there tonight, in case a chance arises, however, and don't think of it as a sign that Kirk Gibson is having second thoughts.

Other Tuesday saviors

Jim Johnson (16), Orioles
Chris Perez (14), Indians
Fernando Rodney (14), Rays
Brett Myers (11), Astros
Santiago Casilla (11), Giants What a "committee"
Frank Francisco (11), Mets
Joe Nathan (10), Rangers
Heath Bell (7), Marlins And a strikeout!
Kenley Jansen (6), Dodgers Thanks, Putz!
Rafael Soriano (3), Yankees
Aroldis Chapman (2), Reds
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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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