Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Twins, Heath Bell, Bobby Parnell, more

by Nicholas Minnix on June 26, 2012 @ 14:04:22 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)

Minnesota Twins

Closer: Matt Capps DL
Understudy/Fill-in: Glen Perkins, Jared Burton

On Monday, Ron Gardenhire called on Burton to secure a save for the second straight day, this time utilizing the left-handed Perkins to set up. With one gone, the right-hander walked one, but he induced three fly-outs in the frame to notch his second save.

Minnesota Twins RPs Jared Burton and Glen Perkins
Backend battle continues

When Perkins entered the game, to open the eighth, the Chicago White Sox were scheduled to send two left-handed batters to the dish, the pair bookending a pending Kevin Youkilis PA. Youk singled to give Paul Konerko a shot at the lefty eventually, but Perkins set the ChiSox's slugger down.

Burton, ideally, would've been scheduled to face Paulie, another right-handed batsman and A.J. Pierzynski, a lefty stick-handler. The South Siders' backstop walked, with one out, but two more righty hitters followed, and Burton retired both.

In sum: Gardy played it by his book and assumed that the classic hand-on-hand matchups would work best. He tells the media that the Twinkies are going to mix and match, and such an arrangement would seem to benefit Burton a little more so than Perkins.

The skipper also told the Star Tribune that he'll have to be conservative regarding back-to-back deployments of Burton, considering the 31-year-old's history of injuries. La Velle E. Neal III speculates that such a condition should work in Perkins' favor in terms of the cherished save stat.

All this may seem moot, since tests on Capps' right shoulder revealed no structural damage. Neal reports that the course of action remains rest and a possible cortisone injection - and that his targeted return date is after the All-Star break. That puts activation after the minimum in "unlikely" territory and gives the interim pair a little more time to vie for opps.

And vying for opps may be plenty important considering that Minnesota would still like to deal Capps and Gardenhire aims to rely on one man to close games in the long term.

It'll be interesting to see how this unfolds; Burton may have a slight edge because thanks to handedness. But Tim's assessment on Monday still holds plenty of water.

For what it's worth, Burton has been more inefficient in his two real-deal save chances, leading to three of the six walks he's issued this season. Nerves? When you're determining your priorities, you're looking for something to break the tie. Both he and Perkins look like decent bets right now.

Job security score: 5
Health score: N/A

Mound meetings

In a non-save situation (with a 6-2 lead to begin the ninth) against the St. Louis Cardinals last evening, Heath Bell crumbled. He was erratic (14 of 27 pitches were strikes) and, it would seem, predictable (nearly all of them were four-seamers).

Bell, a master of the obvious, was outstanding in his 10 appearances before Monday night's debacle (six hits, zero runs, two walks and 16 K's in 9 1/3 frames). As the Brooks Baseball stats from this contest show, his velocity was as great as it's been in the past few weeks.

The general roto reaction to this outing has been presumptuous; however, it simply has the look of one horrid game for the 34-year-old. Considering his struggles in the season's first two months, naturally, any time Bell so much as farts, panic will set in for his owners and Miami Marlins fans.

(It's certainly possible that the righty was pitching with a heavy heart a day after learning that former San Diego Padres bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds, to whom Bell was quite close, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.)

Hold on Bell? Still looks like the play. Although he's no longer elite closer material, his latest gaffe may help you pry the Fish's finisher from someone's hands for a song, making such a gamble too tempting.


On Monday night, Ryan Cook pitched a one-walk, two-K ninth to seal a 1-0 victory versus the Seattle Mariners and register his fifth save. The right-hander bounced back from his first blown save chance (a four-run disaster) on Friday since he began posing as a member of the Oakland Athletics' closer committee while actually serving as the closer.

Last night, Grant Balfour once again set up Cook flawlessly. Brian Fuentes has been nowhere in sight when the lead has been on the line late; it's doubtful that would've been different had he not been dealing with a minor ankle issue.


Andy McCullough's feature on the interim closer of the New York Mets, Bobby Parnell, gives some insight into why owners who took a stab on the right-hander can be optimistic. His focus on keeping the ball down and addition of a knuckle curveball have been instrumental.

A quote from Terry Collins suggests that this is a significant trial for Parnell. How significant? It's not a stretch to think that Frank Francisco's strained left oblique will keep him out until the break.

Parnell has been the Mets' most effective reliever this season. Will Frank Frank's $12 million contract, which still has a year and a half remaining on it, be enough to get him his job back? If Parnell performs well, then that question becomes a lot more interesting. Hang on.

Other Monday saviors

Jason Motte (15), Cardinals Assist: Bell
Rafael Betancourt (12), Rockies  
Casey Janssen (8), Blue Jays  
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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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