Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Heath Bell, John Axford, Alfredo Aceves, more

by Nicholas Minnix on July 5, 2012 @ 13:37:21 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.

Mound meetings

Milwaukee Brewers RP John Axford
Ax not clipped yet

On Tuesday at Milwaukee, the Miami Marlins came back late from an 11-3 deficit to tie the score. In the 10th, after the Fish notched a run against the Brewers' Livan Hernandez, however, Heath Bell gave up two runs, on a walk and an Aramis Ramirez dinger, to blow it.

Ozzie Guillen was, understandably, furious. But not at Bell; rather, he was pissed at the media and anyone else who blamed only Bell. The right-hander's velocity has dipped by a hair in each of his last two outings, though.

At this stage, we're beyond the need to break down Bell's failures (or successes, for that matter). He's not the elite reliever who pitched for the San Diego Padres anymore, but he's a solid closer, for as long as he remains in attack mode. He's going to blow one occasionally. It hurts more because Miami is underachieving.

In his Wednesday appearance, by the way, Bell gave up a hit but otherwise rebounded by striking out a batter and recording a save.


The frustration may be getting to you: John Axford blew another save chance on Wednesday night. C'mon, right? The Milwaukee Brewers' closer is better than this, but if he doesn't pin down wins more frequently, will he lose his job?

He could, but Ron Roenicke would probably have some tough questions to answer if he did. Axford had worked on each of the previous three days, as well. In those three games (of one frame each), he allowed one hit, no runs and one walk and fanned four. His efficiency appears to be improving.

Considering how the rest of Milwaukee's bullpen has performed, especially lately, the Ax will keep on grinding in the closer's role.


Alfredo Aceves had gone eight straight save opportunities without blowing one before he gave it up to the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday, helping to turn a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 loss.

The Boston Red Sox's defense wasn't up to snuff that night, committing two errors, including Ryan Kalish's on the RBI single that plated the tying run. The outfielder's gaffe allowed both runners on base to move up, putting the winning run on third with only one out. A sac fly walked the A's off.

The BoSox's closer doesn't shoulder all the blame, but he hasn't been the most consistent performer, no matter the situation in which he appears. Aceves has done well to reduce his ERA to 4.32 since his campaign began disastrously, certainly.

Bobby Valentine has hinted that Andrew Bailey (thumb surgery) may not necessarily return to close once he's back. The manager likes Aceves. But the skipper's penchant to use the latter reliever for multiple innings may come in handy more often after Bailey gets his MLB legs under him.


Juan Oviedo is slated to begin a "rehab assignment" on Saturday. He's eligible to return to the Marlins on July 23.

By sometime in August, Oviedo may prove that he's ready to pitch in the late innings. If he does so, he'd give the club another setup man and alternative to Bell. Really, only NL players should bark up that tree any time soon, though.


It's worth noting that Daniel Bard, in his effort to rediscover his ability to retire batters at any level, seems to have turned a corner. He's probably closing in on a promotion to the parent club.

Things would have to get pretty bad in Beantown before he received consideration in the ninth again, at least this season. But, on that soap opera's set, you never know. Only those in deep AL-only leagues should think about making a move for Bard, though.

Other notable Tuesday, Wednesday saviors

Jim Johnson 2 (25), Orioles Allowed 2 inherited runners to score in Wed. SV
Fernando Rodney (24), Rays Ridiculous: 0.96 ERA, 0.72 WHIP
Joel Hanrahan (21), Pirates Yielded leadoff solo job, then retired 3 straight
Rafael Soriano (19), Yankees  
Jason Motte (18), Cardinals 2 H, but neither an XHB, and 2 K
Kenley Jansen 2 (14), Dodgers  
Huston Street (13), Padres Allowed inherited runner to score but no base-runners
Rafael Betancourt (13), Rockies 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K on Tue.
Casey Janssen 2 (11), Blue Jays Flawless, on back-to-back days
Ryan Cook (8), Athletics  
Glen Perkins (4), Twins So fresh, so clean
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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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