Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Jeremy Affeldt, Tyler Clippard, more

by Nicholas Minnix on August 8, 2012 @ 13:30:53 PDT

 


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)

San Francisco Giants

Closer: Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo
Understudy/Fill-in: Santiago Casilla
Lurkers: Javier Lopez

As if (from Tim's Tuesday CHS) on cue, Affeldt recorded a save last night against the St. Louis Cardinals. The left-hander pitched 1 1/3 innings in relief of Romo, giving up a hit and fanning one for his third of the season.

Bruce Bochy has turned the back end of his bullpen into a full-blown committee arrangement. He's not itching to use Casilla in a save situation, at least until the right-hander gets past a blister that has caused him serious discomfort. San Fran worries that a closer's workload would prevent that from happening, however.

Washington Nationals RP Tyler Clippard
Saved ... by center fielder

Although it's unnecessary, matchups may dictate how Bochy dispatches his save-eligible relievers for a while. Then again, the Giants' desire to monitor how much they work Romo may preclude him from being that large of a factor. He and Affeldt are probably about even, for a TBD length of time.

If Casilla's blister begins to go away, he could easily re-enter the conversation. That's assuming, also, that he begins to correct what has ailed his performance for the past month or so, too. Last night, he was throwing in the seventh, which may not be a good sign.

For now, Affeldt is just as attractive to own as San Fran's righties, and perhaps more so.

Job security score: 1
Health score:
5

Washington Nationals

Closer: Tyler Clippard
Understudy/Fill-in: Drew Storen

Frankly, the Clippard Emergency Alert Service would've woken you from your late-evening, post-supper nap on Tuesday had Roger Bernadina not saved the Nationals closer's arse.

The right-handed reliever took over with a 3-2 advantage in the bottom of the 12th against the Houston Astros last night. He gave up a leadoff single, recorded two outs and then walked a man to make it first and second, with Brett Wallace coming to the dish. Bernadina's heroics prevented Clippard from registering his second BS in as many nights and giving up a run in his third straight appearance. Save No. 23.

Storen set up Clippard in the contest and thus picked up the W. He retired two without allowing a base runner. Since his return, he's struggled a bit with his location, which is understandable given how much time he missed.

That's probably a small factor in Davey Johnson's decision to iterate to the media prior to Tuesday's extras affair that Clippard would remain his guy. Of course, to refresh, the statement came before that crazy tilt. You'll note at the very end of Adam Kilgore's blog that the Nats' skipper said, "... A couple more games like last night, there's no telling what I might do."

In this case, "last night" referred to Clippard's blown save chance on Monday that led to extra stanzas. The current closer has performed well, but his 4.13 BB/9 may haunt him yet again. When Storen finishes establishing his command, he'll be there, proton pack strapped to his back.

Washington's manager did acknowledge that he's now comfortable with either man in the ninth and that he'll try to avoid using Clippard on three consecutive days. That's something he wasn't ready to do as recently as the tail end of last week. Storen has re-entered Johnson's circle of trust.

This is a probable playoff team, but it's full of youngsters. If Clippard hits many more troublesome spots, Johnson will want to avoid an unsettled bullpen controversy. It may take some time, that's all.

On Wednesday, Clippard may not be available for a save sitch. It's uncertain that Storen will be either, however, since he's pitched for three days straight, albeit in two total innings (29 total pitches). Johnson could turn to Sean Burnett or otherwise mix and match.

Job security score: 1
Health score:
5

Mound meetings

Chris Perez again blew a save opportunity, this one on Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins in ignominious fashion. It was just as much for the Cleveland Indians' defense, which committed a tough error that would've resulted in the second out and prevented the tying run from scoring.

Still, Perez continued to implode after the incident. He gave up three more hits, a walk and two more runs and was shackled with the loss.

Some observers will expect outstanding setup man Vinnie Pestano to be ready to infringe on Perez's territory. Manny Acta has a ton of faith in Perez, however, so a change is far from imminent.

Perez and pitching coach Scott Radinsky have discussed the possibility that the closer is tipping his pitches. The possibility gives Acta reason to excuse Perez's recent performances, almost completely, and some leeway to work them out. Whether you agree isn't going to change that. Perez owners don't have much reason to be worried, though, at least for a bit.

***

Toward the end of July, the Milwaukee Brewers purchased the contract of 29-year-old Jim Henderson from Triple-A Nashville. He debuted that day. On Aug. 7, he recorded his first major league save (primarily because John Axford had to be unavailable). It may not be his last.

Henderson has quickly gained favor with Ron Roenicke. The right-hander has practically induced shock in his manager, who wonders how someone with stuff that good could still be in the minor leagues.

Henderson does have hard heat and a filthy slider. He also has a lengthy history of control problems that haven't yet manifested in his whopping six MLB frames.

His high rate of K's is a fairly new development, making him intriguing enough to wonder what sort of changes may have led to his renewed vigor. There was no evidence in his farm work, even recently, that Roenicke's theory - that something just clicked - led to diminished free-pass issuance, however.

Another Axford tale? Roenicke is already considering using Henderson in more save situations, which may not bode well for the closer who's struggled for much of the season. It's hard to know what to make of all this, considering that Henderson's track record doesn't support his case in the long haul.

It seems likely that big leaguers will quickly learn to lay off many of Henderson's offerings, but the numbers in this small sample don't lie: He's thrown a lot of strikes, especially on the first pitch. In deep leagues, it can't hurt Ax owners too much to pick up the new guy, just in case. The Brewers have nothing to lose at this stage of the season.

***

Ron Washington told the media that he plans to use Joe Nathan only in save situations from here on out. The skipper is concerned with how much he's worked his closer this season, Nathan's second full campaign since undergoing Tommy John surgery. The right-hander received a cortisone shot last week to lessen inflammation that he's been dealing with in his shoulder.

This news might spark fear in fantasy owners. It shouldn't. In fact, this could be great news, assuming that Nathan doesn't suffer because he doesn't work often enough. Also, Evan Grant reported that Nathan had no problems with inflammation in his shoulder yesterday. Gone. The righty sounded refreshed.

Wash said that he'd have used Alexi Ogando against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night, had his Texas Rangers increased their lead to four runs or more. His club tallied only one insurance run in the top of the ninth, however, so Nathan entered the bottom of the frame with a 6-3 lead. He gave up a hit but struck out one in an otherwise crisp closing effort for No. 22.

Other Tuesday saviors

Fernando Rodney (33), Rays
Jose Valverde (22), Tigers 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 RPs to take his job
Huston Street (20), Padres 20-for-20, 20 1/3 straight scoreless IP
Rafael Betancourt (19), Rockies
Steve Cishek (7), Marlins Committee, eh?
Glen Perkins (7), Twins
Greg Holland (2), Royals
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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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