Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Brandon League, Luke Gregerson, Steve Cishek, more

by Nicholas Minnix on September 4, 2012 @ 12:00:51 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

San Diego Padres RP Luke Gregerson
Gregerson in trouble?

Brandon League picked up a save (his 10th overall, first for the Los Angeles Dodgers) on Saturday by pitching an inning and striking out two, with one hit allowed. He picked up a win on Monday with two strong scoreless innings as well.

Ronald Belisario registered a W as well, on Sunday, by striking out each batter he retired. On Monday, he came in for LOOGY Randy Choate, who exiting with a bruised hand on the comebacker that resulted in a hit for the only man he faced. Belisario yielded a hit that scored an inherited runner before he recorded the out that ended the frame. It'd be his only action of the day.

Don Mattingly said that he could use either of the two relievers in save situations while Kenley Jansen is sidelined. It appears, early on, that League, who's pitched extremely well lately, has the edge.

Jansen finds out today whether he'll miss the rest of the season because of the recurrence of an irregular heartbeat.


Luke Gregerson gave up a solo home run on Friday as well as on Monday, but only the second one resulted in a blown save chance. The San Diego Padres had handed him a two-run lead in the Friday contest, giving him his third save.

Bud Black changed interim tunes because Dale Thayer was shaky in a few appearances in a row. The skipper probably won't strip Gregerson of the temp job because of the holiday weekend bombs, but the righty should be aware that he doesn't have much, if any, more leeway, in all likelihood.

If Black does change the arrangement, he could go back to Thayer, but he may be tempted to turn over a chance to one of the many youngsters in his 'pen, or go to a full-blown committee.

All because Huston Street - shockingly - had a setback before his final scheduled rehab appearance and planned activation date. Street doesn't yet have a new timetable.


On Saturday, for the first time since he began operating as the Miami Marlins' closer, Steve Cishek blew a save chance. The righty dished up four hits, four runs (three earned) and a walk and registered only two outs, one by strikeout against the New York Mets. The unearned run was merely icing on the Mets' cake; it was the last of the four and occurred on a throwing error after Kelly Shoppach's two-run single. Marlins lose 5-3.

Ozzie Guillen seemed to chalk the lambasting up to serious misfortune, publicly. He summoned Cishek on Monday to have him record an out and a cheap save (his 12th), perhaps a gesture to demonstrate some confidence in the reliever.

Ozzie had been looking for an opportunity to give Heath Bell another crack in the ninth, albeit not necessarily an exclusive one. The well-compensated righty is still experiencing some ups and (serious) downs, but a few more quality appearances after this weekend, and who knows? Cishek owners have little to worry about at the moment, however.


J.J. Putz blew save chances on Sunday and Labor Day - one to each of a pair of division rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants. (He picked up his 28th closure on Friday.) The right-hander gave up a total of four hits, three runs and two walks in 1 1/3 innings. He struck out three.

Prior to the start of the weekend, GM Kevin Towers gave an indication (reported by Nick Piecoro) that the Arizona Diamondbacks will pick up Putz's 2013 option, which is for $6.5 million. Did the closer feel too comfortable all of a sudden? Did KT jinx the reliever?

Skipper Kirk Gibson proclaimed the outcomes of those two contests "very unlucky." Putz has been stellar for the majority of this campaign. He's practically untouchable and doesn't otherwise display signs that should worry fantasy owners.


Jonathan Papelbon (31 saves) had the day off after the right-hander failed to protect a five-run lead the Philadelphia Phillies handed him on Sunday (and after he'd pitched on four of the past six days). Paps struck out the first batter he faced but then walked a man, gave up a double that brought in both inherited runners and yielded a send-them-home bomb to Chipper Jones.

So, at the Cincinnati Reds on Labor Day, with the Phils leading 4-1, Charlie Manuel brought in the 6-foot-7, 260-pound Phillippe Aumont. Aumont likely represents the only shred of hope that Philly received anyone of value in the Cliff Lee trade of three winters ago.

The wild right-hander with a blazing heater gave up two singles and didn't fan anyone, but he issued no walks and only one run for his first major league save. The 23-year-old didn't cut it as a starter, but the Phils still firmly believe that he'll be a big piece of their bullpen.


It's been about a week and a half since Chris Perez saw his last save chance. He was away from the Cleveland Indians for this past holiday weekend to be with his wife, who gave birth to their baby girl.

Vinnie Pestano affirmed the Tribe's faith that the top-notch setup man is capable of closing 'em out when Perez is away. The right-hander picked up his first and second saves of the season on Saturday and Monday. He didn't have much trouble tying the bows, either - this after a rough August.

No reported indication of when Perez will be back with the team, but it seems likely to be on Tuesday.


Minnesota Twins GM Terry Ryan told the media that Matt Capps (shoulder discomfort) could still return by the end of the season.

Even if so, at this point, it's virtually certain that he wouldn't appear in a save situation. Owners of Glen Perkins (two saves on Saturday, 10 total) and, to a lesser extent, Jared Burton (five saves) don't have to worry, if they're still paying attention.

Other notable weekend saviors

Fernando Rodney 2 (41), Rays Tied for MLB lead
Rafael Soriano (35), Yankees  
Aroldis Chapman (34), Reds  
Jason Motte 2 (33), Cardinals Mon. SV required 1 2/3 IP
Tyler Clippard 2 (30), Nationals Gave up 2 hits, 1 run in Mon. SV
Joe Nathan (28), Rangers  
Jose Valverde 2 (28), Tigers 5 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk in 3 IP this past weekend
Rafael Betancourt (27), Rockies 3 hits, 1 run made it dicey
Addison Reed (25), White Sox Weird? Saved it Mon. for starter Hector Santiago
Tom Wilhelmsen 2 (23), Mariners  
Frank Francisco (23), Mets  
John Axford (23), Brewers Sat. W goes in register, too
Casey Janssen (19), Blue Jays  
Carlos Marmol (17), Cubs Gave up 2 runs, took L on Sun.
Ernesto Frieri (17), Angels  
Greg Holland (10), Royals Fanned side in order
Sergio Romo (9), Giants Also picked up W on Monday
Javier Lopez (6), Giants Is Robin to Romo's Batman
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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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