Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Padres, Jonathan Papelbon, Shelby Miller

by Nicholas Minnix on September 6, 2012 @ 09:16:14 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

Philadelphia Phillies RP Jonathan Papelbon
Regret spelled "P-A-P-S?"

The San Diego Padres were clinging to a 4-3 lead against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night. Dale Thayer set up Luke Gregerson, who entered the ninth and dispatched the first two batters he faced. The righty then hit Shane Victorino, which apparently prompted Bud Black to alter the scenario.

Black called on lefty Tommy Layne to face Adrian Gonzalez, who grounded out to end the contest to give the reliever his second save. The move confirmed that Gregerson leads the pack but doesn't remain in control of closing duties, likely in part because of his mildly rough weekend (two homers allowed). A-Gon could've tied the contest with one swing.

It's hard even for NL-only owners to pick up Layne, considering that Huston Street (calf strain) could be back in a week or two. But the injured closer has already experienced one setback, and he recently signed a contract extension, so the Friars may be cautious. Gregerson is still the leader, of course.


In the Philadelphia Phillies' 6-2 victory against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday afternoon, Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth inning to wrap up the victory in a non-save sitch. Not before he gave up a solo homer to Jay Bruce, however.

The right-hander has given up a round-tripper in back-to-back appearances and seven this season. The lucky number ties his career high, set in 2010, easily his worst campaign in the majors.

Papelbon remains one of the most respected closers in baseball, and his reputation aids his fantasy value (although his job security is steel-plated in Philly). But his fly-ball troubles and rumored attitude problems are probably going to make the Phils regret handing him that four-year, $50 million contract this past offseason, sooner or later.


The St. Louis Cardinals called up pitching prospect Shelby Miller, who made his MLB debut yesterday. In two frames in relief of starter Adam Wainwright, he struck out four and allowed a hit and no walks.

The Cards haven't dismissed the idea of giving the right-hander a start before the season ends. They'll also contemplate using him in late-innings situations, should he continue to adapt well to the bigs.

Jason Motte is by no means in danger, and it'd take a couple of dominoes to fall, but Miller could become an emergency option at closer sometime this month. He certainly has the goods to handle the job, like Waino did in 2006.

Other Wednesday saviors

Rafael Soriano (36), Yankees  
Craig Kimbrel (33), Braves  
Joe Nathan (29), Rangers Allowed 1 run on 2 hits
John Axford (25), Brewers Has rattled off 6 straight scoreless appearances
Tom Wilhelmsen (24), Mariners  
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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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