Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Joaquin Benoit, Joel Hanrahan, more

by Nicholas Minnix on April 12, 2013 @ 13:19:00 PDT

 

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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.

Team
JS
H
Closer
Understudy/Fill-in
Lurker(s)
Detroit Tigers
1
3
Joaquin Benoit Phil Coke
Jose Valverde M
Octavio Dotel
Al Alburquerque
Bruce Rondon M

The drama in Motown, basically consisting of a blown save by Phil Coke, has led Jim Leyland to declare that Benoit is his "primary closer." It's an interesting title, if you think about it, because the designation "closer" has always implied exclusivity. Leyland has demonstrated no interest in that concept in 2013, so he -- as other managers have before him -- has created a pseudo-hierarchy: Benoit, and then everyone else, depending on the situation.

Kansas City Royals RP Kelvin Herrera
Not quite yet....

Whiiich pretty much makes Benoit a closer, minus Leyland's whole "Don't hold me to it" undertone. The manager has made it clear that he doesn't want to work Benoit overtime, although data for the reliever's results don't necessarily support Leyland's theory.

Unfortunately, those splits demonstrate only outcomes by number of days of rest (which, for zero days, are impeccable) and not for those on the second, third or fourth day of work in a row, so they're clumped together. Not the whole picture. Bummer. Besides, there's a very good possibility that Leyland is more concerned about the pitcher's somewhat extensive medical record, which he may fear lengthening by overusing Benoit.

No matter the manager's angle, CHS and its partners in crime, KFFL's closer depth charts, acknowledge Benoit's ascension to the job of "primary closer," albeit not quite as creatively (although the pretty colors help). As plenty of rankings (including ours), text and crowd-sourcing have suggested all along, Benoit is the safest and smartest fantasy target in Detroit's bullpen.

Of course, Valverde's addition last week changed that outlook a little. (Incidentally, Leyland had few reservations, at least at the time, about how he deployed Papa Grande, who it should be noted bears no ill will. Phew.) Benoit stands a reasonable chance to retain his role of "primary closer," even once Valverde is on the Tigers' 25-man. But, if Valverde proves to be in good shape -- it sounds that way, so far -- he has just a good a shot at assuming the title -- without the fancy descriptive. Stay tuned.

Mound meetings

Kelvin Herrera yielded a double but struck out three in a stanza on Wednesday night to register his second save of the young campaign -- as any Greg Holland owner is well aware. It didn't look too favorably for the supposed closer, whom Herrera bailed out on the previous Sunday by retiring the final of the game.

Boston Red Sox RP Joel Hanrahan
Several plans if they ditch Hanrahan

It's easy to read into this series of events from a number of angles. Yost is making a change? Yost is just considering a change? Yost is actually considering the use of a committee (which could easily involve Aaron Crow as well)?

The Kansas City Royals' manager told his team's official site that he intended to use Herrera following Holland's successful, albeit somewhat shaky, appearance. Is Yost dodging? Can't say for certain. But the skipper was sticking by Holland steadfastly to open the week. The closer faced six batters and required 27 pitches to log that conversion on Tuesday. Yost may have had no desire to put Holland in a save situation, which was already going to be scrutinized, if there was any chance that his man would've been facing a physical deficit.

In the long run, Holland will have to demonstrate that he can handle the job on consecutive days. Which kind of requires handling it with fewer self-imposed predicaments. Which is something that Herrera and Crow, to a lesser extent, have shown that they can do. Holland owners should have been or be seeking security, preferably in the name of Herrera, but barring a total meltdown, the closer isn't in immediate danger, even if it's not far behind.

Of course, Holland would do well to put down the reeling Toronto Blue Jays, themselves looking for anything positive to grasp, if given the chance.

***

The Boston Red Sox enjoyed three successful save opportunity conversions from Joel Hanrahan before the right-hander blew his first on Wednesday, against the Baltimore Orioles. In fact, he blew a two-run lead and then served up a three-run homer to Manny Machado that gave the O's a W and tagged him a loss, as well.

The BoSox have options: Andrew Bailey, Koji Uehara and Andrew Miller are among them. This is no longer a bullpen with atrocious depth. And Hanrahan is still prone to issuing free passes and serving up home runs. He got away frequently enough in 2012, but his 2011 BB/9 (2.10) and HR/9 (0.13) are clearly anomalous at this point. AL East batters, in most of those tiny AL East ballyards, won't be as forgiving in the long run. Seek insurance before it's too late.

***

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are reeling, but Ryan Madson (recovery from Tommy John surgery) is improving. He threw what was described as a high-intensity bullpen session on Thursday, two days after throwing his last one. He was throwing every third day before that. He figures to face batters within the next couple of weeks, followed by a rehab assignment.

At this rate, Madson appears to be on track to return in early or mid-May, barring another setback. The Halos will undoubtedly avoid deploying him in high-leverage situations right away, if they can help it. Ernesto Frieri is looking at a good month and a half to two months more to handle his club's save opportunities, at minimum. His reign could last quite a bit longer than that, because Madson is unlikely to regain his pre-surgery form for a bit.

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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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