Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Edward Mujica, J.J. Putz, more

by Tim Heaney on April 19, 2013 @ 12:18:16 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.

Job Security (JS):
1 (unstable)
to
5 (untouchable)
Health Outlook (HO):
1 (fragile)
to
5 (durable)
: Up
 
+: Added
 
INJ: Injured
: Down
 
M: Minors
 
DL: Disabled List

 

Team
JS
HO
Closer
Understudy/Fill-in
Lurker(s)
St. Louis Cardinals
5
2
Jason Motte DL Edward Mujica
Trevor Rosenthal
Mitchell Boggs
Fernando Salas
Maikel Cleto M

After receiving heaps of praise from GM John Mozeliak, Mujica logged 1 1/3 scoreless innings against the Philadelphia Phillies yesterday with two strikeouts, working around two hits to record his first save of 2013. It may be the first of many, given the Cards' Tuesday proclamation of their new bullpen approach.

Mujica has climbed this mountain because of his workhorse reliability. Based on workloads, all three of the chief save options presumably were available last night. Rosenthal registered a hold in the eighth, and Boggs, who hadn't pitched since Monday, didn't enter.

Even with this situation's fluidity, Thursday's events justify placing Mujica atop the Redbirds' hierarchy. Fantasy owners should fly in formation.

Team
JS
HO
Closer
Understudy/Fill-in
Lurker(s)
Arizona Diamondbacks
4
4
J.J. Putz David Hernandez Heath Bell

Putz's 2-for-4 conversion rate in April save chances, including a Thursday gaffe in which he allowed a game-tying solo jack at Yankee Stadium, isn't enough for the Arizona Diamondbacks to boot him. He's held enemies scoreless in five of seven appearances this year, with one hit yielded over those spotless spots.

Milwaukee Brewers RP Francisco Rodriguez
Welcome back, K-Rod

The 36-year-old, however, has walked four opponents in seven innings, and the speed on his traditional fastball so far comes in at his lowest average in any season measurable by PITCHf/x. His sinker, a favorite complement, has lost some zip, too. Note signs of nibbling, including more slider deployment, which looks like a problem given the decrease in his opponents' chase and swing rates. The latter marks the lowest figure PITCHf/x has ever gauged for him.

This sample size is small but significant enough to knock his Job Security score down a tick while keeping it at a high level, with the context that a few solid efforts will bump it back up to a 5. Is his sequencing becoming predictable? Simply deja vu of 2012 early-season woes, and all he needs is to work back into form? Keep an eye out for other troubling signs, and don't lose track of Hernandez if you don't have roster room for both.

Team
JS
HO
Closer
Understudy/Fill-in
Lurker(s)
Milwaukee Brewers
1
5
Jim Henderson John Axford Francisco Rodriguez M +
Brandon Kintzler
Mike Gonzalez
Mark Rogers DL

On Tuesday against the San Francisco Giants, Henderson gave up a run on two hits in the ninth inning. Luckily, he held a three-run Milwaukee Brewers lead and escaped after retiring the tying run twice. Hendo also came in Wednesday night during a tied ninth-frame cameo and danced around a walk for a scoreless effort. He earned the win when Milwaukee walked off.

Many Henderson owners will panic because of his recent stretch of non-SVO usage and may feel an extra heartbeat after the Brew Crew brought back Rodriguez on a minor-league pact. In cavernous leagues, speculation on K-Rod isn't the worst avenue, but this more so reflects Ron Roenicke's overall distrust in his bullpen than with Henderson's interim standing. Remember that Henderson was summoned in the eighth inning Sunday to limit a Milwaukee deficit. K-Rod would assume such setup situations if he's promoted.

This looks like the Jose Valverde signing: See what comes of a potential insurance policy while minimizing risk. Management still wants to see Axford in the role eventually, which means Rodriguez would need Henderson and the Ax to falter for him to get a shot.

"So you're telling me there's a chance?" Yes, Lloyd, but not one that'll come to fruition anytime soon.

Mound meetings

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim RP Ryan Madson
Madson getting closer ... to closer?

Andrew Bailey recorded a perfect inning and a save on each of the past two evenings, complete with three strikeouts. Bailey's shelf life would increase if the Boston Red Sox must keep sitting Joel Hanrahan, who experienced soreness in his hamstring while throwing off flat ground Thursday. He probably won't rehab for a few days.

Though it may not delay the incumbent much, this setback and manager John Farrell's reserved answer regarding Hanrahan's security gives Bailey an opportunity to claim the permanent role. The way he's performing, he may simply need to stay healthy.

***

Greg Holland mowed down the Atlanta Braves in a perfect, three-strikeout wrap-up Wednesday, temporarily quelling the Kansas City Royals' controversy. Per PITCHf/x, his four-seamer velocity sat at its highest average of any 2013 contest as he rung up Justin Upton, Evan Gattis and Dan Uggla. He seems to be building steam after displaying lukewarm giddy-up in March.

Despite allowing three homers Tuesday (pitch-tipping?), the peripherally gifted Kelvin Herrera still warrants stashing in deep leagues, but that urgency in shallows, outside handcuffing, is waning.

***

After throwing a bullpen session Tuesday, which he said was the "closest (he's) felt to normal," Ryan Madson (elbow) aims to return to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim by the end of April. Even after Madson resurfaces, Ernesto Frieri is expected to continue handling the ninth-inning gig, but Madson will be given the opportunity to fight his way back into it.

Expect early location issues, a common side effect of returning from Tommy John surgery, but he's worth carrying simply for his setup statistics, besides his chance at reclaiming the job.

***

Bobby Parnell blew his first opportunity of the season in the second contest of the New York Mets' Tuesday twin bill. It came in the eighth inning when he entered with runners at the corners and two outs, with a two-run advantage. A grounder that should've ended the inning instead resulted in an overthrow to first that scored both inherited ducks. Parnell worked around a walk and a single in the ninth to force extras.

This won't shorten his leash. Nor, for now, should the return of Frank Francisco (elbow), who on Wednesday threw a scoreless inning with a K for Class A Advanced St. Lucie.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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