Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Bruce Rondon, Edward Mujica, more

by Nicholas Minnix on April 23, 2013 @ 13:19:13 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

Here's what we think we know about the St. Louis Cardinals' bullpen:

  • St. Louis Cardinals RP Edward Mujica
    Mujica to owners' ears
    Motte (partial tear in UCL) is, informally, toast for 2013.
  • Boggs sucks (right now) and isn't getting near a ninth-inning save situation any time soon. (Maybe never again!)
  • Mujica is getting outs -- 22 of them in April, with just one run allowed. That alone gives him a big advantage over Boggs and, in the short term at minimum, anyone else. Mike Matheny and other St. Louis staffers have publicly expressed their confidence in him recently for his ability to do consistently exactly what he's done to this point.
  • Rosenthal is one of those over whom Mujica has an advantage. As Derrick Goold reported (and has been implied for some time), the righty is also the reliever the organization would like to see lay claim to the closer's role, given the circumstances. Matheny even seems to be willing to push him out there sooner or later.

Where does that leave us?

If you scooped up Mujica, you may have the club's closer for the next two weeks, next two months or rest of the season. You cannot know with anything resembling certainty, but the longer the period is that you think he'll remain closer, the likelier you are to be incorrect.

Rosenthal's opportunity to garner saves appears to have a practically inverse relationship with Mujica's. If you have him, you want to hold him. If you don't have him, you want to get him. His price may seem high for a non-closer, but it's unlikely to dip much because of the perception about him.

Mujica will close as long as he pitches well and the alternatives aren't as good. If one or the other changes, all bets are off. Good luck.

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

The Detroit Tigers called up spring training darling Rondon to replace Dotel (inflammation in right elbow) on the 25-man. The 22-year-old righty didn't allow a run, with five hits and two walks surrendered as well as nine K's, in 7 2/3 innings with Triple-A Toledo. Along the way, he registered three saves.

Valverde has made three one-frame appearances for Class A advanced Lakeland. He's walked two, given up two hits and fanned four. In his last, he struck out the side. The 35-year-old right-hander has to be near a promotion to the Mud Hens. Perhaps Rondon's call-up will be a catalyst for that transaction.

Speculation has abounded that Detroit will deploy Rondon in low-stress situations, with opportunities to move into later innings based on his performance. Eventually, closing consideration could be in play. For that reason, he warrants a spot on fantasy rosters, where folks can spare it.

Valverde's viability gains traction each time he faces greater competition, but the comp still hasn't been great. His salary won't dictate an impetus to give him a shot at the gig, but his ownership of it in the previous two seasons will carry some weight. If you can stand it, you can own him. Los Tigres don't have to promote him by May 8 if they're happy.

Detroit has a very good bullpen. They just don't have someone they call "closer" yet. Jim Leyland won't endorse Benoit for the long term, so Benoit probably isn't the long-term answer, no matter how well he pitches. Unfortunately for Alburquerque (and his owners), it doesn't look good for him, either, although his performance isn't a reason for that.

It sure seems like the Tigers want Rondon to stake his claim, doesn't it?

Mound meetings

KFFL's closer depth charts raised Greg Holland's Job Security rating to open the week following his string of four consecutive appearances in which he notched saves. He did so convincingly, and rather easily, in his last three (three stanzas): no hits or walks allowed, with eight strikeouts. The righty saved both ends of Sunday's twin bill at the Boston Red Sox.

Kansas City Royals RP Greg Holland
Sunday: Double Dutch

The Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton wrote a nice little piece which simply confirms that the Kansas City Royals' closer has put to rest any concerns about his performance. Ned Yost maintained his confidence in Holland, at least publicly, and the reliever has responded in kind.

Those holding Kelvin Herrera for nothing other than the hope for saves -- those in shallow or medium-depth mixed leagues, basically -- are free to jettison him if that category is their primary concern.

***

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim reliever Ryan Madson had another supposed setback in his return from Tommy John surgery. After a session at the end of last week, he felt soreness. The Halos are moving forward as if it's not a big deal, so it probably isn't. He's scheduled to throw again soon.

Ernesto Frieri, meanwhile, entered the ninth inning of the Angels' Monday night contest against the Texas Rangers with the score tied and exited with his club trailing because he yielded a solo dinger to A.J. Pierzynski. That's HR No. 2 that the righty has given up.

The frequency with which hitters put balls in the air against him suggests that's an ever-present danger. A big home yard and his penchant for inducing pop-ups and other types of jam shots mitigate the worry. He's the closer for the foreseeable future.

Madson has already endured what is likely to be his biggest setback, which came in spring training. Recovery from serious surgery isn't often smooth. Once Madson returns to the bigs and demonstrates that he's more than competent -- say, after the break -- he'll be an option to close. It'll probably take a wild stretch, in which a few long balls hurt, from Frieri to bring it about.

***

Joakim Soria won't be a bridge to Joe Nathan for the Texas Rangers until at least sometime in July now that the righty, who's recovering from TJS, is dealing with a strained pectoral muscle, too.

The long-term capability of the Rangers' bullpen is somewhat dependent on the eventual comebacks of Soria and Neftali Feliz (TJS also). If the club is contending and expects to remain that way, it may feel compelled to look for help outside the organization.

***

On Friday night, Jose Veras picked up his first save of 2013 and moved into a tie with Erik Bedard for the lead on the Houston Astros. Veras is on pace for 10 saves ... maybe 11.

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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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