Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Jim Johnson needs break, Rafael Soriano blown up, more

by Nicholas Minnix on August 16, 2013 @ 12:30:00 PDT


Pages 1 | 2 | all'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.

Baltimore Orioles
Francisco Rodriguez Darren O'Day
Brian Matusz
Tommy Hunter

Johnson has blown three consecutive save opportunities, all coming in the past week. Each of them was the result of a singular run charged to the right-hander, but the damage could have been worse: He walked two and allowed seven hits combined in the three innings spanning those appearances. Johnson has blown nine of 48 chances in 2013.

Washington Nationals  RP Rafael Soriano
Soriano failed to untuck Thursday

Buried in this piece from the team's official site, although not altogether, is Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter's declaration that Johnson will remain the closer. That's not a total surprise, but it has reached the point of disappointment, to say the least. The reliever's stuff isn't as sharp as it was last year, and he appears to be mentally drained.'s Roch Kubatko shared his thoughts on the subject, and he's pretty much on the money: Showalter's loyalty is admirable, but at this point, it's a disservice to the player and his team. ESPN SweetSpot blogger David Schoenfield makes the case that Johnson has been the club's least valuable player, and it's difficult to argue otherwise.

Basically, fantasy owners shouldn't drop Johnson, but they can't bank on him for the rest of the season. They need insurance, because the O's need to make a change, at least temporarily. K-Rod appears to be the smartest bet; that's sort of why Baltimore acquired him, right? O'Day and Hunter are adequate AL-only plays, at least, as well.

Mound meetings

Rafael Soriano notched his fifth blown save of 2013 on Thursday when he served up a three-run homer to San Francisco Giants catcher Hector Sanchez, who was pinch hitting. Soriano was working on his third day in a row, but after the contest, Davey Johnson said afterward that such a schedule shouldn't be a problem for any closer.

New York Mets RP Gonzalez Germen
Germen in mix for Mets

Soriano has a 7.84 ERA in 10 1/3 innings since the All-Star break. He has been known to let his emotions affect him on the mound, but Johnson was unhappiest with the righty's mental mistakes prior to the Sanchez bomb.

Johnson has a working excuse -- the overall failings of the Nats' bullpen -- for Soriano, but he has alternatives, and he abhors mental errors. In case Soriano continues to lapse, fantasy owners should be prepared.

The Washington Nationals recalled Drew Storen from Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday, coincidentally. Tyler Clippard, who has a 2.03 ERA and did the job for a spell last year, seems likelier to be Soriano's replacement in the event of a change, however.

"Mound meetings" also explores Rockies, Mariners, Mets

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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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