Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Tommy Hunter saves another, Edward Mujica worn down, more

by Tim Heaney on August 23, 2013 @ 12:15:04 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
HO
Closer
Understudy/Fill-in
Lurker(s)
Baltimore Orioles
1
5
Francisco Rodriguez INJ Tommy Hunter
Darren O'Day
Brian Matusz

Wednesday night's Baltimore Orioles victory featured a save occasion, but Johnson didn't come in or even warm up beforehand. An unsuccessful ninth-inning matchup mixture of O'Day and Matusz that allowed a single and a walk prompted Hunter to rescue them and wrap up the 4-2 victory, with help from a game-ending Matt Wieters CS.

St. Louis Cardinals RP Trevor Rosenthal
Rosenthal ready to wrap up

When asked if JJ was available, Buck Showalter said he "could've pushed it" but noted that Johnson had tuned up two or three days in a row, and pitched on Tuesday (three hits, no runs in two-thirds of an inning). Showalter also said, when asked by the media if they should read into sitting his stopper, "Jimmy's our best option, one of them. ... We've got a lot of good options and we'll continue to make use of them."

Sure sounds like a quasi-committee, with Johnson in the lead. The fact that his absence may have been related to his frequent warm-up schedule points to him remaining the priority. However, Hunter is worth a grab in deep formats; despite Showalter's penchant to go with matchups, O'Day and Matusz are likely to be used more frequently in such tight situations to set up the savior, instead of doing it themselves.

It's a tricky spot, though: Hunter sits behind presumptive understudy Rodriguez, who may or may not still be nursing a groin injury. He pitched Monday night but hasn't seen game action since, and reports on his status since have been slim; they may just be easing him back into action.

Rodriguez owners should ready themselves to switch to Hunter at a moment's notice -- or lock him up now -- if the second in command must go on the DL. Of course, going further down the ladder will frustrate mixed leaguers.

Team
JS
HO
Closer
Understudy/Fill-in
Lurker(s)
St. Louis Cardinals
4
4
Edward Mujica INJ Trevor Rosenthal Seth Maness
Kevin Siegrist
Michael Wacha +

It's not Code Red yet, but at this point in the season and with the "smoke, fire" principle, you must grab Rosenthal while you can just in case. (Deep-leaguers probably have already stashed him for his setup K's.)

Mujica's fatigue-related soreness and stiffness in his shoulder, mentioned in Tuesday's CHS, have been detailed as a balky shoulder, a sore lat muscle and "a knot" near his neck, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He was unavailable for the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday following treatment and shouldn't be expected Friday, either. Luckily, the arm and shoulder are structurally sound, GM John Mozeliak said.

Mujica recorded a save Wednesday but did so for four outs and only after surrendering a solo tater in the ninth. That one-plus-frame stint exacerbated a recent stretch in which three of four appearances lasted two; he had just one such gig pre-break. He's had experience eating RP stanzas before, but his expectations for use have changed this season, so the demand probably has hit him all at once.

Rosenthal, all things equal, remains next in line, but he's pitched on two straight days and probably will sit if a SVO surfaces Friday. In most setups, it's not worth trying to guess who'd come next after Rosenthal for a one-shot deal.

Mound meetings

Rafael Betancourt's season and career may be over after an initial evaluation pointed to a potentially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right (throwing) elbow. He'll undergo an MRI Monday to confirm, but the Colorado Rockies and their longtime stopper are expecting the worst. Rex Brothers will slide back into the closer role. Add him now.

***

Chicago White Sox RP Addison Reed
Reed workin' overtime

Following a rough stretch, Rafael Soriano has rattled off two straight scoreless spots. They haven't been clean, though, as he's given up four hits in the 1 1/3 combined innings. Soriano's two-batter cameo Thursday sent the Washington Nationals to extra innings, where Drew Storen recorded the save in the 13th.

Soriano acknowledged he's been leaving pitches up in the zone -- logical, considering he gave up a home run in each of the three jobs preceding his shutout pair. He's walking fewer batters than he did in 2012, so further repair of his location should get him back on track. If it doesn't and Davey Johnson says "Sorry, Sori," Tyler Clippard, despite Storen's recent success, would probably step in for most normal opportunities.

***

Addison Reed, hopefully, will get a break Friday. He's locked up a Chicago White Sox save on each of the past three days and has performed on six of the last seven. Worth noting that since June ended, he boasts a 1.85 ERA with 21 K's in 24 1/3 innings and has a 13-for-14 record on SVOs.

Spelling him constitutes a toss-up (at least from what we know) between Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom, who'd probably share duties if anything were to keep Reed out for an extended stretch.

***

Sam LeCure, who's been a surprising holds accumulator in a depleted Cincinnati Reds bullpen, recorded his first career save Thursday. Aroldis Chapman threw two innings the night before and wasn't available. Given that Chapman has been a touch more hittable of late, maybe Dusty Baker will be more cautious of when to use him as the club continues its march toward the postseason.

***

Frank Francisco (elbow) resurfaced Wednesday in his first rehab outing since July 15. In Gulf Coast League action, he coughed up a homer but struck out a pair of batters. Should we care? Both Frank Frank and closer Bobby Parnell (neck) remain uncertain to return this year, and only desperate NL-only players should keep the faint hope that Francisco would challenge interim wrapper-upper LaTroy Hawkins if he does.

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Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat | Closer depth charts

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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