Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Antonio Bastardo, Carlos Marmol, more

by Nicholas Minnix on July 20, 2011 @ 14:22:01 PDT


What are the odds that you still own the relief pitchers you rostered in your fantasy baseball draft?'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) score 1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable)
Health (H) score 1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)

Chicago Cubs

Closer: Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall

Understudy: Kerry Wood

The Cubs turned to presumed temp closer Marshall with one on and no outs in the eighth inning on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies. The southpaw yielded a two-run double that tied the game and thus resulted in a BS in the stat sheet. In the ninth, he served up another two-run double to take the L.

Mike Quade indicated after the loss that he had been prepared to use both Marshall and Wood to continue the fine work Matt Garza had done before handing the ball over. Obviously, Wood never appeared. Prior to the game, the club's skipper declared that he would decide whom he'd use to close - between Marmol and Marshall - on a day-to-day basis. When the former would earn consideration will depend on the circumstances, he said.

The skipper has been elusive about when Marmol will return to the back end full-time, and it sounds like he wants to employ a matchup platoon. The right-hander was unavailable on Tuesday after he threw 29 pitches in mop-up duty on Monday. Quade seems reluctant to insert Wood when a save is possible.

Carlos Marmol, RP, Chicago Cubs
Next save chance Marmol's?

Marshall's two-frame disaster may clinch the urgency to move Marmol back into the ninth, though. The right-hander's next appearance will probably come in a save sitch. If so and it goes relatively smoothly, it shouldn't be long before he's the main man again.

Marshall certainly remains worthy of ownership in deep leagues because Quade seems noncommittal about any arrangement and is most concerned with victories. The manager hasn't even completed his first full season at the helm and is already feeling the heat.

Job security score: 4

Health score: 4

Philadelphia Phillies

Closer: Antonio Bastardo

Understudy: Ryan Madson

Lurkers: Brad Lidge (DL), Jose Contreras (DL)

Bastardo fanned three in a perfect inning to save Philly's aforementioned come-from-behind victory against the Chicago Cubs. At this point he's probably proven to Charlie Manuel that he warrants some involvement in the ninth from here on out. The Wilmington News Journal's David Hale even wrote that "there's a case to be made to stick with the hot hand in the ninth."

Madson will certainly see a save chance again at some point, probably soon. His changeup makes him extremely effective against left-handed hitters, so there's no need for a matchup-dictated arrangement. Uncle Charlie ignores numbers often and sticks to "conventional wisdom," though, so it wouldn't be surprising to see it play out as a platoon.

The thing is, Bastardo has a quality change, too, and he's had even more success against righties than lefties this year. He's also among the league leaders in rate of infield fly balls induced this season, for pitchers with at least 30 innings.

The Phils appear set either way, but confusion about roles could lead to more problems than solutions if the skipper isn't careful. Trouble is unlikely, but it would be wasteful if the club traded for an established closer, like the San Diego Padres' Heath Bell or the Florida Marlins' Leo Nunez.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

  • The New York Mets' first save opp post-Francisco Rodriguez indeed went to Jason Isringhausen. The veteran notched career save No. 294 by pitching a perfect ninth and punching out one.
    Bobby Parnell struck out one while setting up Izzy, but he needed an Albert Pujols double-play ball to end the eighth after he'd allowed two hits and hit a batter to load the bases with one out. He may yet see save chances, but perhaps only if Izzy is dealt or gets No. 300.
  • Chris Perez recorded a fly-out before giving up a walk, a double, an intentional walk and, finally, the two-run single to Danny Valencia that spoiled Justin Masterson's super shutout effort in 7 2/3 innings. Perez was happy with the pitch he made to his former roommate at and friend from the U that resulted in the heroic blooper, though.
    Perez's reaction suggests that he believes he was unlucky in that instance, but he's been surviving on a .233 BABIP this season. His stuff is good enough that he won't necessarily suffer through major regression (his career rate against is .243) in that department. The seriously declining swinging-strike percentage and, naturally, the 5.80 K/9 are bothersome, however. With a 4.54 BB/9, the inevitable corrections may be tougher than fantasy owners are expecting.
  • The Philadelphia Daily News' David Murphy reports that Brad Lidge (shoulder soreness) threw a perfect inning for Single-A Lakewood on Wednesday. He coaxed two ground-ball outs and struck out the other; seven of his 10 pitches went for strikes.
    The right-hander said afterward that everything feels great, noting his slider, in particular. His heater apparently showed no significantly improved velocity, but Lidge felt that his command of it and its downward angle were more important to its usefulness. He also believes that a return to the bigs (adrenaline boost) might pack on 1 or 2 mph. We'll see.
  • In the absence of Kevin Gregg, Jim Johnson saved the Baltimore Orioles' 6-2 win against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday with two perfect stanzas (but no K's). MASN's Roch Kubatko (aka The Man, although he doesn't go by that title) reported that Buck Showalter had planned to call on Koji Uehara in the ninth, but the O's tacked on three runs in the eighth and canceled a save sitch for the next man up.
    The O's would also like to give Johnson a look in the rotation before the end of the season, so they have no qualms with letting him go a couple of frames. Gregg's three-game suspension ends on Wednesday, so Uehara has only one more day to steal one.
  • Perhaps a little clarity: On a night when Kyle Farnsworth was unavailable, Joe Maddon nominated Joel Peralta (as most would've expected) in a save situation. The right-hander pitched a perfect frame, with one strikeout, to notch his first closure for the Tampa Bay Rays.
  • Joe Nathan put another notch in his belt on Wednesday. Thankfully, he had a three-run lead, because he served up a round-tripper to Lonnie Chisenhall before securing the victory for the Minnesota Twins. The right-hander struck out no one. He'd gone nine straight games without allowing a run until that point, however.
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates made Joel Hanrahan unavailable for their Wednesday afternoon affair because of his recent workload. No issues here.
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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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