During the regular season, the Closer Hot Seat will be your go-to guide for Major League Baseball's bullpen chatter. During spring training, KFFL's Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Session will get you tuned up for the fantasy baseball saves chase. Camp happenings don't always impact closer battles, but if there's MLB news you should know for your fantasy baseball draft, you'll find it here.
A second exam confirmed ulnar collateral ligament damage in Joakim Soria's right elbow. He's taking a few days to weigh his options, but this is looking like Tommy John surgery, which would sideline him until 2013.
In conjunction with Soria's impending decision, Ned Yost could confirm his initial plan for Kansas City Royals saves. If you need to act before he does, consider Jonathan Broxton over Greg Holland, though it's hardly cemented.
Start planning ahead
Another hitch in an already trying offseason for Carlos Marmol: The Chicago Cubs' K machine had to leave his Tuesday outing due to a cramp in his palm near the base of his right index and middle fingers. Results of a precautionary MRI should be released today, but he said he felt normal soon after he was removed.
Before he was forced to exit, Marmol introduced his new two-seamer; the pitch's movement ran well in the strike zone and impressed onlooker Peter Gammons. Could the introduction have caused his hand to tighten?
Until we find out more, drafters shouldn't dock Marmol more than his walk-stained approach already does within the midrange mixed closer grouping. Though it doesn't appear he'll miss time, in the event he does, Kerry Wood lines up as the saves fill-in under the bullpen's current construction.
If an emergency situation hits this underwhelming 'pen, Dale Sveum could reverse course on expected starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, the best 2011 Cubbies reliever not named Sean Marshall.
Three of Jordan Walden's five spring appearances have produced scoreless lines. But his Tuesday gaffe (four earned runs on five hits in one-third of an inning) shows he's still working through some things, like fine-tuning his new changeup and overall location.
"It didn't look like he was in sync in his delivery," said Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia. "It looked like he was feeling for some stuff. The ball wasn't coming out like we know it can, and he was missing some spots. He had trouble putting some guys away, and that was what got him today."
That's what typically corrupts the Marmolian righty, even when he's in midseason form. No hints of spring health issues, but his WHIPlash and surprising tendency to throw batting practice have slightly less room for failure with the Halos' newly acquired veteran backenders.
At the same time, Walden, who also lost 18 pounds in the offseason, has been getting tutelage from LaTroy Hawkins and Jason Isringhausen on their mental approaches and routines; maybe new cues will calm him a bit and let him focus on his triple-digit stuff.
The fastball and upside are elite, and he has no comp to start 2012. Walden's profile and secondary stuff, on the other hand, are hardly pristine. Beware overvaluation.
Dealing with "general soreness" in his right arm, Brian Wilson (elbow) is moving his schedule back a day and will throw in a minor league game Thursday. San Francisco Giants skipper Bruce Bochy says The Beard might be dealing with dead arm but isn't yet concerned. Well, fantasy owners shouldn't write off elbow and arm issues for a stopper; this is the type of news that should remind you not to go the extra buck on Wilson.
Brett Myers has settled down. 2012 marks the first time in his career he has prepared as a reliever in spring training, and his adjustment to an unpredictable schedule did a number on him during early March action.
In a two-inning Saturday appearance, Myers' fastball hit 91 and 92 mph. He hasn't yielded a run in his last three appearances and is incorporating more of his breaking stuff.
Thanks to a K/9 expected to fall short of a closer's standards, he remains in the bottom region of mixed stoppers. Still, sustaining the velo uptick that comes with a rotation-to-reliever transition (even one less potent than his last venture) would make him a tad safer for barrel-scraping fantasy baseball drafters and for the Houston Astros to let him bide time in the role.
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 competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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