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.
Not written off yet
Andrew Bailey's right thumb will require surgery to repair, and he'll have it on Wednesday, per Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. Earlier on this Tuesday, WEEI posted a simple breakdown of the likely diagnoses for Bailey. Since surgery seemed like a foregone conclusion, roto players should expect the reliever to be shelved for about three months. An earlier return sounds possible, but don't bank on it.
Josh Beckett is dealing with an injury to the same digit, and another opinion has been considered purely precautionary; the Boston Red Sox expect him to take the mound on Saturday against the Detroit Tigers.
Alfredo Aceves, who serves as the backup plan for Beckett, is also an option to close in Bailey's absence, in Bobby Valentine's eyes. Don't bypass the right-hander, who could be good for a few saves.
More than that? Certainly possible. The potential issue is the stability of Boston's rotation, Beckett's availability be damned. Felix Doubront could fail, and the team will have to shut down Daniel Bard, 26, or move him back to the bullpen later this year to avoid a large workload increase. Boston has a couple of veteran alternatives - Aaron Cook and Vicente Padilla - but do they sound like solutions or stopgaps? What's the over/under on the number of spot starts that Aceves makes in 2012?
Bobby V's stated preference is to have one man turning out the lights; Aceves seems like an unlikely candidate for that job. That, of course, leaves Mark Melancon as the odds-on favorite and therefore the initial roto target. Aceves belongs on AL rosters, at least, though. Melancon is quite hittable - scary in the AL East - and if he proves incapable, Bobby V could shuffle again. Valentine has an affinity for Aceves, too, so don't assume that he can't be the guy from the beginning.
Roto managers will get some answers within the next 24 hours, but they may only raise more questions. Consider Boston's arrangement somewhat tentative. Gordon Edes, ESPNBoston.com's BoSox beat man, told the Baseball Tonight crew that he believes the team will go with Bard, a possibility you shouldn't dismiss, although it's one that Ben Cherington has ruled out for now.
Kyle Farnsworth is dealing with elbow soreness that will likely plant him on the disabled list to open the season. The Tampa Bay Rays won't know for sure until Wednesday or Thursday, per the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin, although the reporter sounds pretty convinced. Elbow pain limited the right-hander last September, too, although Farnsworth has reportedly been healthy since, after a light winter and spring.
Farnsie owners should acquire Joel Peralta before the vultures do. As the news piece notes, Fernando Rodney and even J.P. Howell could be alternatives, although only AL-only players should ponder a pickup of them for now.
ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin handed fantasy baseball players who drafted Frank Francisco (left knee injury) some good news. The reliever tossed a bullpen session on Tuesday morning and, afterward, declared himself ready for opening day.
The righty told reporters that he received a cortisone shot on Sunday, and his MRI revealed no structural problems. It sounds like the New York Mets can expect him to be available from the get-go.
Nevertheless, Francisco is no stranger to health problems. The news is especially positive if this ailment is the primary cause of his spring dip in velocity, which he appeared to recover in his last appearance. If something else is responsible, well, then, look out. But that's why you didn't pay much to get him, right?
If you're in a deep league, Jon Rauch and the others Tim pointed out will be on your just-in-case list.
Sean Marshall is Dusty Baker's closer to begin the season. What does it mean? Industry folks and those in other highly competitive formats have been drafting him as if that were the expectation. In many leagues that haven't held their drafts, the left-hander's draft stock will rise.
"It's Marshall right now," is how Baker put it. The Cincinnati Reds' manager seems impressed by his reliever's makeup. Should the left-hander experience a stretch of rough rides in the ninth, however, he may be subject to demotion, temporary or otherwise.
Baker also told the media that his organization still projects Aroldis Chapman as a starter in the long term. Needs in the bullpen dictated the choice to move him to the 'pen. The skipper dismissed lefty Bill Bray as a candidate for late-innings work. It sounds like Chapman will set up, at least occasionally, and that makes him a possible Plan B in the ninth as well as worth a roster spot in deep leagues.
Making this situation more interesting: Cincy's claim of Alfredo Simon. The Baltimore Orioles used him as a reliever (even closer) as well as a starter. The Reds' rotation has no room, and it's much easier to hide Simon's spotty control issues in the bullpen, where his mid- to upper-90s heat can play well. In NL leagues, he, like Jose Arredondo, could eventually be worth a flier.
Drew Storen doesn't know his next steps, but he's approaching his schedule as if it were a do-over on spring training. The news has been nothing but positive since the announcement that the Washington Nationals' right-hander will begin the season on the DL.
Both he and manager Davey Johnson believe that a return by mid-April is possible. To be safe, fantasy baseball teams should prepare to be without Storen until near the end of the month, because the Nats will not rush him, and he's in no hurry.
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.