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.
Though pitching coach Don Cooper told the Chicago Tribune there won't be a closer committee, there's still wind of Robin Ventura playing the matchup game for the Chicago White Sox. Does skip's secrecy point to him tabbing the spring buzz generator, Hector Santiago? Is he just overprotecting his strategy in his first season manning the bench?
The bullpen will reportedly know the plan beforehand, but we will learn it in Chicago's first opportunity. Pale Hose targets, in rank order, should be Matt Thornton, Addison Reed, Santiago (moves up a spot from earlier in the week, in a somewhat qualified hunch) and Jesse Crain.
Buck Showalter confirmed that Jim Johnson will close for the Baltimore Orioles, mercifully keeping fantasy owners from nauseatingly throwing Kevin Gregg into their lineups.
Reminder: Pestano, please
Jonathan Broxton will open the season as the Kansas City Royals' primary stopper. Greg Holland will be mixed in since Broxton will only pitch in the ninth inning and probably won't appear three days in a row. "If we have two or three save situations in a row, Broxton will get two of the three and Holland will get one," Ned Yost said. "I'm not going to pound Broxton out there three, four or five days in a row."
Both relievers are worth owning, and given Brox's rockiness in the last few years, he's hardly a bet to run away with it.
Taking the mound to start a tied bottom of the ninth yesterday, Mark Melancon gave up two singles. With one out, Alfredo Aceves, the designated Boston Red Sox closer for opening day, had to put out a fire without the reward of a save. He instead allowed one of Melancon's runners to cross home plate by plunking a batter and allowing the game-ending single.
The quick hook to bring in Aceves further shows how much Bobby Valentine trusts the vet, and since both arms struggled, this setback doesn't change the hierarchy. Still, you can bet on this being a frequent point of examination during the season.
A bit longer than expected, but hardly surprising: Kyle Farnsworth (elbow) probably needs four to six weeks of rest, presumably with some form of a rehab assignment after that. Hunker down, Farnsie stashers, and gather your contingencies.
Chris Perez allowed three runs on three hits and two walks to blow the Cleveland Indians save opp Thursday. Though he looked OK in his handful of spring outings, he's probably still rounding into form after his spring oblique strain.
The Tribe will give him plenty of rope, but he didn't take long to remind fantasy owners of how costly some of his outings can be. Vinnie Pestano, who restored order after Perez's mishap, should be your immediate grab if Perez shows extended trouble. Deep-league Perez owners should look to handcuff these two if they haven't already.
Brad Lidge was bailed out by the Windy City on Thursday; a hard-hit ball that probably would've left Wrigley Field off Ian Stewart's bat was blown back in the park. Lidge would eventually work around the resulting triple to escape with the one-run victory and his first save in place of DL inhabitant Drew Storen (elbow).
The Washington Nationals will continue to alternate daily between Lidge and Henry Rodriguez for save chances. Both are worth owning, though it will be a frustrating arrangement in a potentially short window.
Speaking of pain, Carlos Marmol showed some of his typical rockiness in recording the first two out in the ninth Thursday, allowing a double and a single to lose in a non-closing chance.
Luckily for him, he'll have time to improve, and no one else in the Chicago Cubs' bullpen presents enough of a threat in the near future. Kerry Wood was equally nerve-wracking yesterday, walking three, including one with the sacks jacked.
It'll take more than an opening day stumble for any waves to be made here. Wood isn't yet a fruitful pickup in most setups.
Sergio Santos recorded the final two outs for the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday to protect the three-run margin of victory but didn't record the save. John Farrell kept Luis Perez in for the first out of the ninth. Rule 10.19 d(1) ... blast.
Though this prompts painful flashbacks of Santos' Chicago White Sox handling (including splits versus lefties and erratic employment), the Toronto skip probably wanted to milk one more out from his long reliever in the 16-inning marathon before calling on his stopper.
No reason to worry. Just an unfortunate case when real baseball squashes fantasy hearts.
You didn't expect Jose Valverde to convert every save chance again, right? He squashed that notion yesterday by giving away the Detroit Tigers' two-run lead. He's still a solid midrange stopper, but his owners must expect more bumps this year.
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.