Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Alfredo Aceves, Hector Santiago, Fernando Rodney, more

by Nicholas Minnix on April 9, 2012 @ 17:40:48 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)

Boston Red Sox

Closer: Andrew Bailey DL
Understudy: Alfredo Aceves, Mark Melancon
Lurkers: Franklin Morales, Vicente Padilla, Daniel Bard

Boston Red Sox RP Alfredo Aceves
Where do BoSox go from here?

This bullpen is already in shambles. ESPN has replayed the lowlights enough; Sunday's timeline is irrelevant. Aceves hasn't retired a batter in his two appearances. In his pair, Melancon has recorded a total of three outs but has also yielded five hits, including Alex Avila's walk-off bomb yesterday.

After yesterday's disaster, Bobby Valentine acknowledged that Bard "might be" an option. Numerous New England columnists have called for the Red Sox to abandon the Bard-as-starter experiment. The righty is scheduled to make his first start of 2012 on Tuesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays. Expect him to make it.

Let's face it: Where Valentine goes from here is uncertain and unlikely to be the last stop. Motown hosts one of baseball's best lineups, so the skipper may not be ready to go away from one of his pets, Aceves, either.

On Sunday, Padilla (four scoreless innings) "set up" Aceves and has performed well in random stints as a closer in his career. After Aceves surrendered Miguel Cabrera's game-tying, three-run jack, Bobby V called on Morales (two scoreless innings). Either of them may be a short-term candidate. In ST, Padilla battled for a spot and could replace Bard in the rotation, however. Morales is the club's only healthy 'pen lefty, which probably excludes him.

In shallow leagues, there are almost certainly better options than the Red Sox's initial substitutes. In deep leagues, they may be worth holding (although not playing). But in that same kind of league, if you're trolling, Padilla and, to a lesser extent, Morales may be worth stashing. Above all, Bard should be owned in most formats, because if a solution doesn't emerge quickly, Bobby V may have no choice.

Job security score: 1
Health score:

Chicago White Sox

Closer: Hector Santiago
Understudy: Matt Thornton, Addison Reed
Lurkers: Jesse Crain

Robin Ventura seemed giddy to reveal the identity of his closer, despite the fact that he refused to name him prior to that man's first appearance in the role. Santiago is the hottest fantasy pickup in the land because of Saturday's revelation.

On one hand, nothing in the southpaw's minor league history infers that his emergence as a closer was inevitable. Santiago, 24, spent three-plus seasons as a reliever below Double-A ball before last year, when he was a starter for his entire farm stint.

On the other hand, a screwball that he discovered accidentally and a continually developing repertoire, period, make him tough to predict, let alone hit - from either side of the dish. Santiago's heater is low- to mid-90s material. He throws a decent changeup and has been working on a cutter.

Ventura loved this idea because it allowed him to keep his reliable setup men in their roles and making Reed a sixth-inning or matchup man. Frankly, Reed still looks like the best man for this gig in the long term. In deep leagues, hang on to him and Thornton, for now.

Roto managers can't ignore this development, and the lefty may have the goods to hang on. Santiago could stumble next week, or never. His career arc suggests the latter, but only time will tell.

Job security score: 2
Health score:

Tampa Bay Rays

Closer: Kyle Farnsworth DL
Understudy: Fernando Rodney, Joel Peralta
Lurkers: J.P. Howell, Jake McGee

On Saturday, with one out and a five-run lead in the ninth against the New York Yankees, Peralta inherited a couple of base runners - not a save sitch! - from Josh Lueke and struck out Derek Jeter before yielding a home run. Joe Maddon turned to lefty Jake McGee to face Robinson Cano (like it matters) and turned that into a save situation. McGee walked Cano.

The Rays' skipper then summoned right-handed Rodney - love those matchups! -to face Alex Rodriguez. One pitch, ground-out, game over.

Rodney recorded a one-out save on Sunday, too. Cue the coronation.

It'll be no shock if Tampa Bay resuscitates Rodney's career. The multi-time deposed closer can't possibly have suddenly shucked the serious problems he's had with walks, in particular, however. Peralta owners should remain hopeful. Roto people with a spot to spare should snatch up Rodney, too, though. In AL leagues, it may not hurt to stash McGee or Howell, either.

Unsurprisingly, Farnsie (elbow soreness) requires rest for four to six weeks. That means he'll need another couple of weeks, if not more, before he's on an MLB mound. This hairy situation matters, and it may for a couple of months, at least. Don't put Rodney's name in ink, especially with the way Maddon handles this bullpen. Peralta is still more than worth owning.

Job security score: 3
Health score:

Mound meetings

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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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