Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Hector Santiago, Javy Guerra, Jim Johnson, more

by Nicholas Minnix on April 26, 2012 @ 14:16:44 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 White Sox

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

Robin Ventura again iterated his desire to stick with Santiago as his closer, but the left-hander has to be on thin ice after the shellacking the Oakland Athletics put on him in the 14th stanza on Wednesday.

Los Angeles Dodgers RP Javy Guerra
Guerra knocked around in a few ways

That's two blown in six chances, which isn't Boston Red Sox territory but warrants examination of the damage: (1) Right-handed hitters have pummeled him, and (2) He's served up four big flies in his 6 1/3 innings.

On Tuesday, Tim blogged about Santiago's loss of feel for his screwball and some things Chicago has done to help him regain it. That pitch is vital to his success against right-handed hitters; otherwise, he's a southpaw specialist. He acknowledged that he's almost exclusively a fastball pitcher now.

Prior to the discovery of that unique pitch, Santiago was ordinary. If he's ordinary, he won't remain closer for long. He's already giving up way too many fly balls, a death knell at the Cell.

Ventura seemed to feel like the smart guy when he finally unveiled his choice to close this year, and publicly he remains supportive. He's cutting Santiago some slack. The warming Boston Red Sox are next on the docket, though, and they can hit bombs. Will Ventura be tempted to play matchups in that series? Santiago needs to get it together in his next appearance and for a while, period.

Fantasy baseball owners need to prepare for a possible change. It may not come, but throughout the spring, the staff has been adamant about its desire to use only one pitcher as its closer.

Although Thornton has done great work so far and is worth a pickup in deep leagues, the bet here is that Reed gets the call first. He was the only other reliever Ventura seriously considered for the role prior to opening day, and he's been equally spectacular, despite the fact that he's been used in earlier innings. The manager seems comfortable with his vets in setup roles.

Job security score: 1
Health score:

Mound meetings

The scrutiny will be intense because Javy Guerra couldn't maintain in a tied game on Tuesday before blowing last night's tilt against the Atlanta Braves. The right-hander recorded just one out but yielded three runs on five hits to cough it up.

Working in Guerra's favor is the track record he developed with his skipper in 2011. Don Mattingly supported Guerra, who'd blown his second save, and tried to shift the focus of the concern to his closer's health during post-game inquisitions.

In the Los Angeles Dodgers' game in question, with the one out and a man on first, Brian McCann drilled a liner into Guerra's right jaw. Tony Jackson recounts the details. Basically, although he remained in the game, it seems as if the reliever was rattled, to say the least, and probably should've been removed. It was all downhill after that incident.

In 2012, Guerra has already blown two, the same number he fumbled last season. But he's also saved seven Blue victories and is getting a pass on the second BS. Steve Dilbeck leads the defense team. Kenley Jansen remains worth owning in deep leagues, but a switch isn't imminent.


Roch Kubatko recounts a few theories that he and his cronies have on the Baltimore Orioles' summons of Jason Berken. One of them (a release of Kevin Gregg) would spark celebration at the Inner Harbor. The man's fourth thought - that Berken might be up in case Jim Johnson (illness) hits the disabled list - should grab attention.

Thus far, the cause of the flu-like symptoms and infection that have put Johnson in the hospital remain enough of a mystery that the O's haven't attempted to offer a hopeful date for his return. A stint could be backdated to Monday. In the club's past two games, Pedro Strop has swiftly finished the job in Johnson's stead.

Strop needed only 32 pitches combined in the past two nights, but he's also pitched on three of the last four days, so he may not be available against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday. Matt Lindstrom would be the logical fill-in in that instance. Strop should be owned in AL-only leagues and considered depending on the type of deep-mixed league.


Grant Balfour's blown save is the event that enabled the ChiSox and A's to squeeze an extra five frames from their Wednesday affair. The underrated Paul Konerko's 400th home run is responsible for Balfour's first BS of the season in six chances. No concerns here.

More Wednesday saviors

Craig Kimbrel (7), Braves  
Rafael Betancourt (6), Rockies  
Fernando Rodney (6), Rays Unearned run doesn't faze Kyle Farnsworth sub
Alfredo Aceves (4), Red Sox Allowed a hit and a walk, but no runs
Sean Marshall (4), Reds  
Brett Myers (3), Astros  
Tom Gorzelanny (1), Nationals The good ol' 3-inning, excessive-run-support deal
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Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat | AL depth charts | NL depth charts

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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