Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Kenley Jansen, Dale Thayer, Ernesto Frieri, more

by Nicholas Minnix on May 8, 2012 @ 13:42:02 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)

Los Angeles Dodgers

Closer: Kenley Jansen
Understudy/Fill-in: Javy Guerra

Chicago Cubs RP Carlos Marmol
Taking instruction to heart?

Don Mattingly changed the guard. Last night, Tim gave the lowdown on the change. Basically, fantasy owners have been anticipating this. Jansen has been owned in most competitive leagues since draft day and was probably at that status in nearly all of them by the time Donnie Baseball made the decision.

As the Diamond Market notes, Guerra retains a little value, but it's improbable that those who retain him will redeem it.

Hollywood's back end of the bullpen could become a carousel. Judging from the way that Jansen has adapted to the role of pitcher - period, in his mere three years of doing it - it seems likelier that this is the last time the Dodgers will have to make a switch for quite a while.

Job security score: 2
Health score:

San Diego Padres

Closer: Huston Street DL
Understudy/Fill-in: Andrew Cashner, Dale Thayer
Lurkers: Luke Gregerson

Thayer, who seemed like the least likely option to close in Street's absence, notched the Friars' first save post-Street 2012. If you didn't already, put Thayer's name ahead of one of his bullpen mates in this temporary pecking order and onto NL rosters.

It's not as if Bud Black just preferred to use his best reliever available to tackle the tougher portion of the Colorado Rockies' lineup in the eighth. Gregerson set up by retiring Marco Scutaro, Jordan Pacheco and Carlos Gonzalez. In the ninth, Thayer faced Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton and Michael Cuddyer, setting them down in order.

Last night, Black may have opted for Thayer's invaluable experience (that is, on the farm). But Cashner also probably required rest - and a mental break - following his laborious 39-pitch effort on Sunday (3 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K in two-thirds of a frame).

Even if the young right-hander was available, his overzealous approach (the stadium readout frequently flashed triple digits) in a tied game warranted a metaphorical slap to the face. Black and Darren Balsley had to be unhappy with Cashner's reckless lasers in a situation that required only that he dial it back a few and locate. He probably cost the Pads a shot at a W.

Barring an announcement that states otherwise, Cashner is still in the running for save opportunities, perhaps still the leader. His control is already way too much of an issue to be that wild in such pivotal situations, especially for SD, though. Anymore lack of respect for protocol, and Cashner will probably remain in a setup role.

Job security score: 1
Health score:

Mound meetings

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim declared that they'll go to either Ernesto Frieri or Jordan Walden in a save situation while Scott Downs (tweaked knee, day-to-day) is unavailable. Downs' injury is apparently not serious, so the Halos expect him to avoid a DL stint.

Frieri remains the fantasy choice, at least over Walden, in the short term. You can base that on recent usage alone, never mind the fact that Mike Scioscia demoted Walden from the role and wants to see the young righty change a few things before he receives consideration for it again. The skipper has been kind of a hard-liner in his career; he may fear that he's sending the wrong message if he uses Walden as anything more than a "savior of last resort."

Frieri may be a better own than Downs just because of the way Scioscia has glowingly discussed his club's recent acquisition and the fact that Frieri is right-handed. The two could end up sharing the job for now, which would still benefit Frieri's owners more than Downs'. Downs has credibility going for him, at least.


On Monday, Dale Sveum told the media that he wanted to stay away from Rafael Dolis that night because the righty pitched two stanzas (30 offerings) in Sunday's exra-innings win. That workload points to a potential problem for Dolis, if he's the guy, one to which Tim also alluded on Friday.

The Chicago Cubs picked up a couple of runs in the bottom of the eighth of their 5-1 win against the Atlanta Braves last night, voiding a possible save sitch entering the contest's final frame. Sveum likely went with his plan for the ninth - James Russell - anyway. The southpaw served up a leadoff double but struck out two to help him avoid any damage.

Sveum's statement and his utilization of his relievers seem to confirm that the consideration for save opps goes to Dolis first, Russell second.

Incidentally, Carlos Marmol worked the top of the eighth, keeping it scoreless despite walking two to open the frame. He threw only 13 of his 25 pitches for strikes, but it's worth noting that at least three-fifths of his offerings were four-seamers. Sveum and Chris Bosio expect Marmol to rely on his fastball, no matter how afraid he is to throw it.

Maybe if Marmol continues to get out of such hairy jams, he'll continue to listen. If he does, this demotion probably won't last as long as it seemed it would initially. Let's not get too far ahead, but stash Marmol if someone hastily dropped him.


Jim Leyland gave both Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit Monday night off, so when the Detroit Tigers led the Seattle Mariners 2-0 at the end of 8 1/2, the skipper turned to righty killer Octavio Dotel. After all, Ichiro Suzuki, who would lead off the inning, was the only left-handed hitter due up.

Let's just say that Leyland might try to steer clear of future situations in which both Papa Grande and his understudy need rest, at least for a bit.


Last night, the New York Mets' hitters battled Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth of a tied game with some tough at-bats before Jordany Valdespin took the Philadelphia Phillies' closer deep - on a two-seam fastball that was down - for a three-run bomb. Sometimes, the other guys just get the best of you.


All kinds of tweets and articles about the "complications" Mariano Rivera ran into during his Monday visits to three different doctors for consultation regarding eventual surgery to repair his torn ACL. No specifics yet. Some reports have made it sound alarming, but a New York Yankees official apparently said they weren't per se all that serious.

Maybe the doc Mo chose doesn't take Mo's insurance. Perhaps the swelling hasn't gone down enough. Possibly there's more damage than expected. Whatever the case, no matter how long it takes, we probably haven't heard the last from the greatest, and you can bet that we'll hear it from him in Pinstripes.

Other Monday saviors

Frank Francisco (8), Mets  
Jason Motte (5), Cardinals  
Tony Sipp (1), Indians Poor planning? Chris Perez, Vinnie Pestano unavailable for either game of twin bill
Nick Hagadone (1), Indians Talented LHP cleans up Jairo Asencio's mess in 9th of Game 1
Vicente Padilla (1), Red Sox 4 BoSox runs in 8th go with rubber-armed RHP's 2 2/3 IP
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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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