Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Joaquin Benoit, Henry Rodriguez, Joe Nathan, more

by Tim Heaney on May 17, 2012 @ 12:57:02 PDT

 


What are the odds that you still own the relief pitchers you rostered in your fantasy baseball draft? KFFL.com'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.

Mound meetings

An update on Jose Valverde (back discomfort) being day-to-day: Joaquin Benoit remains the primary fantasy addition. He's expected to be the fill-in Detroit Tigers stopper, with southpaw Phil Coke and righty Octavio Dotel back him up depending on matchups and usage, respectively.

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Detroit Tigers RP Joaquin Benoit
Benoit to step in

Henry Rodriguez pitched through right forearm discomfort and logged his ninth save of the season Wednesday, sitting down the 7-8-9 members of the Pittsburgh Pirates in order.

It's enough to fend off temporarily the cries for him to lose the Washington Nationals' job. Davey Johnson has faith in H-Rod. It's safe to think the righty won't pitch tonight, however, and that Sean Burnett or Tyler Clippard could step in. Watch how him working through pain affects him in the near future; one of those two could step in if H-Rod needs more sideline time.

Drew Storen (elbow), meanwhile, had a Wednesday throwing session, his second since undergoing bone-chip-removal surgery in April. He still aims to resurface before the All-Star break. Brad Lidge (shoulder) could be back in a few weeks but, if the interim incumbent doesn't falter, Lidge would serve in the role H-Rod originally held under him when Storen was first sidelined. That's not a bad short-term fantasy opportunity for Lidge, though.

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During his Wednesday save - his eighth of the year as he struck out the side - the Texas Rangers' Joe Nathan was hitting 95-96 with his four-seam fastball. It was the first time since 2007 he had done that. Getting his heat back was his main hurdle in regaining his old form following Tommy John surgery. His average velo is up more than 1 mph on his No. 1, and his increased two-seamer deployment makes a handy complement.

He's allowing an outrageous 31.7 percent line-drive rate, but he's cutting back on lofts given up, which goes a long way to surviving in Arlington. A .359 BAABIP is justified because of that batted-ball split but remains tenuous because of relievers' small sample sizes. Just be glad Nathan has looked like his vintage incarnation.

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Even with Frank Francisco's erratic performance as closer and Jon Rauch stumbling in setup duty Wednesday, the New York Mets reiterated their hesitation to pitch Bobby Parnell in situations with higher leverage. As mentioned in this space, however, Parnell could easily work his way into such priority and even steal the closer gig not far down the road.

Don't ignore him as a deep-league speculation, but you'll have to be patient in expecting saves from him.

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Dusty Baker once again said Aroldis Chapman will be a starting pitcher "someday" but will remain in the bullpen. The fireballer remains understudy to Sean Marshall, who logged his seventh save of the year Wednesday and has been serviceable in three scoreless outings since being pulled during an opp last week.

Other Wednesday saviors

Jim Johnson (13), Orioles Leads the majors in closures
Fernando Rodney (12), Rays Tied for second
Jason Motte (7), Cardinals  
Dale Thayer (4), Padres Carrying torch until Huston Street (lat) returns
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Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat | AL depth charts | NL depth charts

About Tim Heaney

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, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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