Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Royals, Santiago Casilla, Frank Francisco, more

by Nicholas Minnix on July 31, 2012 @ 14:56:49 PDT'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)

Kansas City Royals

Closer: Greg Holland
Understudy/Fill-in: Aaron Crow
Lurkers: Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins

Oakland Athletics RP Grant Balfour
Justifiably sticking around

KC shipped Jonathan Broxton to the Cincinnati Reds, where he'll set up Aroldis Chapman. His fantasy value is toast. The Royals' other relievers' is sort of just beginning.

Holland is the primary target for anyone in a league in which he's still available. He's back in form since his stint on the disabled list for a rib stress reaction.

Write the arrangement in pencil. Holland should be able to hold down the fort, but KC has some incentive to test others in the role, eventually if not immediately.

Crow may be worth a stash in very deep leagues just because he appears to be next in line. Herrera has more long-term projection in the role and could be the smarter speculative play, however. Collins could figure in with a matchup-dictated save or two, although there are few fantasy games in which that would make him worth ownership.

Job security score: 1
Health score:

Mound meetings

In the 10th inning of a tied game against the New York Mets on Monday night, the San Francisco Giants turned it over to closer Santiago Casilla. The right-hander immediately yielded a home run (to lefty killer Scott Hairston), struck out a batter and then walked one. Bruch Bochy had seen enough, so he summoned Clay Hensley, who allowed the inherited runner to score but otherwise pitched the Giants into the bottom of the frame.

San Fran's staff, including Bochy, has hung on to the notion that Casilla, when he's right, is there best option at the back end. Although this was a non-save sitch, continued foul-ups from Casilla must eventually shake their confidence in said thought.

The Giants don't have another reliever to whom they can turn as a closer. Bochy's preference to have a pitcher to call his closer is under intense stress. Either the club employs the committee setup (and involves Sergio Romo, whose fragile arm has precluded him from the role, more often), or it trades for a closer-worthy arm. For the latter, time has run out, barring a last-minute deal for Grant Balfour or Jonathan Broxton.


Terry Collins asked Bobby Parnell to lock down the bottom of the ninth, with a two run lead already in hand, in that Mets-Giants affair on Monday. The skipper pulled his interim closer from the save situation because he'd allowed two straight hits and a run before he recorded one out, and lefty-hitting Nate Schierholtz was coming to the dish. Southpaw Josh Edgin finished blowing the save chance.

Edgin, by the way, has the fastball and slider to be a factor in the back end of the bullpen, at least as part of a committee - perhaps he'll supplant Tim Byrdak as the southpaw selection in such a setup. Manny Acosta, who recorded the save - his first - that closed the book on Monday's contest despite walking two and giving up a run, isn't going to figure into that mix.

It's becoming clear that TC doesn't trust Parnell enough to allow him to hold the job exclusively. That would perhaps make Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Byrdak and Edgin intriguing to fantasy owners. There's still merit in holding Parnell, but he seems like a lost cause.

Really, roto players shouldn't mess with this bullpen beyond the man who's appointed to show up in the ninth with the lead, and that's Frank Francisco (oblique strain), when he comes back. The righty is scheduled to make appearances for Double-A Binghamton today and tomorrow, and if those go well, roto owners figure to get him back soon afterward.


The Oakland Athletics didn't send Grant Balfour to a contender - presumably because he's more valuable to them as they attempt to remain one. Don't rule out the possibility that he'll have rotisserie worth at some point in the season's final two months.

Tim pointed out yesterday that the struggles of Ryan Cook weren't completely unexpected. If they continue and a wild-card spot remains within reach, Oakland may very well go to Balfour, who has been steady for most of the season and hasn't allowed a run in July. Sean Doolittle has just been too inconsistent.


The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Giants to the punch for Brandon League. Eight or nine fantasy owners may have stashed League and hoped that he'd end up in a bullpen that had a sketchy closer hierarchy - like San Fran's. Unfortunately, the move to Hollywood, where Kenley Jansen reigns, makes League expendable in pretty much any roto game.


Trade deadline fallout: The Seattle Mariners will call up Stephen Pryor and Carter Capps, two hard-throwing right-handers who are considered future closing candidates. Capps is the more intriguing of the two, judging from his marks, which hint at fewer control problems than his competition. Neither is an immediate threat to Tom Wilhelmsen's job.


Speaking of Wilhelmsen, he was unavailable on Monday night because he was present for the birth of his first child - which, strangely, didn't take place at Safeco Field. Pretty inconsiderate of the Wilhelmsens. Some people have roto leagues to win. Very few people own Lucas Luetge (first save), good as he's been.

Other Monday saviors

Jim Johnson (31), Orioles  
John Axford (17), Brewers Yields no runs, records two outs in tandem effort
Jerome Williams (1), Angels 8 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 1 K in 4 IP - what a save
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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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