Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Huston Street, Grant Balfour, Steve Cishek, more

by Nicholas Minnix on August 20, 2012 @ 13:54:14 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.

Mound meetings

There have been signs of activity from Huston Street (strained calf), although they aren't baseball-related, yet. The San Diego Padres' closer won't return from the DL after just 15 days. Early September looks like a good possibility, at least, judging from what he's done.

Dale Thayer will likely continue to handle save chances until then, unless he falters. The right-hander appeared in a non-save sitch on Friday and gave up a run on three hits in one stanza. The San Francisco Giants had already built a sizable lead, but Thayer hadn't worked in a few days.


Grant Balfour has notched a save in four straight appearances. The righty picked up a cheapo, one-out save on Saturday, his third straight day of work. In those four saves, Balfour has been virtually flawless, with three K's in 3 1/3 innings. He has 11 closures this season.

Balfour's performance should be prompting the playoff-starved Oakland Athletics to consider making Ryan Cook's temporary demotion something more akin to permanent. The A's may still be getting bites on a possible post-waivers trade of Balfour, but fantasy owners should consider him a solid commodity until something happens and not worry about it beforehand.


Oakland Athletics RP Grant Balfour
Grant paying off

The Miami Marlins' official site jinxed sorta-closer Steve Cishek by doing a story on the right-hander's approach and recent performance. Pitching for the second night in a row on Saturday at Coors Field, he gave up three singles and two runs before inducing a game-ending ground-out to get his ninth save.

The right-hander was his typically sharp self on Friday, pitching a clean inning with one K to register his eighth closure.

Heath Bell pitched a perfect stanza to set up Cishek on Saturday, and Ozzie Guillen may still want to get a look at him in save situations before the season ends. Bell has been touched up in a couple of other appearances this month, however.

Guillen had to be pleased to see Cishek avoid succumbing when he was on the ropes in that Saturday appearance. The skipper of the Fish has witnessed Bell wilt in similar situations all too frequently this year. Cishek doesn't have more rope only because of Bell's big deal.


The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim reinstated Scott Downs (strained shoulder) on Saturday. The left-hander faced and retired one batter on that day and pitched another third of a frame on Sunday, but in the latter appearance he gave up two hits, two runs and a walks.

The Tampa Bay Rays brought the pain to the Halos in four straight contests this past weekend, so the damage versus Downs isn't necessarily indicative of a coming downturn. The southpaw missed about three weeks but didn't go on a rehab assignment.

If he's past the strain in his throwing shoulder and doesn't experience a recurrence, Downs should resume pairing with Ernesto Frieri in save situations soon, when the Angels produce some. Exercise a little caution if you don't need him.


Jeremy Affeldt hadn't pitched in four days when his manager, Bruce Bochy, brought him in for a save opp on Saturday against the Friars. The southpaw retired the first two men he faced, but a walk and two base hits later, San Francisco's lead had been reduced by two runs.

Bochy decided to bring in Clay Hensley to face a right-handed batter after Affeldt had spent 22 pitches. The Pads pinch hit with a left-handed swinger, whom Hensley still fanned to end the threat and pick up a save, his third.

Sergio Romo (who pitched the eighth, ahead of Affeldt and Hensley) and the veteran southpaw remain heads of (and fantasy favorites in) this committee. There isn't much to make of the Giants' 'pen beyond that. Hensley could be worth stashing in NL leagues, and Santiago Casilla could figure into the picture once again, but hopefully roto players don't have to depend on them.


Chicago Cubs RP Carlos Marmol
Back in their good graces

It's fair to wonder whether the Chicago Cubs have seen enough from Carlos Marmol recently to consider him part of the short-term future. Since the All-Star break, the right-hander has given up 11 hits (but no home runs) and two runs in 12 2/3 frames. He's struck out 16 and walked just six, and he picked up his 15th save on Saturday.

Marmol has been a good soldier through the club's tough times, and Dale Sveum has noticed. The closer has been committed to work on the side to be prepared for those relatively rare save situations. The North Siders' skipper has praised and supported Marmol.


Francisco Cordero (sprained toe ligament) has done some tossing and appears to be getting closer to going on a rehab assignment.

Perhaps he'll return to the Houston Astros' bullpen in early September, in time to pose as a threat - not to pose a threat - to Wilton Lopez. He'd almost invite real mystery into the speculation about who'll handle Houston's final two or three save opps of the year.

Other notable weekend saviors

Fernando Rodney (38), Rays  
Jim Johnson 2 (37), Orioles  
Joel Hanrahan (34), Pirates  
Rafael Soriano 2 (31), Yankees  
Aroldis Chapman (29), Reds Gave up R in SV on Sat.; picked up W on Sun., worked 3 days in a row
Jason Motte (28), Cardinals  
Jonathan Papelbon (27), Phillies  
Tyler Clippard 2 (27), Nationals Worked around 2 BB on Fri.
Kenley Jansen 2 (25), Dodgers Served up a HR but recorded SV on Sat.
Alfredo Aceves (25), Red Sox  
J.J. Putz (24), Diamondbacks  
Joe Nathan (24), Rangers  
Jose Valverde (23), Tigers  
Rafael Betancourt (23), Rockies Avoided damage despite 2 H allowed on Sun.
Frank Francisco (20), Mets No bull: an actual clean frame
Tom Wilhelmsen (17), Mariners Plus a win on Sat.
Casey Janssen (16), Blue Jays  
Greg Holland (5), Royals And a W on Sun.
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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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