Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: John Axford, Dale Thayer, Giants

by Nicholas Minnix on August 22, 2012 @ 12:51:08 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)

Milwaukee Brewers

Closer: John Axford
Understudy/Fill-in: Jim Henderson, Francisco Rodriguez
Lurkers: Kameron Loe, Jose Veras

Oakland Athletics RP Grant Balfour
So sayeth the Sooth Thayer: Relax

Ron Roenicke told the media that he set up the ninth against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday so that he could drop the Ax into a one-out save sitch (which the reliever converted, for his 19th save of the year). After the contest, the skipper reinstated the righty as closer of the club.

What ceremony. Roenicke indicated that Henderson still isn't out of the mix, however, and he didn't appear to want to cement Axford's role. It's a bit of a strange way to handle the personnel.

For fantasy owners' sakes, a named closer who takes hold of the reins is ideal. Axford seems to have a chance to do so here, but Roenicke reserves the right to toss them a curveball. In very deep leagues, Henderson still warrants ownership, for those who are this desperate.

Job security score: 1
Health score:

Mound meetings

Garrett Jones pulled the Pittsburgh Pirates even with the San Diego Padres in the ninth inning at PETCO Park on Tuesday evening by taking Dale Thayer deep for a two-out, two-run bomb.

It's Thayer's third blown save chance of the season. However, it's the first one that he's registered in two stints while serving as closer in place of Huston Street (strained calf), who missed time earlier in the year with a strained lat.

Because of that fact, Bud Black is unlikely to view last night's transgressions as more than a strike against his vet reliever. (The Pads went on to win in extras, incidentally.) The appearance should remind fantasy owners that Thayer isn't locked into the role and that Luke Gregerson, who's had a super season, isn't out of the picture.


The Andre Ethier Killer struck again on Tuesday, for the second night in a row: With a 4-1 lead against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bruce Bochy called in southpaw Javier Lopez with one out and a runner on first to take over for righty Sergio Romo. Lopez coaxed Ethier to ground into a game-ending double play to register his third save of 2012.

There hasn't been a Jeremy Affeldt sighting since he had trouble with a save opp on Saturday against the Friars. The reflex might then be to consider Lopez the lefty in the lead from that side of the rubber in the San Francisco Giants' bullpen. In NL leagues, Lopez has warranted ownership.

But, by at least one account, SD hardly beat Affeldt to death in that chance, and it's taken more than one foul appearance to run off other San Fran relievers. Bochy had two of his best relievers available in good matchup situations on Tuesday in the final frame.

There's a good chance that Affeldt isn't out of the mix and is still one of the best to own in this arrangement. Don't expect the frustration that this bullpen is causing to end any time soon, though.

Other Tuesday saviors

Jim Johnson (38), Orioles  
Aroldis Chapman (30), Reds  
Tyler Clippard (28), Nationals  
Jose Valverde (24), Tigers  
Ernesto Frieri (15), Angels  
Grant Balfour (12), Athletics Tightening his grip
Steve Cishek (10), Marlins 1 H, 1 BB, but 2 K
Greg Holland (6), Royals  
Lucas Luetge (2), Mariners Apparently in need of extended break: Tom Wilhelmsen
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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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