Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Jim Henderson, Kyuji Fujikawa, more

by Nicholas Minnix on April 9, 2013 @ 12:38:19 PDT

 

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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.

Team
JS
H
Closer
Understudy/Fill-in
Lurker(s)
Milwaukee Brewers
1
5
Jim Henderson John Axford Brandon Kintzler
Mike Gonzalez
Mark Rogers DL

On Monday morning, Tom Haudricort shared the writing on the bathroom wall: Axford is probably about to give it up. Sure enough, Ron Roenicke called on Henderson to do the deed for the Brew Crew on Monday night, against the Chicago Cubs. The other Canadian right-hander in this bullpen allowed an inherited runner to score but stopped most of the bleeding to seal the W.

Milwaukee Brewers RP Jim Henderson
Escaped in his audition

Milwaukee's skipper confirmed after that contest that he was making the switch -- a temporary one, he hopes. Henderson sympathized with his countryman and told the team's official site that he expects Axford to regain the job as well. Roenicke acknowledged that sending Axford out for a second inning on Sunday at the Arizona Diamondbacks wasn't ideal, but the manager felt as if he'd run out of options.

Nonetheless, Axford has been crap to open the campaign. His velocity is down considerably -- by, like, 5 mph or so -- and he's become incredibly predictable. Until the Brewers develop a plan to set him straight, there's little to evaluate for the short term.

Fantasy owners in shallow mixed leagues don't need to be loyal to the Ax unless they have nothing better to do with that roster spot. Anything deeper, and pause is comprehensible, since Milwaukee hopes to be able to call on him in the ninth again. This may take awhile, however, and whether it'll be for a good time is TBD.

Team
JS
H
Closer
Understudy/Fill-in
Lurker(s)
Chicago Cubs
1
5
Kyuji Fujikawa James Russell
Shawn Camp +
Carlos Marmol
Arodys Vizcaino DL

Dale Sveum had seen enough. (So had fantasy owners -- at least those who drafted or picked up Fujikawa.) The skipper made the switch to the Asian import official before the Cubbies' contest on Sunday, despite the fact that Fujikawa had yielded three runs in a frame against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday and that Sveum had previously mentioned Russell and Camp as potentially interim options in the ninth. Marmol's performance against Atlanta on Saturday (home runs surrendered to the brothers Upton) did in the wild right-hander.

Reportedly, Sveum would prefer to see Fujikawa pitch well enough to retain the job. The skipper's pitching coach, Chris Bosio, told the media that his team's long-range goal is to have Marmol serve as closer, however. Those goals are, on some level, in conflict, although not necessarily directly. Sveum said that the Cubbies will take the same approach they took last year at this time with Marmol: work him in the sixth and seventh innings, and focus on pitch selection.

It seems as if the North Siders' staff is willing to let performance dictate roles, at least to some degree, this year, and that doesn't work in the incumbent's favor. Last year, Sveum's goal was assuredly to get Marmol back into the ninth inning, and that's something the team's front office would probably still prefer to see. At some point, the Cubs have to accept that they may not be able to fix Marmol's confidence and whatever else troubles him, and that they may have to cut their losses.

There isn't much reason to hold Marmol in mixed leagues. In NL-only leagues, there is probably little incentive to drop him, unless an owner isn't allowed to bench him. In the caveat's case, although one may find that to be a tough decision to make, cutting him loose appears to be a safer play. Perhaps Marmol would draw more in a FAAB war than as potential fantasy trade bait.

Mound meetings....

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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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