Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Andrew Bailey, J.J. Putz, more

by Nicholas Minnix on May 3, 2013 @ 12:38:12 PDT


Pages 1 | 2 | all'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):
1 (unstable)
5 (untouchable)
Health Outlook (HO):
1 (fragile)
5 (durable)
: Up
+: Added
INJ: Injured
: Down
M: Minors
DL: Disabled List

Boston Red Sox
Koji Uehara

John Farrell informed Hanrahan on Tuesday that the reliever would be the setup man to Bailey, at least for the time being, when he returned from the disabled list that evening. Of course, Hanrahan would be the Boston Red Sox's first option to step in if Bailey were to be unavailable.

Arizona Diamondbacks RP J.J. Putz
Tired arm, not dull stuff

So, naturally, Hanrahan was on the mound on Thursday to open the bottom of the ninth in a save situation against the Toronto Blue Jays, even though Bailey hadn't pitched since Sunday. Right on ... no, actually, ahead of cue -- not the news, of course, because why would they tell us? -- Bailey "felt a little something last time (he) pitched." Yep, that'd be on Sunday.

Bailey said the club just wants to be smart about it, a reasonable determination, especially when handling a hurler with his kind of injury history. Basically, the call is "mild biceps discomfort," something Bailey says he's never experienced before this and something that didn't dissipate as of a side session he'd had sometime between Sunday and Thursday.

Bailey was clearly a tad uncomfortable when discussing the injury, but that could be for a range of reasons that don't include anxiety about his health record. That's what his fantasy owners have, though, so they'll be biting their nails while they wait for the next few days to pass.

If the problem is truly "very minor," as Bailey stated, then roto and head-to-head gamers will sigh with relief by next week. If it's not, it won't surprise anyone, and those who own Hanrahan for exactly this reason will feel plenty of justification. Not so much for their faith in Hanny as their lack of faith in Bailey. It's no time to panic, but it should be quite awhile before either of these relievers is free-agent bait in fantasy leagues.

Arizona Diamondbacks
J.J. Putz David Hernandez Heath Bell
Matt Reynolds

Putz gave up a home run to Pablo Sandoval on Tuesday night that amounted to the closer's fourth blown save opp of the season. He, along with Arizona Diamondbacks teammates as well as Kirk Gibson and Kevin Towers, has had to answer plenty of questions about his 2013 record until this point. None of them says he's worried.

Last week, CHS touched on the frustrations that seem to be par for Putz's course at this stage of his career. The skipper's manager and GM have maintained their faith through this latest stretch because, they say, the team's bullpen, particularly Putz, has been overworked. The closer either warmed up or pitched in eight of Arizona's last 11 contests. In general, the Snakes' relievers are either mentally or physically fatigued.

OK, CHS ragged on Putz last week -- fairly, it insists, because Putz simply isn't a consistently dominant pitcher at his age -- but these are legit reasons and likely not just excuses. Hernandez and Bell have really been put through the paces lately, too. And failure doesn't require replacement as much as an evaluation of what went wrong.

Putz owners will remain concerned, but there is probably no need to sound the alarm. Other relievers should receive future opportunities to vulture saves, however. It should be pretty clear to the D'backs by now that Putz needs to be handled differently, if not that that they also need more bullpen depth.

Mound meetings

Milwaukee Brewers RP John Axford
Not getting job back soon

The St. Louis Cardinals turned to Edward Mujica for a save on three straight days this week. On Tuesday, he put the Cincinnati Reds on lockdown by fanning the side without allowing a runner. The right-hander encountered a little more trouble on Wednesday and Thursday, however, when he gave up a run in each of his appearances, one against Cincy and the other versus the Milwaukee Brewers.

Despite CHS's occasional endorsement of Trevor Rosenthal for the long run, it won't quibble about these incidents for Mujica. The right-hander wasn't rattled in the latter two games and handled his biz. That's exactly what Mike Matheny wants to see in the absence of Jason Motte.

Speaking of, Motte (partially torn UCL) continues to take small steps forward, and he has an outstanding attitude. He's experiencing no pain. Meanwhile, the Cards demoted deposed interim closer Mitchell Boggs and called up top prospect Carlos Martinez to fortify the 'pen. Boggs has no fantasy value. Martinez will probably pitch in the sixth and seventh frames initially and is unlikely to have fantasy value any time soon, but he's on the Rosenthal path to relevance.


So much for being close to regaining that closer's role: John Axford had pitched well for a couple of weeks, a period in which he had recovered his lost velocity, but he screwed up again on Wednesday. Tom Haudricourt reported the worst part about this gaffe: Axford's location wasn't the problem. To be fair, he seemed to endure a little bad luck in the appearance, but the righty can't afford to put himself in these situations and depend on fortune.

The Milwaukee Brewers have reached the point at which they're not even committed to him as the setup man. The closer is Jim Henderson, Ron Roenicke told the team's official site, and the skipper will determine who pitches in the seventh and eighth frames based largely on the opposing team's lineup. Henderson has gained some long-term traction from this news, no question.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, Francisco Rodriguez took the first step toward joining the club following his signing: He secured a work visa. Yep, it'll be awhile before K-Rod has a chance to screw with things unsuccessfully.


Bobby Parnell was reportedly a little peeved that his manager didn't go to him in a save situation on Tuesday evening. He took it out on the Miami Marlins on Wednesday night, when another SVO popped up. The righty dispatched the Fish on seven pitches, striking out one, to get his third save of 2013.

There doesn't appear to be any drama here, so don't worry about that. New York Mets manager Terry Collins made a call. He played it safe. OK. TC was happy to see how his closer responded, too. Parnell is slowly earning his stripes.


Chicago Cubs reliever Kyuji Fujikawa (strained right forearm) threw a second bullpen session on Thursday and is scheduled to pitch in a rehab outing for Triple-A Iowa on Sunday. If all goes well, fantasy owners should have him back before next weekend.

Kevin Gregg's performance since his signing and while Fujikawa has been sidelined will probably complicate the club's hierarchy in the bullpen. The outcome won't be simple to predict. Gregg won't hurt his chances of continuing to appear in save situations if the ditching of his cutter has truly made him a little more effective. Fujikawa has virtually no track record, but the Cubs haven't seen him pitch at 100 percent in many big league games.

Carlos Marmol may get an opportunity here and there because of availability conflicts, of course, and according to the manager, this is still a committee situation. If Gregg and Fujikawa are healthy and pitching well, however, Marmol can't be Dale Sveum's first choice, at least in the short term.

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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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