Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Junichi Tazawa, Fernando Rodney, more

by Tim Heaney on May 7, 2013 @ 13:50:00 PDT


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Mound meetings

Kirk Gibson confirmed on Friday what Nick wrote earlier that morning: J.J. Putz remains the Arizona Diamondbacks' closer but will get more rest. It seemed to help turn him around last year. David Hernandez and Heath Bell remain sound deep-league dice rolls that may record the occasional save.


Chicago Cubs reliever Kyuji Fujikawa (forearm strain) may exit the disabled list if his Tuesday rehab outing, his second, goes well, per skipper Dale Sveum. He fanned two and walked one in a rehab frame Sunday for Triple-A Iowa.

He may need a few major league tune-ups before heading into a save situation, but he should at least start stealing chances from Kevin Gregg, if not boxing out Gregg from them soon. Gregg is pitching above his head right now, despite the realistic improvements he has made. Both pitchers have a legit shot at chances for the near future, with Carlos Marmol making a cameo when the availability of the other two becomes limited.


Note the reminder to drop Jason Motte (Tommy John surgery) from single-year formats. Edward Mujica doesn't look like he's giving up the St. Louis Cardinals' gig anytime soon. Trevor Rosenthal remains the likely successor, even though he needs some tinkering to cement that standing; he may get a shot in early 2014 to hold the fort if Motte must heal for a full year or longer.

Newly called-up Carlos Martinez looms as a potential alternative if the need arises this summer, but NL-only prospectors should be the only chasers in one-year leagues.


In 2013, Steve Cishek has more outings in which he's given up a run than he has saves. The Miami Marlins' struggles in producing chances have brought him some time, though, and he tiptoed around a walk Saturday to register his fourth save of the year.

His slider's effectiveness and overall ability to pitch down in the zone have been ongoing projects, but he's been better in both realms of late, especially regarding velocity. Cishek has been establishing 0-1 counts more frequently than ever in a full season. He offers a strikeout or so per frame along with a productive grounder rate while also cutting back on his allowance of walks.

The stats say he deserves your confidence. Miami's performance, however, will continue limiting Cishek's contributions.


As is the case with Cishek, Jose Veras doesn't get many chances to offer saves -- only four this year. The Houston Astros gave him one Friday, though, and he failed, allowing a two-run, game-losing homer. The righty previously had logged six straight scoreless games but has converted only half of his chances.

Staying with their M.O. of developing their young but raw players, Houston will probably take their time in making a change, though if you're trying to get ahead, Wesley Wright would be the logical stand-in.


On 32 pitches, Aroldis Chapman allowed three runs on two walks and four hits Friday, entering while the Cincinnati Reds were up by four in the ninth for his first work since the previous Monday. He left what started as a non-save spot with two outs, and J.J. Hoover recorded a strikeout to close the door.

Chapman rebounded Saturday, working around a walk for a scoreless closure. With Chapman and setup vet Jonathan Broxton unavailable Sunday, Hoover successfully returned to the gig. Don't overreact to the hitch in an otherwise fine season for Chapman.


It's hard to say Atlanta Braves stud Craig Kimbrel is teetering, but he's blown two of his last four opportunities, including one by allowing a game-tying homer Friday. His velocity has been fine; he's just been slightly more hittable. Sometimes these things just happen.

Over his first month-plus, he's seen a dip in opponents' grounder rate, a 24.0 percent liner frequency and a .320 BAABIP. Much of these concerns may be quelled by the 30.0 percent infield fly rate his enemies have produced.

No reason to go grabbing Jordan Walden in mixed leagues yet -- just some hiccups and trends to watch.


Another game, another homer allowed for Huston Street. Despite yielding the solo job Friday, he battled to record his seventh San Diego Padres save of the year. It's just another testament to what was written early last week about Street's disappointing performance so far.

Luke Gregerson may finally get an extended chance to close if Street needs work or rest, but outside leagues where frequent hold accumulators like Gregerson carry high lineup value, mixed owners don't need to make a move yet as long as Street continues sealing the deal.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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