Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Jose Valverde, Brandon League, more

by Tim Heaney on May 14, 2013 @ 12:20:00 PDT

 

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David Hernandez stepped in Friday when Heath Bell was resting after three straight days of work. The fill-in allowed a single but shut the door for the first time in 2013 with a scoreless inning. Bell was called in on Sunday but suffered his second BS of the year on the back of double doubles and two singles, which produced two runs.

Hernandez doesn't sit on many waiver wires in deep formats because of his skills and the formerly fluid speculative situation when J.J. Putz (elbow) was playing. If DH doesn't have an owner yet, scoop him up. (Don't forget Matt Reynolds, subterranean scroungers.)

Of course, Bell has a bit of rope and probably won't log that consecutive workload often if Kirk Gibson can manage it. He favors the vet's experience and won't let one stumble of four chances since Putz's deactivation change that.

***

Huston Street had teetered in a few San Diego Padres save situations which he wound up converting. He finally broke on Saturday, blowing one for the first time in nine tries and taking the loss via a two-out walk and a homer. His contract and history are on his side for rope, but he's forced only 27.1 percent grounders on his yielded contact this year, so that inflated 21.7 percent HR/FB doesn't look as anomalous.

Street's swinging-strike percentage from opponents stands at a glaring career-low 8.3 percent; they're not missing his slider (its movement looks off) and changeup as frequently as they did last year. For whatever reason this is happening, Luke Gregerson warrants a speculative saves pickup; like Hernandez, however, he's probably owned in most competitive leagues already because of his peripherals.

Bud Black could go in another direction as he did last year with Dale Thayer (maybe Brad Brach this time?), but Gregerson remains the best skills pitcher among the backups, the one who truly stands out as a backup.

***

Chris Perez worked around two hits and an unearned run to earn the save Saturday but experienced shoulder stiffness warming up for a chance Sunday, so Rich Hill started and Cody Allen finished that one in extras. Perez wasn't needed in either half of Monday's Cleveland Indians doubleheader, but he seemed OK because he was warming up late in the opener. Justin Masterson sealed it by himself, though.

At least this is good news for Perez's owners, who've enjoyed his nearly pristine season, if not the fact he only has six saves. He's blown only one chance, though, and before Saturday hadn't given up a run since April 3. Perez's velocity is down a bit and more shoulder concerns don't help, but his punch should build up as he moves deeper into the season.

***

On both Friday and Sunday, the Tampa Bay Rays' Fernando Rodney navigated around a walk and struck out two to record a scoreless inning for an arrow shot. He's still lining up on the first-base side of the hill but in his last three outings seemed to back off his two-seamer while focusing on his steady fastball-changeup combo. Or maybe it's just the return of the magic plantain. The archer has refilled his quiver and will need to suffer a sustained breakdown to be in jeopardy again anytime soon.

***

For Class A Inland Empire, Ryan Madson (elbow) logged a perfect inning with a strikeout Monday and will appear for them again Wednesday. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim righty figures his fastball, clocked at 91-92 mph, should build up as he gets back into form. Madson could return later this week and initially should set up for Ernesto Frieri, who hammered home two more saves over the weekend. If you're desperate for saves, however, and Madson is unclaimed, tuck him away and wait things out.

***

Glen Perkins was unavailable Saturday because of soreness in his left side. Jared Burton stepped in for the Minnesota Twins and recorded the save in a scoreless stanza. Perkins was ready to go Sunday if needed after his Sunday 'pen session went well.

If Perkins were to miss time, Burton would be the primary but likely not sole stopper; Minnesota has previously said they'd like to conserve Burton's use, so someone like Casey Fien could be an option for secondary work.

***

Steve Cishek made a cameo Friday for his fifth save of the year. One of his two strikeouts was cinched on a borderline pitch, but including his non-save Sunday work, he hasn't allowed a run in his last four games. The Miami Marlins probably want to conserve him for situations that call for his job description. Since his ERA stood at 15.43 on April 7, it has been 2.13 with a 1.11 WHIP in 12 games.

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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 LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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