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.
Don Mattingly is feeling the frustration, the pressure or both that are mounting at the same rate at which his Los Angeles Dodgers lose. His Wednesday benching of Andre Ethier and related comments could easily have been (and were) interpreted in a number of ways.
It may be a positive sign (for the sake of predictability) that the organization backed the skipper, publicly, following that display. Mattingly could've handled that scenario differently to improve the move's possible benefits, especially those to Ethier, along with the player's likelihood of realizing them, but what's done is done.
Jansen up next?
It's clear that the manager has received support to shake up things a bit, to set egos aside and to make decisions that he believes are best for the team. It endorses the notion that Mattingly isn't cracking (we'll never know until this all plays out), but it seems less likely that he's acting on impulse.
Mattingly's last words regarding his closer, in response to an inquiry on Tuesday about who that is, were, "I don't know." He clarified: "We'll see."
Considering the performances of League and Jansen, it's clear that whoever inspires confidence from his manager in the short term will be increasing his chances of appearing in late-game save situations in the long term. This is assuming that Mattingly foresees that late-game save situation being, possibly, the hairiest situation his bullpen will face that evening.
The titles don't matter much right now, but the skipper eventually wants his relievers assigned to specific roles. Fantasy owners already know that both League and Jansen should be owned. Rodriguez could be too, in NL-only leagues at least. Either of the top two options could turn it around right away. If one of them doesn't, he'll lose ground, perhaps quickly, and it'll probably take some time to gain it back.
Rodney pitched 1 2/3 innings on Tuesday night, giving up one run, to pick up his second save in a row and bailing out the Tampa Bay Rays from a pretty tense one, egged on by a defensive mistake or two, against the Toronto Blue Jays. The closer gained cred in the wake of his recent struggles.
Then, in the ninth on Wednesday afternoon against the Jays, the right-hander blew a one-run lead by serving up a one-out solo jack. What disturbed Joe Maddon more, perhaps, was the walk Rodney issued immediately afterward, because the skipper pulled his closer and put in Peralta, who ended the frame. Alas, the Rays lost in 10.
Ordinarily, when a manager pulls his backend man for a sub and it's not mostly because of the number of pitches the reliever has thrown until that point, it's not a good sign for his job security. Rodney needed only 22 pitches to record five outs on Tuesday. On Friday, Maddon reiterated that the righty is still his closer, and there wasn't even a discussion about it.
Maddon isn't like most other managers, and he's adamantly supported Rodney so far. Perhaps he second-guesses his decision to use Rodney in the day game following an evening tilt. Perhaps he did so following that fateful free pass and wanted to preserve a fighting chance at victory.
Perhaps he's just wrong about Rodney. Tampa Bay can attempt to address only so many things for the righty before they lose faith in a turnaround and can't justify the hopeful benefits of it because of the harmful results.
Rodney's performances in previous years are similar on the surface, but he arrived at some of them in different manners. Still, crappy is crappy. In the end, if the Rays don't rediscover that magic formula (how much video have they examined, anyway?) and say so -- with prolonged competence from Rodney backing it up -- it's hard to see this turning out in the 2012 record-setter's favor. Peralta ownership should be very high until then.
Who needs a mound meeting?
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.
Don't miss these great reports....