Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Tom Wilhelmsen, Ernesto Frieri, more

by Tim Heaney on May 31, 2013 @ 12:33:28 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.

Job Security (JS):
1 (unstable)
to
5 (untouchable)
Health Outlook (HO):
1 (fragile)
to
5 (durable)
: Up
 
+: Added
 
INJ: Injured
: Down
 
M: Minors
 
DL: Disabled List

 

Team
JS
HO
Closer
Understudy/Fill-in
Lurker(s)
Seattle Mariners
4
5
Tom Wilhelmsen Stephen Pryor DL Carter Capps
Yoervis Medina +

Wilhelmsen's sparkling 0.78 ERA belies his stark decrease in K/9 (9.87 last year, 6.65 this year). His opponents' in-play clip of .148 is ridiculously fortunate, even for a stopper's standards. His first two blown saves of 2013 have happened from May 20 on, including a one-run botch on Wednesday, so maybe regression is kicking in.

Seattle Mariners RP Tom Wilhelmsen
Somewhat sleepless

Of course, a return to reality of any sort is expected when you have a 0.75 ERA at the end of April, and it hardly has started to really hurt him. He's still posting an above-average frequency in his enemies' empty-hack rate (10.2).

Working against him, however, is a drop in called-strike rate on his curveball, as noted by Logan Davis at the cerebrally fulfilling Lookout Landing, a Seattle Mariners analysis site. On the bright side, his cache of pitches has been positive so far, and his experience as a starter gives him a solid mix so that he doesn't have to lean on a singular offering.

A simple tweak in approach or technique with his deuce should help him keep season-long potency, even if his ERA trends more toward his xFIP (3.74). It's too soon to start pining for Capps or Pryor in most mixed leagues, especially since Wilhelmsen, before his recent poor stretch, posted 11 straight successful tries.

Team
JS
HO
Closer
Understudy/Fill-in
Lurker(s)
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
3
5
Ernesto Frieri Ryan Madson DL Garrett Richards +
Sean Burnett DL
Scott Downs

Frieri endured a rough save on Wednesday, giving up two ninth-inning solo homers before escaping with a one-run victory. He rebounded on Thursday for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to avoid damage from a leadoff single, fanning two batters surrounding a pop-up for his 12th wrap-up of the season.

Frieri said Thursday that he knows his fastball hasn't had its typical late life and rise, but he's going to keep throwing it because he doesn't fully trust his cutter or changeup. (He wasn't emphasizing variety until this year.) He thinks the heater's movement will come back, as well. Frieri's lack of confidence has caused his walk rate to shoot up to 6.46 per nine this year.

Madson's delayed return from elbow problems means there's no legit full-time challenger to Frieri, and though Mike Scioscia might start sending out one of his southpaws in a matchup role, like they did with Downs last year, Frieri should have at least one or two more months of SVOs.

Team
JS
HO
Closer
Understudy/Fill-in
Lurker(s)
Houston Astros
3
5
Jose Veras Wesley Wright Hector Ambriz +
Joshua Fields DL

Veras received a vote of confidence from Houston Astros manager Bo Porter after the right-hander took the loss Tuesday night, allowing a run on two hits and a walk after entering a tied game. Porter said on Wednesday that he wasn't sure if Veras would be available that night, though, and if he wasn't, Ambriz would serve as closer.

Veras wound up working Wednesday, his third straight game on the bump, and allowed a solo jack; at least he had a four-run lead before doing so and helped them escape with a win anyway. Porter's plan instead took shape Thursday, as Ambriz notched his first career closure, working around a hit for a scoreless frame and two K's.

Ambriz's seasonal line has been skewed by a few rough performances; he's actually been solid and, with his capable velocity, could challenge Wright and perhaps Fields (forearm) for primary replacement duties.

Mound meetings....

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Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat | AL depth charts | NL depth charts

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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