Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Brandon League, Francisco Rodriguez, more

by Tim Heaney on June 11, 2013 @ 13:00:00 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.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Brandon League Kenley Jansen Ronald Belisario
Paco Rodriguez

Sorry, folks, there are no zeroes or negative-one grades in the CHS dojo. This Job Security figure is as little mercy as we can show someone like League. Will Don Mattingly sweep the leg?

Milwaukee Brewers RP Jim Henderson
Henderson seeing interference

The Los Angeles Dodgers' manager has resisted thus far because, as previously mentioned in this space, he has preferred to save the studly Jansen for tight spots before the ninth. As Mark Saxon of ESPN LA notes, historical matchups against due-up hitters might've influenced skip's thinking Monday night. Jansen logged a 1-2-3 eighth, but the rest....

League botched another chance, his third in his last seven SVOs. After fanning the leadoff hitter, he surrendered a hard single, double off the left-center wall, an infield RBI single and a walk. After a pop-out, a one-bagger deep in the hole plated the tying and go-ahead tallies for the Arizona Diamondbacks. League (four runs allowed in all) and Mattingly were summarily, lustily booed.

One could argue that because the pair of damaging hits didn't penetrate too far into the outfield, League shouldn't necessarily be in trouble. 'They were weakly hit balls.' That only goes so far, though. He put himself in that position for those knocks to mean something, and this is hardly the first time, or second, or third, or 10th....

Oddly enough, in his eight appearances before Monday, League had a 2.25 ERA, and those four successful conversions during this window may give him more time to prove he's worth the role. It all depends on how comfortable you are in taking his (overall) damaging numbers along with save chances, and how cozy Mattingly is with relying on what he's stuck with. (Can Yasiel Puig close?)

Either way, it's puzzling that Jansen isn't close to universally owned in eligible setups. There's little reason to let someone of his skills, even sans wrap-up chances, go without a sensei.

Milwaukee Brewers
Jim Henderson Francisco Rodriguez John Axford
Brandon Kintzler
Mike Gonzalez

Henderson was activated on Sunday and immediately inserted into the ninth inning. Too bad it was a non-save sitch. Still, his scoreless inning shows he'll get back in the groove soon.

The incumbent will keep his titular gig, but Rodriguez, who recorded his 298th career closure Saturday night, will be allowed to try obtaining his 300th this year. (Funny how managers have catered to his milestones....) He'll swipe a chance or two in the coming weeks, probably preventing Henderson from pitching on back-to-back days, and more certainly three in a row.

K-Rod hasn't been emphasizing that first letter as much in the more recent portion of his career, but he retains value for anyone who could use an extra save or two as the Milwaukee Brewers' top setup option. His owners, however, must prepare for life after he clears his next lifetime hurdle, because unless Henderson goes down again, they shouldn't expect a permanent, consistent contribution.

Mound meetings

Next, on "Law & Order: CHS," Chris Perez and his wife pleaded not guilty to charges of misdemeanor possession of marijuana. The Cleveland Indians' closer tried a less legal form of rehab for his present shoulder woes. Don't expect significant legal or MLB-sanctioned discipline to affect him this season or at all. For however long he needs to weed out his injury, Vinnie Pestano will continue closing. Dun dun.


It doesn't look like Rafael Betancourt (groin) will be activated on June 16, the first date for which he's eligible. He admitted he may not return to the Colorado Rockies until the end of the month. The vet received two shots this past week, the last one on Friday, to relieve pain and inflammation. He's played some light catch and was slated to begin aquatic workouts yesterday.

Rex Brothers has had just one save chance (June 4) since Betancourt went down. At least the lefty converted it. He's worked around his walk issues so far, thanks to his dominance, and it wouldn't surprise if Betancourt had to miss even more time thanks to his 38-year-old body.


A recent rough patch hasn't corrupted the Seattle Mariners' confidence in Tom Wilhelmsen. The club said as much last week, with pitching coach Carl Willis noting that he thought Wilhelmsen was aiming pitches. That looks like a probable cause for the right-hander's velocity dip. They also echoed his issues with first-pitch strikes that CHS recently identified.

During Wilhelmsen's spotty but eventually successful Monday wrap-up (his fourth straight conversion), he touched 98 mph with his four-seamer. He reached 93 on Saturday, so this is a positive. The Carter Capps speculation should wane now that Wilhelmsen looks like his old self.


Huston Street (calf) threw a simulated game on Monday. San Diego Padres manager Bud Black said Street threw well and seems to be fine physically. Street deployed all of his pitches in the work-through, but he's focused on getting his slider in order before he ascends from the disabled list. He'll probably throw a game for Class A Lake Elsinore tomorrow.

Dale Thayer tied Monday's game in a bow because Luke Gregerson had pitched Saturday (scoreless closure) and Sunday (blown save, three runs allowed). This pairing may not have much time left for the role; Gregerson, however, will remain worth owning in many mixed leagues after Street returns.


After a one-day breather following his 55-pitch outing last Wednesday, Addison Reed pitched three straight days, culminating with Monday's scoreless frame. Reed's 18th and 19th saves preceded last night's non-closing appearance. He threw 46 pitches combined over that trio.

The Chicago White Sox's stopper has eased the minimal concerns brought up last week. But if his workload keeps piling up, more frustrating outings could come.

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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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