Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Andrew Bailey, Joaquin Benoit, more

by Tim Heaney on June 21, 2013 @ 13:45:30 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.

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

Boston Red Sox
Andrew Bailey

After hinting that his stopper needed to correct some things, Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell decided Thursday's blown save (via a walk-off blast) was the tipping point for Bailey, whose fastball has been losing velocity and potency. The statistical and observational difference in his four-seamer in the second part of his already short season said he didn't regain his oomph after spending time on the sidelines.

Boston Red Sox RP Andrew Bailey
Bailey curdled

Bailey shouldn't be exiled from every deep-mixed roster. Though he'll have to correct his problems, he may get the gig back. Your level of patience depends on how many squads embody your league and the desperation rating in your saves column. The way Bailey is pitching now, he's not helping anyone without wrap-up chances (or during them).

To replace the injury-prone arm, Boston will look internally, much like they did when he hit the disabled list. This implies Tazawa or Uehara, likely the former as the priority. Both have posted stellar numbers, and if not for Uehara's concerns about age and usage, he may be considered the primary option, but Tazawa's limb has played menacingly since he switched to relief duty. Owning either one sets you up for solid peripherals and at least the occasional SVO.

Maybe, just maybe, Boston might look toward their old fireman, Jonathan Papelbon. A tad bit more on that later.

UPDATE: The Sox appear to have named Uehara their closer "for now." Both relievers are still worth owning.

Detroit Tigers
Joaquin Benoit   Al Alburquerque +
Drew Smyly +
Bruce Rondon M
Phil Coke

Jim Leyland said it best ... OK, maybe not. "I'm not naming anybody closer. I'm just saying if Benoit were available right now, I would try to close with him." Of course, reports came out that Benoit will close when "healthy and available." Which means he's the guy. Sort of.

It's not much different than what we've seen in the Detroit Tigers' recent saves history. It'll probably still be a mix-and-match job, to an extent, but it has a new chairman. We prompted you to pick him up in both Diamond Market and Closer Hot Seat. Leyland also commented on the deposed Jose Valverde: "I'll pitch him as I see fit and try to use him intelligently" -- in other words, plenty of non-save (mostly non-pressure) work.

Just as it applies to Bailey, the size of your league should determine your patience with retaining Papa Grande. Continue to monitor Rondon for the long term. Enjoy what should be a solid rest-of-season performance from Benoit, for however long he has SVOs. He's posted the highest grounder-inducement pace of his career and holds elite RP numbers.

UPDATE: Valverde was designated for assignment but could remain with the organization in the minors. Alburquerque was called up and could figure into setup duty.

Seattle Mariners
Yoervis Medina
Oliver Perez +
Tom Wilhelmsen
Carter Capps
Stephen Pryor DL

More Sleepless nights for Seattle Mariners fantasy guessers, who must now count Medina among the sheep after his Tuesday wrap-up.

The lefty Perez came in during the seventh inning to face a tough spot in the order. No problem. Wilhelmsen, who's still in the fine-tuning phase, was summoned to face a righty bat to start the eighth. Big problem, because that bat was a born-again Albert Pujols: One homer later, Wilhelmsen took a step back on his path toward regaining the closer role. At least he got out of that inning and was picked up after struggling in the ninth. Medina logged a 1-2-3 10th in retiring Pujols, Mark Trumbo and Howard Kendrick to seal the victory.

Capps' struggles push him down the ladder and help Medina's potential to take over the role, at least for the near future. A safer plan would expect a committee, with Medina and Perez as co-chairs. Medina, like Perez and many others, holds the "former starting pitcher" part of the traditional path to closing. He dials it up to the high 90s and also has a two-seamer and curveball. The 24-year-old struggled more versus lefty hitters in the minors, however, and mirrors Wilhelmsen's issue of walking too many hitters.

He won't net every occasion, but he's at least making a case to be the main right-handed option as long as Wilhelmsen and Capps need work. Of course, committing too much to any member of this slew could leave owners wanting more.

Mound meetings

Arizona Diamondbacks RP Heath Bell
Bell toiling

Heath Bell is losing control of his ERA and any chance of retaining the Arizona Diamondbacks' closer gig when J.J. Putz (elbow) returns sometime in the next two weeks or so. Bell has yielded a homer in four straight contests, along with seven knocks.

It's easy to think he'll be drop material in shallower setups when Putz gets back, but if you need every closure you can get, don't release him without heavy deliberation. Kirk Gibson has said numerous times that he wants to conserve Putz's workload, and the initial stages after a DL return, maybe even deeper into the summer, should provide a window for Bell to continue chipping in.

That being said, until Bell gets his location and effectiveness right, you should probably bench him.


Francisco Rodriguez registered save No. 299 on Wednesday, one short of an illustrious accomplishment. The Milwaukee Brewers should allow him to net his 300th soon, but Ron Roenicke said that Jim Henderson is back to being the regular closer. K-Rod will slide in when Hendo is a no-go.

So naturally, Roenicke installed Henderson into the eighth inning on Wednesday and Thursday. The former was, per skip, a "need to pitch" day; Henderson had been idle on six of the previous seven. Henderson was warming and called upon because Rickie Weeks hit a go-ahead homer. They wanted to use him while he was fresh. That led to Rodriguez moving one step closer to history. On Thursday, it was a matchup ploy that went wrong as Henderson surrendered a game-tying homer to Carlos Corporan.

With K-Rod as a backup plan, shallow leaguers could turn him loose if they must fill other needs. History can only take his worth so far.


The Cleveland Indians' goal of activating Chris Perez (shoulder) from the disabled list Friday won't be realized. The right-hander will instead be re-evaluated after a bullpen session today. He gave up three homers and five runs on Tuesday for Double-A Akron, so they probably believe he needs more time to work on mechanics. (He's coming open a little soon on his delivery.) They don't appear to have any physical concerns about him at the moment.

Vinnie Pestano, who finally logged his first two bowties of the season this past week, will continue filling in for however long Perez must remain under surveillance.


Maybe all this talk of a potential trade is bugging Jonathan Papelbon, who's blown two of his last three save chances. Perhaps it's because Wednesday's gaffe (home run on two hits and a walk) came on his third straight day of work for the Philadelphia Phillies.

For what it's worth, Ruben Amaro Jr. again denied that he's looking to trade Paps or starter Cliff Lee. If the Phightins phall pharther back in the standings, though, they might at least listen to offers. Should they pull off a swap, Mike Adams and Antonio Bastardo would probably split the gig, with Adams the expected (not by much) leader. We'll be watching this for the next month-plus.

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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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