Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Heath Bell, Bruce Rondon, more

by Nicholas Minnix on June 28, 2013 @ 12:30:00 PDT'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.

Mound meetings

Heath Bell told the Arizona Diamondbacks' official site that he and pitching coach Charles Nagy identified the reason for Bell's recent failures, and they have consequently nipped it in the bud. Judging from his quotes, Bell seems quite self-assured, confident that the mechanical alterations were simple and will be productive.

On Thursday, the proof appeared to be in the pudding. Bell made his first appearance since his string of five straight games with a homer allowed and since his so-called easy adjustment. He pitched a scoreless inning, allowing a hit, fanning one and requiring only 11 pitches to preserve the Snakes' one-run lead in the ninth.

So, everybody back on board? Frankly, yeah, it seems that way. J.J. Putz's return from the disabled list is imminent, but the D-backs may take advantage of the luxury to ease him in if they have it. Still, Putz is expected to get the job back shortly after he's activated. Bell is just reiterating his case to be stashed in the event that this isn't the last we've seen of Putz's elbow problems in 2013.

The drawback, of course, is that Bell isn't a lock to remain on the wagon, and fantasy owners grow impatient with players who fall off it often enough. So far, the righty has twice given folks reason to believe that he has a reasonable chance to rebound from future issues, but if he continues to play that card, eventually, it'll come up a joker.


Detroit Tigers RP Bruce Rondon
Rondon ready for Round 3?

The Cleveland Indians activated Chris Perez (shoulder) from the disabled list on Thursday. Hopefully, this is the last of his issues with a shoulder that began barking in spring training. Thanks to his health and a mechanical adjustment he made while on a rehab assignment, Perez may quickly get back into the swing of things.

For a couple of years, Vinnie Pestano has been serving as one of those rare just-in-case, so-you-keep-him-around, handcuff-type relievers, even in mixed leagues. That shouldn't change, even though the righty dealt with elbow discomfort earlier this year and didn't perform well in large part because of it.


Rafael Betancourt (groin soreness) threw two simulated innings in a batting practice session for the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday prior to the club's game at the Boston Red Sox and reported that he felt ready to go. He's expected to be activated on Friday, and he'll push Rex Brothers back into a setup role when that happens.

Brothers, as mentioned before, is worth keeping around in deep leagues for a couple of reasons. The most interesting one, in this CHS edition's opinion, is a potential trade of Betancourt. The righty's name hasn't emerged in any hot trade rumors this season, but one can envision scenarios in which that changes, based on the team's performance.


Jose Valverde hasn't disappeared completely yet, folks. That determined dingle berry accepted an assignment to Triple-A Toledo, so he might even pitch for the Detroit Tigers again this season. Closer Hot Seat would like to tell you that it would never again be in a closing capacity, but it never says never. So, just imagine a word that rhymes with "clever," and don't hold your breath.

The real news from Motown is that los Tigres have again called up Bruce Rondon. He's expected to work in low-leverage situations for the time being, but he's obviously whom Detroit hopes to see shutting doors in the ninth eventually. He remains a stash-worthy component in 15-team mixed leagues and deeper formats.

The question remains how soon, if at all, the fireballer will learn that he has to attack big leaguers much more aggressively than he has minor leaguers. He's gotten away with his wild ways and by on his filthy stuff alone down on the farm. MLB batters have made him come into the strike zone when they want him to do so. It'll be interesting to see if he finally starts to adjust. His results in the majors have had little to do with bad luck.


Koji Uehara received on Wednesday and Thursday his first two save opportunities since John Farrell named him closer. The right-hander didn't disappoint. He pitched a perfect inning, with two strikeouts, on each of those nights to seal the deal.

Chances are, Uehara won't be available on Friday, should the Boston Red Sox encounter another save chance. Junichi Tazawa has also pitched on each of the last two days, so Farrell may turn to Andrew Miller. Tazawa needed only 17 pitches, total, to get through his two most recent appearances, so he could get the nod anyway, though.

Regardless, it won't be Andrew Bailey, who's now part of the club's core of middle relievers. Low-leverage situations are where we'll see him until further notice.


The Los Angeles Dodgers don't plan to utilize Brandon League in tight spots, especially late, anymore, as long as they can help it. Dylan Hernandez (LA Times) details the bullpen reshuffling a bit more.

Bottom line: Don Mattingly still seems to think there's hope for turning around his former closer, and they'll work with him to discover a solution to his windup's lack of deception. Mixed leaguers shouldn't feel compelled to keep the righty around, especially given that Kenley Jansen is handling things at the back end.

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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.

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