Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Jonathan Papelbon, Brad Ziegler, more

by Tim Heaney on July 19, 2013 @ 12:30:00 PDT


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Minnesota Twins
Glen Perkins Casey Fien Jared Burton

Perkins has drawn some interest. Minnesota Twins general manager Terry Ryan said that an organization must overwhelm them with an offer to part with the highly skilled southpaw, who's under team control through 2015 with an option the next season.

Toronto Blue Jays SP Steve Delabar
Delabar great, but likely no threat

If they find a swap, filling Perkins' spot could be a mess, yet it probably wouldn't be a high priority for a team with so many holes. Burton, all things equal, is the best fit. He was recently demoted from his perch of top setup man, but he's logged six straight scoreless appearances, so he might be turning things around in time to latch onto the job should it open up.

Fien has jacked up his K's and has given up just one run since May ended, so he's a stealthy speculation should Burton already be owned. Many still might perceive Burton as the runaway backup. Michael Tonkin, who has closed 12 contests between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester this year, rode a quick shuttle last weekend and is an even deeper sleeper with long-term saves appeal. Plus, he owns a killer 'stache.

Mound meetings

It's been quite the year for Steve Delabar. Heck, it's been quite a life. The grassroots All-Star selection with the bionic elbow owns some of the best K punch of any reliever and has locked down the understudy role for the Toronto Blue Jays. Deep-mixed speculators shouldn't ignore him, if only for the extra whiffs he'll provide.

Casey Janssen, meanwhile, has endured some rough patches recently, including a spot last week when Delabar snuck in to pick up what was almost a lost save. Last Saturday, however, he came on with one out and runners on the corners in the ninth. The Jays' four-run advantage was in enough jeopardy that Janssen earned his 18th wrap-up of the season by fanning both hitters he stared down on nine tosses.

Those K's were his first in his last six outings. It's too soon to say he's fully recovered from his lack of juice, and it doesn't excuse you from eyeing Delabar. Still, Janssen is a smart pitcher, and it wouldn't surprise if this doesn't stand as the first step toward performance recovery.


Theo Epstein isn't one to ignore an opportunity to trade someone like Kevin Gregg from a rebuilding club. The Chicago Cubs probably will find a new home for the righty, in turn obliterating his mixed-league value because it's unlikely he'd close, definitely not full-time, for a contender.

Blake Parker and southpaw James Russell present the only rational alternatives. Parker has pitched almost exclusively in the eighth inning since arriving on June 1, so surface hierarchy would call him the logical replacement. Russell, on the other hand, would remain an option for matchup spots.

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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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