Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Brewers, Tom Wilhelmsen, more

by Tim Heaney on July 26, 2013 @ 10:14:19 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.

Mound meetings

Milwaukee Brewers RP Jim Henderson
Henderson could still be dealt, too

Yesterday's Diamond Market highlighted the spiking interest of picker-uppers in Jim Henderson, widely considered the top option to replace former savior Francisco Rodriguez, whom the Milwaukee Brewers shipped to Baltimore. Ron Roenicke said that John Axford and, in lefty-heavy instances, Mike Gonzalez could have their say, as well.

Henderson received the first post-K-Rod call, however, and answered in the affirmative with a scoreless frame Wednesday. Ax chopped 'em down in the eighth, continuing his brilliance in setup work this season. You wouldn't be crazy to acquire Axford because of his experience and the remote possibility Milwaukee also trades Henderson. As long as he remains in town, though, Henderson seemingly will have to stumble noticeably to give up the chair, and he's shown few signs of doing so.


Following a Wednesday BS, his second in eight chances this month, Kevin Gregg has a 6.30 ERA in July. This correction of his shiny first three months doesn't constitute the best timing as the Chicago Cubs ramp up their efforts to trade him. This weekend is the last chance to speculate on Pedro Strop and, to a lesser but possible extent, Blake Parker, so get moving.


On Thursday, Brian Wilson (elbow) threw for scouts from at least seven teams, including his former employers, the San Francisco Giants. Reports said the free agent sat at 90-93 mph on his four-seamer and isn't "far away" from being game-ready. The Pittsburgh Pirates were among the teams that attended, and the recent injury to Jason Grilli (forearm) may prompt them to act. Wilson probably would only have a chance to record saves for one or two of the teams in attendance (maybe the Arizona Diamondbacks) but shouldn't be left out of the discussion if you're willing to try anything at this juncture.


Some other desperation trials would be the Philadelphia Phillies' Antonio Bastardo; maybe the Minnesota Twins' Casey Fien and Jared Burton; and, ugh, maybe Jose Cisneros for the Houston Astros? Who knows with that one.


It's been a rough month for Casey Janssen, despite some bright spots. Steve Delabar probably has been exiting a few deep-league waiver wires in recent weeks as many try to capitalize on or protect themselves from Janssen's issues. The incumbent hasn't had many chances to work lately because of the Toronto Blue Jays' swoon.

Don't blame him entirely for the Wednesday gaffe that cost him his latest opening. Janssen came in to guard a one-run advantage, walking the leadoff batter but fanning the next two. A subsequent single to center was made worse when it bounced over Colby Rasmus' head, which scored the runner from first to tie it. Of course, Janssen was in trouble, but at least he could've had a chance to get out of it.

Keep tabs on Janssen's performance (we might not see him for the next few days if Toronto keeps scuffling), and if you have room and the need, Delabar isn't a terrible tuck-away.


Seattle Mariners RP Tom Wilhelmsen
The Wilhelmsen to save

As Jeff Sullivan of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's U.S.S. Mariner blog notes, Tom Wilhelmsen is back in control for the Seattle Mariners with a 2.70 ERA over his last 13 games (11 K's in 13 1/3 stanzas). He's cashed in on all seven of his SVOs this month and continues distancing himself from Oliver Perez, Yoervis Media and the other also-rans.

Sullivan notes that the likely issues that plagued Wilhelmsen earlier in the year came from his delivery and confidence. The righty seems to relish working with Mike Zunino, and his strike-zone appearances have been more frequent, which makes his curve work at its optimal form.


The San Diego Padres' Huston Street has rediscovered a groove, as well, thanks to a revision of the grip on his slider suggested by pitching coach Darren Balsley. The alteration has produced a tighter spin and sharper break. Its previous state probably explains, to a degree, the HR/9 problems he's had. He's not a stranger to allowing them, but it's been inflated.

His jarringly low season-long 5.94 K/9 doesn't yet reflect the seven punchouts he's recorded in his last five contests. His renewed bite on his main complementary offering should help that column the rest of the way.


Following a save Thursday night, Brad Ziegler hasn't allowed an earned run in his last eight appearances and has converted each of his five opportunities in that window (and on the season). The Arizona Diamondbacks have little incentive to alter the back end if he keeps pitching like this, but J.J. Putz (or, as mentioned above, Wilson?) will remain in the discussion because of his experience and the Snakes' potential postseason chase; they might want someone with experience retaking the gig if he straightens out.

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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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