Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Jason Grilli back, Rafael Soriano settling down, more

by Tim Heaney on September 4, 2013 @ 11:25:24 PDT

 

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KFFL.com'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
Reason to doubt Henderson?

Jason Grilli was activated from the disabled list Tuesday night, just in time to see the Pittsburgh Pirates lock in their first non-losing campaign in 21 seasons. Punctuating the historic night, however, was Mark Melancon, who worked around a hit to net his 11th closure of the year. He's allowed just one earned run in his last 15 appearances.

Clint Hurdle said Grilli will make at least a few non-closing appearances before he retakes his seat. Because Melancon has been suffocating, we've noted the temporary change on the Closer Depth Charts -- just in case, for whatever reason, Grilli Cheese looks spoiled and Hurdle decides to run with this arrangement during their path to cementing a postseason berth. Hang on to both.

***

Since his listing as the featured attraction in the last CHS, the Washington Nationals' Rafael Soriano has untucked twice, throwing a scoreless inning on both Sunday and Tuesday, when he worked around a walk and a hit. He hasn't allowed a run over his last four entries.

According to MLB.com Gameday, all 11 pitches he tossed Tuesday were two-seamers. On Sunday, the tailer was thrown on only two of 14. The rest were No. 1s. He didn't throw a single slider, the pitch he's had trouble maintaining this season. The fact he's ignoring it might be a philosophical shift, or maybe he's not ready to revise it in a game yet.

Either way, despite the fact he's still figuring out his deployments, Soriano is holding off Tyler Clippard. However, despite his rough recent pair of games, the latter righty still deserves speculation in case he falls into a few opps.

***

On both Saturday and Sunday, Dane De La Rosa appeared in the eighth inning, and Ernesto Frieri recorded a save. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have made it pretty clear which arm stands in front, though DDLR can still occupy a spot as the last pitcher in a deep mixed league.

***

A setback on Saturday (two runs on two hits, including a homer) was Jim Henderson's first blown save since June 30. In that window, he'd converted 12 straight chances. Tuesday night, his next duty, wasn't much better: He entered a tied contest but allowed a solo jack, his opponents' third bleacher bomb in his last four games.

New York Yankees RP Mariano Rivera
Mo still content to kick it after '13

The Milwaukee Brewers, merely playing out the string on 2013, will have to see more of this before yanking him from the job. Their trade of John Axford sets Hendo up to keep his ninth-inning title heading into 2014. Of course, they'll leave the door open for evaluation if Henderson keeps slipping.

Brandon Kintzler and Rob Wooten occupy the chief setup spots, with Kintzler, thanks to his 20 holds on the year, looking like the top backup plan if both are retained.

***

Joshua Fields (6.07 ERA) and Chia-Jen Lo (5.25 ERA) carry horrific ERAs. Thing is, they're headed in different directions.

Fields has a 2.16 ERA in his last eight games while collecting one save and three holds. To be fair to Lo, his figure stood at 2.45 before he yielded a grand slam in the ninth that broke a knotted tilt Monday. Of course, he now has a 13.50 ERA over his last five contests (1-for-2 in SVO); in three of them, he's allowed at least one earned run.

Fantasy owners should consider that Fields is pitching like he deserves to take the lead in this two-man committee. Proactive owners in need of any saves possible should make a move now.

***

Most New York Yankees fans have already tried (::author raises hand::), but Joe Girardi told the media he wants to advise Mariano Rivera to reconsider his impending retirement, or at least take time this offseason to think about it.

The 43-year-old right-hander, who's been on a memorable league-wide farewell tour that included All-Star Game MVP accolades, reaffirmed his decision Tuesday after registering his 40th save of the year. He's reached that milestone nine times, tied for the big-league record with Trevor Hoffman.

If the Bombers can't convince No. 42 to try breaking that mark, David Robertson stands as the presumptive favorite to take over. Don't count out outside help or dark horse Phil Hughes, who was just demoted to the 'pen and could be re-signed on a cheaper pact if there's no interest from other clubs for him to start. He was a highly successful setup man in Pinstripes not long ago, and his stuff plays better in relief.

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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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