Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Huston Street declining, Mark Melancon holding it down, more

by Tim Heaney on September 18, 2013 @ 12:08:27 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.

San Diego Padres
Huston Street Luke Gregerson
Dale Thayer
Brad Brach
Brad Boxberger

The passing of Huston Street's grandmother has taken the reliever away from the San Diego Padres for a few days. In his stead, Luke Gregerson netted his fourth save of the season on Tuesday. Street is expected to rejoin the squad Wednesday.

Atlanta Braves RP Craig Kimbrel
Kimbrel: pretty good

He has hinted at a few flaws in his game that might bite him back next year. Though his opponents' 11.0 swinging-strike percentage still ranks above the league average, it's the lowest figure of his career, which in turn has produced his smallest K/9.

His forced infield-fly rate of 11.9 is tempering the danger behind his enemies' 46.2 fly-ball percentage -- not a bad strategy to embrace loft allowance as a Petco Park pitcher. Since returning from a calf-related DL stint, he's posted a 1.44 ERA, with four homers in 31 1/3 innings. It's still more than one ding dong per nine but comfortable compared to his 2.97 homer pre-break rate.

If he can't improve his ability to record punch-outs and continues his tater woes, he may be in jeopardy next year. Of course, the hesitation typically presented by his injury history should once again put him in the clearance rack.

Mound meetings

All-Star Jason Grilli didn't think he'd be hearing columnists questioning his viability for a postseason roster spot come September. (Earlier this year, no Pittsburgh Pirates enthusiast was confidently uttering the word "postseason" anyway.)

His form has looked questionable since his return from a right forearm strain he suffered in July. The 36-year-old looked better on Monday, working around two hits for a scoreless, two-strikeout frame. Before that, he'd given up four runs over three appearances, all coming in the seventh or eighth inning.

Mark Melancon, who was the fireman on Saturday and Sunday, has more than held down the closer gig, and Clint Hurdle has decided to take it easy with the arm that wrapped up so many games before Melancon.

Even with a playoff berth a near certainty, the jockeying for seeding is a stressful time to test Grilli's capabilities. He may sneak in one save before the fantasy slate ends, but his window is sliding shut. Pittsburgh remains more worried about his ability to hold a lead, let alone slam the door.


Since allowing an unearned run and absorbing the loss Thursday, Jim Johnson has rattled off three scoreless, one-inning saves. He gave up a hit in each but also registered a strikeout. Johnson hasn't coughed up an earned run over his last 11 appearances for the Baltimore Orioles. He should be clear for the rest of the fake baseball campaign.


Craig Kimbrel's Tuesday blown save snapped his streak of 37 consecutive save conversions, an Atlanta Braves record. The botched opportunity was also the first instance in which he'd allowed multiple runs since May 7, his previous BS.

He yielded three runs (two earned) after a walk-single-walk start. An RBI groundout was followed by an Andrelton Simmons error (really?) that scored two runs, one unearned. He gave up a solo homer in his previous outing and in these last two games has totaled 47 pitches. Kimbrel hadn't topped 18 in his previous 14 contests.

Darn, he couldn't keep his ERA below 1.00. Bumps in the road for another fine season: In terms of 2014 value, Kimbrel is locked into the upper echelon with Aroldis Chapman.

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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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