Fuentes Demoted; Which Rockies RP Is an Option?

by Michael Egnak on July 1, 2007 @ 16:00:00 PDT


Thomas Harding, of MLB.com, reports Colorado Rockies closer Brian Fuentes has been removed from the closer's role. He has blown his last four save chances, and his recent struggles have accounted for half of the team's eight consecutive losses. "He's not going to be put away for awhile, but we're not going to stick our heads in the sand. We'd prefer it be temporary. That's what everybody's wish is. That's the reason why it's taking place," said manager Clint Hurdle. Hurdle would not commit to any of the relievers closing.

Fuentes has been horrible in June, blowing five of his 10 save chances and taking four consecutive losses. Last month, he posted a 7.15 ERA with a 1.76 WHIP in 11 1/3 innings. His past four games in particular have been bad: He has given up eight earned runs in 2 1/3 innings while taking four blown saves and four losses. On the year, Fuentes has a 3.79 ERA to go with his 0-4 record and 20 saves out of 26 opportunities.

Hurdle hasn't stated who the new closer will be, but he does have plenty of options. All of the following names were mentioned as potential choices.

Reliever Manny Corpas has a 2.70 ERA with a 1.25 WHIP as a setup man. He's 2-2 with 16 holds but has struck out just 29 batters in 40 innings.

Reliever Jorge Julio has previous closing experience, and he has done very well so far with Colorado. He's posting a 1.76 ERA and a 1.11 WIP while recording three holds. His strikeout rate is better than Corpas', with 12 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings, but he has also walked seven batters to Corpas' 14 free passes.

Reliever Jeremy Affeldt is a third option to close out games. He has a 2.73 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP with 24 strikeouts in 33 innings. He has a 4-1 record on the year and is the only Rockies pitcher this season to have more than 20 innings pitched and not allow a home run. However, he has walked 20 batters so far.

Reliever LaTroy Hawkins is another option, but is having a poor year. He's showing a 4.64 ERA with a 1.31 WHIP in 21 1/3 innings. He is also 0-3 on the year, but he does have six holds. Hawkins' strikeout rate is the worst of the four options; he has just 11 strikeouts so far this year.

In all likelihood, Corpas will probably be the guy who gets the first shot at save opportunities. However, Affeldt and the other two could steal the occasional save from Corpas. Pick up Corpas in fantasy leagues, as he's likely to have the most value. Affeldt is worth a flier too, as he's pitching well enough to help out in ERA and strikeouts, plus he could earn a save once in awhile. Hawkins and Julio are probably best left alone for now, at least until they start earning save chances. All of these pitchers are available in nearly 100 percent of leagues polled.

Otherwise, fantasy owners have slim pickings for save opportunities. You could be speculative and pick up Cleveland Indians reliever Rafael Betancourt or Atlanta Braves reliever Rafael Soriano. Indians closer Joe Borowski has 23 saves, but with a 5.23 ERA and 1.53, he has been awful. Betancourt has a 1.23 ERA, a 0.71 WHIP and 33 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings. He is available in about 97 percent of leagues polled. Braves closer Bob Wickman has had some troubles lately. He has recorded 13 saves but has a 4.15 ERA and 1.54 WHIP. Soriano picked up the slack when Wickman was on the disabled list earlier this season. Soriano has five saves, a 3.12 ERA, a 0.81 WHIP and 31 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings. He is available in roughly 56 percent of leagues polled.

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About Michael Egnak

Michael Egnak is a Hot Off The Wire Analyst at KFFL and has been with the company since 2005. Covering both NFL and MLB, Egnak is also a key contributor to KFFL's fantasy services.

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