Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: J.J. Putz, Craig Kimbrel, more

by Tim Heaney on May 10, 2013 @ 13:00:00 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.

Team
JS
HO
Closer
Understudy/Fill-in
Lurker(s)
Arizona Diamondbacks
4
3
J.J. Putz DL Heath Bell David Hernandez
Matt Reynolds

After leaving his Tuesday save opp with elbow stiffness, Putz was placed on the disabled list. Docs diagnosed him with an ulnar collateral ligament sprain, and Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said Bell would get first crack at replacing the vet. Putz will refrain from throwing for a while, but surgery isn't planned.

That said, anything involving the UCL warrants long-term trepidation. Aggravation could lead to Tommy John surgery. Putz has a history of elbow setbacks: Back in '08, he hyper-extended it. The next year, bone chips kept him out for most of the campaign. In 2011, it endured tendonitis.

Meanwhile, Bell has rolled along by recording a save on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, giving up two hits and fanning two in three total frames. He'll rest Friday, so Hernandez or Reynolds may sneak one in.

Atlanta Braves RP Craig Kimbrel
No worries about Kimbrel?

In 16 games, Bell has struck out 20 and walked three; the 35-year-old's career-high K percentage pace of 30.8 and his improved rate of swinging-strikes induced further bolsters his cred. He's inducing a similar off-the-plate whiff frequency to what he did in his peak years.

Of course, his .400 BAABIP has also been justified, thanks to opponents' 29.3 liner rate. However, don't read heavily into that 1.17 HR/9 and 16.7 HR/FB; he hasn't given up a homer since his first outing of the year, during which he surrendered two. Besides a few blowup outings, he's worked around trouble effectively.

Hernandez remains a sound long-term speculation, and Reynolds can serve a fainter but comparable role in leagues where waiver options run thin. The number of solid successors behind him and some volatile indicators, in theory, make Bell a decent trade candidate. He's close to, if not at, his peak value with the likelihood of Putz missing extensive time.

On the other hand, the portly punctuator seems to have moved past his rough 2012 and should be a fine hold for however long he clutches this job, so don't fret if no one bites.

Team
JS
HO
Closer
Understudy/Fill-in
Lurker(s)
Boston Red Sox
1
2
Junichi Tazawa +
Koji Uehara

Bailey (biceps) played catch Thursday but hinted that he won't return from the disabled list to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday, when he's first eligible. Tazawa, the fill-in fireman, possesses the skills to make this gig his but also has an unknown window. Luckily for Tazawa's owners, Hanrahan's seemingly serious forearm injury provides Tazawa with more breathing room.

Bailey's voluminous medical chart has already reared its ugly head in his hesitant verbalized timetable. Maybe he's just being cautious -- not a bad thing -- but maybe he's reminding himself of his numerous sideline stays and seems resigned to another one. If Bailey must use more DL days, Uehara would threaten to steal a few SVOs per month, but John Farrell's desire to conserve the elderly righty would box him out from a noteworthy stint.

This chain primarily depends on Bailey's health, so stay tuned, but if Tazawa blows away the competition, that might become a moot point. Farrell rolled with the punches and demoted Hanrahan when Bailey was excelling and given the opp, so maybe the manager will continue playing the momentum game.

Team
JS
HO
Closer
Understudy/Fill-in
Lurker(s)
Altanta Braves
5
5
Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden
Eric O'Flaherty
Jonny Venters DL

Kimbrel, conversely, looked to have lost his energy after giving up back-to-back jacks with two outs for a "BS, L" at the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, hours after CHS addressed previous issues. Of course, playing at Great American Ball Park didn't help him. His May 3 stumble also came off a homer by stud David Wright, but his first gaffe of the season stemmed from faulty outfield defense.

Kimbrel took a breather Wednesday and emerged yesterday for a shutout inning to record his 11th save of the year and the 100th of his career. He worked around a two-out ground-rule double to preserve the Atlanta Braves' three-run victory.

Brooks Baseball says his fastball hasn't been generating as many whiffs as it did in previous years, and his curveball is getting rocked upon contact more often, but he's still punching out hitters. He recovered enough to buy himself some time, and we're not going to panic yet. Walden and O'Flaherty loom should he sink further into a funk, though a few more Kimbrel-like outings should stomp out that fire for the foreseeable future.

Among Mound meetings' stops: the Windy City, Hollywood

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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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