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Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Andrew Bailey, Rafael Betancourt
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.
As the Boston Red Sox peter out of 2012, Andrew Bailey looks like he's showing signs of fatigue. On Tuesday night he yielded a two-run, game-tying jack before the sacks became jacked on a double, intentional free pass and a walk. He was removed for Mark Melancon, who ended the threat.
Bailey, who's now 6-for-9 on save chances, boasted a 3.09 ERA over 14 appearances before his five-run meltdown on Sept. 20. Including that disaster, he's allowed two-plus hits in four of his last five outings, and at least one run in three of them. During that quintet, Bailey blew two wrap-up chances and posted a 19.64 ERA.
His final earned-run average won't be pretty, but it may work in the favor of fantasy baseball value seekers. Hidden beneath this disappointing end to his return from thumb surgery remain skills worth buying, despite his medical risks. Sitting alongside Huston Street in the mixed-league closer danger zone, he'll probably have a few bucks knocked off his required investment in 2013 drafts. A full offseason should restore his cred.
Rafael Betancourt allowed a three-run homer to blow his seventh chance of the year and his second in two nights. The 37-year-old's ERA jumped all the way up to ... 2.81. He still walks fewer than 2.00 per nine, though that rose a bit this season from previous campaigns. Along with a drop to 8.90 K/9 from double-digit rates, that presents some caution heading into 2013; his left-on-base percentage, though not a shock to be high for a closer, ballooned to 81.3, much higher than his recent performances.
What sustains confidence in him, however, is his increased grounder inducement, which, while not reaching jaw-dropping levels (36.0 percent compared to 31.0 in 2011), shows he's adjusting in his advancing age and surviving in his ballpark. He wasn't as much of an overachiever as most will argue.
Still, even though closers with his profile can excel at his age, it's astute to have some concerns about the effectiveness of his cutter, which has become his go-to pitch. How potently will the offering's movement serve him with another year added onto his body?
Luckily, despite his sparkling numbers, the natural regression expected with advancing age should keep his price low in most formats, which, to a degree, reduces his downside heading into 2013. Of course, he might be a trade candidate next year, which is one other thing to look out for.
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