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Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Mariano Rivera denied a save, Jason Grilli almost back, more

By Nicholas Minnix
Edited by Tim Heaney

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

New York Yankees RP Mariano Rivera
"No, Mo," says scorer

Mariano Rivera began the ninth inning on Thursday night with his club ahead by a run and pitched a 1-2-3 inning. He didn't receive credit for a save, however; instead, he came away with, statistically, a victory for the New York Yankees.

Why? Because, once you wipe away the cobwebs, blow the dust off the cover and ever so gently turn the pages of Major League Baseball's rulebook, you come across rules like the one that gave that game's official scorer the discretion to make such a determination.

David Robertson played tee for a few batters in the eighth after he recorded two quick outs. How many times have you seen a reliever "earn" a win even though he allowed base runners and even runs but still entered and exited the game at the right time? But in this instance, it was just too much.

Sing it, Brian Kenny! The individual pitcher's win is a statistical relic from baseball's archaic, arcane traditions. The save is relatively new, at least, but still its invention has unfortunately altered behavior.

Fantasy baseball is a bit of a slave to those categories, so it'd be nice to see MLB become open-minded enough to examine such folly and thus indirectly aid to usher in change in rotisserie and head-to-head games. Really, though, commissioners of fake leagues would do well to evolve on their own.

***

Clint Hurdle told the media that he'll begin to use Jason Grilli in the seventh and eighth innings when the Pittsburgh Pirates have a lead. This is just a bit more evidence that the Bucs' manager still plans to make the right-hander his closer again, eventually.

In the meantime, of course, Mark Melancon will continue to serve in that role, as he did on Thursday, when he notched his 14th save. If Grilli is dominant in couple of appearances, however, Hurdle may not need to see any more before he "restores order."

***

Jim Johnson screwed up on Thursday, again, but at least multiple walks or hits weren't responsible. Nope, the right-hander's defensive miscue and wild pitch are what did in the Baltimore Orioles in their one-run loss to the Yankees.

Buck Showalter probably won't find much fault with his closer, although a free pass and a knock did put the O's in peril. Fantasy owners may follow the lead of the skipper and see how this affects Johnson mentally next time out. He should be fine.

Just in case: Tommy Hunter hasn't been so dependable, lately; Francisco Rodriguez has been used sporadically, presumably because of the mild groin strain he incurred a couple of weeks ago. The former would likely get the first shot because of past assignments. Don't expect it to happen, though.

***

Arizona Diamondbacks RP Brad Ziegler
Not zagging from Ziegler

Public service announcement: The Arizona Diamondbacks still don't have anyone better than side-winding Brad Ziegler to close, at least in Kirk Gibson's eyes.

Ziegler is fine, of course, because his ground-ball stuff gets the job done -- like it did on Wednesday, giving the righty 10 saves -- but the lack of K's just sucks for fantasy.

Encouraging: David Hernandez has made five scoreless appearances since his recall, at the beginning of September. Right-hander Will Harris is interesting, as well. Heath Bell? He's still stinks. Oh, and there's been nothing to suggest that J.J. Putz (dislocated finger) is ready for activation.

***

Make it eight straight scoreless appearances for Rafael Soriano following his frame, with a hit allowed and a K, on Wednesday. The Miami Marlins, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies probably didn't put up much resistance, though. The Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals should tell fantasy owners a good bit more about how far Soriano has come in the past couple of weeks.



 


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