Whether you choose to spend big on closers or avoid chasing saves altogether
in fantasy baseball drafts, you must search for closers in waiting. Fantasy
baseball players should examine tenuous situations and scour for pitchers with
closer-type arms. You'll soon uncover hidden gems for your fantasy baseball
Jason Motte, RP, St. Louis Cardinals
Ryan Franklin, 37, saved 38 games with a sub-2.00 ERA - somehow. Luck was a large factor in his success versus batsmen and, consequently, in save opp conversion.
Speculate in St. Louie. Last year, Motte was a darling but unpolished. He has been a pitcher for only 3 1/2 years. Now, he says, he's more concerned with location and mixing pitches, not just throwing hard.
He can do that too. Motte's K/9 rose steadily and is cruising for 10.00-plus. After a negative spike, his control improved as well. The righty is a candidate to set up. Toss a few bucks on him in NL games.
Luke Gregerson, RP, San Diego Padres
Motte taming his heat
Heath Bell isn't going to lose his job. But his locker? The focus is on Adrian Gonzalez, but the Friars should have better luck shopping Saved by the Bell - and not necessarily near the deadline. It's no secret that the Minnesota Twins began sniffing around him.
The odds-on fave to replace him: Gregerson, 25, whose 11.16 K/9 stuff was on display in his rookie year. He posted a 1.24 WHIP despite a somewhat unfortunate .332 BABIP against. His BB/9 also improved in the second half.
Mix the righty's groundball tendency with dominance, PETCO Park and a potential opening down the road. He attracts interest because of his potential LIMA value, too, but he shouldn't go for double-digit dollars in NLs.
Drew Storen, RP, Washington
Lost in the Stephen Strasburg Shuffle is Storen,
whom the Nats selected just nine picks afterward. The organization has viewed
him as its closer of the future from Day 1.
The right-hander is incredibly bright (Stanford student, you know) and a hard
worker. He improves from outing to outing and doesn't lose his composure easily.
Storen possesses varied and dominant stuff, too, don't worry. He cruised to
Double-A last year.
Storen lacks only experience. He's of the "bulldog" breed. He won't begin the season on the 25-man roster, but he could be D.C.'s closer
by season's end. The only problem: Others are aware of it. Keeper leaguers should
be looser with their purse strings.
Manuel Corpas, RP, Colorado Rockies
Huston Street (shoulder) doesn't have the most durable arm on the block. Rafael Betancourt appeared to return to form last season but isn't yet a favorite. Franklin Morales is the interim closer, but that may be by default. Keep in mind that Morales is still green and the only threatening southpaw in the club's bullpen.
Corpas has done the job and is poised to bounce back. Blame last year's atrocious numbers on his attempt to play with bone chips in his elbow. That ailment indicates possible future problems, but his draft price is nil. Per Colorado's staff, his arsenal is nearly back to pre-2009 form.
Regarding his 2008 form, hitters victimized the righty with a high hit rate. He still generates grounders, his K/9 was on the rebound, and he was cutting down on BB/9. Corpas has done the job before. Not a bad NL reserve.
Rafael Betancourt, RP, Colorado Rockies
The righty's shoulder discomfort is no longer a concern. Huston Street (shoulder), however, has had a real problem with nagging injuries in the past couple of years. Manuel Corpas, another potential saves sniper, is returning from elbow surgery and has much to prove.
Betancourt is logically the setup man, barring health issues. Franklin Morales excelled in a few appearances as closer last season and, per manager Jim Tracy, will close in the interim, but he still has much maturing to do. Last year Betancourt's dominance bounced back to pre-2008 level. He also has experience performing in spot duty for saves.
The 34-year-old re-established himself as a potential ratio reducer and K/9 helper, but few seem to find any value in him. There are certainly worse final-round or $1 fliers, especially in NL games.
Samuel Gervacio, RP, Houston Astros
Don't overlook Rox '07 stopper
An impressive Caribbean performance punctuated an impressive MLB stint (2.14 ERA, 25 K's in 21 innings). Dominance is on his resume; it wasn't a fluke. The 25-year-old also forces his opponents to kill worms often.
Matt Lindstrom is officially the closer, and Brandon Lyon is technically next in line, but both present risks in their performance and with injuries. Gervacio's skills are worth NL-only harboring in the end game, and he may not take long to become a mixed league commodity.
Evan Meek, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Joel Hanrahan (elbow) is the widely tabbed understudy to the elderly but skilled Octavio Dotel, but Hanny will miss the start of the season. Don't overlook Meek. He'll probably start out in the seventh inning, but he showed closer-type ability in his first extensive major league time.
Meek displayed solid dominance, even with his control issues. He diversified his arsenal, chiefly increasing the benefits of his cutter and curveball. A long shot who'll otherwise be worth an in-season NL-only rental.
Esmailin Caridad, RP, Chicago Cubs
Carlos Marmol has a long leash, but his control problems were a real peeve for manager Lou Piniella. Angel Guzman (shoulder) is out of the picture, and early on, so is Jeff Gray (shoulder). Initially, Caridad, 26, will set up along with lefty John Grabow.
Caridad's minor league record doesn't appear inspirational, but he rose quickly through the Cubs' farm system as a starter before debuting as a reliever. The smallish right-hander has advancing dominance and throws in the low to mid-90s, and walks aren't a problem.
It's a long shot that Sweet Lou would put his faith him; he tends to yield round-trippers. But, if Caridad earns his skipper's trust with a few months of consistent performances, like those he put on last season, and Marmol falters by then, well, Caridad and Grabow could each see some save opps.
Scott Mathieson, RP, Philadelphia Phillies
The Phils love this right-hander's arm - one that has undergone three operations,
including two of the Tommy John variety, in the span of two years. Starting is
no longer a possibility. So how would his mid- to high-90s heat look in the
Per the organization, he needs a lot of refinement, but we're talking 10.00 K/9 potential, at least. In 32 1/3 minor league innings last year, he posted a 0.84 ERA, walked 12 and struck out 34. He might end up the closer for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Mathieson has a microscopic chance of earning save chances with the big club this year, but Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson have their faults. Mathieson is at best worth only a very deep NL reserve pick, but in deep keeper leagues, stash him.
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.