Fantasy baseball sleepers for saves - AL

by Tim Heaney on March 31, 2010 @ 10:30:00 PDT

 


AL: Fantasy baseball sleepers | undervalued | busts | overvalued | saves | stolen bases

NL: Fantasy baseball sleepers | undervalued | busts | overvalued | saves | stolen bases

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 team.

Chris Perez, RP, Cleveland Indians

The latest injury to Kerry Wood shows why we included Perez here. Perez had earned speculative points on his own merit before that; he enjoyed a midseason revelation in '09, harnessing his slider and improving his dominance and control.

Perez now comes in as a low-end No. 3 stopper for your mixed draft. We've seen evidence of Wood's injuries lingering during his career, so Perez could have ample time to give you saves this season. Wood would re-enter the role when he's healthy, but deep managers should still hang onto Perez for as long as possible afterward. He's still valuable enough to help your team in K's and ratios - and as the next in line for closures.

Kevin Jepsen, RP, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Many point to Fernando Rodney as the successor to the shaky Brian Fuentes. Rodney is no angel when it comes to getting through a save opp cleanly. Skipper Mike Scioscia saw too much of that with Fuentes last season.

Jepsen's development of a slider/cutter (depends on source) turned his season around. His improvement in control added to his groundballitude. Jepsen has the skills to help your deep squad even if he isn't in the closer role, meaning he won't be dead weight if you plan ahead for a demonic bullpen in Anaheim.

Daniel Bard, RP, Boston Red Sox

The young righty boasts closer-esque dominance but still has a bit to improve on, mainly regarding flyballs. In AL-only setups, Bard will see an inflated value because of the thinned player pool.

He's a top option in this group, but despite Jonathan Papelbon trade rumors, the situation isn't tenuous enough to bank on him entering the role without injury this season. Don't overvalue him.

Ryan Perry, RP, Detroit Tigers

June and August struggles clouded an otherwise promising rookie campaign. Control escaped him for most of the season, but the 23-year-old throws gas and knows how to miss bats. Perry was fast-tracked through the minors after finishing college ball in '08, and he showed positive flashes following a midseason refresher at Triple-A. His work to refine his slider has helped produce promising spring signs.

Stopper Jose Valverde is steady. The perennially next-in-line Joel Zumaya isn't. Zumaya claims he's healthy; it's hard to have too much confidence because of his medical records. Draft Perry's skills in the closing AL-only stanzas and keep him on your mixed watch list.

Brandon League, RP, Seattle Mariners

The M's traded Brandon Morrow to acquire League; expect them to showcase him. League's dominance, command and groundball ability clicked last year as he installed a changeup to balance his high-90s bowling-ball fastball.

David Aardsma was effective but lucky as his skills finally broke out. He tired down the stretch, though. Even if Aardsma doesn't falter completely, expect League to see some save chances this year. This situation should be high on your watch list. League won't cost much in mixed setups, either.

David Robertson, RP, New York Yankees

Should Mariano Rivera, 40, collapse or need a day off, the Yanks have options: Joba Chamberlain is the probable backup plan, and southpaw Damaso Marte has closed briefly in the past.

Robertson's control needs improvement, but no question he has closer-worthy dominance: 10.68 K/9 in '08 and 12.98 in '09. Robertson has a fresher arm than the others and a defined role. His relief K's can help deep AL squads even if he doesn't have save opps. It's a long shot, but there are bigger dice rolls with worse skills that are dead weight sans saves.

Joey Devine, RP, Oakland Athletics

Tommy John surgery shelved him before the '09 season started. Devine was slated to close. He probably won't start the 2010 season on time.

His record-breaking '08 (0.59 ERA in 45 2/3 frames) won't be topped, but he's tantalizing. Michael Wuertz, another skilled arm, handled the closer role when Andrew Bailey was unavailable last year; his history of control issues gives us some doubt he can keep up his drastic improvements. Bailey gave off real-deal vibes; some indicators could come back to haunt him. You shouldn't draft Devine in mixed; ALers could roll the dice.

Kam Mickolio, RP, Baltimore Orioles

Not a knock on closer Mike Gonzalez's skills; it's a jab at Gonzalez's medical records ... and top setup man Jim Johnson's skills. Johnson improved last year but should be striking out more bats given his velocity. Johnson struggled when he took over the role last year.

A more exciting non-Gonzalez circumstance involves Mickolio, acquired via the Erik Bedard trade. Mickolio, 26 in May, has topped a strikeout per inning and showed better control in his limited MLB sample size. Still growing into his 6-foot-9 frame, Mickolio adjusted his delivery and saw positive results. Skipper Dave Trembley was itching to try Mickolio as stopper after George Sherrill left. Don't ignore the skyscraper.

Anthony Slama, RP, Minnesota Twins

Joe Nathan will miss the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and the Twins will start out by using a committee. Jon Rauch has the most closing experience among in-house candidates that also include Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares, Jesse Crain and Pat Neshek.

Slama, meanwhile, has been on a closer track during his rapid climb through the farm system. His career 13.3 K/9 in the minors complements his 68 minor league saves, including 25 at Double-A last year and four in 11 Triple-A appearances. His control was shakier in the higher levels, but he has respectable command of his low-90s fastball.

The 26-year-old has the stuff to Slama the door - too easy - after Nathan retires. Slama will start the season in the minors. He must be on AL watch lists, though, especially since his return on a $1 investment could be huge. This situation is hardly stable. He doesn't warrant deep mixed selection yet, but he's an upward-moving name that should be watched.

AL: Fantasy baseball sleepers | undervalued | busts | overvalued | saves | stolen bases

NL: Fantasy baseball sleepers | undervalued | busts | overvalued | saves | stolen bases

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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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