Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Francisco Cordero, more

by Tim Heaney on July 11, 2011 @ 13:09:36 PDT


What are the odds that you still own the relief pitchers you rostered in your fantasy baseball draft?'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.


Job security (JS) score 1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable)
Health (H) score 1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)


Cincinnati Reds

Closer: Francisco Cordero

Understudy: Aroldis Chapman

Lurkers: Nick Masset, Jose Arredondo

Before July 6, Cordero had a 1.49 ERA in 36 1/3 innings of 2011 work. In the last four games (three coming on the road against the home-deadly Milwaukee Brewers), he has been tattooed to an 18.90 ERA (seven earned runs in 3 1/3 innings) while blowing all three save chances in that window.

Jon Rauch, RP, Toronto Blue Jays
Don't get too excited

Pitching three days in a row probably didn't help. He had done so twice earlier this season, once going to four, but he came out OK. The fact that his innings are starting to pile up might be causing more fatigue this time around.

Chapman, who's rounding into dominant form, is the logical successor and fantasy add, but Cordero should benefit from the extra rest from the All-Star break. Sadly for his fantasy owners, that was probably why Dusty Baker wasn't afraid to use CoCo Sunday.

Cordero remains more of a continuing statistical correction risk than an unemployment hazard; the former doesn't preclude him from being the team's stopper as long as he rings up the saves. Maybe Baker will recognize from now on that he can't pitch Cordero on three straight days, especially without the luxury of a three-day, league-wide respite to follow.

His K/9 is in decline for the fourth straight season, fueled by a cliff-drop in velocity, and he's allowing more homers than usual. But Cordero is neutralizing that damage by posting a career-high grounder rate, and his opponents' liner rate is at a career low; he's keeping them off-balance, thanks in part to his successful curveball employment.

Though it's wise to speculate on Chapman - and for Cordero owners to handcuff them - there's enough here to remain positive about Cordero despite his recent struggles and likely trip back to numerical earth. Bet on Baker remaining patient with his veteran righty.

Job security score: 5

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

  • Jon Rauch has taken over the Toronto Blue Jays' closing duties from Frank Francisco while the latter works through his issues. Heard this before? Rauch wasn't sharp this weekend, allowing two runs and four hits in two one-inning appearances, including a blown save Saturday in which he backed into a win.
    Good news, though: He won't be suspended for his recent tirade against an umpire. If you need saves, go ahead and pick up Rauch, but along with closing opps, he will just as easily offer your rate stats a chance to crumble. Francisco owners should bench him instead of cutting him.
  • Javy Guerra converted a save occasion Friday and Sunday, his first closing work since June 19. Though his fastball fits the profile, Guerra hasn't tapped into its K/9 potential yet.
    More importantly, however, Don Mattingly feels the most comfortable with Guerra being the Los Angeles Dodgers' opportunist. Kenley Jansen and Hong-Chih Kuo are those to target afterward, but Guerra has extended his rope a little, especially with Jonathan Broxton's elbow issues jeopardizing his season.
  • Since given a breather from closing last Tuesday, Matt Capps has thrown a scoreless inning in each of his last three outings; he registered the save in Friday and Sunday victories. Seems like he's correcting his recently discovered flaw of over-striding with his lower body when releasing his pitches.
    Still, Joe Nathan remains a solid acquisition due to the possibility of him falling into saves either with the Minnesota Twins or elsewhere. Glen Perkins has taken to his switch to the bullpen, but despite his utility in extremely deep leagues doesn't look like he's in the mix for anything more than matchup saves.
  • David Hernandez has saved five games - all scoreless outings - in July for the Arizona Diamondbacks, his latest coming Friday. Unfortunately, J.J. Putz (elbow) will regain the closer gig once he returns from the disabled list. Putz threw 27 pitches off a mound Sunday and is slated to do another hill appearance Thursday.
    He probably won't return immediately after the break, though, so Hernandez owners probably have another handful of games with a stopper. He's still a wise hold even after Putz gets back to see how the incumbent responds to returning from yet another injury.
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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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