During the regular season, the Closer Hot Seat will be your go-to guide for Major League Baseball's bullpen chatter. During spring training, KFFL's Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Session will get you tuned up for the fantasy baseball saves chase. Camp happenings don't always impact closer battles, but if there's MLB news you should know for your fantasy baseball draft, you'll find it here.
The Washington Nationals will open with Drew Storen on the disabled list, according to The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore. Davey Johnson is hopeful that he'll have his closer back by mid-April, although there isn't a clear timetable. The Nats are playing the extreme end of safe here, understandably.
The more important development here is that Storen played catch on Tuesday and felt no discomfort during or afterward. Last week's MRI revealed no structural damage, either, so it continues to sound unlikely that the righty reliever is dealing with something serious.
As Tim noted yesterday, Brad Lidge looks like the reliever with the edge to fill in. The right-hander is healthy and having a great spring. Henry Rodriguez may get consideration, too - from the skipper and fantasy baseball players. It wouldn't hurt to toss an extra buck at Lidge; D.C. is being so cautious, and this thing could be dragged out in April.
The Cincinnati Reds will have to stash Nick Masset on the disabled list, too. But only for a short time, it seems, unlike in Ryan Madson's case, of course. Unless the injury becomes a major issue, Masset will remain a right-handed alternative to Sean Marshall, who leads the Cincinnati Reds' list of candidate to replace Madson, likely by a wide margin.
According to The Associated Press, Dusty Baker is leaning toward the use of a committee in order to protect leads in the ninth. Marshall's limited experience in closing situations may not matter to stat heads, but it probably matters to the manager, who makes the decisions. Although some roto managers have been willing to invest heavily in Marshall, there are multiple reasons that it seems unsafe to be so zealous in pursuit of him.
There are twists to this story. The temp absence of Masset, in addition to the loss of Madson, would seem to indicate that Aroldis Chapman is destined to end up in the bullpen.
The problem with that: The Cuban has pitched more than well enough to earn the No. 5 spot in the rotation, while Homer Bailey hasn't. Chapman prefers to start. It's the role in which GM Walt Jocketty wants Chapman, and it's where the left-hander offers the Reds the most value.
The problem with that, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay: Bailey is out of options and isn't suited to a relief role; the Reds have a need in the bullpen; and Baker is reportedly firmly in favor of using Chapman in his 'pen (and firmly opposed to Jocketty).
Interestingly, the Reds auditioned free agent Mike Gonzalez, although they haven't yet offered him a contract. He'd give the club a solid southpaw in addition to Marshall and Bill Bray. That would doubly decrease the need to move Chapman to the 'pen and would bode well for Marshall's prospects of closing in a manner much nearer to exclusively (unless he falters).
It's become apparent that Chapman is worthy of a gamble in deep leagues, regardless of his role, although, as a starter, he offers a lot more upside. It would probably take a series of unfortunate events for him to become something resembling a closer, especially since the organization still has designs on using him in the rotation. There's more to come, but what Cincy does in the next week - or less - will tell us quite a bit.
Ryan Cook has earned the right-handed setup spot with the Oakland Athletics. The opportunity came up in part because Joey Devine (inflammation in right biceps) will - shockingly - begin the season on the disabled list. The other reason is that Cook had a phenomenal spring.
The 24-year-old's heat sits in the mid-90s and touches the upper 90s, but he has a couple of quality secondary offerings. It's not inconceivable that he could enter the discussion as a long-term possibility to close, especially because the A's are willing to put him in a prominent bullpen role so quickly.
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