Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Ryan Cook, Jose Valverde, Rafael Soriano, more

by Nicholas Minnix on June 13, 2012 @ 12:57:17 PDT



Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat | AL depth charts | NL depth charts'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

For the first glimpse of what the Oakland Athletics' new committee may look like, check out their Tuesday action versus the Colorado Rockies in Denver.

Grant Balfour was perfect in the seventh and eighth frames, notching three K's. Ryan Cook allowed the first two men he faced in the ninth to reach base, but he fanned the next two (Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer - no gimmes) and ended the contest on an FC grounder for his first career save.

Brian Fuentes didn't sniff this one, despite the fact that two of the three due up in the final frame were left-handed batters. In addition, left-handed hitter Todd Helton hit that game-ending grounder.

Detroit Tigers RP Jose Valverde
Papa Grande in hot water?

As Bob Melvin suggested, the rookie, Cook, will probably see the most important innings. Those may include save situations, and they may not. Last night, with the top of the order coming up after Balfour made easy work of all six hitters he faced, the ninth was clearly critical.

Balfour continues to pitch well since his removal from the closer's role, so don't rule him out completely from the saves cookie jar. Cook has also been a little more vulnerable of late, too. But the youngster is in the driver's seat and is quite a talent.


Buster Olney reports that Major League Baseball has examined film of Jose Valverde's alleged spitball implementation on Sunday. Olney says that the league has contacted the Detroit Tigers about what went down, too.

Valverde has publicly considered the suggestion kind of laughable and has strongly denied that he spit on the ball then - or ever. But clearly, MLB isn't completely convinced. Olney called the league office's actions "a de facto warning."

The right-hander won't be facing any discipline for this transgression, and there's no roto action to take because of it. That is, unless you're looking for a little extra motivation to move Valverde, and someone in your league wants him. This is unlikely to go any further or have an effect on his value, though.


Rafael Soriano shook off the concerns about the tiny blister on his pitching hand's index finger as well as his blown save on Sunday to knock out the meat of the Atlanta Braves' order swiftly on Tuesday night. He fanned a pair.

The New York Yankees plan to activate David Robertson (oblique strain) from the disabled list on Friday. Soriano marked his territory with last night's appearance and set up Joe Girardi for an easy post-game presser.


The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were without the services of Scott Downs last night against the Los Angeles Dodgers because the veteran reliever has some kind of injury to his side. Alden Gonzalez notes that the left-hander's ailment occurred in Sunday's tilt at the Colorado Rockies.

Since this is the first anyone seems to have heard about it and Downs is considered day-to-day, it's probably not serious. He could be unavailable for a couple of days or so more, though, and one never knows with these tweaks in the upper body.

Ernesto Frieri should handle any save chances in the meantime. In the however unlikely event that Downs' malady is serious, his right-handed counterpart will become a likely top-end saves generator.


On Tuesday evening against the Detroit Tigers, the Chicago Cubs picked up a run in the bottom of the eighth to take a 4-3 lead. Dale Sveum called on Shawn Camp to finish off los Tigres in the top of the ninth, and the right-hander abided with a clean stanza.

Last night marked Camp's second straight appearance in a save sitch. The first one went horribly, however, when last Friday he gave up four hits, two runs and two walks in 1 1/3 innings and also took a loss. The Tuesday notch in his belt is a positive, but only a minor one.

James Russell continues to pitch above his stat head as well, and he seems to be the reliever whom Sveum trusts most. With one out in the seventh, the southpaw relieved an ineffective Casey Coleman; he fanned Brennan Boesch and coaxed Miguel Cabrera to ground out. He came out for the eighth and struck out Prince Fielder before taking a seat.

Unless you're really desperate or in a very deep league, there's no reason to mess with this pair. That's nothing new. But just to be clear, this continues to be a muddy committee, with a pair of relievers pitching better than expected and no clear leader for the few opportunities the Cubs generate.


Mark Feinsand shared some encouraging news for Mariano Rivera, who on Tuesday finally underwent surgery to repair his torn ACL. Not only was the procedure a success, but surgeons also reported no damage to Mo's meniscus. That's contrary to what the reliever expected.

It's still unclear if Rivera will be ready for spring training, which will be difficult to achieve in eight months, especially at his age. (He turns 43 in November.) This positive report certainly bodes well, however. Although Mo's contract expires after this year's World Series, the hurler and the Yankees, including Girardi, expect him to be back and closing in 2013.


The New York Mets shuffled their bullpen on Tuesday. Jon Rauch is no longer the setup man, and Bobby Parnell won't receive consideration in circumstances befitting such a role, either. Miguel Batista will be that guy, instead.

All this means: As shaky as Frank Francisco has been and as injury-prone as he is, the Mets don't have much going on in front of him. Batista could receive consideration for closing duties if Frank Frank were to be unavailable for any number of reasons, but there's pretty much zero reason to acquire him in any format.

If the tenderness in Rauch's elbow is no longer a problem and he begins to pitch well again, he'll probably work his way back into favor. Parnell's gifts give him a chance to do the same. Maybe then the Mets will come to their senses. It's not your problem, thankfully.


Kyle Farnsworth is expected to need a handful or so more appearances to get to where he needs to be in his recovery from a strained right elbow. If all goes smoothly, he should rejoin the Tampa Bay Rays - to set up Fernando Rodney - by the end of the month.

Other Tuesday saviors

Jim Johnson (19), Orioles
Santiago Casilla (17), Giants 1 out, 1 SV
Jonathan Broxton (15), Royals A little hairy (1st and 3rd, 1 out), but survived
Alfredo Aceves (15), Red Sox
Kenley Jansen (10), Dodgers
Tyler Clippard (9), Nationals
Huston Street (6), Padres Bailed out Joe Thatcher, sort of - allowed 2 H, tossed WP that led to R






Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat | AL depth charts | NL depth charts

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About Nicholas Minnix

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.

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