Who will close?
Czar Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and skipper Dale Sveum fall in line by insisting Carlos Marmol holds the reins. In last year's second half, the right-hander relied on his slider less often while attacking the strike zone a bit more than usual. See the 1.33 ERA and 12.0 K/9 from July 23 on.
Of course, the addictive slide piece could easily allow Marmol to relapse, and whenever he does ... it's ugly, regardless of how many hitters he punches out. Too many nibbles, too many blown saves.
Kyuji Fujikawa casts the largest shadow on Marmol since Sean Marshall - not saying much, perhaps, but we're not talking about James Russell and Shawn Camp. The Japanese righty can dial it up to about 97 mph, and his herky-jerky-derky delivery increases its suffocation factor. Also, his split-finger fastball should play well at Wrigley Field.
Trusting Marmol to sustain his forward steps shouldn't place him much higher than where he fell off 2012 boards - for the optimistic, somewhere at the bottom rung of No. 2 stoppers. As a third, he's much safer.
The import should siphon at least a few closures. When combined with his novelty and strikeout ability, that makes him a complementary RP in deep setups. For the tangible possibility Fujikawa takes more or simply usurps Marmol, he's one of fantasy's better speculations and necessary handcuffs, if you're into that sort of kink. The regularity with which he visits the black would likely win over Sveum if Marmol starts straying from the progress he's made.
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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