Burning Fantasy Baseball Questions: Washington Nationals

by Tim Heaney on January 15, 2013 @ 09:47:32 PDT


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What's Rafael Soriano's outlook?

Sori's arrival pushes Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard into, in some fashion, seventh- and eighth-inning obligations.

The new Nat's campaign with the New York Yankees was money, and it helped him earn plenty more. He fanned 9.18 per nine as an American Leaguer in a dangerous home park. The introduction of a two-seam fastball expanded his arsenal, giving his opponents something else to think about.

His fly-ball tendencies were abated last year, but the droppings there fell into the liner category. He often induced dangerous fly balls - in fact, his HR/FB of 8.2 percent was only a smidge below his 2011 figure. He has a slightly Marmolian slider fetish that should punish him more often because his four-seam velocity rides a three-year downward trend, though in fairness the biggest drops have come in the last two years.

Losing strike-zone aggressiveness in such a way might open the door for one of the understudies, with Storen the likelier choice, to steal at least a few opportunities. Maybe because of their back-end depth they'll rest Soriano more often if he looks even a bit sluggish.

The questionable state of closers outside a handful will vault Soriano's market price toward the top of the heap. He's not Craig Kimbrel, Jonathan Papelbon, Jason Motte or, for the bold, Fernando Rodney, instead settling in the group that includes the injured former teammate Mariano Rivera, the aging J.J. Putz and the revived but old Joe Nathan.

Maybe Soriano's squad - now the presumptive Senior Circuit front-runners - dictates that he's better than the other risky Tier 2 options, but the holes in the righty's game should prevent you from assuming he's one of the league's best firemen.

Storen and Clippard remain fine deep-mixed staff cappers and plug-and-play RPs because of their high-level skills.

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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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