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.
Andrew Bailey's impending surgery on the ulnar collateral ligament of his right thumb is expected to shelve him until after the All-Star break. Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said Wednesday that Alfredo Aceves, an apparent man crush, will get the save chance if there is one on Opening Day.
Aceves is hardly dominant, but his stuff has always played better out of the 'pen than it has as a starter. See his 2011 velo bump; it complemented the importance and success of his two-seamer and changeup. The fantasy value many have culled from him as a wins vulture now shifts to a scarcer category. Add him everywhere ... but don't do so expecting him to enforce a tight grip.
Pluck Santiago for saves?
Mark Melancon goes from being the surefire go-to guy to Aceves' backup, but that hardly makes him worthless. Aceves' role flexibility could tighten his leash - and potentially eliminate him permanently - if he struggles initially. Plus, count on Valentine employing Aceves for one-plus innings during a save chance and having Melancon slide in the next day if a conversion is needed.
The Sox are sticking with Daniel Bard in the rotation, for now; a change probably won't come until about a month in if they flip the switch. Bobby Jenks is a down-the-road candidate, as well, but his off-field issues and recovery from December back surgery make him a wait-and-see guy.
An MRI on Kyle Farnsworth showed a right elbow strain - not great news, but better than what many, including the Tampa Bay Rays, were bracing for. All he'll need is rest, it seems, after being placed on the DL.
Joel Peralta is the odds-on choice for a fantasy pickup because of his September duties in replacing a dinged Farnsie last year. But, from Peralta's mouth: "You know how Maddon is, he goes on matchups. It doesn't mean you're going to throw the ninth inning every night. ... I'm assuming I'm probably going to get a chance, so I'm going to be ready for that."
The backup options Nick mentioned yesterday deserve AL-only consideration, nothing more, at the moment. Another speculation from Tampa Tribune scribe Roger Mooney: rotation also-ran Wade Davis. His fastball could be more beneficial in high-effort, low-duration outings, as is the case with many starter-to-reliever transitions.
Could Hector Santiago be the Chicago White Sox's 2012 Sergio Santos?
It wasn't a save chance, but Santiago held a four-run lead in the ninth inning of a ChiSox victory Tuesday, after Addison Reed (sixth), Jesse Crain (seventh) and Matt Thornton (eighth) each logged an inning before him.
Though his K/9 steadily decreased with each level of the minors he touched, and he has just 83 1/3 frames of Double-A experience (no Trips), he holds the traditional fastball punch to do the job. His developing screwball doesn't hurt, either. Robin Ventura is taking a liking to him.
And although it was different management last year, a lack of experience at Double- and Triple-A didn't stop the Sox from handing Santos the role last season. Plus, as displayed in Thornton's candidacy, being a southpaw isn't a detriment if Santiago can bring it.
Unfortunately, though impressed with Santiago's ability to work out of a jam, Ventura said he didn't script his RPs' availability to make sure the 24-year-old tossed the ninth.
We're at Ventura's whim, but since we must guess, this is your speculative order: Thornton; Reed, a long-term fantasy plan; Crain, who could net a few before Reed enters the picture; and Santiago. If they miss out on the top-level fruit, AL-only owners would do well to pluck from the lower branches of this saves tree, which could sway in the breeze for a while.
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 competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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