Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Bobby Parnell's trial run, Brian Wilson's DL stint, more

by Tim Heaney on August 22, 2011 @ 13:48:47 PDT


What are the odds that you still own the relief pitchers you rostered in your fantasy baseball draft?'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.


Job security (JS) score 1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable)
Health (H) score 1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)


New York Mets

Closer: Bobby Parnell

Understudy: Jason Isringhausen

Lurkers: Pedro Beato, Taylor Buchholz (DL)

Parnell was slated to close for the New York Mets on Sunday and has a good chance of doing so Monday, as well. But despite his Saturday blown-up blown save (no outs recorded, one hit, three walks, four runs) and Sunday non-save stumble, Isringhausen will still receive stopper opps. Even if he'll just be the contingency plan, this reduces Parnell's chances of claiming the role before the season ends.

San Francisco Giants RP Sergio Romo
Romo may take the reins shortly

Manager Terry Collins said Beato isn't in the mix for closing because he thinks the righty is getting tired, but he'd probably be a last resort if Parnell and Izzy can't cut it. Yet another suggestion, though not necessarily an organization-favored direction, proved how low the brass' confidence remains in the bullpen. They approached starter Mike Pelfrey about doing the job next season, and the righty, per a source, said "Absolutely." He's a long-term watch if this idea is explored further in the offseason, but it's a long shot.

For now, Parnell owners might want to keep Isringhausen in tow, as well. The former should get the majority, but if the Mets don't feel he's ready, they might just let Izzy, whose chief value seems to be as a mentor, play out the string and reevaluate their options. It isn't likely, but it isn't out of the question.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 3

San Francisco Giants

Closer: Brian Wilson (DL)

Understudy: Sergio Romo (DL)

Lurkers: Jeremy Affeldt, Ramon Ramirez, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez

When Wilson hit the DL Sunday, Bruce Bochy said he could use any of the lurkers in a matchup situation while they wait for their stopper, with Romo (elbow) also sidelined. His first lean might be toward Affeldt because of the southpaw's ability to retire both righties and lefties consistently.

Ramirez stepped in for the save Sunday, but it came in the 11th inning (against three righty sticks) after Affeldt was asked to pitch the ninth and 10th frames to preserve a tie. It was the former's second save in the past week; in the first one, two Sundays ago, it was a one-out job in which Affeldt walked the only batter he faced, a righty.

This would lead to saying Ramirez was the stopper, because the Giants were on the road, and the visiting team can save their closer for save situation. But reports speculate Affeldt's work came in what is ordinarily Wilson's job in such a circumstance, and this is an inference that Bochy trusts Affeldt the most.

Ramirez has solid closer skills (8.36 K/9), but while he has been used in important frames while Wilson and Romo have been injured, Affeldt has been relied on for crucial innings for a longer period of time. Still, Ramirez could be earning more frequent use in crucial frames with his recent work.

Romo (elbow) might be back as soon as Thursday if his rehab goes well, so he might be the winner here after all in a non-Wilson world. Until then, bet on Affeldt, then Ramirez, but know that their shelf life might not be long and that they'll probably step on each others' toes. Romo has the best long-term value in place of Wilson if he's healthy.

Job security score: 5

Health score: 4

Toronto Blue Jays

Closer: Jon Rauch (DL)

Understudy: Frank Francisco

Lurkers: Casey Janssen, Shawn Camp, Joel Carreno

Francisco warmed up for the ninth inning Sunday but couldn't go because of right shoulder discomfort, so Janssen pitched a third inning to pick up the Toronto Blue Jays' save. Frank Frank will be evaluated before the Jays' next game on Tuesday.

Rauch (appendectomy) is out for at least another few weeks, so if Francisco has to join him on the sidelines for an extended period, Janssen and Camp would likely be used for closing situations. Janssen should be your target because of his skills (9.22 K/9 with a competent fastball); both can pitch multiple innings, so transitioning one to one-inning duty wouldn't be a big loss.

Keep a casual eye on Carreno, who was called up by Toronto Friday. He'll pitch out of the 'pen for now, but he has been a starter for nearly his entire farm career and could be auditioning for the rotation next season, in some manner. Carreno's heat can melt batters but needs polish; however, he has a powerful slider that could make him closer-worthy, even if merely pressed into some form of duty down the stretch.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 3

Mound meetings

  • Heath Bell was placed on waivers Monday by the San Diego Padres. This doesn't guarantee that the closer will be dealt, but the Pads are exploring every possible option here; Bell could even sign with San Diego after pitching somewhere else this year. Be ready, Luke Gregerson, to be the next Mike Adams.
  • Buck Showalter said Kevin Gregg remains the Baltimore Orioles' closer, even after the right-hander's Saturday meltdown (two hits, two earned runs, blown save, loss). Though this continued a rough stretch for the righty, who has been scored upon in three of his last four outings, that gaffe was aided by poor defense at third base by the recently demoted Josh Bell.
    The effective Jim Johnson is starting to transition to the rotation, but let the Mike Gonzalez watch begin. The southpaw, who was signed to do this job before 2010, has shut out his opponents over his last 10 outings and quietly has a 2.63 ERA from May 25 on. Have room to prospect in deep leagues? Start considering him, but beware that the hapless O's might be content with letting Gregg play out the 2011 closer string.
  • Under the umbrella of velocity concerns, Carlos Marmol has thrown two straight shutout appearances, including a 1-2-3 save in his Saturday deployment in which his four-seamer topped out at 91 mph. Mike Quade doesn't appear overly concerned despite pointing to the righty's mechanics and workload as the causes.
    Continue monitoring him, but it could be a frustrating organization if Sean Marshall and Kerry Wood are asked to step in again. Marmol is earning some rope, but he's not cemented again just yet.
  • Is fatigue starting to overwhelm Joel Hanrahan? He pitched Friday, Saturday and Sunday, allowing a combined five runs (four earned) in the bookend outings, including a Sunday blown save, his first in a ninth inning this season. The righty has also appeared in six of the Pittsburgh Pirates' last seven games.
    Hanrahan and Jose Veras, who also worked each weekend game, will not be available for Monday's doubleheader. Chris Resop might get a shot at a save in at least one of the two games Monday, so he might be worth a rental pickup. There isn't much concern here over Hanrahan's job security; it's a rough patch to wait out.
  • Ryan Madson's line from Friday, his third straight day of work: two-thirds of an inning, five hits, one walk, one K, six runs allowed, blown save, loss. His ERA jumped from 2.06 to 3.25. The Philadelphia Phillies rested Madson this weekend, with backup Antonio Bastardo doing his best Madson impersonation, giving up a solo homer and botching the closing chance. Brad Lidge, who has looked solid since returning from the DL, wound up losing the contest in the 10th inning.
    Don't expect Madson to lose his grip, but he might receive more off-days as 2011 winds down to keep him fresh for the postseason, meaning Bastardo, or even Lidge, might be worth a stash.
  • Sergio Santos was permitted to pitch the entire ninth inning Saturday, in which he faced three righty bats (including the leadoff man) and one left-handed stick. He came through with a save, working around an Adam Dunn error. This doesn't preclude Chris Sale continuing his crashing of the closer party in lefty-heavy situations. Both arms need to be owned.
  • Huston Street (biceps) will rehab this week and possibly return by the end of it. The Colorado Rockies' fill-in, Rafael Betancourt, made good in his first assignment Sunday, working around a hit to secure a scoreless one-inning wrap-up. He hasn't allowed a run in 8 1/3 August innings, recovering from a recent rough stretch. You should be able to squeeze another week of value out of Betancourt.
  • With his Friday save, Neftali Feliz has tossed seven consecutive scoreless outings, complete with three saves and seven K's with just one hit and two walks allowed. He has aggressively restored his credibility as Texas Rangers stopper.
  • With two saves over the weekend, Craig Kimbrel has now pitched on three of the last four and five of the last eight days. The Atlanta Braves might go to Jonny Venters for a save chance this week, so check if he's available if you're chasing closures.
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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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