Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Brandon Lyon, more

by Tim Heaney on June 9, 2011 @ 11:34:13 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)


Houston Astros

Closer: Brandon Lyon

Understudy: Mark Melancon

Lurkers: Wilton Lopez, Jeff Fulchino

Lyon was activated from the disabled list Thursday. Manager Bradley Mills said the veteran will regain his closer role but not right away; they plan to ease him in. Funny, the word "ease" hardly ever appears in the same sentence as Lyon.

Toronto Blue Jays RP Jon Rauch
Too much drama in TO

Melancon has been the anchor for one of the league's best bullpens. It's obvious he has better skills than Lyon (7.15 ERA, 2.12 WHIP, .389 opponents' clip in 11 1/3 frames). The savior of only four of eight opportunities this season (blowing his last three before being sidelined), Lyon could just as easily prove he doesn't belong in the role while he works his way back during setup duty.

But the right-hander is being paid like a closer, and Mills is seemingly toeing the company line there. The saves chase can make you do regrettable things, like grabbing Lyon if he's available. It's a necessary evil if you're desperate. Maybe with his shoulder healthy, he'll regain some lost fastball velocity. Unfortunately, he and the pitch weren't effective to begin with, and his newly leaned-on cutter wasn't helping, either.

Like anyone who makes an evil pact, the retribution will be ugly for Lyon picker-uppers - in this case, the accompanying statistics and a shaky saves history. Don't think he'll solve your problems. Melancon owners: Stay put. It's hard to think Lyon will make this a quick transition, if it happens at all.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

  • Jon Rauch was dealing with a minor lateral muscle injury and wasn't available to close Wednesday. Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell turned to Casey Janssen, who gave up a run on two hits but mustered the save. Octavio Dotel pitched to two right-handed batters in the eighth in what has become his typical role.
    A long-term Rauch injury would benefit Frank Francisco, but the latter didn't pitch last night despite having not worked since Monday. He has been rough since returning from the sidelines, and maybe Farrell didn't like the matchup. Farrell hasn't gone to anyone other than those two in the ninth on a consistent basis, though, so committing to a single option outside this pair is risky. Toronto's vicious cycle continues.
  • Craig Kimbrel blew his fifth save of the season Wednesday, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk. The Atlanta Braves' rookie has 18 saves so far, though, and manager Fredi Gonzalez hasn't indicated a need for a backend switch. He also noted Kimbrel's borderline 0-2 pitch that was called a ball; next pitch, two runs score, game tied.
    The righty has filthy stuff, but Jonny Venters has been even dirtier this season and could easily step into closing. The latter should be widely owned regardless, considering his sparkling numbers. Though next in line, he isn't looking like an immediate threat to Kimbrel. Him working setup frames is equally or more important in Gonzalez's eyes.
  • Since having two teeth pulled last Wednesday, Francisco Rodriguez has posted a 12.27 ERA in 3 2/3 innings. Possible explanation: He lost 15 pounds while struggling to eat solid food and was probably weakened a bit.
    New York Mets manager Terry Collins says K-Rod can now chew and will probably start gaining weight soon. Regaining nourishment should help turn his performance around, and we can go back to reminding speculators that Jason Isringhausen would likely close if Rodriguez were injured or traded.
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Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat | AL depth charts | NL depth charts

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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