Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Cardinals bullpen, more

by Tim Heaney on May 2, 2011 @ 13:33:41 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)


Los Angeles Dodgers

Closer: Jonathan Broxton

Understudy: Vicente Padilla, Hong-Chih Kuo

Lurkers: Matt Guerrier, Kenley Jansen

Broxton recorded the save Friday, not long after he had complained of a balky elbow. He induced a swinging K and a groundout on six pitches to start the frame. Fourteen of his 20 pitches went for strikes, and all but two were four-seam fastballs, which per topped out at 95 mph. He showed he can be in "attack mode."

You think Broxton could get away cleanly? After those two outs, he gave up three straight singles and a run before Tony Gwynn Jr. made a game-ending and -saving diving catch on a liner to left. Oh, and all this trouble came against the hard-hitting San Diego Padres.

Toronto Blue Jays RP Jon Rauch
Rauch stays atop leaderboard

Luckily for the shaky righty, the fact he was able to end the game, even with defensive help, with a little more aggressiveness around the plate buys him a little more time to right the ship. His owners must remain on alert, though. Padilla threw a scoreless eighth (one K, two walks) Friday and showed he can close in his Wednesday appearance. He'd be the likely replacement if a change were to be made in the short term.

Kuo struggled Sunday in his return from the DL, allowing four runs on two hits while recording just one out. He probably won't be used in many pressure situations immediately and needs to regain his typically reliable command, but he remains a factor for saves down the road and a pre-emptive pickup.

Job security score: 3

Health score: 4

St. Louis Cardinals

Closer: Mitchell Boggs, Fernando Salas

Understudy: Eduardo Sanchez, Jason Motte

Lurkers: Miguel Batista, Ryan Franklin, Trever Miller

Tony La Russa acknowledged verbally what he was doing with his actions. Committee? Try charity: Four pitchers earned a save this past week. Skip says he doesn't prefer this setup but considers this shout-out to the NFL's Mike Shanahan the best arrangement for the current bullpen construction.

Boggs owners were less than pleased to see him in for the seventh inning for a hold Saturday, but it's hard to think his odds of regaining the role were obliterated with his Tuesday gaffe, especially since he did the job thrice before that. If you own Boggs, hang tight; he still has the skills for the job, and you can't give up on what was widely a big FAAB investment that still has a legit chance to usurp everyone else.

Salas had some breathing room Thursday; he recorded the final out of the eighth before the Cards tacked on a run and left Salas in to finish the job with a four-run advantage. On Saturday, however, he worked around a walk for a traditional conversion. Salas, savior of 19 games for Class AAA Memphis in 2010, hasn't given up a run in his last six appearances and has the most momentum; that's hardly rock-solid bidding foundation, but it's enough of a reason to take a shot on him.

The nasty, K-happy Sanchez deserves similar consideration, especially due to his successful approach against lefties, but he has the makeup to pitch multiple innings, which could limit his chances.

Unfortunately for Motte backers, he has often pitched in middle relief, and while he started an extra-innings save chance Friday, he was yanked with two outs because a lefty stepped into the box. There's still some interest here, but it's quickly diminishing given his usage pattern.

Batista has pitched in the late innings often but allows too many base runners and is also a multiple-innings option. Franklin looks ready to retire, and you should put him out to pasture in your mixed league if you've been hanging on. Miller's one-out Friday closure came in an extra-innings affair against a lefty batter. The LOOGY is merely barrel-bottom NL-only fodder.

La Russa is valuing outs, not saves, and might need a lot of convincing for one arm to handle the role; heck, Boggs couldn't do it with three straight saves. Keep in mind when bidding and adding that this could be messy and fluid for some time.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

  • Brandon Lyon has allowed a run in three of his last four appearances as well as his last two save chances (both blown), including Saturday. Maybe the fact the team won the game anyway lessens the blow, though, and it'll probably take a longer period of struggling to remove him.
    Either way, Mark Melancon should at least be entering your pickup radar, especially if you own Lyon. Though their usual setup man Wilton Lopez (elbow) is on track to return soon and could step in if a change were to be made, Melancon has better closer stuff.
  • Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell acknowledges he has two closer-capable relievers in Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco, but all things equal now, he said he'd lean toward Rauch for now because of what he has done in place of Francisco. Both relievers must be owned; Francisco should still see some chances depending on Rauch's availability and remains a solid stash for late-season opportunities.
  • When the Washington Nationals faced a save chance Sunday, it seemed like Jim Riggleman sent a message. Sean Burnett wrapped up the eighth with a hold, and two lefties were due up in the ninth. But Drew Storen jogged out and tossed a one-hit scoreless frame. He has now saved each of the Nationals' last five chances. There has been no addressed change in Riggleman's closer plan, but Storen is looking like the go-to guy.
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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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