Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Florida Marlins' fishy bullpen, Jason Motte's earned opportunity

by Tim Heaney on August 29, 2011 @ 13:46:31 PDT

 


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

Key

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

 

Florida Marlins

Closer: Leo Nunez

Understudy: Steve Cishek, Edward Mujica

Lurkers: Mike Dunn, Jose Ceda

Nunez is getting a "mental break" from closing, per Jack McKeon. Sounds a lot like last year, right? You remember, when Clay Hensley was Fredi Gonzalez's choice to close for the final month-plus while Nunez was supposedly just getting his head cleared.

St. Louis Cardinals RP Jason Motte
Motte plays nicely, will share

Not a complete panic yet: Nunez is still the closer in name and could easily be called upon to close at least once during the Marlins' Monday doubleheader. There's also the outside chance, however, of Florida trying to trade the righty, who's in line for a notable pay raise in 2012 arbitration.

As noted last week, Cishek had the skills but wasn't used in many tense save-like situations this season. Those mostly went to Mujica, who pitched in the eighth Friday before Cishek closed the door. The latter worked around two hits and a run to get the job done. Cishek also bailed Mujica out of a jam Wednesday by recording two outs in the ninth to save that game.

If Nunez were to exit either from the job or the team, Cishek looks like the favorite thanks to his recent use.

Job security score: 3

Health score: 4

Mound meetings

  • The St. Louis Cardinals gave Jason Motte a shot at closing Sunday; the righty obliged with a 1-2-3 inning, extending his run of scoreless appearances to 17. Tony La Russa is reportedly becoming "less rigid" with ninth-inning and save spots. Motte's addition of a cutter has expanded his game, and he has been used in many of St. Louis' tightest relief spots this year.
    Fernando Salas has hardly been awful and will remain the top option in save opportunities, but with St. Louis falling further back of playoff contention, they probably want to see what other options they have. Motte might be getting a belated chance to recover from his early '09 disaster in closing. Motte should be grabbed by all save-desperate squads, but the payoff might take awhile to surface, depending on Salas' availability.
  • Sergio Romo returned to the San Francisco Giants Sunday, recording two K's to work around a hit in a tied ninth inning. Santiago Casilla recorded the save Wednesday and Friday and was emerging as the best committee option before Romo's return. But even if Romo is part of a fill-in group, he's its most reliable member and fantasy target.
    It might be just a short-term boost, but there's long-term potential if more bad news arises for Brian Wilson's strained elbow. The Beard probably won't be activated Wednesday, his first day eligible. He recently threw on flat ground on back-to-back days but will rest Monday and be re-evaluated.
  • Huston Street (triceps) logged a hold in his return from the DL Friday. The Colorado Rockies are sticking with Rafael Betancourt as the stopper while Street works back into form. Though his blown save Saturday (solo homer allowed) provided an excuse to swap the two, Jim Tracy summoned Betancourt again on Sunday, and he threw a spotless save frame.
    You might be able to get another week of closing out of Betancourt, and given Street's injury history, the former is worth hanging on to even after the job transition takes place, especially if you own Street.
  • Only one save sock was worn in the South Side this weekend. Chris Sale registered a closure Friday with a scoreless, two-K inning. The Chicago White Sox southpaw allowed a leadoff single to a left-handed bat but retired the next three in a row, which included two more lefty sticks.
    It made sense to keep him in to clean up his own mess given what was due up. Sergio Santos owners will continue to find holes in his value with Ozzie Guillen's mixing and matching of the closer drawer.
  • Having already completed such a workout Friday, Jon Rauch (appendectomy) threw a 30-minute bullpen session Sunday. He could return to the Toronto Blue Jays within the next few weeks, but Frank Francisco has momentum in keeping the gig and could stay there when the tall, tattooed tosser returns. Frank Squared has kept opponents off the board in each of his last 12 appearances, hardly something you could say about Rauch when he was healthy.
  • Elbow tenderness kept the Tampa Bay Rays' Kyle Farnsworth out of action Saturday. Joel Peralta, the presumptive next in line for closures, stepped in for a scoreless inning and recorded his second save of the season. Farnsie was available Sunday, but a savior wasn't needed.
  • Mark Melancon blew the save Sunday but backed into the win. David Carpenter popped in for an extra-innings save. Despite Melancon's 4.05 ERA in August, the Houston Astros haven't made any movement toward ditching him from the role this season. He hardly receives chances, and there isn't anyone worth booting him for.
    Keep a long-term eye on Carpenter, who can K opponents at a closer-type rate and with closer-type velocity, but don't expect a permanent change this season.
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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 LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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