Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Francisco Rodriguez, more

by Tim Heaney on May 26, 2011 @ 13:38:51 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)

 

New York Mets

Closer: Francisco Rodriguez

Understudy: Jason Isringhausen

Lurkers: Bobby Parnell (DL), Taylor Buchholz, Pedro Beato

The potentially sell-happy Mets can't be ignoring K-Rod in their trade ventures. His 2012 vesting option of $17.5 million kicks in when he finishes - not strictly closes - 55 games.

Toronto Blue Jays RP Jason Frasor
Frasor: a candidate for saves

Problem is, there's a good chance K-Rod won't close if he's moved; teams that would likely pursue him probably already have a bona fide stopper. That fact, along with his declining velocity and otherwise fortunate statistical profile, make him a solid sell candidate, especially if your squad has a saves surplus.

Now, in the event the Mets would replace him, it could easily be a matchup game, but Isringhausen is the likely top beneficiary. Though he has benefited from good fortune in his left-on-base percentage and opponents' in-play clip, the 38-year-old's cutter is helping him defy age. He's the most experienced, by far, among other potential Mets closer stand-ins.

Parnell has the talent but has to display more consistency in order to regain favor. Buchholz and Beato have solid skills, and Beato has closer-type velocity, but they're likelier to remain in setup duty.

Job security score: 5

Health score: 5

Toronto Blue Jays

Closer: Frank Francisco

Understudy: Octavio Dotel, Jon Rauch

Lurkers: Jason Frasor

Frank Frank is still the main closer in Toronto, but John Farrell wasn't strong in his defense of the righty's Tuesday meltdown, acknowledging any of the other three listed options could do the gig "if availability or matchups prove otherwise." Reading between the lines, Frankie could be in trouble. His velocity and pitch movement haven't irked Farrell, but the righty isn't showing effective command when trying to pitch in the lower area of the strike zone.

Homers continue to bug the right-hander, but his grounder rate is the highest it has been in a full season; Farrell sympathized with Francisco on two grounders that found their way through the hole in his blown chance Tuesday. The fact that he's already inducing dirt dents could be a sound indicator of future success if he can refine his location.

He wasn't available yesterday, and reports say Dotel would've lined up against right-handed hitters, with Rauch or Frasor appearing in frames that feature more lefties. No stopper was needed, though.

Consider the depth chart behind Francisco highly tenuous. The experienced Dotel closed the door Saturday when Francisco wasn't available. Frasor pitched the eighth; Rauch originally started that ninth inning but was replaced by Dotel after allowing a run. Caution: Despite having the best K ability of the group, Dotel will hurt you in just about every other way. Left-handers destroy him.

Rauch did the job in Francisco's stead earlier this year but has had a poor May. He looks a lot like his shaky 2010 version and, when you add in his Saturday gaffe, might've missed his chance to regain consistent trust in the role.

Frasor, who has done the job in Toronto previously, has the best chance at earning saves in the long term if given a shot. Though he has been highly fortunate with runners on base, his skills have been relatively consistent with his past performance.

If Francisco gets the boot, this might look a lot like the Los Angeles Dodgers - a matchup- and availability-based mess. Obviously, hang on to him, but you should at least start to examine the other possibilities. The most immediate closure returns from a change would probably come from Dotel, despite his issues with lefty bats, thanks to his career of closing. But that matchup hindrance would likely limit his contribution. Frasor remains a decent stab for down the road.

Job security score: 2

Health score: 3

Mound meetings

  • Matt Guerrier took the loss Wednesday by giving up a run in the bottom of the ninth of a tied game. For those keeping track of the Los Angeles Dodgers' closer chase, Mike MacDougal entered in the seventh, Javy Guerra in the eighth. The madness continues, but maybe Guerrier's faltering, even if not in a save situation, opens the door for Kenley Jansen or Rubby De La Rosa to get a shot at the next save. Maybe.
  • Don't look now, but Matt Thornton has a 2.25 ERA in May, along with two saves when Sergio Santos wasn't available. Santos is the best option going right now, but his job isn't locked down. Of course, much of Thornton's success could thank his move back to setup duty, but down the road, maybe Thornton climbs back into more frequent - or full-time - save work. It's a long shot, but one worth taking if you're scrambling in deep leagues.
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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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