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.
Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford, in that order, combined in the eighth and ninth innings Sunday to give up six earned runs (three each) for the Milwaukee Brewers. It marked Ax's seventh blown save of the season after he yielded a game-tying, two-run tater in the ninth.
At least Axford went 1 2/3 innings. K-Rod mustered only one out. The Brew Crew fired bullpen coach Stan Kyles, making him the fall guy for what's been one of the majors' worst relief squads. Maybe this will somehow improve the preparation of each RP, but how much will it help?
Either way, this committee's best option is still Axford, especially since he came in after Rodriguez yesterday. It'll be a rough go, but at least his run of five scoreless outings before his meltdown probably has given him enough cred with Ron Roenicke. As Milwaukee plays out the string, they'll probably let Axford try to get back in his groove.
A sprained toe kept Francisco Cordero out on Friday after his workload-fueled sabbatical the previous day. The Houston Astros had been re-evaluating their back-end picture anyway, considering Cordero's rough initial trip in the role. Though Coco retired both batters he faced in non-urgent duty Sunday, Wilton Lopez remains a solid saves speculation; he was slated to appear in a save spot Thursday had Houston fallen into one.
Jonathan Broxton will be waiting to find out what uniform he'll be wearing after tomorrow's trade deadline passes. Odds don't favor the Kansas City Royals stopper filling the same job for another team unless he goes to, say, the San Francisco Giants, where he'd probably supplant Santiago Casilla and their quasi-committee.
Along with their hints of pursuing Chris Perez, the Giants also join their NL West blood rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, in sniffing around the Seattle Mariners' Brandon League. If he lands in LA, no way he supplants Kenley Jansen, but a shipment to the Bay area would put him in line to at least see a share of closures with the up-and-down Casilla.
Before giving up four runs over his last two appearances, League had put together a string of eight scoreless outings. He's improved since he lost the M's closer gig. If you can take a cheap, no-strings shot on him in a deep mixed league, you could land a few closures the rest of the way.
The Colorado Rockies' Rafael Betancourt is reportedly being pursued by a few clubs, and there are some floating rumors that Matt Belisle might be shipped out, as well. Rex Brothers is a potential closer of the future, so Colorado might keep him and prefer to trade one or both of the veterans.
Belisle and Brothers are decent speculative options in advance of what could be a different-looking group of bullpen arms by Wednesday. Still, it's tricky to peg which is the more ideal pickup target because there are a few trade directions Colorado can explore. Can you lock up both?
Alfredo Aceves had a mixed bag this weekend, recording a clean one-inning closure Saturday and blowing a save Sunday (he fell into the win, though, by recording seven outs in the extra-inning affair). Boston Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine thinks Andrew Bailey's thumb rehab assignment will take "weeks. At least weeks," increasing Aceves' breathing room for 2012 save opps.
Ryan Cook has given up a run in each of his last three Oakland Athletics outings. He escaped the first stumble with a successful save conversion. However, in the last two, which came a week apart with the latest gaffe coming Friday, he wasn't as lucky; he recorded his fourth and fifth botch jobs of the season.
The correction police have sounded their sirens - not to say a 3.12 ERA for July is anything to blush at, but Cook was allowing too many base runners - especially on four balls - to have a sub-2.00 ERA on the season. He's walked only one batter in 8 2/3 innings this month, though, so at least he's attacking the zone more. Maybe he's just settling into his statistical happy place - the right amount of luck that'll make him a solid closer the rest of the season.
Of course, the competing A's might trade for an established RP that could send Cook back to setup duty. Beware.
After tossing a scoreless inning Sunday for Double-A Binghamton, Frank Francisco (oblique, knee) remains on schedule to return to the New York Mets sometime this week, maybe as soon as Monday. Bobby Parnell will probably cede duties to the Mets' higher-paid arm, but Parnell has done a solid job and might hold on to his role, at least initially. Of course, the Metropolitans are in the relief trade market, too, so hold tight, owners of both RPs.
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