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.
|Job security (JS) score
||1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable)
|Health (H) score
||1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)
Closer: Jim Henderson, John Axford
Understudy/Fill-in: Francisco Rodriguez
Bell tolling again soon?
Henderson may be the next Axford, going from a long, winding minors career to a significant big-league relief role. It's an applicable comparison considering they've both concluded that path with Milwaukee. Unfortunately for Axford, Henderson is stealing his thunder. The latter logged his second save in as many days by snuffing out a two-out walk Wednesday; Axford ran off a perfect eighth.
Nick noted yesterday that Ron Roenicke wondered whether Henderson cleaned things up recently during his time at Triple-A Nashville. It looks like it, considering he's now translating his raw stuff, including heat hovering in the mid-90s, into polished goods, especially his slider.
Roenicke won't commit to the surging Henderson nailing down the gig, but he said his top two options could coexist in that capacity. Axford is worth owning, but Henderson has the momentum for a Milwaukee team that's assessing its future in all facets.
Job security score: 1
Health score: 5
Closer: Steve Cishek, Heath Bell
Ozzie Guillen just can't quit Bell - hard to do, so it seems, with his three-year, $27 million pact. The Marlins dugout dean is considering throwing the robust righty back into the saves fire, despite the fine job Cishek has done.
To be fair, as Ozzie said, the team's original fireman has "pitched well enough to be back in the closing role" of late. Bell has logged nine scoreless frames since the All-Star break, which has come in part thanks to his correction of a mechanical flaw by shortening his stride by 3 inches. He rediscovered his old release point as a result. Guillen chatted with pitching coach Randy St. Claire about using Bell in certain closing spots, especially because Miami isn't comfortable with employing Bell for more than one inning.
Maybe they're trying to showcase him for a last-ditch attempt at a waiver trade. Perhaps they just want to justify his deal. Either way, if Bell was ditched in your league, scoop him back up. Cishek owners would be wise to pair them.
Job security score: 3
Health score: 5
Ryan Cook had a rough time justifying he still belongs as Oakland Athletics CL during his Wednesday opportunity. He coughed up three singles and two runs, but he hung on for the one-run victory. He's now 2-for-4 on chances this month; he's allowed at least one run in six of his last eight games. Woods? Still in them.
Looking for the next in line? Right-hander Grant Balfour started the seventh inning, but don't hold that against him. It was led off by right-handed bats Albert Pujols (forwards K) and Mark Trumbo (home run), two dangerous thumpers regardless of which batter's box side. Sean Doolittle was the next setup type available after Balfour tap-danced around them; the lefty faced a handedness mix in the eighth.
Count on Oakland, who's in the thick of the Wild Card picture, to turn to Balfour before the inexperienced Doolittle if they decide to make a change.
Andrew Bailey (thumb) has now worked back-to-back days after a scoreless frame earlier today at Class AAA Pawtucket. The right-hander sat in the low 90s but dialed it up to 94 mph; he also used his full arsenal while fanning two, dancing around an oppo-field single.
He might need a few more tune-ups before returning to the Boston Red Sox and potentially earning some save work down the stretch. Save adders, take note.
Greg Holland had a run to play with last night in his save spot. He let it cross the plate on an RBI single but prevented the tying tally from coming in and registered his third save since the Kansas City Royals traded Jonathan Broxton. KC might give Kelvin Herrera a brief look at some point, but Holland is in little jeopardy right now.
Given Frank Francisco's lingering lat woes, expect more performances like last night's; throwing a meaningless inning in a blowout loss, he allowed two runs on two hits (including a tater) in one-third of an inning. The New York Mets will keep an eye on him, and Bobby Parnell is still worth owning.
Other Wednesday saviors
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 competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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