Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Leo Nunez's foul-ups, Heath Bell on waivers, more

by Tim Heaney on August 24, 2011 @ 13:09:43 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)


Florida Marlins

Closer: Leo Nunez

Understudy: Edward Mujica, Mike Dunn

Lurkers: Steve Cishek, Jose Ceda

Nunez is having a Yogi Berra moment - a deja vu all over again from last season's late collapse. His 12.91 August ERA in 7 2/3 innings has been fueled by him yielding nine runs over his last three appearances, including his "BS, L" Tuesday (three hits, two walks, four runs on 37 pitches). It was his second gaffe in his last three attempts (Tuesday's was his first opp since Aug. 16).

San Francisco Giants RP Brian Wilson
Closer shave for Beard than hoped?

Maybe Nunez's bouts with poor location and pitch selection are haunting him again. He has spent the last few seasons trying to perfect his slider and changeup, and he has shown rough patches aren't foreign. Though Florida previously said they want keep Nunez as part of their core as they head to a new ballpark next season, placing him on waivers isn't out of the question. The righty is expected to receive a notable raise in arbitration next year.

Either way, Jack McKeon says he still has confidence in Nunez and that the right-hander will not pitch Wednesday. Though last year's Nunez demotion happened under the watch of Fredi Gonzalez, and McKeon appears to be a little more loyal, you shouldn't take the elder statesman's words for granted.

If Florida demotes or ditches him, they'd probably run with Mujica or the southpaw Dunn, depending on matchups. The more experienced Mujica has more frequent use in save-like situations, which should make him your first target. Dunn has more upside but probably would be a better consideration for 2012.

Cishek has the skills to close but hasn't entered a game with a Marlins lead in his last 10 outings. The Fish haven't had many leads in that time, but his usage doesn't point to jumping into save spots.

Job security score: 3

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

  • Maybe the prognosis on Brian Wilson (elbow) isn't positive. The San Francisco Giants claimed Heath Bell off waivers from the San Diego Padres on Wednesday. No word yet on progress in trade talks, but this means that Luke Gregerson might be stepping into Fathers saves soon and is worth an immediate speculation pickup.
  • If Bell heads to the Bay, his owners should hope - cruel world, this fantasy baseball - that Wilson has to miss significantly more time; the former could still be undisputed closer for a little while longer. Though Bell could in theory share the closer role if Wilson comes back, it's unlikely that the Giants would clip a healthy Beard from the job.
    Given Bell's drastic K/9 erosion, the absence of consistent saves would make him droppable in many mixed leagues if Wilson recovers.
    His arrival would delete the already low speculative value of Sergio Romo (elbow), Ramon Ramirez and Jeremy Affeldt in the Giants' apparent replacement committee.
  • Fill-in stopper Rafael Betancourt had pitched on each of the previous three days, so Rex Brothers, whom the Colorado Rockies consider a future stopper, entered Tuesday. The southpaw worked around a walk and a hit for a scoreless, two-K inning for his first MLB closure.
    His high K potential is worth monitoring in 2012 single-season and all dynasty setups; Huston Street might be dealt away next season due to his expiring contract.
    Speaking of Street (triceps strain), he's due to throw today at Class AAA Colorado Springs with the hope of returning to the big club Friday.
  • One of the hardest-working men in the relief business, Jose Valverde, was unavailable Tuesday, so Phil Coke registered the Detroit Tigers' save in two innings of work. Over the last two months, after his move back to the 'pen, he has a 2.45 ERA and 22 K's in 22 1/3 frames.
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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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