Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Leo Nunez isn't Leo Nunez, St. Louis Cardinals' meltdown, more

by Tim Heaney on September 23, 2011 @ 12:11:12 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: Edward Mujica, Clay Hensley

Understudy: Steve Cishek

Lurkers: Mike Dunn, Jose Ceda

Meet Juan Carlos Oviedo. He was a major league closer reportedly pitching under the name Leo Nunez and is actually a year older than his listed age of 28. The Marlins' former stopper was placed on MLB's restricted list for his identity crisis. Either way, he won't be playing for the rest of this year even if he calls himself Babe Ruth.

Player name
Motte has imploded recently

Clarity - sort of - from Jack McKeon on filling the saves role: Reports say he'll go with veterans in save situations down the stretch against teams still in postseason races. In this environment, Mujica and Hensley will be the most appropriate candidates, with Mujica getting the edge, most likely.

This arrangement, however, might end during or following this coming weekend against the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers, whose magic number is two games. The Marlins close out 2011 against Washington Nationals, fellow NL East pushovers. Maybe McKeon will try Cishek then because there won't be postseason hopes riding on those contests. Also, Florida's brass probably wants to get more looks at a potential long-term saves replacement for the post-McKeon era.

There's a good chance Nunez/Oviedo won't be in a Marlins uni next year, but this situation probably won't be resolved anytime soon. For 2011, Florida's setup is as fluid as it can be for having such a short fantasy window. Grab Mujica, but, if possible, be prepared for a change within the next few days; keep Hensley and Cishek at hand.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 5

St. Louis Cardinals

Closer: Jason Motte

Understudy: Fernando Salas, Octavio Dotel

Lurkers: Kyle McClellan, Eduardo Sanchez, Mitchell Boggs

It wasn't hard to predict a slight correction for the formerly scorching Motte, especially since he has reached his MLB career high in innings pitched. But over his last four outings, including his four-run (three earned) Thursday disaster, he has face-planted: 18.00 ERA, four hits and three walks in three frames. Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa has yanked Boggs, Sanchez and Salas after they produced similar stretches this year.

Luckily for Motte, neither Marc Rzepczynski nor Salas (who absorbed the BS) could clean up his ninth-inning mess, which he started with a four-run lead. La Russa called on his top guy of late - even if he refuses to call him "closer" - because he didn't even want there to be a save chance.

Motte, Scrabble and Salas have been working frequently over the last few weeks as the Cards have worked their way back into the playoff chase. Boggs and Sanchez, a recent DL inhabitant, haven't been used much. Maybe La Russa will turn to one of them to spell his other RPs, but it's not a solid bet given the carousel outside of Motte.

Don't drop Motte. Unless La Russa announces a sole replacement (good luck there), trying to peg another option to stand above the rest in a Motte removal won't amount to much help, if any.

Job security score: 2

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

  • Bobby Parnell recorded the New York Mets' save Thursday, reminding us that he's still in the long-term picture for this job. Manny Acosta came in for the eighth inning, when the Mets were trailing by four. They scored six runs in the top of the ninth to create a save situation. If the Mets had a lead heading into the eighth, we might've seen the reverse arrangement.
    Acosta probably is the slightly better option for the remainder of the season, but both could help save chasers muster all they can. Heading into next year, however, the Mets might look outside the organization for help.
  • Jim Johnson closed things out on three straight days, so the Baltimore Orioles turned to Kevin Gregg on Thursday. The deposed stopper's scoreless stanza produced the save. Gregg might steal one or two saves before the season out, but it's Johnson's gig at least through the end of the season.
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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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