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.
|Job security (JS) score
||1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable)
|Health (H) score
||1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)
Closer: Brandon Lyon (shoulder)
Understudy: Mark Melancon
Lurkers: Wilton Lopez, Jeff Fulchino
Sanchez leads wide-open race
Lyon remains in top billing because he has been removed, so far, only due to "shoulder weakness." After his three-run, four-hit, zero-out blown save Wednesday - his fourth botched entry in eight tries - it should say "batting practice." Lopez probably has a shot at some interim chances, but not immediately; he returned from the DL recently, and Houston wants to keep him working in frames with less pressure.
Melancon, however, has been dubbed the fill-in by Bradley Mills and presents the best door-shutting pedigree in the bunch; he was once considered the heir to Mariano Rivera's throne. Though his K/9 is down this year, Melancon's grounder rate has bounced back to an elite level. In his small MLB sample sizes, he has shown the ability to do both at a high level, just not simultaneously.
There's a solid chance Melancon snares this gig and runs with it; grab him immediately. Of course, as rough as Lyon's save chances are, Mills could very well send him back into the fray once he's deemed healthy out of loyalty. His owners must hold him for a bit to let this develop more.
Yes, it's like sitting on a pine cone, but you plucked Lyon from the bottom branch of the saves tree in the first place knowing this could very well happen. There are still potential saves - as grating as they typically are - on his shaky arm. Regardless, Lyon carriers must at minimum examine plans to gain more saves, especially if you fail to secure Melancon.
Job security score: 1
Health score: 4
- The Toronto Blue Jays turned to Frank Francisco for the Wednesday save; he returned the favor but only after walking two and yielding a hit and a run. This might be a case of giving Jon Rauch the night off because he blew the save Tuesday; John Farrell probably will use both in the capacity for the near future. But it's just as likely that it's a turn toward Frank Frank as the likely option. As we've advised previously, hold both, but plan on Francisco being the guy eventually.
- Eduardo Sanchez made a ninth-inning appearance Wednesday, this time in a tied game; he allowed two walks and a two-run Mike Stanton moon shot to take the St. Louis Cardinals' loss. Sanchez remains in the lead, but that's hardly a given.
Long-shot caveat: The Cards might send a reliever down to make room for Brian Tallet (hand), who's coming off the DL soon. Hard to believe accommodating Tallet would command shipping Sanchez or fellow option carrier Fernando Salas; both have pitched well. But Trever Miller is their only lefty reliever, and TLR might favor Tallet's experience. This shouldn't deter your Sanchez speculation, though. He has shown dominating stuff, and there's already bidding risk built in given the committee setup. Just be prepared to adjust if you acquire him and he winds up in Memphis.
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 LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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