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: Rafael Betancourt
Understudy/Fill-in: Matt Belisle, Rex Brothers
Lurkers: Matt Reynolds
You caught a glimpse of Betancourt's problems (lack of opportunities and his own misdoings) last week. Following his June 20 botch job that put him under the microscope, he ran off three straight scoreless appearances (two saves), although he had to work around a pinch of trouble in the last two.
He slipped up again on Thursday, allowing a leadoff jack to Bryce Harper that tied the game and produced Betancourt's fourth blown save in 16 tries this year, including his third of the month. It was the third tater he allowed in 2012, and he's about on pace to meet last year's seven. In reality, he should be on pace to trump that; aerial vulnerability marks his chief weakness.
His four-seam potency has decreased notably, but thanks to his cutter, his K/9 (9.42) and BB/9 (2.20) remain elite skills, and he's still delivering a top-shelf swinging-strike rate (13.9, significantly above the Fangraphs average of 8.9). But his mistakes are costly and, as noted in our previous in-depth look, are reaching outfielders more frequently.
The Rox look like they'll man a booth at the July 31 flea market and still have plenty of positives to sell regarding the righty. Betancourt was on one exec's list of potentially available relief arms, per ESPN.com's Jayson Stark.
Now for a non-Betancourt bullpen: Belisle isn't as dominant as Brothers, but his lack of walks and pattern of deployment in eighth-inning holds that protect save situations indicates he'd be the first choice. Brothers has more upside for fantasy help with his plethora of K's, though, so he'd probably factor in on some opps, if not take over eventually.
Job security score: 3
Health score: 5
Joe Maddon confirmed what most of the fantasy world assumed: Fernando Rodney will remain closer even after the return of Kyle Farnsworth (elbow), which could come this weekend. Rodney's revelation is for real, and while he'll probably come back to earth a tad, he'll have plenty of rope.
Though it may take more than Thursday's blown save to erase Brett Myers' real-life trade value, it didn't help that it marked the second time in his last five outings he gave up at least five runs. His velocity has been OK, but he has fanned just five in 9 1/3 June frames.
This time, only one of six tallies was earned, but the four hits allowed shows how hittable he's been lately: 6.75 ERA, 2.04 WHIP. He plunked Carlos Quentin to force in a run and gave up a grand slam to pint-sized Alexi Amarista.
There's a palpable chance Myers won't be a closer after July 31, but if he continues to struggle, GM Jeff Luhnow might find it difficult to ditch him. Plan for both outcomes with your own squad and refresh yourself on the Houston Astros' speculative train. The front car is Brandon Lyon.
Rafael Soriano's job security was boosted Thursday, and he didn't even pitch. The New York Yankees gave him the night off after he pitched four of the last five games. Joe Girardi tried to piece together a save chance with Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada.
When they didn't work, he was forced to go to David Robertson, whom he's trying to preserve because of his recent return from the DL; the righty appeared on Wednesday, as well. After the two setup guys each put a runner on - one from a throwing error - D-Rob surrendered a three-run homer to lose the lead and the game.
Robertson is worth owning everywhere, but it doesn't look like Soriano, despite recent struggles, is in imminent danger.
Other Thursday 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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