Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Twins, Bobby Parnell, Santiago Casilla, more

by Tim Heaney on June 25, 2012 @ 15:10:19 PDT'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)

Minnesota Twins

Closer: Matt Capps DL
Understudy/Fill-in: Glen Perkins, Jared Burton

Capps' shoulder woes lingered into his Saturday return, and Ron Gardenhire said that the righty was "back to Square 1" after his stumble. The Minnesota Twins placed Capps on the DL today, and he'll have an MRI today to determine the extent of the damage.

This could be an interesting tango between Perkins and Burton. Gardy said matchups will probably determine who sees each save opportunity.

Perkins is the fantasy lean thanks to Gardy's more extensive experience with him. He earned a significant role last year when he and Minny realized the southpaw's stuff plays nastily in relief. He locked down a save Wednesday and Friday ... during Capps' sideline limbo last week. Perkins still walks a tad too many hitters, but the fact that he faced both righty and lefty bats in those - and that Burton was used to escape earlier tight spots against both, as well - suggests he's the slight favorite.

On the back of a "Splangeup," Burton, whose career was dogged by a balky shoulder and a hyperactive thyroid, has recaptured the speculative allure he once held with the Cincinnati Reds with a notable control improvement. He logged his first career closure Sunday while enduring some issues. His right-handedness would traditionally make him the favorite for fantasy folks.

The length of Capps' absence could change this arrangement. Some media types believe Gardenhire would prefer to have a solo stopper. That probably isn't the case yet; urgency would grow if test results shelve Capps for a significant period. If it's a temporary speed bump the duration would probably stick with a time share.

This could wind up resembling the Anaheim pairing of Ernesto Frieri and Scott Downs. Locking up both Perkins and Burton would be ideal, but owning just one, as frustrating as it could become, will pay off considering the skills of both RPs and the versatile means in which Gardy is willing to use them.

Job security score: 5
Health score: N/A

San Francisco Giants

Closer: Santiago Casilla
Understudy/Fill-in: Sergio Romo

Casilla got by Friday when he allowed a run during his successful save conversion, but his weekend got much worse Saturday and Sunday. In the first debacle, he allowed a run trying to clean up someone else's mess and was pulled before Clay Hensley etched his second save of the year. On Sunday, Casilla's third straight day of work, he went single-strikeout-single-strikeout before allowing a three-run walk-off tater to rookie Derek Norris. Romo was warming up, but Bochy decided to stick with the arm he's considered the unquestioned stopper to this point. It backfired.

The righty has allowed three homers this month after just two over the first two. The fact he allowed just one last year was an aberration, but the correction has been violent, even with his increase in grounder inducement.

His four-seam fastball hasn't been as effective, and he's leaning on a two-seamer. His swinging-strike percentage is down from 11.2 last year to 7.9 this season - intentionally pitching more to contact? Fewer empty hacks plus more pitches hitting the strike zone equals more batting practice.

As flawed as this approach could prove over the rest of the season, Casilla has absorbed only two blown saves in 22 chances this year. He'll undoubtedly be unavailable Monday, but it'll take an extensive meltdown for him to lose his gig. Romo warrants ownership anyway, especially in deep formats, because of his LIMA utility.

Job security score: 3
Health score:

Mound meetings

With Frank Francisco hitting the DL Sunday with a strained left oblique, the New York Mets have said they'll go with strictly Bobby Parnell for saves. Grab the right-hander everywhere, but don't be surprised if Tim Byrdak or Jon Rauch gets the call sometimes. Byrdak might only be in for a batter or two depending on the matchup, but he's still a better speculative bet nowadays because Terry Collins may have finally realized how horrifically Rauch can perform on the hill.


At least he's earned it: Tyler Clippard will keep the Washington Nationals' closer job, per Davey Johnson, even after Drew Storen (elbow) returns around the All-Star break. If Clippard stumbles a bit, that might change, but there's little reason to believe Clippard's skills will significantly falter anytime soon.

Still, you must hold both RPs in case the situation changes.


This space examined Aroldis Chapman last week, and his woes continued Sunday when he allowed a two-run dinger to blow his second straight save opportunity. Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker has thrown out several explanations for Chapman's recent woes, ranging from inconsistent use of breaking stuff to back problems (Chapman disputes this) to falling behind hitters too much to lapses in concentration to just the natural course of the season.

Have Sean Marshall ready - or even better, on roster - to prepare for a potential removal.


A leadoff walk didn't deter John Axford Friday. He followed up by striking out Adam Dunn and inducing a double play from Paul Konerko to snuff out the threat. The Milwaukee Brewers' arm has endured issues with his location and stuff, especially a deficiency of effective low fastballs, but he seems to be coming around a bit with three scoreless outings in his last four games.

Regardless, the typical Francisco Rodriguez "next in line" message applies.


Ryan Cook took a harsh step toward seeing a statistical correction with a blown save Friday in which he coughed up four runs on two hits and two walks. Sure, he's flawed, but the Oakland Athletics will have to see more to strip him of unofficial closer duties.


New York Mets RP Bobby Parnell
Parnell gets his shot

David Hernandez got a cheap closure Friday night. He entered with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth frame with the Arizona Diamondbacks leading 6-1. He escaped the jam and pitched a perfect ninth.

Hernandez, who just inked a two-year extension, is the handcuff for 35-year-old J.J. Putz, as well as the successor should the impending free agent skip town. Considering Arizona has crawled back into the NL West race, it'd be a long shot that they'd trade Putz before this year's deadline, but it could be a totally different picture by late July.


Sergio Santos (shoulder), recently transferred to the 60-day DL, started up another throwing program. He doesn't have a timetable to return to the Toronto Blue Jays but deserves to be held in all fantasy formats. Casey Janssen will continue holding down the fort in the meantime.


Jonathan Papelbon was once again bailed out after a horrific outing to fall into a win. This time, it was his first blown save with the Philadelphia Phillies Saturday in a 31-pitch appearance. He's been laboring of late, but it'll take more than this for you or Charlie Manuel to start worrying about him.

Other notable weekend saviors

Chris Perez (23), Indians
Jim Johnson 2 (22), Orioles
Craig Kimbrel (21), Braves
Fernando Rodney (21), Rays
Joel Hanrahan 2 (19), Pirates
Joe Nathan (16), Rangers
Rafael Soriano (14), Yankees
Kenley Jansen (12), Dodgers
Huston Street 2 (10), Padres
Addison Reed (9), White Sox
Ernesto Frieri 2 (9), Angels
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Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat | AL depth charts | NL depth charts

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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