Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Brandon League, more

by Tim Heaney on May 16, 2011 @ 13:52:07 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)


Seattle Mariners

Closer: David Aardsma (DL)

Understudy: Brandon League

Lurkers: Jamey Wright, Chris Ray, Josh Lueke, Daniel Cortes

The Seattle Mariners are keeping League as closer, even after the right-hander endured a disastrous four-loss week that included three straight blown saves. They've meant to install Wright into an interim role to give League a breather the last few days, but their Saturday and Sunday games were rained out. It wouldn't be surprising if Wright were given an opportunity soon anyway.

Seattle Mariners RP Brandon League
League of ordinary gentlemen

League, whose ERA jumped from 2.08 to 7.31 in his four disasters, has left his sinker higher than desired recently, per Eric Wedge. Fatigue and other factors likely contributed, but his hittable stuff and spotty control keep his hold tenuous until he can show some more of his early-season success.

Wright hardly presents a typical closer profile, and Ray is a better option based on raw stuff, but Wright induces ample grounders and has pitched late innings that would require trustworthiness for the M's. One horrible outing has blown up Ray's surface stats, but he has been spotty regardless. Though Lueke and Cortes have stopper stuff, they aren't practical speculations unless you're tucking one away in an AL-only league. Aaron Laffey and David Pauley might pitch more late frames but aren't worth your attention for this purpose.

Aardsma's setback will cost him at least another month of action. A longer time is hardly out of the question. There are still plenty of saves for League to hang on to, so dropping him would be a mistake. But depending on your saves situation and lineup-setting structure, it wouldn't hurt to give League a rest until he rights the ship.

This would probably become a committee if League continues to stumble. Go with Wright first if you have to pluck something from the other options.

Job security score: 4

Health score: 3

St. Louis Cardinals

Closer: Fernando Salas, Mitchell Boggs

Understudy: Eduardo Sanchez, Jason Motte

Lurkers: Ryan Franklin, Miguel Batista, Trever Miller

Almost 48 hours after the Cardinals confirmed Sanchez was the main man in the 'pen, they booted him from the chairman position. His Friday outing was the clincher; he allowed one run on two hits and a walk in a blown save. It was a microcosm of an overall drop in velocity and increase of pitches thrown per inning, both of which pitching coach Dave Duncan said prompted the 22-year-old's removal.

Salas and Boggs, in that order, are your fantasy bets in this continually messy situation. Salas is 3-for-3 in opportunities this year and has done the job more recently than Boggs, but the latter has re-entered the conversation thanks to improvements that have Duncan optimistic.

Sanchez should be kept; the way this wheel has spun so far, it could easily land back on him at some point, and his skills, when right, can aid your lineup.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

  • Vicente Padilla holds the key to Los Angeles Dodgers saves, but Kenley Jansen broke into a chance Friday when Padilla ran into trouble. Jansen recorded one out to lock it up.
    The right-hander was banished to the farm because of early struggles but has thrown seven consecutive scoreless outings while fanning 15 and walking just four over that time. He showed last season that he has the skills to close and dominate hitters. He's a decent pickup who should see the occasional chance, especially since the Blue are hesitant to use Padilla on back-to-back days.
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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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