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: Heath Bell
Understudy: Mike Adams
Lurkers: Luke Gregerson, Ernesto Frieri
Bell told reporters that he'd serve as a non-closer if a playoff-caliber team came were to acquire him, but he'd seek a closing job once the season is over. He acknowledged the rumors of interest from the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees and Texas Rangers, among others. The Tampa Bay Rays are also reported to have interest.
K-Rod slams door on setting up?
Bell doesn't have contractual control over his destination, which makes this more likely that he'll lose out on closing chances with a new squad. Adams is the one to stash from the Padres' bullpen in the event Bell is shipped out. Then again, Adams could be swapped into an outside setup role, too. While hardly a safe bet to fall into closing, Gregerson is an OK one to make if you're running out of speculative options; maybe the Pads have a fire sale on firemen.
Owners of Bell - and the stoppers for St. Louis, Philly and Tampa Bay - should at least look into alternatives. Though Fernando Salas, Ryan Madson and Kyle Farnsworth have performed admirably, Bell's presence at least would shorten their leashes if not remove them from the role; St. Louis looks more like the latter, and though the other two's skippers are loyal, Bell's presence could easily change their minds.
Job security score: 5
Health score: 5
- Francisco Rodriguez is recruiting backup for potential trade deadline action, switching representation to that of super agent Scott Boras. Though K-Rod told reporters recently he'd accept a deal to a contender to serve as a setup man, Boras said the veteran wants to be in a closer situation.
With K-Rod's viewpoint apparently changing, it could make it harder for the New York Mets to swap him and his $17.5 million vesting option. There's also the possibility the Mets just remove him from the stopper spot merely so he doesn't finish 55 games and trigger that clause; he's on pace to top 55. Either way, his owners need to start looking at other options for saves, whether that means securing Bobby Parnell or Jason Isringhausen, in that order, or initiating trade talks.
- Neftali Feliz has battled command issues for most of the campaign and holds a 5.28 ERA since May ended, has saved eight of nine chances and has fanned 8.22 per nine in the latter window, a notable K rebound. There's a highly outside chance that if the Texas Rangers make a trade for either K-Rod or Heath Bell that Feliz would move to a setup role - helpful if they still plan to transition him to the rotation. The panic level here is low, though, so don't go selling him or frantically looking for other saves.
- Peripherals watch: There's ample fantasy talk of Chris Perez's drop in K/9, swinging-strike percentage and grounder rate - don't forget his opponents' line-drive frequency and his own luck (2.43 ERA, 3.86 FIP). Closers' small sample sizes mean that not all corrections will be harsh, but Perez's save-accompanying statistics comprise a potential perfect storm of regression.
As intriguing as Vinnie Pestano has been, however, it'll take an extended meltdown from Perez for the contending Cleveland Indians to go away from their franchise stopper. Despite his shakiness, he has saved 33 of 35 chances since Kerry Wood's departure at least year's non-waiver trade deadline; Perez has plenty of rope if all you need are saves and can absorb a return to earth.
- Checking on John Axford: The Milwaukee Brewers' mustachioed muffler is showing he isn't a one-year wonder. He'll continue to make things interesting while closing the door, but he's like Carlos Marmol with a more tempered free-pass issue. No one has stepped up to threaten Axford's job, either.
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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