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.
Antonio Bastardo has made 13 straight scoreless appearances. His latest came Wednesday in notching his third save of 2011 and his career in the Philadelphia Phillies' victory. The top temporary choice for the job with Ryan Madson (hand) out until at least Monday, the southpaw induced three pop-outs on 10 pitches after Michael Stutes, the interim backup plan, tossed 12 pitches for a 1-2-3 eighth. Both are worth a pickup while Madson is incapacitated.
That's more like it
Meanwhile, Brad Lidge (shoulder, elbow) threw a positive bullpen Wednesday and could begin a rehab assignment soon. He probably wouldn't overtake a healthy Madson for saves, but if Lidge comes back while the stopper is out, there's a small chance he could usurp Bastardo and Stutes if he pitches well. Maybe Lidge is worth a deep-league pickup, but it shouldn't be made with confidence for an investment return.
- More on J.J. Putz's recent issues, per Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers: "I would imagine he is probably going through a bit of a dead arm period; his velocity's been down the last couple times." Expect Putz to receive some time off, probably this weekend, with next-in-line David Hernandez stepping in for save chances. If you're desperate for saves or own Putz, it wouldn't hurt to tuck Hernandez away until Putz can show signs of his normal self.
- Jordan Walden powered his way through a one-out double and saved the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim victory Wednesday. With the tying tally on third, he had a wild slider blocked in the dirt before fanning hot-hitting Mike Morse with some high cheese. The official team site said 100 mph, but another source tabbed 98. Quibbles - it was prototypical Walden sizzle and effectiveness, a good sign considering his recent gaffes.
Though Scott Downs works as a handcuff or speculation, expect the Halos to stick with the righty for the near future.
- Following his Wednesday night closure, Frank Francisco has allowed just one earned run in nine June games with nine K's in 8 1/3 innings. Most importantly, he has saved each of his last four chances and continues to stake claim to the Toronto Blue Jays' gig. He threw 25 pitches last night, though, and it might be a chance for Jon Rauch to step in for a spell.
- Joe Nathan looks more comfortable with his fastball; he fanned two hitters Tuesday while averaging 93.2 mph on his four-seamer, per Pitch F/X - less nibbling, more power. Matt Capps doesn't have to worry much about security, but he might be trade bait if the Minnesota Twins fall out of the playoff race.
Nathan would be the obvious choice to step in, and this renewed vigor in his arsenal makes him worth an addition for saves-desperate squads before the mob catches on. It requires patience, but it pays to get ahead.
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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