Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Fernando Salas' back-to-back BSVs, more

by Tim Heaney on August 23, 2011 @ 11:38:42 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)


St. Louis Cardinals

Closer: Fernando Salas

Understudy: Jason Motte, Kyle McClellan

Lurkers: Eduardo Sanchez (DL), Lance Lynn (DL), Octavio Dotel, Mitchell Boggs

Salas blew his second straight save opportunity by allowing an RBI triple to the only batter he faced during Monday's Cardinals collapse. His botched chance last Tuesday didn't raise many eyebrows because it was only his fourth blown save in 26 situations.

Baltimore Orioles RP Kevin Gregg
Gregg: just hanging on

Salas probably isn't in much jeopardy. But now that he has stumbled twice in a row, and given Tony La Russa's quick trigger following Sanchez's early-season issues, you should at least know whom to add at a moment's notice. The Cards are already slipping in the postseason race; maybe TLR shifts gears to stop the bleeding.

Sanchez (strained shoulder) isn't due back for at least a few weeks. Sanchez might've been next in line when healthy but wasn't making the staff comfortable with his walk problems. Lynn (oblique strain) was gaining favor as the chief setup man until he hit the DL; the Cards have been hopeful he'll return this season but haven't provided a specific timetable of late.

Arthur Rhodes came in to face lefty bat Andre Ethier before Salas let the save slip away, but a LOOGY sitch would probably the extent of the stone-aged southpaw's involvement. Dotel has stopper experience but isn't a safe bet against lefties. Again, TLR has favored veterans, at least until this season. The Cards probably want to keep Boggs in middle relief, as well.

The decision would probably come down to Motte and McClellan if Salas were removed or needs a breather. Both have proven comfortable and effective pitching for more than one inning. Motte was used to get the Cards out of Monday's jam. While improving his control in the last two seasons, he has become a pitcher, blossoming into what many were hoping he'd be when assuming the stopper role before the '09 season. He has been one of St. Louis' most reliable game entrants with runners on base, which can go a long way toward saves trust.

Meanwhile, McClellan and the Cards agreed last month that the veteran's removal from the rotation was for the best. Ding ding ding: He has a 2.08 ERA with 10 K's in nine appearances (13 innings) since the switch. TLR and pitching guru Dave Duncan have called McClellan a potential closer on numerous occasions.

Motte is the fantasy target here because he has better skills and has been in the bullpen for the entire season, but it's by a hair. Maybe both would be involved.

Again, La Russa probably will cut Salas slack on this one, considering it was a one-batter appearance and Salas has built up notable rope. But if the tension continues to build, you now have your battle plan.

Job security score: 3

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

  • Kevin Gregg is in constant hot water among fantasy analysts and Baltimore Orioles fans, but Buck Showalter has stood by him. The right-hander rewarded his boss' vote of confidence with a scoreless frame Monday, locking down his 18th save of the season and his first conversion since July 29. Mike Gonzalez is the one to run and grab if a change is made, though, so keep your ears perked.
  • Huston Street's Monday rehab outing: seven pitches (six strikes), strikeout, pop fly, ground-out. The Colorado Rockies' closer, along with Matt Lindstrom, will throw on Wednesday and should join Colorado Friday if all goes well.
    Rafael Betancourt recorded the Rox's Monday save, his second in place of Street. It's worth hanging on to Betancourt for a little bit after Street returns anyway, given the stopper's propensity for injury.
  • The Atlanta Braves let Craig Kimbrel rest last night and instead threw Jonny Venters into the ninth. The lefty allowed two walks but recovered to keep the enemies off the board and record his fifth save of 2011.
    If the Braves continue holding their comfortable NL wild card lead, they might give Kimbrel more days off to keep him fresh for the postseason, making Venters a decent speculative add. Heck, he's worth owning in nearly all leagues anyway for his skills.
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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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