Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Sergio Santos, Alfredo Aceves, Hector Santiago, more

by Tim Heaney on April 10, 2012 @ 12:23:23 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)

Toronto Blue Jays

Closer: Sergio Santos
Understudy: Francisco Cordero
Lurkers: Darren Oliver, Jason Frasor

A three-run collapse on Monday was Santos' second straight blown opportunity. He was tagged for a solo homer on Saturday to allow the game-tying tally; it was his only blemish that day, but it was a costly one.

He has four walks in 2 1/3 innings and has recorded only 35 strikes in his 62 pitches; safe to say he's still in March mode. Santos threw only five MLB spring innings, instead spending more time in the minors to retool his changeup, which he has used more with each outing so far.

Los Angeles Dodgers RP Kenley Jansen
Jansen working things out

He didn't throw one on Thursday (17 pitches). On Saturday, he tossed three: Two were balls, one induced a groundout. On Monday, he used it eight times: four balls, three foul-offs and a run-scoring sacrifice fly.

Closers don't need a diverse arsenal to succeed, but streamlining a complement to his fastball-slider approach would make Santos a cleaner hurler. He's leaning on his slide piece - a problem for him last year, as well - and trying to guide it, a la what has plagued Carlos Marmol since last season.

Santos' job security mark is helped by the fact he has a proverbial, not statistical, save to his name; Farrell threw him in with one out and a three-run lead to end Thursday's marathon. Another setback in the next few days could prompt his score to drop, though, especially since he doesn't have the most patient manager when it comes to closers. And when there's someone behind him on the hierarchy with Cordero's experience, it at least increases the sweat on the brows of Santos owners.

The Frank Francisco-Jon Rauch dance corrupted Toronto's fantasy picture last year - some of it from injury, but some of it from Farrell's waffling. The fact they gave up rising SP Nestor Molina for Santos this past offseason should prompt the front office to give Santos an extended chance, but that grace period could shrink if Santos can't hit the black more frequently, and soon.

How much bench space do you have in deep leagues? He's not yet worth a top waiver priority or massive FAAB investment in mixed leagues, but a Cordero speculative addition or handcuff in a low-commitment circumstance wouldn't hurt.

Job security score: 4
Health score:

Mound meetings

  • In either a showing of faith or a "might as well" moment, the Boston Red Sox gave Alfredo Aceves another save chance on Monday after a rough weekend. The righty rewarded them with a clean frame with two groundouts and a K; he seemed more patient on the mound and threw a strike on 11 of his 15 pitches.
    Mark Melancon should be close at roster or waiver wire hand, but Aceves bought more time in the role.
  • Hector Santiago worked around a leadoff homer to induce a fly-out and strike out two Monday night. Though a bit wild at times, his second save for the Chicago White Sox showed his quick pace and attractive fastball.
    That heralded screwball, on the other hand, still needs a bit more work. Still, Robin Ventura and fantasy owners should continue riding this train.
  • Speaking of Melancon, his four runs allowed in one inning (two appearances) probably has to do with his arsenal. He has been throwing more cutters lately because the feel for his curveball isn't there yet. The former aided his rise with the Houston Astros last year, but it is hardly a pitch that makes him a dominant stopper.
    His assortment of breaking stuff is required to be there for him to have success. Keep an eye here; if he still doesn't seem comfortable in the coming weeks, it might take awhile before Boston gives him save opps.
  • Javy Guerra has done well to open the season as the Los Angeles Dodgers' closer.
    Kenley Jansen, meanwhile, has given up four homers in his last 10 innings tracing back to spring training. Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt watched video of Jansen from last year and found that lately the righty hasn't been using the lower half of his body as much, hindering his velocity and movement. When right, Jansen contributes elite RP K production while biding time as LA's understudy.
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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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