Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Dale Thayer, Casey Janssen, Chris Sale, more

by Tim Heaney on May 9, 2012 @ 12:53:51 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.

Mound meetings

Chicago White Sox RP Chris Sale
Sale ending?

Tuesday marked Dale Thayer's second save in the last two days, which puts him in the lead of the San Diego Padres bullpen's efforts to fill in for Huston Street (lat). Andrew Cashner's rough eighth inning buys Thayer some time to continue his unexpected run. Luke Gregerson merely looks like a setup man, as well.

Thayer got a little help when a ground ball hit Marco Scutaro for the second out. But he fanned Carlos Gonzalez, so that's not a slouch move, considering he worked around two other singles. Escaping jeopardy helps his cause. That's now six shutout frames for the right-hander.

Maybe Cashner will get a chance today because Thayer has worked on four of the last five days, but this looks like Thayer's show until Street comes back. And knowing the righty, there's a good chance that'll take longer than expected.


An ugly Tuesday blown save - the latest of a few rough spots - cost Francisco Cordero the interim closer title. The Toronto Blue Jays have transferred that gig to Casey Janssen until Sergio Santos (shoulder) returns, which they hope is within the next two to three weeks. He just started throwing a few days ago.

Janssen's 5.23 ERA hides his 11:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio; his command rate has been quite good over the last few seasons. He's not a "blow you away" type, but the former starter's diverse arsenal gets him by.

Do your saves duty and snare him up for short-term value, even while realizing that Santos' injury could linger. Remember that the Jays have a few other options to do the job in Darren Oliver, Jason Frasor and Luis Perez, so he might lose some opportunities based on matchups and usage.


The Chicago White Sox planned for Chris Sale to throw two innings in his Tuesday save chance. Unfortunately, the recently named stopper couldn't hold the chance. Entering with two on and none out in the eighth, a fielding error and a groundout produced the first run; he then allowed a walk and a single to lose the lead.

Hector Santiago quelled things in the ninth, and after the Pale Hose took the advantage back, Addison Reed recorded a 1-2-3 10th for his second closure of 2012.

Sale, meanwhile, will have an MRI performed on his balky left elbow. Hmm. It might be merely precautionary, but precautionary is typically preceded by concern. Maybe his pain swelled with the high-effort appearance and his already herky-jerky delivery.

Start preparing for a Sale absence. Matt Thornton had had a rough Monday inning, so he was probably getting a break considering the southpaw Sale was ready to eat two stanzas. But Reed has a slight lead in the understudy race considering his recent performance in save opps and his 10 scoreless frames on the year. His close-out last night works in his favor for earning at least a portion of vacated opps, considering the timing of the Sale news.

Don Cooper, in fact, said not to be surprised if Reed closed the door on Wednesday if Chicago needs a savior.


It's still an acceptable idea to stash Carlos Marmol in a deep mixed league while he's banished from save opps. But Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum said yesterday that he won't necessarily return Marmol to closing if Rafael Dolis and James Russell are pitching well. Something to keep in mind....


The New York Yankees' David Robertson, aka "Houdini," worked out of a bases-loaded jam to record his first save of the season and the first since Mariano Rivera's season-ending injury. His ability to escape and strike out opponents has fueled his case for being the main man in Mo's absence.

In that link, Marc Carig of The Star-Ledger talks about the vulnerability of D-Rob's perfect left-on-base percentage and low home-run allowance. Sure, RPs can keep high numbers for both, but Robertson probably will see corrections to both, despite the fact he also left runners on at an elite rate last year.

Though Robertson will remain an excellent arm even with statistical regression, the Bombers will still give Rafael Soriano his share of chances down the road.


A bevy of blown saves in the Pittsburgh Pirates-Washington Nationals contest Tuesday: Joel Hanrahan blew the Buccos' chance by giving up a leadoff single and a two-run jack. Henry Rodriguez held up the Nats' end by allowing a two-out, two-run tater to take the loss, as well.

Though Hanny has had a few rough spots so far, he isn't in danger. So let's explore one that many might be worried about. This might be just a coincidence, but H-Rod has let runners cross the plate in only three of his 14 games this year, only two when you narrow them to earned runs.

His two blowup games, April 28 and May 8, both have come after three days' rest. Considering his often effective wildness and dangerous fastball, it seems like Rodriguez is the type of hurler who needs to pitch frequently to get in a groove.

Of course, since he's now the primary closer with Drew Storen (elbow) and Brad Lidge (hernia) on the shelf, Washington will save him for stopping chances as often as possible.

Other Tuesday saviors

Craig Kimbrel (10), Braves  
Brett Myers (8), Astros  
Jonathan Broxton (6), Royals  
Jose Valverde (6), Tigers Danced around 3 BBs. His SVs are wild rides.
Santiago Casilla (6), Giants Javier Lopez faced 3 LHBs; Casilla retired final hitter (RHB) - still committee chair
Jon Rauch (1), Mets Frank Frank notched a SV on each of previous 3 days
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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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