Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Heath Bell, Carlos Marmol, J.J. Putz, more

by Tim Heaney on May 3, 2012 @ 13:30:33 PDT

 


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)

Miami Marlins

Closer: Heath Bell
Understudy: Steve Cishek, Edward Mujica
Lurkers: Ryan Webb

Money talks. Some of Miami's is probably saying "oops" when it comes to Bell. He followed a bounce-back outing Tuesday with a Wednesday night erosion - no outs recorded, a double, two singles, two runs.

In an attempt to clean up Bell's mess, Cishek couldn't strand the tying run, which belonged to the stopper, but despite him absorbing the blown save, at least he retired three bats to minimize the mess. He also received the win when Miami rebounded in the 10th.

Player name
Do you really want Fuentes?

After last night's game, Ozzie Guillen wavered on Bell's security and praised Cishek, which hinted that the latter would pick up the save slack if Bell's yanked. Skip backtracked this morning by supporting Bell as closer. He might use him in a non-save situation his next time out so he can regain some confidence. Did he receive from the organization a "gentle reminder" of Bell's price tag? Did a night of sleep help him think things through?

If a Thursday chance arises, either Webb or Mujica will get the call. Bell has pitched on three straight days, and Guillen wants to avoid Cishek after his two-frame Wednesday appearance.

Maybe if Webb or Mujica does the deed, he'll get another call, or at least convince Ozzie that he doesn't need a Bell-only arrangement. Webb has been effective but not stellar (3.18 ERA in 11 1/3 frames), and it's hard to endorse him for the long-term picture because he has mostly been used in mop-up duty. Mujica is a better bet, despite his recent struggles, because he has been Miami's predominant eighth-inning man.

Cishek, however, remains your best speculation, since he has the best combo of skills, performance and, seemingly, Ozzie love. Either way, Bell's in an increasing amount of trouble.

Job security score: 3
Health score: 5

Mound meetings

On Wednesday, Carlos Marmol fell into a full count against the leadoff hitter and gave up a long fly ball to the second batter, but the box score recorded his save as a 1-2-3 frame.

He regressed Thursday with two walks, a single, and a bases-loaded walk without recording an out. A fielding error also produced a run, but that doesn't excuse the rest. Rafael Dolis relieved him and induced a double play that unfortunately scored the tying run, scarring Dolis with the BS. We know whose fault it was primarily, though.

After Marmol's clean Wednesday, Dale Sveum insisted he was going to stick with the stopper; he believes that if the righty gets consistent work for an ugly Cubs squad and leans on his fastball more - in the strike zone - that he'll show his elite potential more. Unfortunately, on Thursday Marmol threw his heater only four times compared to 14 sliders, including six straight to produce the sacks-jacked free pass.

Kerry Wood just returned from the DL, but Dolis has been effective in setup duty in his stead; they want to work Wood back into important situations. Wood's standing with the team probably has him as the on-deck option, but if they need to break from Marmol, Dolis (and maybe southpaw James Russell) could be involved, as well.

***

J.J. Putz blew the save for the second time in his last three chances after allowing a double and a two-out homer Wednesday. The Arizona Diamondbacks' righty has converted five of his seven opportunities but has been plagued by the long ball. He has yielded three so far; he coughed up four all last season.

It's his second straight season with a noticeable fly-ball increase on batted balls. Though his newly installed cut fastball has been useful, his four-seamer, per PITCHf/x, has dropped by more than 1 mph and been one of his main weaknesses. This looks like a problem of leaving his fastball over too much of the plate at the wrong times. He's still generating empty swings but isn't sneaking in as many first-pitch strikes as usual.

It's probably a bit soon to worry about Putz's job, but he needs to clean himself up. The D-backs have Bryan Shaw and David Hernandez, in that fantasy-relevant order, if Putz needs a breather, as he did earlier in the year thanks to a busy schedule.

***

As Nick noted yesterday, Brian Fuentes is the likely first fallback if the Oakland Athletics want to ditch Grant Balfour from closing. The former logged his 200th career save and first of the season Wednesday. Of course, with a three-run lead, he gave up a one-out single and a two-out, run-scoring double while yielding a run. This roughness would be the territory that would come with Fuentes' tenure in the job.

Balfour was rested because he worked on five of the previous eight days and has been a little under the weather as well as experiencing some back tightness. This could lead to a frequent Fuentes pairing in the short term, all the more reason to tuck him away.

***

In blowing his first save chance in seven this year, Rafael Betancourt allowed a single and a two-run double yesterday while mixing in intentional walks to Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier (blame him?). At least he struck out three for the Colorado Rockies and backed into the win. Don't worry yet.

***

Craig Kimbrel blew his first save opp in nine chances this year Wednesday, giving up a run on a walk and a single. The Atlanta Braves won in 11 innings to bail him out. It'll take more than this to jeopardize his job.

Other Wednesday saviors

Chris Perez (8), Indians
Jonathan Broxton (4), Royals
Joel Peralta (1), Rays Fernando Rodney had pitched on each of the previous 3 days
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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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