Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Joel Hanrahan, Santiago Casilla, Heath Bell, more

by Tim Heaney on April 18, 2012 @ 13:33:03 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)


Pittsburgh Pirates

Closer: Joel Hanrahan INJ
Understudy: Juan Cruz, Jason Grilli
Lurkers: Evan Meek, Chris Resop

Hanrahan (tightness in right hamstring) is day-to-day and was kept out of a save chance on Tuesday night, which Cruz performed successfully. The closer won't be available Wednesday, either. Hanny tweaked the hammy on the final pitch of his Sunday closure conversion, in which he threw 31 pitches and let the tying run reach the batter's box.

San Francisco Giants RP Santiago Casilla
Casilla atop saves picture in SF

Cruz, meanwhile, is surging to become the tentative favorite to replace Hanrahan if the stopper has to miss extended time. His hot spring impressed manager Clint Hurdle, and the Buccos haven't produced a clear heir to the throne.

Cruz's control has been an issue for some time, but in his five outings this year, he has two walks compared to six K's. A minimal improvement, mind you, but it looks like the two-year increase in cutter deployment has been paying off; opponents are producing their highest rate of empty hacks since 2008.

All six of Grilli's appearances have come in high-leverage, eighth-inning situations, putting him in the discussion, as well. Meek hasn't been used in as crucial work, and it looks like he has been passed on the hierarchy.

Follow the depth chart order if you're handcuffing Hanrahan or speculating. If the stopper needs a long absence, however, this could frustrate many a save seeker.

Job security score: 5
Health score:

Mound meetings

  • Santiago Casilla pitched a scoreless ninth inning to notch a closure last night, staking his claim to the lead of the San Francisco Giants' closer picture sans Brian Wilson (elbow). Sergio Romo set him up. Looks like Bruce Bochy values what Casilla gave him in place of Wilson near the end of 2011 and will continue to ride that as long as possible, at least in the majority of chances.
  • Given the four-out save he recorded Sunday, it looks like Bryan Shaw has moved ahead of David Hernandez on the Arizona Diamondbacks' saves hierarchy. The club had to rest J.J. Putz a few times early on because they've had so many chances, and Shaw has been dynamite so far.
    If you haven't already snagged him, Shaw is at least a solid NL-only reliever for his stats alone, and his likelihood at a few extra save opps here and there make him relevant in cavernous mixed leagues, as well.
  • Heath Bell tossed a perfect ninth Tuesday for his first save in three chances this season. The righty worked with Miami Marlins pitching coach Randy St. Claire and catcher John Buck to fix a mechanical flaw that left his heat flat and up in the strike zone in his two BS logs.
    For a pitcher who made pitching to contact more important last year, sustaining the "tilt" his throws had last night should put him back on the right track and eliminate any hint of job insecurity his recent bumps offered. Don't count on the elite Bell from years past, though, when it comes to the K column.
  • A Tuesday blown save by Javy Guerra (two runs on two hits and a walk in one-third of an inning) doesn't put him in jeopardy yet, considering the five successful conversions he executed before that. Kenley Jansen needs time to settle back into his once again retuned mechanics. He's a threat merely down the road, not in the immediate future. In some games, the waiver wire urgency might be higher. Decide where you fit.
  • Brad Lidge needed 19 pitches to get through his Tuesday save in which he allowed a hit and a walk. With Drew Storen (elbow) on the DL, the Washington Nationals will continue alternating Lidge with the more powerful Henry Rodriguez, whose complementary statistical offerings will continue to trump Lidge's.
  • Speaking of tap dances, Chris Perez gave up two one-out singles and a two-out walk but preserved the Cleveland Indians' one-run victory on Tuesday. Such theatrics are the norm when you own Perez, whose antics will keep Vinnie Pestano as one of the better save speculations for 2012. Too soon to act in shallow formats, but he's still worth a deep-league stash.
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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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