Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat |
Axford buys some time
Right shoulder soreness kept Matt Capps out of Sunday action; the Minnesota Twins hope he'll be back on Tuesday, considering an MRI showed merely a little inflammation but no structural damage. Capps reported a little balkiness Saturday morning after giving up a two-run, tie-breaking homer Friday. His velocity looked normal, though.
Ron Gardenhire had tabbed Glen Perkins or Jared Burton if they needed a stopper on Sunday, but the affair went to extra innings after both pitched in non-save duty. Capps' seemingly OK condition limits the urgency to speculate - other than getting a jump on Capps' possible trade-deadline movement - but shoulder woes often linger.
Though Burton has had a bit of a revival, Perkins should be your primary target considering how helpful he can be to fantasy teams anyway.
On Friday Nick explained what the Milwaukee Brewers' John Axford must do to regain form - and reminded you that if the right-hander does, it'll still fall short of what his preseason price predicted. Later that day, the lanky, long-haired launcher rolled through a 1-2-3 ninth to record his first save of the month; he dropped the ball on each of the two previous days.
Ax tossed nine four-seam fastballs and one curveball but seemed to ease into the heat this time, starting out at 93 to 95 mph and dialing it up over the last two hitters, as opposed to going all-out at 95-97 on Thursday and 97 or higher Wednesday. Axford seems to be working on the theory outlined in this space last week, which bodes well.
Ron Roenicke's endorsement doesn't yet make us warm and fuzzy; the wrapper-upper needs to sustain this approach and avoid overdoing it during his delivery. Have Francisco Rodriguez at hand, especially in deep leagues, just in case the stopper can't build on his recent success. But the crisp clean-up bought Axford a bit more time, considering that outing came on his third straight day of work.
Bob Melvin won't call Ryan Cook the Oakland Athletics' closer, but after a Saturday conversion, the righty has now sealed their last three traditional opps (Evan Scribner's three-frame Jerome Holtzman special from Friday not included). Cook's "first option" designation, from his manager's mouth, suffices in calming his owners.
If you missed it last week, Dale Sveum gave the Chicago Cubs' closer role back to Carlos Marmol, whose Friday save reminded us of the dangers he poses in his control lapses. Sveum gave him a reportedly harsh reminder to stay on point during a mound visit; the next hitter, Dustin Pedroia, grounded out - albeit sharply - to end the game.
Can Marmol keep focused and improve his discipline? Save chasers won't care, but keeping this up will go a long way in the right-hander keeping the gig for at least the majority of what's left of this season.
The Seattle Mariners' Tom Wilhelmsen is holding Brandon League at bay. The former grabbed his fourth save of the season Saturday with a 1-2-3 stanza. Sunday didn't mark a SVO, but he escaped a one-out, bases-loaded jam in which he allowed a single and two walks, which further showed his cred.
League has improved of late but has hardly been as clean as his replacement. As with Capps, the possibility of a late-July dangling looms large for the deposed righty. He may have been dropped, and he's still worth tucking away for the event he regains Seattle's gig, for however long. But for the final two months of the season, he might wind up in a new uni and as widespread dead weight.
Some Washington Nationals housekeeping: Drew Storen has been throwing off a mound three times a week, trying to stay on course to return in about a month, around the All-Star break. Tyler Clippard continues to hold down the fireman fort.
Brad Lidge, meanwhile, was designated for assignment. Stay tuned to see if he falls into a spot that offers a few closures, but it's unlikely, and if he did, you'll need antacid anyway.
|Chris Perez (21), Indians|
|Jim Johnson (20), Orioles|
|Craig Kimbrel (19), Braves|
|Fernando Rodney (19), Rays|
|Jonathan Broxton (16), Royals||BS Sunday but not in jeopardy|
|Alfredo Aceves (16), Red Sox|
|Jason Motte (14), Cardinals||Sunday BS, no danger|
|Heath Bell (14), Marlins|
|Rafael Soriano 2 (13), Yankees|
|Kenley Jansen (11), Dodgers|
|Sean Marshall (9), Reds||Aroldis Chapman had worked previous 2 days|
|Huston Street (8), Padres||1 R, 2 BB but hung on. Rough since return from DL, but safe|
|Aroldis Chapman (8), Reds|
|Addison Reed (8), White Sox||Safe despite botching Sunday opp|
|Ernesto Frieri (7), Angels|
|Casey Janssen (6), Blue Jays|
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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