Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Wilton Lopez, Andrew Bailey, John Axford, Sergio Romo

by Tim Heaney on August 29, 2012 @ 11:28:31 PDT'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)

Houston Astros

Closer: Wilton Lopez
Understudy/Fill-in: Francisco Cordero DL
Lurkers: Wesley Wright

Boston Red Sox RP Andrew Bailey
What are you waiting for?

Lopez's excellent setup numbers haven't yet translated to the Astros' closer role. On Tuesday, he suffered his second blown closure in his last three chances. This came after southpaw Wright started off the ninth against lefty hitter Brandon Belt, who singled. Lopez allowed a run-scoring two-bagger to lose the lead, and a single then put the 'Stros down for good.

Lopez pounds the strike zone, which in theory makes him an ideal candidate to close things out, but it might be hurting him. Two indicators exemplify his recent struggles: his opponents' 22.8 liner percentage (up from 16.5 percent last year) and an 89.4 opponents' contact rate on swings at strike-zone offerings (up from 87.6).

Even if his 2.45 ERA on the year doesn't show it, he's getting hammered, and sadly not in the fun Texas way. Though he has the velocity to do the job, it doesn't look like he'll become a mow-'em-down arm anytime soon. When hurlers like that miss, they typically pay for it.

Lopez's small leash remains because of what little else Houston carries at the back end. Maybe they throw Wright into save spots if at least one lefty bat looms. Will they reinstall the rehabbing Francisco Cordero (toe) when he returns? Would you even feel comfortable picking him up if they do so?

Mickey Storey could factor in. The 26-year-old saved a pair and posted decent numbers for Triple-A Oklahoma City and has fanned one for each of his 14 MLB IP so far. He sits in the high 80s and low 90s, though, and would serve Houston better doing what Lopez did previously. Fernando Rodriguez offers the dominance for the gig but often gets hit hard.

It'd remain a mess if they reduce or remove Lopez's control of the role. He stands as one of the least valuable "closers" to own.

Job security score: 1
Health score:

Mound meetings

Alfredo Aceves is teetering. First, his attitude problems that have long plagued his MLB reputation resurfaced last week over a Bobby Valentine decision to use Andrew Bailey the night after Aceves registered a (BS, L). Then came his suspension, from which he was reinstated Tuesday, and his immediate continuation of a meltdown: a pair of tallies allowed on one hit and one walk in 1 2/3 frames. It was the same decision as Thursday's.

It's only a matter of time before Bailey seizes the role for which the Boston Red Sox brought him to town. Add him. Now.


John Axford isn't chopped yet. The Milwaukee Brewers' right-hander coaxed a ground-out and fanned the final two hitters during his perfect ninth last night, earning his 21st save of the season in the progress. Kameron Loe and Jim Henderson will probably see work in such situations for the remainder of the year, but Axford is the best option to own.


Sergio Romo finished the San Francisco Giants' save all by himself Tuesday. A lefty bat was the meat in the due-up sandwich between two righties, so Romo took the baton and recorded a K, a ground-out and a pop-out. Romo and southpaw Javier Lopez lead this committee; their underlings are merely dart throws in mixed leagues.

Other Tuesday saviors

Rafael Soriano (34), Yankees
Aroldis Chapman (33), Reds
Craig Kimbrel (32), Braves
Joe Nathan (27), Rangers
Tom Wilhelmsen (20), Mariners
Greg Holland (8), Royals
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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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