WHAT A RELIEF: New Closers Abound
Fantasy baseball closers are coming and going quickly in the early weeks of the 2012 baseball season. Here’s a rundown of the closer situations with many franchises and how you can benefit by picking up closers in waiting.
When it comes to fantasy baseball, you don’t necessarily need the best closers, you just need the most closers.
LAND OF THE GIANTS: Don't be so quick in awarding the Giants closer role to Santiago Casilla. Casilla was yanked after an infield single in the ninth this week.
An old adage in fantasy baseball is that it’s not necessary to draft closers up front, because they will be available as the season goes on. If the 2012 season is any indication, that old adage is legit.
Already, there have been several ordinarily healthy closers go down with extended injuries, thus making set-up men available as closers. One closer change occurred in spring training for the Cincinnati Reds where Sean Marshall became the closer after free agent Ryan Madson went down for the season with Tommy John surgery. Talk about a poor investment; the Reds shelled out $8.5 million for one year for Madson. That is likely $8.5 million for absolutely nothing.
Kansas City Royals
But Madson wasn’t the first closer to hit the dirt. The Royals’ Joakim Soria had surgery on April 3 and is lost for the season. Soria’s demise gave Jonathan Broxton new life as a closer on the MLB closer depth charts. Broxton’s skill set, however, is not the same as it once was during his glory days in the Dodgers’ bullpen. He’s also injury prone. Greg Holland, currently on the DL, is one pitcher that you may be able to pick up and stash for later in the season. Holland twirled 60 innings last year and had a microscopic 1.80 ERA to go along with a 0.93 WHIP.
Grant Balfour earned the job after Andrew Bailey was sent packing to Boston. There aren’t that many options for the A’s so Brian Fuentes will remain as the setup man and Balfour (4-4) this year should be able to keep the job, even if he blows a few.
Boston Red Sox
With Andrew Bailey down and out, Alfredo Aceves is getting the save opportunities for the Sox. This move was a bit of a surprise to me in that I would have thought Mark Melancon would get the nod over Aceves. Apparently, a lot of other managers did as well as Aceves is owned in just 33% of leagues, according to ESPN fantasy sports. Bailey isn’t coming back anytime soon; Bailey is sidelined until the All-Star break after recently undergoing surgery to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb.
Glen Perkins is the obvious alternative to veteran Matt Capps whose skills have diminished in recent years. Perkins, however, has had some injuries already this year so Capps’ job appears safe for now.
Tampa Bay Rays
When Kyle Farnsworth went down in Spring Training, the closer job in Tampa shifted to Fernando Rodney. Farnsworth indicates that he’ll be able to start rehabbing in about a week. He may have trouble getting his job back, however, as Rodney is a perfect 5 for 5 this year.
Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox closer job went to Hector Santiago when he beat out Matt Thornton in Spring Training. Santiago saved his first 3 chances, but blew his first one on Monday this week when the Orioles touched him up for 2 homers in the ninth
When Drew Storen went down, the obvious choice as the Nationals’ closer had to be Brad Lidge. Lidge was perfection in 2008 as he saved every opportunity that the Phillies gave him enroute to their first World Series championship since 1980. But, managers don’t have a lot of patience with closers anymore. And, when Lidge blew his second save chance of the year, Davey Johnson turned to Henry Rodriguez as the closer. Rodriguez notched saves on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday last week.
San Francisco Giants
When Brian Wilson went down for the count, the logical choice for the Giants would have been the guy with the second best beard in baseball, Sergio Romo. But, the Giants surprisingly have kept Romo in the setup role and given the save chances to Santiago Casilla in the Giants first save opportunity. Casilla’s job, however, is anything but safe. On Friday, after giving up an infield single in the ninth, manager Bruce Bochy pulled Casilla in favor of southpaw Javier Lopez. Bochy appears to be going with the best matchups in the ninth inning. Lopez botched that first save attempt and was charged with a blown save so I’m not sure I’d rush out to pick up Lopez either.
Frank Francisco for the Mets and Huston Street for the Padres are certainly health concerns, although they’ve been fine thus far. Continue to monitor the setup roles in New York and San Diego for more potential bargain basement closers later in the year.