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February 9, 2012 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

2012 Fantasy Baseball Blown Opportunities: Darkhorse Edition

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Vinnie Pestano, Relief Pitcher, Cleveland Indians

Everyone who has ever played fantasy has looked back on a season and said something like, “If only I had drafted (insert player name) I would have won my league!” Anyone who would have known that Fernando Salas and Javy Guerra were on rosters of major league teams AND had the foresight to draft them deserves a pat on the back and/or a high-five. You can stop reading if you knew both of those names in March of 2011. Until Paul and Tony invest in a DeLorean, all the rest of us can do is make educated guesses before teams put on uniforms and play games for real.

Today, we’re going to look at some of the dark horses lurking in bullpens and shed some light on some of the guys that might surprise by racking up saves that no one thought they would get.

One name gaining a lot of steam as a pre-season sleeper and irritating a lot of sharps every time he’s mentioned is the Cleveland Indians’ righty Vinnie Pestano. Pestano struck out 12.19 batters per nine innings with a 3.48 K:BB ratio in 62 games last year. He showed good velocity with a fastball that averaged 92.7 MPH with a power slider and a good cut fastball.

Pestano is gaining steam as a sleeper because Chris Perez…really isn’t that good and it would be a surprise to see him keep his job for all of 2012. The Indians don’t really have anyone lying in wait and Pestano seems like the most logical name on the roster to get a shot at the ninth inning duties. Vinnie should be available at the end of most drafts, unless his hype train goes out of control.

Other than having an awesome bobblehead(available on Cinco de Mayo at PacBell), fantasy GM’s should be interested in Sergio Romo as a potential save vulture. Some will say, “Wait a second! Don’t the Giants have that goofy bearded guy who keeps thrusting his face onto my TV!” Yes, yes they do. The same Brian Wilson that was shut down with elbow issues and is currently rehabbing said elbow issues. Romo could find himself thrust into the closer’s role in San Francisco if Wilson continues to have arm trouble.

Romo posted a 13.13 K/9 with a ridiculous 14.00 K:BB ratio. He simply does not walk batters. He’s been secretly awesome in a set up role for a few years now and he should be next in line for saves if anything happens to Brian Wilson.

Steve Cishek wasn’t quite as amazing as Pestano and Romo were in 2012, but he was solid and could be in line for saves if Heath Bell struggles in Florida. Bell has been one of the most consistent closers in baseball. Bell has 40+ saves in each of the past three seasons. What should concern fantasy GM’s is Bell’s K/9 rate. Bell managed a career high 11.06 K/9 in 2010, but watched that number plunge to 7.32 in 2011. He could be in for some pain if his K-rate remains that low outside of Petco.

Juan Carlos Oviedo(aka Leo Nunez) appears to have fallen out of favor with the Marlins. Cishek looks like the odds on favorite to get saves. Cishek has an intimidating 6’6 frame that fits the closer mold. He doesn’t have the biggest fastball in the world, but he runs it up there at 92.7 MPH and mixes in a slider as a competent secondary pitch.

The news for Matt Lindstrom got a lot better this week. Matt got himself dealt to Baltimore. Instead of being lost on a depth chart behind a career setup guy and the immortal Rex Brothers, Lindstrom is now facing competition with Jim Johnson and Kevin Gregg. Lindstrom has had the tools to be an elite closer, but he’s never been able to put them together thanks to injuries(thank you, WBC) and ineffectiveness. He should be in the mix for saves and is a name fantasy GM’s need to know for the end of drafts.

Also on the disgraced former closer front, Francisco Cordero signed a one-year deal with the Blue Jays. CoCo is going to be setting up recent acquisition Sergio Santos…for now. Santos has the tools necessary to succeed, but he’s blown eight saves in 38 career opportunities. CoCo is in that Doug Jones-ish, throw ‘til it falls off part of his career . His skills have eroded, but if Santos struggles CoCo could like finish with more saves than the round he was drafted in.

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