June 22, 2012 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

2012 Fantasy Baseball: Blown Opportunities Week 11 Edition

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We’ve rolled into week 11 of the season. It’s time to start scrounging for saves. League champions have been decided by a couple saves. It’s easier to speculate for saves now than in September when everyone is trying to find those extra saves. It’s been a rough year for those who invested heavily in “reliable” closers. There is still a lot of baseball left in 2012 and there are still a lot of saves out there on the waiver wire. It’s my job to help you figure out where they’re at.

Some relievers convert their chances and lead us to fantasy glory while others blow up and take our ratios with them. Let’s take a look and see exactly what happened in our week 11 edition of Blown Opportunities.

Addison Reed has converted only one save in the last week and he’s 1-2 overall. Reed really isn’t to blame. The White Sox have been horrific for the past two weeks and their general suckiness is having an impact on Reed’s production. Reed is still the closer until manager Robin Ventura decides it’s time to “shake things up” again.

Big, fat Chris Perez is still chugging along for Cleveland. Perez has 22 saves in 23 chances. His K:BB has improved from a 1.50 in 2011 to a 3.57 in 2012. He’s gone from a guy who happened to earn a bunch of saves to a legit closing option. He’s been relying on his slider more in 2012 and it appears to be making a difference. He’s thrown his slider 30.1% of the time this year. That number is up from 22.0% in 2011.

Detroit’s Jose Valverde will be out for the next few days with a sprained wrist. Papa Grande tweaked his wrist while warming up on Tuesday and saw a specialist on Wednesday. Phil Coke earned his first save of the season on Tuesday. It looks like it’s going to be a two-man committee with Coke and Joaquin Benoit. Valverde isn’t expected to need a DL stint, but it’s probably best to wait and see what happens. His wrist bothered him enough to need a specialist and wrists are important for pitching. Benoit or Coke could be worth an add in the short term.

Ernesto Frieri appears to have “won” the Angels closer gig by default. Scott Downs needed some time off with a rib cage injury and appears to have fallen out of the mix for saves. Meanwhile Jordan Walden is working his way back to competence. Walden’s ERA is down to 2.86 and he hasn’t walked anyone since June 5th. Walden doesn’t have much value in standard leagues as long as Frieri is nailing down clean saves, but he might be a speculative add in deep leagues.

Minnesota actually has a closer. His name is Matt Capps and while he doesn’t get a ton of work, he is 14-15 in save opportunities this year. He’s also been sidelined with a case of dreaded “shoulder inflammation” since last Friday. Glen Perkins earned his first save of the year on Wednesday. The same Glen Perkins that appeared to have the inside track on the closer job in Minnesota until Capps was brought back. Capps is expected to return before the weekend. Perkins isn’t worth an add in most formats unless Capps suffers a setback and needs some time on the DL.

Yankees reliever David Robertson was activated from the DL and put back into the set-up role for closer Rafael Soriano. Just like we told you he would. Robertson is an option in leagues with holds and a handcuff for Soriano. That’s about as far as his usefulness in fantasy baseball goes.

A’s closer Ryan Cook has notched four saves since taking over the job. He’s also given up only two hits and two walks in 4 2/3 scoreless innings with seven K’s. Cook has thrown the ball incredibly well in 2012. The problem is that the A’s probably won’t score enough runs to give Cook leads to protect. Cook is a solid option, but his value should be limited due to the crappy team he’s saddled with.

Seattle appears about ready to hand the closer gig back to Brandon League, but current closer Tom Wilhelmsen doesn’t appear willing to cooperate. Wilhelmsen racked up his fifth save by striking out the side on Tuesday. Wilhelmsen is a remarkable story. He was a prospect with the Brewers in ‘04 and ‘05. Then, he got busted for marijuana use. Twice. Wilhelmsen took a five year hiatus after his second suspension and spent his time working on a novel, sailing from port to port and working odd jobs to make ends meet.

None of that is true. He worked as a bartender in Tuscon. He attempted a comeback in 2010 and has been working his way back ever since. He has the big fastball and a solid curve. He has the skills and certainly looks like a closer. It’s hard to believe that the Mariners are so eager to hand the job back to Brandon League. League is worth a speculative add in most leagues as it sounds like Wilhelmsen doesn’t have much room for error.

Kyle Farnsworth is rehabbing with Tampa’s High A team. It doesn’t really matter much for fantasy purpose. Fernando Rodney has the job in a headlock and the ‘ol Professor will have to wait for another crack at the closer job.

Sergio Santos is still stuck in a holding pattern with his rehab. There hasn’t been any new news out of Toronto, so there’s not much to write about. Casey Janssen notched his seventh save on Tuesday. Janssen hasn’t allowed a run since May 29th.

Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz is 13-16 in save opportunities with a 5.73 ERA. It sounds bad, but you have to ignore ERA with closers and focus on results. Is he racking up saves? Yes. How gross is his K:BB ratio? Not very. It’s a very respectable 4.80. Putz is fine and shouldn’t be in any immediate danger. David Hernandez appears to be the handcuff should you desire to do so. Hernandez has 10 holds and a 44:12 K:BB ratio.

Carlos Marmol has been thrust back into the Cubs’ closer job. The Cubs realized they were turning to sad sacks like Shawn Camp and James Russell. After realizing that these guys shouldn’t be closing…anywhere, the Cubs chose to let Marmol try to rebuild some trade value. Marmol has earned two saves in the past week, but they’ve come with a hit and two walks already. He’s just not the same guy he was in 2010. The velocity is still there, but the explosiveness and movement seems to be lacking.

Cincinnati’s Aroldis Chapman has blown two saves in the past ten days. His ERA has rocketed up to 1.57. Cut him now. Joking. Joking. Seriously. Cut him….now! Don’t cut Chapman. It’s concerning, but he should be fine. He’s still striking out 15.47 batters per nine innings. He’s one of the more exciting options in fantasy baseball. Sometimes for the wrong reasons. Sean Marshall is the obvious handcuff here.

Heath Bell has only thrown once in the last week because the Marlins haven’t been very good. Heath struck out the side en route to his 14th save the last time we saw him. Bell’s season should serve as an example of just how volatile closers can be. He went from one of the first closers off the draft board to out of a job to back into a job in the matter of weeks.

Brewers closer John Axford has blown his fourth save in the month of June. Thats four blown saves in less than a month. Manager Ron Roenicke gave Axford the dreaded vote of confidence. That means that everyone should go out and add K-Rod as soon as possible. Speaking of, is it safe to retire the nickname “K-Rod” yet? It was cute when he was racking up post-season saves with Anaheim, but it feels a little hollow now that he’s a set-up guy in Milwaukee.

Jason Motte blew his fourth save for the Cardinals on Sunday, but he should be safe for now. Motte owns a 1.01 WHIP with a 8.81 K/9. Those numbers are right where a closer should be. The concern here is that Motte has allowed five homers already in 2012. His HR:FB ratio is a ridiculous 16.1%. That’s almost double his 8.9% career average. Motte has been a little unlucky on balls in the air. He should be fine for the short term, but if you’re feeling skittish and want to add someone, Mitchell Boggs is the sensible handcuff.

As with every week, we end Blown Opportunities with a look at the wacky Washington Nationals bullpen. Brad Lidge was designated for assignment and, assuming no one claims him, will probably be released. Drew Storen claimed he wants to be back in a month or less and he’s been throwing off a mound three times per week. No word on whether those are first pitches at minor league games or if Storen is playing slow-pitch softball. Former Nats closer Henry Rodriguez began a rehab assignment with the Nationals Triple-A team on Monday. He could be back by the end of the month. Meanwhile, Tyler Clippard has quietly gone 10-10 in save chances without missing any time or suffering any bizarre injuries. Showoff.



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