We’ve barreled past the trade deadline and we’re heading into the stretch run. This is when fantasy baseball championships are won and lost, gentlemen. It’s time to start adding middle relievers and scrounging for those last few save opportunities. The good news is that fewer guys are paying attention to the waiver wire. The bad news is that your competitors know you’re looking for saves and might be able to out-maneuver you for those precious, precious saves.
We’ve got a few options that the other guys might not be thinking about and at least one that everyone knows about, but is still on the waiver wire in most leagues in this week’s edition of blown opportunities…
Baltimoreâ€™s Jim Johnson is back saving games after his meltdown on July 27th. Johnson has three saves and four scoreless innings since crashing and burning. Johnson is the undisputed closer and isnâ€™t in any danger of giving up any save chances down the stretch.
There could actually be an Andrew Bailey sighting in Boston next week. Bailey has proven that heâ€™s capable of pitching back-to-back days and should be activated early next week. Heâ€™ll be an option in holds leagues until Alfredo Aceves surrenders the closer job, but at this point Bailey looks like a better play for 2013 than 2012. Bailey is waiver wire fodder unless thereâ€™s a clear need for change.
Cleveland closer Chris Perez bounced back from back-to-back blown save/losses with a save against Boston on August 9th. Itâ€™s still safe to wave the â€œFree Vinnieâ€ banner. Vinnie Pestano would be a solid stash for the final month of the season. Youâ€™ve heard fantasy pundits beat the â€œFree Vinnieâ€ drum all season, but this is the first time Chris Perez is looking mortal. That last sentence sounds incredibly bizarre.
Detroit will be the 2013 version of 2012â€™s Perez/Pestano saga. Next year, itâ€™s going to be Valverde/Villarreal. Jose Valverde has gone out of his way to look as shaky as possible in the ninth inning. Papa Grande recently gave up two runs in the ninth inning and still got the save. Meanwhile, Brayan Villarreal has posted a 48:14 K:BB in 36 innings with a 1.75 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. No one is driving the â€œFree Brayanâ€ bandwagon…yet.
Greg Holland looks awfully good as the Royals newly anointed closer. Some of us wish we werenâ€™t so out over our skis on Aaron Crow.
Matt Capps is expected to be re-evaluated on Monday. There hasnâ€™t been a lot of news on Capps and he hasnâ€™t started any kind of rehab program. The job is Glen Perkins,Â and Jared Burton’s, to lose…possibly for the rest of the season.
Aâ€™s closer Ryan Cook will be given a break from closing duties after giving up runs in three consecutive appearances. This hasnâ€™t opened the door for Grant Balfour to get back into the save picture. He got the first crack at a save and turned in a scoreless ninth inning against the White Sox on Saturday. Cook earned the W after throwing 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Fantasy GMs shouldnâ€™t rush out anf add Balfour.
Thereâ€™s a plan in place for Cook and it sounds like heâ€™ll be back in the closer role by the middle of next week. The only way Balfour is worth an add is if he nails down a few saves and Cook struggles again. Cook is clearly the better pitcher at this point.
The question surrounding Fernando Rodney isnâ€™t whether heâ€™s for real or not. The question becomes, â€œWhere do you draft him next year?â€ Good question. How safe would you feel banking on Fernando Rodney to carry the career year heâ€™s posting this year into next year?
Jonathan Broxton has given up multiple runs in his last two outings as a setup guy for Cincinnati’s closer, Aroldis Chapman. Itâ€™s been safe to cut Broxton since he was dealt. Meanwhile, Chapman has cemented himself as the second best fantasy closer in baseball behind Atlantaâ€™s Craig Kimbrel.
Houstonâ€™s Francisco Cordero has been diagnosed with a sprained toe ligament and will spend a couple weeks in a walking boot. Houston reliever Wilton Lopez has returned from an elbow strain to stake a claim to the closer job in Houston. Lopez is easily the best reliever in Houston when healthy and was the logical(only) choice to assume the job. Whatâ€™s really appalling is that Houston felt the need to acquire a clearly washed up CoCo in the first place after dealing Brett Myers.
Miamiâ€™s closer by committee has turned out to be a committee of one. Steve Cishek has done everything possible to earn the full-time closer gig in Florida. Heâ€™s been the only Miami reliever to record a save since July 23rd. Michael Dunn and the warm bodies in the Miami bullpen havenâ€™t gotten a sniff at the ninth inning. Cishek hasnâ€™t given up a run since June 25th. Heath Bell continues to pitch his way out of consideration for the closer job. He had a nice little scoreless appearance streak going until he gave up a run on three hits on August 9th. Bell is still in the doghouse and will probably remain there for a while. Cishek is going out of his way to prove that heâ€™s a major league level closer.
John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez are going out of their way not to save games in Milwaukee. First, K-Rod gets lit up. Then, Axford gets lit up. There really isnâ€™t a clear option in Milwaukee at this point and itâ€™s time to start spitballing. Recently acquired Fautino de los Santos is an intriguing option since coming over from Oakland at the deadline. DLS has eight Kâ€™s in five appearances at Triple-A for Milwaukee. Heâ€™s the logical choice. Manny Parra would be an option, if he werenâ€™t dealing with a sore shoulder. Jose Veras and Kameron Loe are basically middle relief fodder for a mediocre baseball team. If Livan Hernandez is the answer, what, exactly, is the question? Which current major league pitcher is most likely to be throwing in a beer league next season? The Milwaukee bullpen is a bigger mess than the Chicago Cubs are right now.
Frank Francisco is back off the DL and already has a save. Itâ€™s a good idea to get Frank back into your lineups for clean saves followed by some of the shakiest innings youâ€™ve ever seen.
San Diego closer Huston Street is back on the DL with a calf strain. Andrew Cashner is also still on the DL, so it could very well be Thayer-time once again. Dale Thayer won our hearts and minds by racking up five saves while Street was on the DL for the first time this year. Thayer was perhaps the most unlikely closing candidate weâ€™ve seen all year. The committee in San Diego looks like Thayer and Luke Gregerson. Gregerson is one of the better middle relievers in baseball and the Padres have been very reluctant to move him to the ninth inning. Thayer could very well get the first crack at saves.
Giants closer Santiago Casilla is about to add â€œformer closerâ€ to his resume. Casilla is dealing with blisters and Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced that Jeremy Affeldt and Sergio Romo(YES!) will get more opportunities in the ninth inning. Affeldt already has a save and appears to have the inside track on the job.
Drew Storen recorded his first save of the year last Sunday. Donâ€™t rush out and add him either. Tyler Clippard needed a day off after throwing three consecutive days, but at least we have some idea about the pecking order in Washington.
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