The baseball season has rolled into the third week of the year and closers are as wacky as ever.
We’ve got one formerly solid guy taken down by a bizarre, un-diagnosed illness. We’ve got one guy given a vote of confidence. We’ve even got a bizarre time-share between a grizzled vet who can’t stop getting lit up and a young flamethrower who appears to be a much better pitcher and probably deserves the full time role.
We’ve got all that and more in this week’s Blown Opportunities.
Jim Johnson has gone from one of the more stable (and surprising) options in baseball to being taken down by a mystery illness. Johnson is still in the hospital and doctors are still running tests. This is sounding less like a fantasy baseball issue and more like a House episode every day. How long before someone suggests itâ€™s Lupus only to have it be a tumor in his spine? (Ed. note–sarcoidosis?) Â Pedro Strop already has a save and appears to be the handcuff for as long as Johnson is out.
Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves has recorded two straight saves since blowing up against the Yankees last weekend. Daniel Bard was moved back into the bullpen for exactly one appearance. Heâ€™ll be starting on Friday against the White Sox. The smart handcuff still appears to be Franklin Morales.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura gave closer Hector Santiago the confidence vote of doom on Wednesday. This means that Matt Thornton will be closing games by the end of the weekend. Two of Santiagoâ€™s last four outings have ended in disaster while Thornton has been quietly dominant with a 0.93 ERA in 11 games. Heâ€™s only posting a 8:0 K:BB ratio. Thornton is the obvious handcuff and Addison Reed appears to be behind Thornton. Jesse Crain appears to be out of the picture with an oblique injury. The word â€œappearsâ€ is used because what Robin Ventura is actually thinking is anyoneâ€™s guess.
Chris Perez is 7-7 in saves since blowing up on Opening Day. Free Vinnie!
Royals closer Jonathan Broxton hasnâ€™t had a save opportunity since blowing up last week. The real news in Kansas City is that Greg Holland will be out for three weeks with a â€œleft rib stress reaction.â€ Broxton appears to be safe for now, but how long until someone like Aaron Crow or Holland gets a crack at saves? Broxton would really have to turn his season around to make it through May as the closer in Kansas City.Â
Kyle Farnworth claims heâ€™s a week away from starting a throwing program. He could very well be back in early May if thatâ€™s true. Whether he assumes the closer job remains to be seen. Fernando Rodney has six saves in six tries and has looked competent in doing so. Rodney is currently sporting a 7:2 K:BB ratio with a 1.08 ERA in 10 games.
Apparently White Sox GM Kenny Williams knows what heâ€™s doing. Kenny must have dusted off the crystal ball he used from â€˜05 to â€˜06 and saw Sergio Santos suffering a shoulder injury in April. Santos will be out for a month with inflammation in his right shoulder. Francisco Cordero should get the majority of save opportunities for the Blue Jays while Santos is sidelined and could work his way into the job when Santos comes back.
Sean Marshall has four saves in four chances for the Reds, but Aroldis Chapman has been absolutely dominant in a setup role since Opening Day. Chapman has a 20:2 K:BB ratio in 11 â…” innings. His ERA is a perfect 0.00. Thereâ€™s a good chance his continued success could lead to a bigger role as a starter or a closer in Cincinnati. It doesnâ€™t make a whole lot of sense to keep rolling Mike Leake out there every fifth day when they have a guy like Chapman sitting in the bullpen.
Mets closer Frank Francisco suffered through three straight ugly outings before converting a clean save on Tuesday. Francisco is still very much the closer in New York and thatâ€™s unlikey to change any time soon.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy showed exactly how much rope heâ€™s going to give Santiago Casilla before he starts playing match ups in last Fridayâ€™s game. To be fair, Casilla was pulled after giving up an infield single. Itâ€™s not like Jason Bay ripped a triple off the wall. Casilla still has the best shot at saves, but Javier Lopez might be higher in the pecking order than most fantasy GMs had previously thought.
Cardinals closer Jason Motte blew his first save of the season against the Cubs on Monday. Motte came in with a runner on base and proceeded to walk two batters before giving up a two-run single to Joe Mather. Motte threw 31 pitches in the inning and appeared to run out of gas at the end of the inning. Motte is an all or nothing guy in the Kyle Farnsworth mold. He uses everything he has on every pitch and when that doesnâ€™t work he reaches back for even more. He should be fine going forward, but he is prone to having an occasional blowup. Fernando Salas is the smart handcuff, but thereâ€™s a good chance he goes all year without a real crack at a closing job.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson claims Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez are still in a time share until Drew Storen recovers from his elbow surgery. Rodriguez has six walks in 8 â…“ innings of work, but heâ€™s converted four consecutive saves. Lidge hasnâ€™t pitched since April 21st, but for some reason Johnson still has confidence in Lidge. Heâ€™s still worth a roster spot in most formats at the outside shot he vultures a few saves from the superior Rodriguez.