MLB
May 10, 2012 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

2012 Fantasy Baseball: Blown Opportunities Week 5 Edition

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Mariano Rivera, RP, New York Yankees

If the hours after last week’s Blown Opportunities column were a screenplay, they would have went something like this.

INT. MATT’S APARTMENT – DAY

Matt finishes another column for FP911 and celebrates by drinking six beers before noon.

EXT. KAUFMAN STADIUM – DAY

Mariano Rivera’s knee explodes.

INT. MATT’S APARTMENT – DAY

Matt is unable to speak for six days after learning that Rivera got hurt literally hours after his column was posted.

FIN?

We all know that Mariano Rivera is out, but it’s too early to count him out for the season. Anyone remember Yovani Gallardo’s comeback in 2008? When he blew out his knee in early May and made it back in time to make a September start and appear in the playoffs? Now, not all knee surgeries are alike and Gallardo was almost half Rivera’s age, but it’s a situation that could be worth monitoring for fantasy GMs.

Rivera isn’t worth a roster spot right now, but fantasy GMs need to be vigilant if reports on how successful Rivera’s rehab has been start getting floated in early September. A week of Rivera at the end of September could mean a couple free saves at a time when a league title could be decided by a couple free saves. 

As for the present, the job appears to be David Robertson’s to lose and he looks like he’s losing it. Robertson looked shaky while converting his first save of the season. He gave up two walks and a hit before recording the final outs on Tuesday. Robertson fell apart faster than Rivera’s knee during an outfield drill on Wednesday. Robertson was tagged for four runs on three hits and a walk. The knockout punch came in the form of a three-run bomb off the bat of Matt Joyce. Robertson will get another chance, but Rafael Soriano is waiting in the wings should Robertson continue to struggle. Soriano is the clear handcuff for those of us speculating on saves.

The closer situation in the south side of Chicago has gone from irritating to baffling. First, manager Robin Ventura waited all spring to name a closer. The White Sox teased veterans Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain before settling on rookie Hector Santiago. Santiago lost the job after about three weeks of competent pitching. Thornton blew up in his first save attempt and has been banished back to middle relief hell for the rest of his career. It was announced that Chris Sale would make the move from the rotation to the closer’s gig because Sale had an elbow issue. Of course, the best idea for a young pitcher with an elbow issue is to move him into a spot where he might have to pitch three days in a row in high-pressure situations.

Now, it appears that Addison Reed has the job. Reed has looked dominant during the first six weeks of the season and probably should have been the guy all along. Sale is scheduled to undergo an MRI some time soon and might be headed for a DL stint. Reed should be added in all formats if he’s not already.

Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez finally blew a save on Tuesday against the White Sox. It was Perez’ first blown save of the year. It’s still far too early to dust off the “Free Vinnie” t-shirts. Perez was 11-11 in save opportunities before Tuesday.

Tigers closer Jose Valverde has converted his last two save opportunities, but he walked three in his most recent save opportunity against the Mariners. Papa Grande’s K:BB ratio stands at a mediocre 11:11. Is it remotely possible that he and Tampa’s Fernando Rodney have switched identities?

Royals closer Jonathan Broxton has converted six consecutive saves. He’s had a few mediocre innings, but nothing close to a scare during that stretch. His 7:5 K:BB ratio is a concern.

The Los Angeles Angels bullpen is a mess right now. Jordan Walden was removed from the job because he was bad. Scott Downs has thrown ⅓ of an inning since April 30th due to a knee contusion and Latroy Hawkins is headed to the DL with a broken pinkie. This could open the door for Walden to get another crack at the job should Downs suffer a setback with his knee or it could allow some random dude like Jason Isringhausen (he’s still in the league, folks!) or recently acquired Ernesto Frieri to get a shot at a few saves. Frieri is an intriguing option, but he gives up a ton of fly balls (0.41 GB:FB ratio for his career). That’s not going to work as well now that he’s moved away from Petco Park.

A’s closer Grant Balfour converted his seventh save of the year over the weekend and then got a BSW on Tuesday. BSW does not, in fact, mean “Blown Save Win.” It stands for “BS Win” because he blew the save and still got credited for the win thanks to the A’s offense bailing him out. Balfour would normally be on thin ice, but the A’s know they aren’t going anywhere and the best way to pump up Balfour’s value before the trade deadline is to let him pad his stats with garbage saves. Brian Fuentes is the handcuff if you’re desperate, but that would lead fantasy GMs to waste a roster spot on Brian Fuentes.

DL’ed Blue Jays closer Sergio Santos is still a few weeks away from starting a throwing program. Santos was given the green light by Dr. Yocum to continue his rehab. Francisco Cordero was awful filling in for Santos and he has blown each of his last three save opportunities in dramatic fashion. Cordero has been removed from the closer role and replaced by Casey Janssen. Janssen has been tagged for a six runs in 11 innings this year, but he’s sporting a nifty 12:1 K:BB ratio. Janssen is a must add in all formats.

Cubs reliever Rafael Dolis has converted his last two save opportunities, but fantasy GMs need to be very careful with Dolis. He might be the worst pitcher to close games this year. Dolis has two more strikeouts(5) than saves(3) this year. He owns a craptastic 5:8 K:BB ratio. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood are pushed into middle relief while Dolis and James Russell will battle for saves. The Dolis/Russell platoon is something that fantasy GMs should want no part of. No matter who wins, fantasy GMs will lose.

Javy Guerra has officially lost the Dodgers closer job to Kenley Jansen. It was really just a matter of time. Jansen has 29 K’s in 17 ⅔ innings. He’s really, really good at pitching.

Edward Mujica looks like he’s staking a claim to the Marlins closer job. Mujica is 2-2 in save opportunities while Steve Cishek blew a save on Wednesday night. Heath Bell made his first appearance since May 4th on Wednesday night. Bell gave up a hit, but struck out one in a scoreless inning. It sounds like they’re trying to “re-boot” Bell and build his confidence back up with a few non-save appearances. Mujica is the must add for now, but Bell is the guy that fantasy GMs should stash.

Jon Rauch earned his first save as Met on Tuesday, but there shouldn’t be a stampede to the waiver wire. Closer Frank Francisco was unavailable after pitching three consecutive days and still has a firm grasp on the job.

To the surprise of no one who has ever had Huston Street in a fantasy league, Huston is on the DL with a lat strain. He’s good for at least two of these every year. The Padres didn’t turn to set up guy Luke Gregerson or walk machine Andrew Cashner. The guy currently getting saves in San Diego is… Dale Thayer.

Thayer started his career in the Padres minor league system in 2003, spent some time bouncing around Triple-A and found himself back in San Diego this year. He’s a 31-year old journeyman who has surprising velocity(93.7 MPH) and a competent slider. It’s kind of surprising that he hasn’t gotten offers to pitch in Asia. He fits the profile of the kind of pitcher that Asian teams tend to sign. He’s converted his first two save opportunities and has a reasonably firm grasp on the job. He’s also the first obvious, “Who dat?” guy of 2011. He has a 5:0 K:BB ratio in six innings. What are the odds that he winds up as the Padres all-star this year?

The Nationals have indicated that Drew Storen is on track to start a throwing program before the end of the month and could be back in the majors by mid-June. Huston Street is impressed by Storen’s ability to turn a minor issue into minor surgery and three months on the shelf.

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