May 24, 2012 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

2012 Fantasy Baseball:Blown Opportunities Week 7 Edition

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We’ve now reached the point in the season when the closer carousel starts coming back around. Managers have burned through most of their available options and are now turning back to the guys that they demoted in the first place.

Heath Bell has gone from waiver wire fodder to must-own in a matter of hours. He was out of the job with a ridiculous ERA and walking almost a batter per inning. Then, he worked his way back into the closer job in Miami and is now getting clean saves.

Keep your chin up Grant Balfour, Brian Fuentes can only last so long in as a closer. What’s that? Ryan Cook cut in front of you? Yeah, that’s about right. There’s hope for everyone…even guys who drafted Jordan Walden. 

Ryan Cook is the early favorite for the Matt Thornton award for the best reliever in a non-closer role. Last year’s winners, Sergio Romo and Vinnie Pestano, are still stuck in middle relief. Cook has a 21:12 K:BB in 22 2/3 innings of work. Cook has only allowed four hits and hasn’t been scored upon, earned or otherwise, in 2012. It’s safe to cross out “Vinnie” on your “Free Vinnie” t-shirt and write in “Ryan” in crayon.

Andrew Bailey has started throwing from 60 feet. It’s safe to stash him if he’s on the wire and you’re desperate. Alfredo Aceves has been competent, but he hasn’t exactly been Lou Gerhig to Bailey’s Wally Pipp. Bailey was brought in to close and he close he shall…once his thumb is fully ready.

White Sox manager and friend to all fantasy GMs Robin Ventura named Addison Reed as his closer. Thanks for clearing it up for us, Robin. All this means is that Jesse Crain will be earning saves in about two weeks.

Jose Valverde has been given a clean bill of health. He’s back in the Tigers bullpen and is waiting for a save opportunity. Make sure to get him back in your lineup if you haven’t already and it’s probably safe to drop Joaquin Benoit, if you need the roster spot. 

Watch out for Ernesto Frieri. Frieri has 19 K’s in 8 1/3 innings with the Angels and earned his first save on Wednesday against the A’s in extra innings. He hasn’t been named the closer, but he could very well wind up vulturing a few saves until he regresses. His 59.4% FB rate usually isn’t part of a recipe of success for relievers. High fly ball rates tend to ruin the meal that closers are trying to fry up. Food metaphor! His 16.38 K/9 is a career high for Frieri and he’s struck out 45% of all batters he’s faced this year. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Rafael Soriano is getting clean saves for the Yankees. Would it shock anyone if he kept the job for the rest of the year and did a competent job?

The Blue Jays DL’ed closer Sergio Santos is back on his throwing program. He should work his way over to long toss by the weekend and could be back in bullpen by the end of the month. Casey Janssen is doing a solid job in Santos’ stead. Janssen has seven straight appearances with at least one strikeout and he hasn’t given up a run in almost a month. He’s been very good, but Santos will likely reassume the role once he’s off the DL.

Carlos Marmol has begun a rehab assignment with the Cubs Triple-A affiliate in Iowa. He’s aiming to be back with the big club by the end of next week. It sounds like the plan is to ease him back into high leverage situations, so Rafael Dolis owners can rejoice. At least a few more weeks of sketchy relief work in hope for saves. Dolis has given up runs in four of his last five appearances. He has as many losses(1) as saves(1). Dolis is now unquestionably the worst pitcher to hold a closer job in 2012. Brian Fuentes can’t believe someone stepped up and took the award.

Aroldis Chapman has taken the closer job in Cincinnati from Sean Marshall. Chapman still hasn’t allowed an earned run in 2012 and he’s sporting a nifty 43:7 K:BB ratio. Sadly, he’s also leading the league in bizarre lawsuits. Sean Marshall wasn’t that bad as a closer, but it was so obvious that Chapman is the superior pitcher that the Reds had to do something.

Not only has Heath Bell worked his way back into the closer job in Miami, but he’s already converted four consecutive save opportunities. His velocity is still slightly down, but he hasn’t walked anyone in his last five appearances. He’s earned himself a couple more save opportunities because the Marlins pretty much proved that they don’t really have a closer in waiting. Both Steve Cishek and Edward Mujica failed to impress in the role. Juan Carlos Oviedo(the closer formerly known as Leo Nunez) has finally received clearance to enter the US and will be headed to extended spring training. He’s expected to serve a 8-week suspension for lying about his identity for years.

Remember when Frank Francisco almost lost the Mets closer job? Yeah, that was last week. Frank has converted three consecutive saves with six strikeouts in his last three innings. There’s erratic closer’s and then there’s Francisco. Will he put up zeroes for nine straight games? Maybe? Will he complain about an injury and then get lit for four straight games? Will he lob a chair into the stands? The correct answer is: all of the above(?). Having Francisco in fantasy baseball is like walking around Chicago’s Logan Square at night. You never know what you might find and you’re always really scared.

Huston Street has played catch for five straight days. Slow down, overachiever. Meanwhile Dale Thayer has five saves. If Dale Thayer were a quarterback, he would have to be Ryan Fitzpatrick. He fell into a job, did a surprisingly competent job and will now play at least five years longer than he would have otherwise.

The Washington Nationals have deposed Henry Rodriguez as closer. They have decided that a full-blown committee between Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett and whoever else is left in the Nats bullpen. If you’re speculating for saves you want Burnett and Clippard in that order.


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