Updates on the ninth-inning situations around the league.
White Sox Nate Jones is going to miss a chunk of time to recover from back surgery. By this point, you know the story with Jones; he was tabbed to assume closing duties for the White Sox but after a fuzzy spring Matt Lindstrom was named the closer on Opening Day and Jones never quite got on track. He has yet to record an out this season and has already allowed four earned runs. In his stead, Lindstrom has performed the closing duties fairly well, as he’s riding a streak of 11 innings over which he’s only given up two earned runs (all in one appearance, April 25 against the Rays), and he’s picked up three saves along the way.
The White Sox bullpen was a mess last time we discussed it. It’s done better of late as Ronald Belisario has righted the ship since the bullpen wide implosion on April 17 against the Red Sox. Zach Putnam has been a revelation of sorts since he was brought up from Charlotte on April 17, and we’ve already touched on the resurgence that Lindstrom has experienced of late.
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Updates on all of the notable ninth-inning situations around the league.
New York Mets
We’re all guilty of trying to hold on for too long at some point in our lives. Maybe it was a relationship that should have ended but instead lingered—even though we knew the process and personnel would yield obvious and painful results.
Enter the Mets and Jose Valverde, who finally lost his job after a particularly bad series of meltdowns that led Terry Collins to go in a different direction. I picked up Valverde in a few leagues, so I know the pain some of you are feeling. If we’re being honest, however, we all knew this was coming.
Sam checks in on his predictions about which players you'd fall for this year.
Just after the World Series last year, I told you who your five favorite players were going to be this season, now that Koji Uehara’s on a major label . A prediction that isn’t revisited is just an opinion, so in the interest of accountability it’s important that we periodically make sure that one of these players has become your favorite player. So, nearly two weeks into the season, is one of these players your favorite player? Yes! One of them is. Here are your New Favorite Player power rankings:
We're just one week into the season, and a host of teams already have ninth-inning concerns.
Reliever volatility is not a new concept. We’re all used to the closer carousel that sustains itself on poor performance and injury as it turns throughout the season. What happened this week, however, bordered on a league-wide implosion of closers. Let’s take a look at who is left standing after the week that was.
Keeping an eye on the volatile closer situations around the league.
Relievers are a tough commodity to value in fantasy. Their volatility and main carrying stat, saves, make it difficult to project accurate value at the season’s outset. You never quite know where a big-time reliever season will come from in a given year. Koji Uehara was given the job after Andrew Bailey was felled by injury. Kevin Gregg emerged after Carlos Marmol was undone by the Upton brothers. So what I will be doing throughout the season is keeping an eye on the reliever situations around the league and offer my thoughts on guys who are worth targeting/keeping an eye on as the season progresses.
PADRES Huston Street – This was pointed out on Twitter but Street’s strand rate last year was 99.5 percent. It goes a long way in explaining how Street was able to maintain a decent ERA despite giving up 12 HR in 56 2/3 innings. Street is effective when healthy, but the “when healthy” part is kind of the main concern with him. He’s made four DL trips since 2011, and he already had a groin issue in camp this year.
You and Uehara had a good thing, and you'll never forget his 89-percent strike rate in three-ball counts. But while you’ll never stop loving him, your guys’ relationship has probably peaked. Now your mom is starting to ask you about him, and once that happens it’s time for a new squeeze, one your mom knows nothing about. Who will your favorite player be next year? A few suggestions:
A look at five pitchers who could be in line for save opportunities in future years.
Joe Borowski, Brandon League, Todd Jones, Kevin Gregg, Frank Francisco, Billy Koch. No, I’m not working on a baseball version of We Didn’t Start The Fire (that you know of). These are all relievers who have ascended to the closer role, whether they deserved it or not. They acquired the closer mystique that allowed them to beef up their earnings and hold on or land jobs long past when they should have. To be clear, I’m of the mind that it’s often helpful to have a Gregg or a Koch at the back of the bullpen—someone who is competent enough to finish most games and allows the use of a more efficient or dominant reliever, a fireman, to enter into the higher-leverage situations.
That opinion belongs to the baseball analyst in me, though, not the fantasy analyst. As a fantasy owner, I’d rather see the most talented bullpen option in the closer role because then I don’t have to roster nincompoops who destroy my ERA and WHIP, all while chasing the dragon save. Of course, being blocked by an incompetent colleague is not the only reason that pitchers get denied coffee. Injuries, a couple of poorly timed blow ups, or a lack of experience can also cost a reliever a shot to use SemiSonic as his entrance music as well. The point of this article, then, is to shine a spotlight on some guys who would be closers, but for a minor flaw, be it in their game or their situations. These are players who could be elite-level fantasy closers if they are presented with the opportunity. The key is identifying them before the opportunity arises.
With all of the big-name free-agent closers off the market, how are things shaking out at the end of each team's bullpen?
Now that the Blue Jays have signed Francisco Cordero, all of the legitimate closer candidates are now off the free-agent market. As such, now makes for a good time to check out how things look now that the closer carousel has stopped spinning.
The noise coming out of Miami only rivals the shuffling market for closers. What are the fantasy implications?
Jose Reyes | Miami Marlins | SS | Signed as Free Agent Few would have predicted Reyes signing with Miami even a month ago, but the newly relocated Marlins are making big waves in the free-agent market this winter. In Miami, Reyes's value will likely rise a bit, but his ultimate fantasy value will be heavily tied to how many games he manages to stay on the field for. He'll bat leadoff for the Fish as he did for the Mets, but he'll have some much bigger bats behind him to drive him in; once you get past Emilio Bonifacio, who will bat second, he'll have Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton.
Reyes has averaged just nine home runs per season in Citi Field, so you might expect his power production to improve now that he's leaving (after all, he had a couple of 15-plus homer seasons in Shea Stadium). That is, until you realize that the new Marlins Ballpark has deeper fences than Citi almost the entire way around. The good news is that Reyes will recoup some of this value in terms of his steals. Ozzie Guillen is one of the most aggressive managers in terms of attempting steals, so Reyes could find himself back up over 45 or 50 swipes in 2012.