Fantasy MLB: No Saving Grace for Demoted Closers
The baseball season isn't yet two weeks old, but there has been a flurry of activity already in bullpens across the country.
In the past three days, four closers have been either demoted or placed on the disabled list, prompting four new pitchers to become must-adds for fantasy baseball players everywhere.
The coveted saves category can make-or-break a fantasy baseball season and if you were paying attention this week, you just might have begun your rise to the top of the fantasy baseball mountain.
Here's the situation as it stands now for four teams:
2009 MLB saves leader Brian Fuentes has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with back stiffness, giving the job at least temporarily to Fernando Rodney.
Rodney saved 37 games last season for Detroit, so you should feel comfortable adding him to your roster.
Fuentes will get the job back upon his return, but at 35 years of age, he may slow down again later in the season.
Rodney posted ugly secondary numbers in 2009 for the Tigers (4.40 ERA, 1.47 WHIP), but saves are saves and he'll get some playing for the mighty Angels.
Rodney for the moment is a must-add player.
With two blown saves in less than two weeks, Jason Frasor has been demoted by manager Cito Gaston in favor of former Marlin and Cub Kevin Gregg.
Gregg, pitching very well in the early going, notched 23 saves last year for the Cubs, but saw his ERA balloon to 4.75 in the process. He was eventually replaced in the Cubs' bullpen by Carlos Marmol.
Frasor returns to his usual setup role, at least for the time being, where he'll team with Scott Downs to get the Jays' lead in the hands of Gregg.
You should add Gregg if you're in need of a third closer, but do so with caution.
Did I mention his 4.75 ERA last year in the National League?
He'll have to pitch much better if he hopes to keep his closers job going against the brutal AL East.
Nothing has gone right for Mike Gonzalez so far in 2010, so he's been shut down with a left shoulder strain and placed on the 15-day disabled list.
His velocity was down and clearly his morale, too, after bombing in the early going.
In comes Jim Johnson, who saved 10 games last year for the O's, but he, too, has struggled so far this season.
His 6.00 ERA is none to encouraging, so we may even see a player like Cla Meredith steal some save chances eventually.
Add Johnson if you really need some cheap saves, but with the O's bats being cold and the landscape of the AL East clearly going against them, you're almost better off not even worrying about the Baltimore closer, whoever it may be.
Manager Ron Washington added to the closer controversy in Texas this week when he named flame-throwing right-hander Neftali Feliz as the temporary closer, relieving Frank Francisco of the job.
This is a situation that needs to be monitored, however, as Feliz has been lights-out so far in his new role (two saves in two chances) and has looked dominant overall (2.70 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, six K's in 3.1 innings) this season.
Francisco's 18.00 ERA and 3.33 WHIP suggest he needs the break to get his game back, but if he's not careful, Feliz just might run with the new gig.
If you have Francisco, hang onto him, as he could still return to the coveted closer's role, but also go after Feliz if he's still available.
Even if Feliz loses the closer's job, he has electric stuff and can still provide nice strikeout totals, while helping your team's ERA and WHIP.
Keep your eyes on the waiver wires, because if there's this many changes after only two weeks, just imagine what can happen over the next two months.
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