Forget the Alamo—remember the chinstrap ninjas!
You know, those guys who run the ultra-cool fantasy sports website who suggested you not blow an early draft pick on a closer? Who suggested, in true-to-form stealthy and deadly fashion, to grab your closers late—or even sniper them off the waiver wire?
So here we are, not even a half-month into the 2011 season, and who leads the MLB in saves? Huston Street? For real?
Street has six at the moment and even he’s not a shoo-in moving forward. The Rockies have turned to Matt Lindstrom in the ninth inning a couple of times lately. Thursday night, he bailed out Street with a save in the final two-thirds of an inning after Street gave up two earned runs in the first third.
Sitting just two saves behind Street is Joel Hanrahan—that Pirates guy we were telling you about. He has eight strikeouts in 6.1 innings pitched and should continue to earn saves in bunches for a Pirates squad that may not win much, but will win close when they do get the victory.
Jordan Walden, not even drafted in many leagues, won the Angels closer job quickly this season and has yet to allow a run through 6.1 innings pitched, fanning eight during that stretch.
What does it all mean? That saves can be cheap if you invest wisely.
In most competitive leagues with 12 or more teams, you may be struggling to find saves. Here are a few guys worth stashing away or watching closely:
Sean Burnett, WAS.
I like to think of my closers like a Brawny paper towel: You use them until they’re too saturated to help you, toss them out and grab another.
Burnett is just that—a guy you can use while hot and dispose of later. Everyone knows that Drew Storen is the closer of the future for the Nationals and by season’s end, he’ll be saving the majority of games for Washington.
For the time being, Burnett is worth an add if available. He is owned in 54 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Kyle Farnsworth, TB.
The Rays have generated two saves opportunities thus far and Farnsworth has been given the gig in both of them. Owned in just 30 percent of Yahoo leagues, Farnsworth has four strikeouts in 4.1 innings pitched and a 0.69 WHIP.
The Tampa Bay closer situation may be more of a committee than anything else over the course of the season, but for the time being, Farnsworth has done enough to keep the job mostly to himself and deserves a pickup in most league formats.
Matt Lindstrom, COL.
Mentioned above, Lindstrom has done very well bailing out Street as the Rockies have generated tons of save opportunities so far.
Anyone who knows Street also knows that he can have his share of meltdowns or injuries or both, and Lindstrom could be a major saves asset in any of those situations.
Owned in just five percent of Yahoo leagues, he is a good guy to stash away if you have the roster room.
Sergio Santos, CWS.
Available in 92 percent of Yahoo leagues, Santos is the first of several speculation adds on this list. This is how you play the closer game if you didn’t invest in saves much during your draft.
The White Sox closing gig is a muddled mess.
Matt Thornton has blown enough saves to lose his grasp on the job. At the moment, he’s in a “committee” of potential closers with guys like Jesse Crain and Chris Sale. All of them have struggled, and while many have thought that Sale would be the ultimate winner of the bunch, Santos has made some major waves as of late.
Santos has pitched seven innings, striking out nine and not allowing a single run. Ozzie Guillen has suggested that he’d love for Santos to win the gig, probably meaning that Sale could work his way into the rotation.
Santos is a guy worth pouncing on if he can work his way through the relief pitching minefield in Chicago.
Kameron Loe, MIL.
While John Axford has struggled to avoid allowing runs and blowing saves, Loe has been very impressive overall. He has the makeup of a true closer and the Brewers are a team that need consistency in the saves role.
As Axford continues to struggle, so improve the chances that Loe could find himself in a position to snatch some saves and maybe take over the role all together.
Eduardo Sanchez, STL.
After asking ninja ep earlier Wednesday night if he knew of some good sleeper closer options for me as I scrounged for saves in a really deep league, he came through early in the morning with news of Sanchez and his five-strikeout MLB debut through two innings.
On the surface, that doesn’t mean he’ll be a closer, however, the Cardinals are struggling in the saves department. Ryan Franklin has blown three saves in four chances. Jason Motte is still trying to develop his sinker. Miguel Batista has saved games in the past, but up in age and not someone you’d want to rely on consistently in the ninth.
All of this could lead to an opportunity for Sanchez, and you should be watching and ready to pounce if such an opportunity arises.
Wondering about holds? Check out our early season holds update.
I made some bold predictions for the 2011 fantasy baseball season—you might be surprised at some.