Fantasy Baseball: Andrew Cashner and Must-Add Closers from a Hectic Week in MLB
This week in baseball, the Yankees and Padres were crippled by injuries, both the north and south sides of Chicago demoted their closers, and the stopper who was paid $27 million to take his talents to South Beach was told to take his talents away from the ninth inning.
What a week it's been for MLB closers!
If you're a fantasy baseball player, you should already be furiously scouring the waiver wire for any and all speculative adds. In any deep league, closers are always at a premium.
If this week has taught us anything, this is why you should follow the Golden Rule of Fantasy Baseball: Don't pay for closers!
Of course, this should be taken with a grain of salt. It's nice to have a stud to nail down the ninth. But the injury bug is making its way around the league like head lice in a kindergarten.
We've already seen Joakim Soria, Ryan Madson and Brian Wilson lost for the year, not to mention that Andrew Bailey, Drew Storen and Kyle Farnsworth have yet to throw a pitch.
In news from last week, Angels' closer Jordan Walden was demoted in favor of Scott Downs, and the Blue Jays lost Sergio Santos to the DL, much to the delight of Francisco Cordero.
Yet again, injuries and ineffectiveness have struck bullpens with a vengeance in the past few days, so let's see which relievers are now picking up good vibrations in the ninth inning.
San Diego Padres
Surprise, surprise, Huston Street is injured.
Luke Gregerson was talked about as a possible closer for several years, but he was always stuck behind Trevor Hoffman and Heath Bell.
Now he's been surpassed by Andrew Cashner.
While Cashner does struggle with walks (12 in 13.2 IP), he brings the heat and has closer-quality stuff. Gregerson will be in the mix for saves along with Dale Thayer, but Cashner is the main guy and the must-add off the waiver wire. He's still only 18 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues.
Oh, and it just keeps getting worse for the Padres as they learned this week that Cory Luebke will most likely need Tommy John surgery. What a year to be a Dodgers fan!
New York Yankees
The unthinkable happened to the Yankees on Thursday when Mariano Rivera tore his ACL.
Despite hinting in the preseason that he would retire after 2012, he ain't going out like that. He has vowed to return in 2013 and retire on his own terms.
For this year, the Yankees have a capable committee to substitute for Rivera, although no one could ever fill his shoes.
David Robertson and Rafael Soriano will be used to close games and both have a solid track record.
While Robertson has put up wiffle ball numbers since the start of 2011 (100 K, 1.08 ERA in 66.2 IP last year, no runs with 21 K in 12 IP this year), Soriano has more experience closing games (90 career saves, including 45 for Tampa Bay in 2010).
Robertson is already owned in 79 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so if you're desperate for saves, you could gamble on Soriano who's only owned in 37 percent of leagues.
Surprise, surprise, Carlos Marmol has been inconsistent.
He lost his job as the closer after a particularly terrible ninth inning in Thursday's loss. Marmol wasted a gem from Ryan Dempster by blowing a three-run lead on a hit and three walks.
Rafael Dolis and James Russell now form the closer-by-committee in Chicago. Manager Dale Sveum will work on a matchup basis, so Russell may get fewer chances in the ninth because he's a lefty.
But the upside for Russell is that he qualifies at SP in many leagues, so you can plug him in there if you're fully stocked with relievers. Dolis is owned in 28 percent of Yahoo! leagues while Russell is only seven percent owned.
Chicago White Sox
Screwballer Hector Santiago has been mediocre as a closer so far (two blown saves in six chances and a 6.30 ERA), and he lost his job because a starter has a sore arm.
With Chris Sale experiencing elbow soreness after his starts, Robin Ventura has elected to move him back to the bullpen where he will immediately become the new closer.
Sale is already owned in many leagues (74 percent on Yahoo!) since he was putting up some pretty numbers as a starter (3-1, 2.81 ERA, 29 K, 8 BB), but if he's available for some reason in your league, grab him now.
Heath Bell has been terrible so far this year (0-3, 11.42 ERA, four blown saves in seven chances).
Embattled manager Ozzie Guillen has removed Bell from his job as closer and Steve Cishek will be attempting to nail down the ninth for the time being.
Cishek has been lights out so far this year (4-0, 0.63 ERA, 0.91 WHIP) and is deserving of the role for the time being.
But considering Bell's hefty $27 million contract, the demotion is probably just a temporary wake-up call to try and sort Bell out. Guillen told ESPN, "I have the faith that he will come up out of this and he will be back to what he is. I don't think he's that far away."
Don't move heaven and earth to add Cishek from the waiver wire, but if you have the room, grab him. He's currently 34 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues.