StrategyApril 26, 2012

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Bottom of the 9th: Screw the Screwball - 2 comments

By R.J. White

Hector Santiago entered Wednesday’s action with three runs allowed in six innings this season. All had come via solo home runs. However, he also sported a 9/1 K/BB ratio and four saves in five chances. Then Wednesday happened. Santiago gave up another HR as well as four other hits en route to blowing a two-run lead in the 14th inning, giving up three earned runs while only recording one out. Time to panic?

It would be different if Santiago was being backed up in the bullpen by Kevin Gregg, Brandon Lyon or Mark Melancon. Instead, he has the terrible twosome of Matt Thornton (9.2 IP, 0.93 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 0 BB, 8 K) and Addison Reed (7.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 2 BB, 10 K) lurking in the shadows. It seems almost inevitable that Santiago and his screwed-up screwball will be an afterthought by the All-Star Break.

Reed seems like the guy to own, but note that both Santiago and Thornton are lefties. Swapping their roles would still give the White Sox a competent right-handed setup guy in Reed, while moving the youngster to the closing gig anytime soon would leave Jesse Crain and his bum oblique as the only reliable righty. If Crain looks healthy when the White Sox are ready to make the switch, Reed is probably the guy moving to the ninth. Otherwise, Thornton will get the first look. Either way, both deserve to be owned in all but the shallowest of leagues.


ARI J.J. Putz
ATL Craig Kimbrel
BAL Jim Johnson
CHC Carlos Marmol
CIN Sean Marshall
CLE Chris Perez
COL Rafael Betancourt
DET Jose Valverde
HOU Brett Myers
LAA Jordan Walden
MIA Heath Bell
MIL John Axford
NYY Mariano Rivera
OAK Grant Balfour
PHI Jonathan Papelbon
PIT Joel Hanrahan
SD Huston Street
SEA Brandon League
STL Jason Motte
TB Fernando Rodney
TEX Joe Nathan
WAS Henry Rodriguez / Brad Lidge

Safe … For Now

BOS Alfredo Aceves
KC Jonathan Broxton
MIN Matt Capps
SF Santiago Casilla
TOR Francisco Cordero

Not Very Safe at All

CHW Hector Santiago
LAD Javy Guerra
NYM Frank Francisco

Now Closing

BAL Pedro Strop has filled in for Jim Johnson, picking up two saves in two days while the Orioles try to determine what’s ailing Johnson. Strop, who also recorded a win on Sunday, is worth a short-term pickup until we have a timetable on Johnson; however, Strop probably won’t pitch a third consecutive game tonight.

TOR Francisco Cordero has converted his first two save opportunities with Sergio Santos shelved, and Cordero owners got some good news when we learned that Santos is going to miss at least four weeks due to shoulder inflammation. Cordero hasn’t been picture perfect this year, with a 4.50 ERA and 1.63 WHIP, so Santos should be able to regain the closing gig when he returns barring a Herculean effort from Cordero.


BOS Alfredo Aceves sure likes to make things interesting. He put three guys on in a save opportunity on Wednesday without recording an out, then worked his way out of trouble to record his fourth save. Mark Melancon has been dealing in the minors, so Aceves is running out of time to establish his closer-dominance.

LAA Jordan Walden has received just one save opportunity this season, despite playing for a team many pegged to head to the World Series this year. Looking at the saves leaderboard and seeing Jim Johnson, Chris Perez and Javy Guerra tied with Craig Kimbrel for the lead with seven, it reminds you how fickle category always is. Speaking of Guerra …

LAD Javy Guerra has now picked up losses in three of his last five appearances, notching two blown saves along the way. The one last night involved Guerra giving up five hits and three earned runs while only recording one out. Like Santiago, he’s a guy that can’t afford much mediocrity; Kenley Jansen gave up a single Wednesday, his first hit allowed in seven appearances.

NYM Frank Francisco finally delivered an uneventful save on Tuesday after giving up runs in three straight appearances (though none were save chances). Francisco is still a perfect 4-for-4 on save conversions but has an ugly 7.36 and 1.77 WHIP, while Jon Rauch has a 0.00 ERA and 0.43 WHIP in 9.1 innings. Frank Frank can’t afford any more stinkers.

SF Santiago Casilla pitched to just one batter in his most recent save opportunity despite starting the ninth inning. After that guy got on with a hit, two other pitchers were used to get through the ninth (though the run would eventually score to tie the game). If you own Casilla, pray for a few saves in a row and try and sell high, as this BP could be messy all year.

WAS Henry Rodriguez is leaving Brad Lidge in the dust statistically after allowing just one hit all season through Wednesday’s action. Rodriguez does have six walks in his 8.1 innings of work, so don’t think he’s been flawless. If Lidge blows one more save in his next few chances, you have to think Rodriguez runs away with the job to himself.

R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and has previously written for FanHouse and Razzball. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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2 Responses to “Bottom of the 9th: Screw the Screwball”

  1. joeyfinnz says:

    join fantasy baseball at (free entry)

  2. User avatar Element says:

    Good write-up, RJ. Though, I don’t feel safe with any closer right now with the way the first month has unfolded.


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