StrategyMay 16, 2012

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Bottom of the 9th: Ka-Putz? - 2 comments

By R.J. White

The insanity continues. We’ll get to our new closers over the past week in a minute, as well as other interesting ninth inning news, but if you stop and review the Safe and Safe … For Now lists, you’ll see that J.J. Putz has made his way from the former to the latter. Putz was one of the best closers in the league last year, but the 35-year-old is hardly the beacon of good health. He made things interesting for himself by giving up six runs over his last three appearances before a scoreless ninth inning Tuesday in a non-save situation. A 12/0 K/BB ratio looks like everything is fine, but you can’t ignore an 8.18 ERA. He only has four scoreless outings in his last eight appearances. Speculators should be spending quality time with David Hernandez, who has impressive all-around numbers himself.

ATL Craig Kimbrel
BAL Jim Johnson
BOS Alfredo Aceves
CIN Sean Marshall
CLE Chris Perez
COL Rafael Betancourt
HOU Brett Myers
KC Jonathan Broxton
LAD Kenley Jansen
MIL John Axford
PHI Jonathan Papelbon
PIT Joel Hanrahan
SEA Brandon League
SF Santiago Casilla
STL Jason Motte
TB Fernando Rodney
TEX Joe Nathan

Safe … For Now
ARI J.J. Putz
CHC Rafael Dolis
LAA Scott Downs
MIN Matt Capps
SD Dale Thayer
WAS Henry Rodriguez

As the Closer Turns

CWS Addison Reed
Robin Ventura has named Reed, Matt Thornton and Hector Santiago co-closers after shifting emerging starter Chris Sale back to the rotation after an MRI turned out clean. The excuse used for Sale’s move to the bullpen in the first place was concern over potential injury, so we can only wait till Ventura realizes Jake Freakin’ Peavy is his current ace and sticks him in the ninth inning. Till then, consider Reed the most co-closery guy of the bunch, with Thornton as the understudy and Santiago as the afterthought.

DET Jose Valverde
Valverde had to leave Tuesday’s game with lower back tightness. It isn’t expected to be serious. In accordance with the Year of the Poser Closer, expect him out anywhere from three months to two years. Until he pitches again (which admittedly could be any day), Joaquin Benoit should be owned in all leagues, and Octavio Dotel should be owned in speculate-on-all-potential-saves leagues. For that matter, don’t rule out Duane Below if the Tigers decide matchups are the way to go in the ninth.

MIA Heath Bell
The big-ticket free agent acquisition had been awful this season, and it finally got him removed from the ninth inning. After pitching two scoreless innings last week, Ozzie Guillen felt comfortable putting him back in the closer role. And Bell proceeded to blow yet another save, giving up two runs to the Mets and raising his 2012 ERA to 10.03. If he has to be removed from the ninth again, I expect Edward Mujica to serve as the closer over Steve Cishek, though it’s more a hunch than anything. Speculators should feel fine rostering either or both.

NYM Frank Francisco
A horrendous weekend that included two losses against the Marlins (including one where he recorded no outs) had Francisco on his way out the closer door. After stating he had eight options to close, Collins decided to roll with the 8.56-ERA Francisco to save a 3-0 lead on Monday. While he gave up two hits and a walk, his one earned run didn’t hurt in the situation. Jon Rauch is probably next in line if Francisco can’t figure out this scoreless-inning thing soon, but Bobby Parnell has pitched far better than either guy this season. If you’re speculating based on skills, Parnell is the one to own, even though Rauch is the logical usurper.

NYY Rafael Soriano
David Robertson was the supposed first option at closer when Mariano Rivera was lost for the season. While he did manage one immediate save, Robertson’s next appearance was a four-run meltdown; however, it was the first time he had allowed even one run in a game all season. All good, right? Wrong. Robertson’s now on the DL after straining his oblique, leaving Soriano as the clear top option in the Yankee bullpen. He has the Yankees’ last two saves, and if he can spend a few flawless weeks in the ninth for the Yankees, it’s hard to see Robertson regaining the job — better to have him available for high-leverage situations in the seventh and eighth innings. Soriano should be owned in all leagues.

OAK Brian Fuentes
Grant Balfour was unceremoniously dumped from the closer gig last weekend (though, really, does any switch in closer require a ceremony?), leaving Fuentes as the surprising closer du jour. Fuentes successfully converted his first opportunity, albeit while allowing a run. Balfour, on the other hand, has pitched 2.2 scoreless innings in his last three games, giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out three. I’d be shocked if he’s seen his last save of the season, so while Fuentes deserves a short-term ride, keep Balfour owned as well.

TOR Casey Janssen
Francisco Cordero gave the Blue Jays multiple examples of why he shouldn’t be trusted in the ninth inning anymore, and the team finally made a switch last week. Janssen was named the new closer and has tallied two perfect saves already. However, his closer clock is ticking, as Sergio Santos is expected back in the next few weeks. Until that happens, Janssen should be a reliable ninth inning guy, as his 14/1 K/BB ratio suggests he’s pitching very well.

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: Ka-Putz?”

  1. IndyPostman says:

    Curious where you would put Axford on this list. Finally did well in non-save last night, but overall numbers pretty bad up to now.

  2. User avatar daullaz says:

    Must have missed him. He’s easily safe.


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