Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Fantasy Relief: Position of attrition

Michael Hurcomb
Fantasy Writer
  •  

I miss the days when relievers weren't just specialists. The days when you would see closers like Lee Smith, Dennis Ecksersley and Rollie Fingers toe the rubber for more than an inning and hardly struggle to record three outs.

I chose now to reminisce after what seemed like a very crazy month for relievers. And it was.

There were 88 blown saves in the first month of the season and only a 66 percent conversion rate for saves. I had to go back to 2008 to find a lower percentage, when relievers finished the year converting 64 percent of save chances.

But maybe it's a trend we just have to deal with. Get this -- the last time the majors had a save conversion rate of at least 70 percent was 1992. Can you guess who led the majors in saves that year? Eckersley had an MLB-best 51 saves and 94 percent conversion rate, while Smith was second in the majors and led the National League with 43 saves.

Also adding to the mayhem in April was a rash of injuries to closers. Ryan Madson, Joakim Soria and Brian Wilson are all lost for the season. Joining them on the disabled list were the likes of Sergio Santos, Kyle Farnsworth, Andrew Bailey and Drew Storen.

A new month brings a clean slate. They will always be blown saves, but here's hoping that May will provide a little less suspense and a little more stability in bullpens around the majors.

Top non-closer RPs Week 4 (H2H)
Player Points
1. Daniel Bard, RP, Red Sox 33
2. Lance Lynn, RP, Cardinals 28.5
3. Pedro Strop, RP, Orioles 26
4. Rafael Dolis, RP, Cubs 26
5. Ramon Ramirez, RP, Mets 25.5
6. Jeff Samardzija, RP, Cubs 21.5
7. Chris Sale, RP, White Sox 21.5
8. Cory Luebke, RP, Padres 20.5
9. Logan Ondrusek, RP, Reds 20
10. Darren O'Day, RP, Orioles 19.5

Closing Time

Each week we'll break down closer situations worthy of further examination ...

L.A. Dodgers: It was a tough Fantasy Week 4 (April 23-29) for Javy Guerra. He suffered a loss, a blown save and liner off his jaw. Luckily, the latter incident didn't land him on the disabled list. Guerra allowed five runs on nine hits and one walk in three outings (two innings) last week. Still, manager Don Mattingly is tired of fielding questions about the closer's role. He stands behind Guerra despite Kenley Jansen recording saves on Friday and Saturday. There's no denying Jansen's career 15.2 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate would play well in the closer's role. Owners still have to roll with Guerra as the option for saves, but stashing Jansen wouldn't be a terrible plan either.

L.A. Angels: While Mattingly is remaining patient with his closer, the same can't be said for his crosstown counterpart Mike Scioscia, who replaced Jordan Walden with Scott Downs in the closer's role. As of now, however, Scioscia has said Walden will get the chance to reclaim the closer's role. The team just wants him to pitch in low-profile situations to work on getting better command of his slider and more confidence in throwing his changeup. Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher believes Walden's problems can be a quick fix. If you can afford the roster spot in deep Fantasy formats, then it might be worth holding onto Walden. Although, I'm not sure how much I'm buying the Angels backing Walden when they have been linked to trade rumors involving Oakland's Grant Balfour, Pittsburgh's Joel Hanrahan and Seattle's Brandon League.

Check out our Fantasy Baseball podcast!
Stay a step ahead of your competition in 2014 by checking out our popular Fantasy Baseball Today podcasts. Adam Aizer, Scott White and Al Melchior will entertain you and help you dominate all season.
Latest episode | Subscribe!

Oakland: Speaking of Balfour, he's hit some rough waters with two blown saves in his last three outings. It's not surprising that his numbers are starting to rise since he owns a .125 BABIP in his first 13 appearances. His career BABIP is .272. If Balfour is eventually traded or something else happens that removes him from the closer's role in Oakland, the obvious choice to replace him would be Brian Fuentes, who has a wealth of experience as a closer and has the team's only other save chance this year. But I wouldn't sleep on Ryan Cook, who leads Oakland with six holds and is pitching in high-pressure situations. Hitters are making contact on 72.5 percent of Cook's offerings, which is well below the norm, and Cook is getting hitters to swing and miss at a 13.1 percent rate, which is also comfortably above the norm.

Miami: Heath Bell led the majors with three blown saves in April. Not exactly the stat the Marlins wanted to see after dishing out the dough to bring the three-time All-Star to Miami. Bell has said mechanically nothing is amiss. He did say he has created bad habits this year and needs to do a better job of attacking the strike zone. That's obviously evident by issuing 10.8 walks per nine innings. Some other alarming stats are that batters are making contact on 88.1 percent of Bell's pitches and batters are missing on just 4.2 percent of Bell's offerings. The Marlins aren't indicating a change at closer is coming, but with Juan Oviedo still away from the team, you have to figure Edward Mujica would step into the closer's role if something happens with Bell.

Washington: Already down Storen, the Nationals had to put co-closer Brad Lidge on the disabled list because of hernia surgery. That means Henry Rodriguez is expected to be the team's sole closer for at least the next few weeks. And unlike Bell, Rodriguez is doing a good job of getting batters to swing and miss. Batters are missing on 14.1 percent of Rodriguez's offerings and that has resulted in Rodriguez striking out 12.0 batters per nine innings.

Top non-closers Week 4 (Rotisserie)
Player Rank
1. Daniel Bard, RP, Red Sox 16
2. Lance Lynn, RP, Cardinals 26
3. Logan Ondrusek, RP, Reds 28
4. Darren O'Day, RP, Orioles 30
5. Jose Arredondo, RP, Reds 34
6. Matt Reynolds, RP, Rockies 35
7. Rafael Dolis, RP, Cubs 36
8. Pedro Strop, RP, Orioles 40
9. Kenley Jansen, RP, Dodgers 44
10. Ramon Ramirez, RP, Mets 47

Baltimore: Jim Johnson has returned to action for the Orioles after missing a week due to an illness. Manager Buck Showalter has already put Johnson back in the closer's role despite Pedro Strop stepping up in his absence. Strop recorded two saves and one win in three outings last week. While Johnson had a great April, recording zero saves and posting an unblemished ERA in 8 2/3 innings, you might want to hold onto Strop in larger Fantasy formats. Johnson had a .231 BABIP and walked 4.2 batters per nine innings last month. He also only got batters to swing and miss on 5.4 percent of his offerings. Johnson does pitch to contact, but the last three seasons his strikes on swing percent was 9.0 or better, which is above the norm. Time will tell if Johnson is the real deal or his April numbers were an aberration.

Call to the 'pen

Each week we'll break down pertinent Fantasy news with setup men and other relievers ...

After his second blown save of the season on April 24, Rockies manager Jim Tracy decided to remove Rex Brothers temporarily from his role as primary setup man to closer Rafael Betancourt. Brothers, whose ERA rose to 4.76 at the time, said his issues were mental and not mechanical. The move has seemed to work for Brothers, who has allowed no runs on two hits in his last four outings (3 1/3 innings). He also has eight strikeouts in that span and recorded a hold in his last outing Monday against the Dodgers. Brothers is re-emerging as a reliable non-closer option in Fantasy. ... Brewers setup man Francisco Rodriguez hasn't exactly been lights out the last few weeks. Aside from four holds in his last nine outings (7 2/3 innings), K-Rod is 0-2 with one blown save, an 8.22 ERA, five walks and .281 opponents in that span. His biggest problem during that stretch is getting hitters to miss. Batters have swung and missed on just 6 percent of K-Rod's offerings during that span. ... Marlins reliever Mike Dunn, who was a key piece in the Dan Uggla trade with the Braves in 2010, was optioned to the minors after his latest meltdown Sunday against the Diamondbacks. Dunn hasn't done a good job of fooling hitters in 2012. Opponents are batting .320 and made contact 82.6 percent of the time against the left-handed reliever. ... Joining Dunn in the minors is former Pirates setup man Evan Meek, who was demoted to work on improving his fastball location. Meek's career has been in disarray since suffering a shoulder injury last year. ... The Cubs remains hopeful that oft-injured pitcher Kerry Wood (shoulder) will come off the disabled list Thursday. Wood should return to a setup role once active. ... The Rays are showing interest in free agent reliever Mike Gonzalez, who is working his way back from offseason knee surgery. Gonzalez has experience as a closer, but once he signs with a team, he will likely start out as just a left-handed reliever. ... Franklin Morales has emerged as a left-handed setup man for Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves. He is tied with five other relievers with a league-leading six holds. Morales has managed three holds since April 25. ... Sean Burnett has also locked down the lefty setup role for the Nationals. He has four holds through nine appearances and hasn't allowed a run in 6 2/3 innings this season. ... Octavio Dotel is pitching like he's 28 and not 38 years old. He hasn't allowed a run in his first 8 2/3 innings, striking out 10, recording three holds and holding opponents to a .138 average. ... Wade Davis finally seems settled as the Rays' long reliever. He's allowed just one run in his last 10 innings (0.90), while striking out 11 and holding opponents to a .225 average in that span.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Michael Hurcomb at @CBSHurc . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Red Sox SP Steven Wright struggles in spring finale
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:12 pm ET) Red Sox starting pitcher Steven Wright allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings while striking out four in his team's 9-7 loss to the Blue Jays.

Wright came into Wednesday's start with just two earned runs allowed in 13 2/3 innings though he had also surrendered six unearned runs. He ends the spring with a 2.60 ERA and 13:11 K:BB ratio in 17 1/3 innings. Wright seems on tap to serve as rotation depth this season.


Astros' Dallas Keuchel strikes out five in final spring outing
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:11 pm ET) Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel struck out five in his final outing of the spring on Wednesday against the Tigers. The left-hander permitted one run on seven hits and one walk over 5 2/3 innings of work in a 3-2 victory.

"There were a few things I was pretty pleased with," Keuchel said, per the Houston Chronicle. "I wasn't really too happy with the command first of all. Fastball command was kind of spotty, but I really found the slider as an out pitch.

"That's the one thing that I had been lacking all of spring training. That was nice to see the last start."

Keuchel finished the spring with a 1.80 ERA over 15 innings. He's slated to start on Opening Day against Cleveland.


Orioles OF David Lough to join team for first home series
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:00 pm ET) Orioles outfielder David Lough is scheduled to play in a Triple-A game on Friday, according to MLB.com. Lough, who is working his way back from a hamstring injury, is expected to start the season on the 15-day disabled list. He will be with the club for their home series against the Blue Jays starting on April 10.

Twins SP Phil Hughes strikes out five in final spring start
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:00 pm ET) Twins starting pitcher Phil Hughes went four innings in his final spring start Wednesday against the Red Sox. He allowed one run on four hits and two walks, while striking out five.

Hughes finishes the spring with a 2-0 record and 5.28 ERA in five starts. Hughes is scheduled to make his first regular season start in Monday's season opener against the Tigers. Hughes went 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in two starts against the Tigers last season.


White Sox pitcher Chris Sale strikes out 13 in rehab start
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4:56 pm ET) White Sox pitcher Chris Sale threw six innings Wednesday, allowing one run on two hits with 13 strikeouts on 90 pitches against Class-A hitters.

Sale is recovering from a foot injury suffered in late February and has thrown simulated games as a part of his rehab.


Twins' Oswaldo Arcia penciled in to play Thursday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4:53 pm ET) Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia is penciled in to play Thursday against the Red Sox, according to the Star Tribune. Arcia was unable to play Wednesday because of a stomach illness. Manager Paul Molitor told reporters that it wasn't related to an earlier problem.

Arcia is hitting .295 in 14 Grapefruit League games.


Marlins change rotation plans to begin season
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:47 pm ET) Prior to Wednesday's spring game against the Nationals, Marlins manager Mike Redmond indicated he was likely going to keep the rotation alignment of Henderson Alvarez, Jarred Cosart, Mat Latos, Tom Koehler and Dan Haren in place to open the season.

Well, even with Cosart throwing six scoreless innings Wednesday in his return from a blister on his throwing hand, Redmond still opted to tweak the rotation.

Alvarez will still start Opening Day against the Braves, but he will now be followed by Latos, Koehler, Haren and Cosart. The first three pitchers will face the Braves, while Haren and Cosart will pitch against the Rays.


Reds' Bailey, Iglesias throw in minor-league games Wednesday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:41 pm ET) Reds starting pitchers Homer Bailey and Raisel Iglesias both pitched in minor-league games Wednesday

Bailey, who will begin the year on the DL coming off September elbow surgery, threw 63 pitches against White Sox's Triple-A hitters. He allowed five runs on six hits and one walk, while recording eight strikeouts in five innings. He gave up a three-run homer in the first inning.

Iglesias, who might begin the year in the minors, allowed four runs on five hits and two walks in five innings against White Sox's Double-A hitters. He struck out five.


Braves pitcher Josh Outman to have shoulder examined
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4:35 pm ET) Braves pitcher Josh Outman has been dealing with issues in his left shoulder and will have it examined Wednesday, reports MLB.com.

Outman, who has posted a 8.10 ERA in seven spring training appearances with five strikeouts, said his shoulder began giving him issues after lsat Thursday's outing.


Mets' Collins not yet ready to name Juan Lagares leadoff hitter
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:34 pm ET) Mets manager Terry Collins said Wednesday he is not yet ready to name Juan Lagares the leadoff hitter, per ESPN. He will continue to evaluate the lineup through the weekend, but mentioned Lagares has shown he can handle the leadoff spot.

Lagares, who reportedly is in talks with the Mets on a four-year, $23 million contract extension, is batting .345 with a .400 on-base percentage, one triple, three home runs, six doubles, six RBI, 13 runs and one stolen base in 18 spring games.


 
 
 
Rankings