An update on the bullpens of the White Sox, Rays, Nats, Indians, Red Sox and Cubs.
UPDATE: And now Brian Wilson may be done for the year ...
1.) San Francisco Giants - Brian Wilson was the 5th closing going off the board in drafts this year, but on Saturday it was revealed that he has structural damage in his elbow and may be headed for a meeting with Dr. Andrews.
Fantasy Impact: Sergio Romo and his fantastic strikeout-to-walk ratio will be the popular pickup, but the smart pickup is Santiago Casilla, who tallied six saves in Wilson's absence last year, more than anyone else in the San Fran bullpen. Bruce Boche has hinted at a committee, but expect Casilla to get first crack at 9th inning duties. He doesn't have the strikeout or ERA / WHIP upside of Romo, but since coming across the bridge from Oakland in 2010 he's been a highly effective late-inning reliever for the Giants, with a sub-2.00 ERA in each of the last two seasons. Other options Bocce could turn to in the 9th are Jeremy Affeldt and Javy Lopez, but as they're both lefties I'd put them 3rd and 4th behind Casilla and Romo.
And now back to Anatoliy!
2.) Chicago White Sox – Matt Thornton appeared to be the leading candidate to close out games for the White Sox, but there has been a change in the Chicago hierarchy.
Fantasy Impact: Coming into the season, Addison Reed was considered to be the reliever that had the most potential to steal some saves from Matt Thornton. However, the emergence of Hector Santiago has pushed back Reed's opportunity for saves chances, at least for the moment. Santiago gave up a home run in his last save appearance, but the reliever has converted all three of his save opportunities so far. Fantasy managers should still own and start Matt Thornton and Addison Reed as the pair will pile up the holds in the leagues that count them. Addison Reed might still have a shot at stealing some saves if Santiago proves to be too much of a liability in the ninth inning. Fantasy managers should keep a close eye on the situation, but expect Thornton to hold down the eighth inning setup role for the rest of the season.
3.) Tampa Bay Rays – With Kyle Farnsworth out for at least four more weeks, Fernando Rodney is the guy to pick up if he is available in free agent pools.
Fantasy Impact: Fernando Rodney has not given up a hit or a walk so far this season and has converted all three of his save opportunities without flaw. On the other hand, Joel Peralta has been far from flawless in his appearances as he has given up 3 runs in 1.2 innings pitched. Rodney has a win to compliment his three saves and it is apparent that the reliever has firmly established himself as the go-to guy in the 9th for the Rays. Fantasy managers who took a flier on Peralta earlier in the season need to explore other options in their free agent pool. Jake McGee is another to consider in the Rays' bullpen, but Rodney is the only trustworthy pitcher that fantasy managers should be relying on at this point.
4.) Washington Nationals – With Drew Storen having undergone surgery to remove a bone fragment from his elbow, fantasy managers should plan on being without the Washington reliever until the All-Star Break, at the very least.
Fantasy Impact: Both Henry Rodriguez and Brad Lidge have one save a piece for the Washington Nationals in Drew Storen's absence. Lidge definitely has more experience than Rodriguez, but the former Phillies closer had a hiccup in his most recent outing as he gave up two runs and blew the save against Cincinnati. Meanwhile, Rodriguez has not given up an earned run this season and might have a slight edge for save opportunities over Lidge for the time being. Tyler Clippard and Sean Burnett both have two holds, but the two relievers will probably remain as the bridge to either Lidge or Rodriguez. Many were surprised when it was revealed that Davey Johnson would use a combination of Lidge and Rodriguez to close out games and would keep Clippard reserved for the seventh or eighth innings. Lidge is owned in about six times as many leagues as Rodriguez (22.7% vs 3.8%, in ESPN leagues); pick up Lidge if you can, but don’t hesitate to pick up Rodriguez.
Cleveland Indians – Chris Perez converted his first save opportunity earlier this week, but he got the job done in dramatic fashion as he had to work out of a bases-loaded jam.
Fantasy Impact: Fantasy managers should have Vinnie Pestano on their watch-list as Perez has had a shaky start to the 2012 MLB season. Tony Sipp recently gave up 4 runs in a third of an inning of work and Nick Hagadone has not pitched yet this season. Fantasy managers should own Pestano as he will get holds and can steal some save opportunities, but Cleveland's offense also plays a role in the amount of appearances that the Indians' relievers will have. Those that own Chris Perez should still insert him into their lineups, but Vinnie Pestano would be a good insurance policy to have in case Perez cannot string together consistent performances.
Boston Red Sox – Alfredo Aceves had trouble saving his first game as Boston's closer, but went on to convert his next opportunity with a perfect inning.
Fantasy Impact: Mark Melancon made it clear that he would have liked to have the closer's role, but Bobby Valentine's decision seems to be the right one for now. Melancon has given up 4 runs in 1 inning of work and has collected two losses in his only two appearances out of the Boston bullpen. Meanwhile, Alfredo Aceves got back to form with a save against the Blue Jays as the closer did not give up a hit or a walk in his ninth inning appearance. Fantasy managers should feel confident deploying Aceves as he qualifies for the Starting Pitcher and Relief Pitcher slots. Mark Melancon should straighten out for the Red Sox in the long run and Vicente Padilla should provide Boston with a solid long-relief option as he recently pitched 4 scoreless innings on Sunday against the Detroit Tigers.
Chicago Cubs – Carlos Marmol got off to a rough start at the beginning of this season, but he has recently found his stride.
Fantasy Impact: Marmol got off to a shaky start as he compiled a loss and a blown save in his first 2 appearances of the 2012 MLB season. However, in his last 1.1 innings pitched, the Cubs' closer hasn't given up a run and recorded his first save of the season. Kerry Wood also struggled in the beginning of the season, but the reliever made sure to right the ship in his next inning of work as he struck out the side when pitted against the Brewers. Aside from Marmol and Wood, James Russell has also done a formidable job out of the Cubs' bullpen. Fantasy managers should monitor the late-inning situation in Chicago, but Marmol and Wood owners should expect things to pan out for the pair of relievers.