Fantasy Baseball: Bullpen Woes
It's already started, and no one is pleased about it. I'm not talking about the fact that Kim Kardashian is wearing tight skirts and sexy outfits despite being pregnant and really showing (am I the only one that thinks that is a hideous look?). I'm talking about 9th inning woes. Last year two-thirds of closers changed from Opening Day on, and the turnover is usually in the 40-50 percent range on a yearly basis. It's why I always preach going for the skills/talent over the role. Eventually the skills win out, and more often than not you can roster skills for a lot less on draft day than roles. With that, here are some situations to monitor.
John Axford is third in baseball the last two years with 81 saves. Still, he blew nine chances last year an in two outings this season he's allowed four runs while recording five outs. Panic stricken owners are running for cover all over the place. You would have to think that his past success will give Axford some rope, but his fastball was down about four mph in his last outing, so perhaps his arm isn't right. It would appear that Jim Henderson would be next in line a season after he produced a 13.21 K/9 mark and allowed one homer in 30.2 innings thanks to his 95 mph heater. Axford owners would be wise to add Henderson, and Jim is worthy of throwing a few FAAB bucks at this week.
We still don't know how long Jason Motte will be sidelined, it's All Quiet on the Western Front with his progress, but it's looking like it could be a significant situation. As such, Mitchell Boggs became the hottest pickup in many fantasy leagues in Week 1. Hopefully you didn't go all in. Boggs blew his first save chance this season, and as I've been telling those that asked, he's not an elite arm – he's much more Jim Johnson than Jonathan Papelbon. Boggs has a strong 52 percent ground ball rate in his career, but he's also a below average strikeout arm (6.68 per nine) and his K/BB ratio, even the last two years, isn't great (2.52). On the other hand, Trevor Rosenthal is an elite arm who regularly blows 97 mph cheese past batters. In his young career he has a 12.00 K/9 mark, a 4.00 K/BB ratio and an even better ground ball rate than Boggs at 55 percent. I'd be targeting Rosenthal as a cheap pickup right now, one with huge upside and potentially a fantasy goldmine.
Carlos Marmol has had a rough start. What a shock. In his outing he allowed a run, walked a batter, and got one out. Marmol has still blown only one of his last 20 save chances, and the Cubs won't get much on the trade front if they demote him to middle relief and then try to deal him. Kyuji Fujikawa came in to save Marmol's bacon and pick up the save, but he recorded all of one out. I know he's had a ton of success as a professional, and that folks really like his makeup, but it's far to early to bail on Marmol and go all in on Fujikawa. Now if Kyuji is on waivers right now... he's a must add. What, you don't think I'm devoid of a brain, do you?
The Tigers signed Jose Valverde to a minor league contract even though they continually said they had no interest in bringing back into the fold the majors saves leader the past three seasons. So much for that when Phil Coke is out there blowing leads in the 9th inning (I warned you not to get overly excited about Coke getting a long look in the 9th inning this season). Valverde is likely weeks away from being called to the big leagues, he'll eventually report to Triple-A once the team is comfortable that his arm is right,m as he tries to prove that he is worthy of a roster spot. Valverde's a 35 year old arm who struck out fewer than 6.50 batters per nine innings last season which is more than three an a half batters below his career 9.91 per nine mark (a total he last reached in 2008). I'd still say that Joaquin Benoit, Al Alburquerque and Octavio Dotel have better arms, I might even add in there Brayan Villarreal to be honest, but sometimes experience wins out over talent.
Oh, and finally there is this... Francisco Cordero can be ruled out for the entirety of the 2013 season as he was forced to undergo surgery on his non-throwing shoulder (he wasn't able to convince anyone to sign him this offseason). The owner of seven 30 save seasons, tied for the 5th most in the history of the game, Cordero also owns 329 career saves, the 12th most in the history of the game.
By Ray Flowers
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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