Eno Sarris

Saves and Steals

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Broxton Out? Sanchez In?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011




Tier 5: Rollercoaster rides (9) (AKA: The "Mental Health Day" Tier.)



Sergio Santos, Chicago White Sox
Jonathan Broxton / Vicente Padilla / Hong-Chih Kuo, Los Angeles Dodgers
Ryan Madson, Philadelphia Phillies
Brandon Lyon, Houston Astros
Brandon League, Seattle Mariners
Frank Francisco / Jon Rauch, Toronto Blue Jays
Brian Fuentes, Oakland Athletics
Darren Oliver, Texas Rangers
Eduardo Sanchez, St. Louis Cardinals

Comment:
  • These closers, as a group, collectively inspire fantasy owners to want a mental health day. for the most part, they are injury fill-ins, closers-by-committee, or just plane old flawed pitchers (Brandon Lyon). Jon Rauch, for example, has never had the strikeout rate of a real closer, and now after blowing the game Tuesday night, he might be out of that role for a mental health day of his own.

  • He's only been on the mound since 2009, but Sergio Santos may emerge from the scrum in the White Sox pen with the job this year. He has punch (95 MPH fastball), and is showing better control as he matures as a pitcher. It might be time to start dropping everyone in that pen other than Matt Thornton, who is still getting high-leverage chances and might still be his handcuff. But, yeah, it looks pretty good for Santos owners right now.

  • Jonathan Broxton is now the closer again, maybe. Or maybe he never lost the role. He's successfully converted two straight saves in the past week, and though his velocity is not back, it is better than it was earlier this season. Could he maybe succeed at 95 MPH even if it's not 97? That's a question we'll see answered in the next few weeks. Hold on to Vincente Padilla as a handcuff, but Broxton could hold on to this role by his scuffed-up fingernails. Although the blown game Tuesday night might have been the nail in coffin, in which case Hong-Chih Kuo is interesting also.

  • The new worst pen - at least from a fantasy standpoint - is being Mike Shanahaned currently by Tony LaRussa. In the last week, Ryan Franklin and Mitchell Boggs both lost a game, Fernando Salas, Trever Miller and Eduardo Sanchez have all gotten saves. Miller is a lefty and he got his save in extra innings, so he's probably further away from being a closer than the rest of the group. Fernando Salas has been pitching well, and he could easily take the job. Boggs has really only had one bad appearance all year, so anything could happen with his candidacy. Eduardo Sanchez is obviously an important figure, and we've been in love with his strikeout punch (17 strikeouts in ten innings so far) since day one. He got the last save, and he might just be the closer now. See? It's already time for a break from contemplating this pen and we haven't even gotten into the fact that Ryan Franklin is still getting opportunities in close games. You might as well own them all at this point, with a focus on Sanchez and Boggs.


  • * * * * * * * * * *



    Injured


    Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers (shoulder)
    Jose Contreras, Philadelphia Phillies (elbow)
    David Aardsma, Seattle Mariners (hip surgery)
    Andrew Bailey, Oakland Athletics (forearm tightness)
    Brad Lidge, Philadelphia Phillies (shoulder)

    Comment:
  • Neftali Feliz has already thrown a successful bullpen without any shoulder issues, and he'll make a rehab appearance Wednesday. Darren Oliver's shelf-life is shorter than an over-ripe avocado at this point. David Aardsma (hip) is also close, as he's had multiple rehab appearances so far, but his velocity has been a little down and he has been struggling some. Hold on to Brandon League even once Aardsma returns.


  • Andrew Bailey will face live batters for the first time on Wednesday, and if that goes well, he may face them one more time and then go out on a rehab assignment. That's at least closer than he's been so far to regaining his closer role.


  • The Deposed:
    Fernando Rodney, Los Angeles
    Joe Nathan, Minnesota
    Ryan Franklin, St. Louis

  • Is Ryan Franklin actually the closer most likely to leave this list? He's been terrible, but he's getting opportunities to pitch at the end of close games. Then again, he's terrible. Joe Nathan could also resurrect, but he gave up two earned runs Saturday against the Royals and hasn't gotten things on track just yet either.


  • * * * * * * * * * *


    The Steals Department

  • Michael Brantley has been dropped in too many leagues. Sure, Grady Sizemore is back and his return has bumped Brantley down in the order. Sure, Brantley has no power at all. But you're here because you want steals, and Brantley can give you steals with a decent batting average. He is available in more than half of the leagues out there, and he still has 30+ steal upside despite only swiping four bags so far this year. He stole 46 in 528 PAs in 2009 in Triple-A, so there's your speed upside for you.


  • Jason Bourgeois has three steals in the last week. Sure he doesn't have any power, and his glove won't probably play long-term in center field, but right now he's got a clear path to playing time. Carlos Lee is dealing with that injury to his ribs and is out for an indeterminate amount of time - it's possible Bourgeois is only a short-term add. Then again, Lee is not getting any younger, his bat has clearly been declining, and the team has been playing him at first base some. There's opportunity here for the youngish outfielder (Bourgeois is 29) to carve out enough at-bats to steal some bags for your deep league team. He should be available, too.


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    Eno Sarris is an editor and writer at FanGraphs.com. You can find his work gathered in one place at and enosarris.com. Follow his misadventures in writing on Twitter as well.
    Email :Eno Sarris



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