5/1/12

Call to the Bullpen: One Month In

Call to the Bullpen is a regular feature that goes through every bullpen in baseball, and tells you, the fantasy players, which relievers are worth speculative or immediate adds to your team.  Saves are invaluable in fantasy baseball, and this column will be on top of every closer situation.

AL East:
Yankees: Mariano Rivera keeps chugging along. Nothing to see here, though those in dynasty formats may want to look into David Robertson. If Rivera retires at the end of the year then Robertson is an enticing and electric option.

Red Sox: Alfredo Aceves, two infinite ERA appearances withstanding, has done well. He may be a liability in the WHIP department but he makes up for it in Ks. Andrew Bailey is still months away and Mark Melancon has flopped. Daniel Bard looms as a possibility but he has pitched well in the rotation. 

Rays: Fernando Rodney started out white hot and has since reverted back to being Fernando Rodney. He's wild and sometimes loses control but you had to know what you were getting yourself into here. Kyle Farnsworth is making progress and worth stashing on the DL, just monitor how he fares. If he limps back to the pen then there's no way Maddon gives him the job back right away.

Blue Jays: Sergio Santos is supposed to be the guy but he is out for the month with shoulder inflammation. That sort of thing may linger so Francisco Cordero has a pretty long leash. Plus he has a pretty cool glove.

Orioles: Jim Johnson was hospitalized over the weekend but looks good to go. Pedro Strop is worth holding on to for a few days to see how Johnson bounces back but his usefulness is coming to an end. Avoid Kevin Gregg like the plague.

AL Central
White Sox: Hector Santiago was a surprise choice and he has struggled mightily lately and the screwball has abandoned him. Addison Reed is the closer of the future here but Matt Thornton, as always, looms large. Reed is pitching the best of anyone, Thorton has the experience (though he is better suited as a set up man), and Santiago has the job. Avoid this situation if you can but monitor Reed.

Twins: Does anyone really feel that great about having Matt Capps on their team? I wouldn't.

Indians: Vinnie Pestano was a trendy pick but it looks like old, reliable Chris Perez is the man in the big chair. Keep an eye on the situation but Perez owners can feel relatively comfortable for now. 

Tigers: There's no way the Tigers would move Jose Valverde from the closer's role.

Royals: Out goes Joakim Soria, in comes the dynamic duo of Jonathan Broxton and Greg Holland. Holland is currently on the DL and Broxton is shaky at best but right now Big Jon is the guy. Aaron Crow would be the best option here but it isn't happening. 

AL West
Rangers: Joe Nathan has been gaining strength as the season progresses and Neftali Feliz has pitched very well as a starter. Mike Adams is next in line should Nathan get injured but also keep an eye on Alexi Ogando. He has the best stuff of anyone in the bullpen and could put up a ton of strikeouts. 

Mariners: Brandon League still resides here and no one really can challenge him.

Athletics: Grant Balfour blew a save in spectacular fashion but he's going to be the guy until he's traded. No one wants Brian Fuentes in their lives.

Angels: Scott Downs has usurped Jordan Walden and the Angels bullpen as a whole is a dumpster fire. They are a possible destination for Balfour but right now the guy you want is Downs. 

NL East
Mets: Frank Francisco started out the year on fire then he remembered he was Frank Francisco. Since then his ERA has ballooned to 7.71 and his WHIP is nearly 2. He also has a hammy acting up and was out on Sunday. Ramon Ramirez shut the door in place of him and once again Jon Rauch has found himself in a position where he could pick up some saves. Throw a dart at this point but know that Francisco will probably still head the group if he's healthy.

Braves: They have the best closer in baseball and arguably the best setup man. If you were lucky enough to get Craig Kimbrel, I salute you.

Nationals: Drew Storen is out, Brad Lidge is also now out, and Henry Rodriguez is the last man standing. You can't bank on health from Lidge and Storen is a a question mark. 

Marlins: Heath Bell has looked awful but his contract means that he is going to be the guy. All that his owners can hope for is that he turns it around.

Phillies: Jonathan Papelbon is the only worthwhile arm here. Thankfully for the Phils, he's a pretty good one.

NL Central
Cubs: When you watch Marmol sometimes you walk away wondering how anyone can hit him. Then you see him in other situations and you wonder if he can ever throw a strike. No one is really challenging him for this role though.

Cardinals: Jason Motte turned on the jets and is looking to take that next step into the upper echelon of closers.

Astros: Brett Myers won't get many saves but he's a stable, safe option. You could do much worse.

Pirates: Joel Hanrahan started out the year shaky but has rebounded nicely.

Reds: Ryan Madson was signed to be the guy but was lost for the year. In stepped Sean Marshall who has been good but has had a fair share of blowups. Aroldis Chapman has prospectors drooling but the Reds would be smart to find a position for him in the rotation before making him the closer. 

Brewers: John Axford is one of the top five guys out there. He's put a few scares in his owners but he's still chugging along. K-Rod could challenge him at some point but for now he's clearly the setup man.

NL West
Dodgers: Javy Guerra took a line drive off the jaw and Kenley Jansen got the team's last save. Both of these guys are worth a look but Guerra has Mattingly's support. 

Giants: I hope you didn't draft Brian Wilson. With him being lost for the year many rushed to grab Sergio Romo. Well, Bruce Bochy had other plans and has instead gone with Santiago Casilla and Casilla has pitched very well. Romo is still an elite option but he is handle with kid gloves due to how brittle he is. Casilla has gained a long leash though wise owners should put Romo on their watch lists.

Diamondbacks: J.J. Putz has scuffled a bit but it's not clear who could surpass him. Many thought it would be David Hernandez but he is better as the "relief ace" who can be called upon in tight situations. Bryan Shaw is an interesting sleeper but Putz is still the veteran and that goes a long way for Kirk Gibson.

Rockies: Rafael Betancourt may take ten years between pitches but he's been very good. 

Padres: Huston Street in Petco has been a perfect marriage. Luke Gregerson and Andrew Cashner are excellent arms in their own right but Street will keep this job until he is injured or traded. 

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