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From 2004 to 2009, no pitcher that doesn’t wear Jackie Robinson’s 42 has been more rock steady in the closer role than Joe Nathan. After winning 12 games coming out of the Giants bullpen in 2003, Nathan took his talents to the Twin Cities, finding himself immediately in the closer role, where he would reel off six consecutive 35-plus save seasons. His WHIP only topped 1.00 once during the stretch — and really, who’s complaing about a 1.02? Because of that sheer dominance, we in the rotosphere expected him to bounce right back to his elite level after missing all of 2010 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

How wrong we were.

After blowing two consecutive save opportunities, Joe Blows now sits in the bullpen with an 8.44 ERA and 2.06 WHIP next to his name. That’s prodded the Twins to remove him from the closer’s role until he gets back on track. Luckily for the team, they have a guy with four years experience in the ninth inning waiting in the wings to take over. But no matter now well Matt Capps pitches, all Nathan needs to earn his job back is a week or two of his normal sparkling statistics. Fantasy owners left and right are dropping him from their teams; be sure you’re there to pick up the pieces.

What else is going on in The Bottom of the 9th? Let’s take a trip around the league and find out.

Baltimore Orioles – Both Kevin Gregg and Koji Uehara had made four appearances this season heading into Sunday action, with Gregg putting two men on in each inning of work and Uehara only allowing one base runner all season. Despite Uehara’s two-walk scoreless inning yesterday, he looks like the much better reliever, and I’d bank on him leading all Baltimore relievers in saves this season, health willing. Don’t drop Gregg quite yet, but be prepared for a change once Uehara’s back to 100 percent.

Chicago White Sox – The Chicago bullpen is a mess right now with new closer Matt Thornton forgetting how to close out games. He’s 0-2 with no saves this season and the not-so-proud owner of a 3.21 WHIP. Chris Sale has a much better K:BB ratio but nothing to show for it, as his ERA is up to 7.36 after allowing three runs to score without recording an out on Wednesday. I’ve grabbed Sergio Santos in my mono-league; he’s went 8.2 innings without allowing a run this season, striking out 11 while giving up four walks and five hits. He walks his fair share of people but racks up strikeouts. If anything, he can’t be worse than Thornton, right?

Colorado Rockies – Considering they’ve gotten to know Huston Street pretty well, you would think the Rockies would have reservations about using him nine times in a two-week span. Lucky for his owners, Street has brought in six saves during that timeframe before allowing two runs to the Mets a few days ago while recording only one out. Street owners should have Matt Lindstrom’s number in their back pocket for the inevitable trip to the DL (I’ve got May 9th in the pool).

Los Angeles AngelsFernando Rodney hasn’t allowed a run sine being yanked from the closer role at the beginning of the season, pitching 4.1 scoreless innings and even picking up a surprise save. However, Jordan Walden is doing absolutely nothing to make Mike Scioscia doubt himself for the move, as the youngster has pitched 8.1 scoreless innings while saving three games this season. If that’s not impressive enough, hitters have managed just three hits off Walden in 2011. I’ve picked up Rodney in a few leagues just in case, but Walden looks like he’s here to stay.

St. Louis Cardinals – The hits just keep coming for Ryan Franklin. Literally. He’s now allowed runs in five of his six apperances this year after giving up a walkoff homer to Matt Kemp on Sunday. If Tony LaRussa wants to get any positive performances from Franklin at all this year, he has to stop the bleeding immediately. Jason Motte would get the job if it were up to seniority, but Mitchell Boggs is just killing it right now, racking up a dozen Ks in nine innings while allowing just three hits this year. Throw out the two runs allowed in a three-inning performance to start the season and Boggs has been virtually perfect. He’s worth a pickup for those mining for saves.

Tampa Bay Rays – Sorry, Jake McGee owners, because while your boy has been decidedly ordinary in middle relief this year, Kyle Farnsworth has slammed the door shut three times, allowing one run in 5.1 innings of work. Amazingly, Farnsworth hasn’t walked a guy yet in his seven appearances. Could he be morphing into a quality closer right before our eyes? I’ve ditched McGee where I had him, because he’s a long ways away from earning saves.

Toronto Blue JaysFrank Francisco has spent the last two-plus weeks on the DL, but he’s expected to rejoin the Blue Jays on Tuesday. Jon Rauch has been solid filling in, posting a 2.70 ERA and 1.20 WHIP while recording three saves. In fact, I would expect Frank Frank to ease his way back, pitching a few times in the middle innings before inheriting closing duties after Rauch is rocked a few times. Keep patiently waiting.

  1. Lob Ball says:
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    Grey,

    Who to stream in this week for one game?

    Niese vs HOU
    Lohse vs WASH
    Narveson vs PHIL
    Dickey vs HOU

    Thanks

  2. Wiley says:
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    Drop Franklin outright for Motte or wait and see if he salvages something? In a H2H that counts both hlds and saves.

  3. Howard says:
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    Hey RJ, would you take Burnett and Farnsworth over League and Fuentes? THey are on waivers and I’m currently holding the latter two. THanks!

  4. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Tony go to the veteran Miguel Batista for his closer. He’s old. He has experience in the role. He’s boring. Sounds like a LaRussa keeper.

  5. Snared Farnsy instead of Santos last weekend after reading your article, and he gave me the save I needed to take the cat in H2H.

    I also went with a Harang start that worked out well for me, thanks to a bit of advice in the comments.

    Basically, if I win any money this year I’m sending some of it to y’all.

  6. Mike L says:
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    Joe Blow will always be Joe Borowski.

  7. Chubby says:
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    Is League a keeper?

  8. brett says:
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    RJ, thanks for the Walden rec in your last article. I don’t have many bright spots at the moment but he’s one of them.

  9. @Lob Ball: I’d go Narveson.

    @Wiley: It would be better to just bench Franklin right now if you can.

    @Howard: Yes and yes.@Chubby: League’s worth is going to dry up pretty quickly when Aardsma comes back, but if Aardsma can stay healthy, he could get traded to a contender to be a setup man. In deeper leagues and monoleagues I would hang on to League all season, if possible.

  10. Lazar says:
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    Hey R.J., R.G., Grey A., Ashy Larry or whoever the hell reads/replies to these cruddy comments…I have a question. What do you guys think about K-Rod and the 50~ (I think it’s now 51) appearances he needs by the end of the season for his 17.5 million option to kick in? In a deep keeper league I stashed Parnell, hoping for them to just trade Rodriguez at the deadline or bench him for some fake reason. But with Parnell not pitching too well, the Mets obviously can’t go to him unless he shapes up (and does it soon!). I’m still kind of holding up hope that Parnell will be the future closer, but what do you think the Mets are likely to do in the near future?

  11. @Lazar: I think the Mets are stuck with K-Rod — not sure anyone is looking to bring in a high-priced RP at the trading deadline, especially with more affordable options like Heath Bell likely available. I wouldn’t bother with Parnell.

  12. Tony tone says:
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    Should I drop Rodney for Motte?

  13. Tony tone says:
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    Also, pick one of Angel Pagan, snider, and Adam Jones.

  14. Stophe says:
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    Ten team league, someone dropped Garza. Tempting, but I think I have SP covered pretty well. Would you take Garza over any of the following:

    Verlander
    Greinke
    Scherzer
    Ricky Romero
    Gio Gonz
    Brandon Morrow
    Mat Latos

    Thankee.

  15. Tony tone says:
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    @stooge I’d. Take all those pitchers over Garza

  16. What are people thinking Pineda is going to put up this year?

    Sure some roofies will probably slip in, but he looked like a world beater yesterday…against the Royals, but still.

    Anyway he made the stink of Volquez’s first innings waft off into the drunken night for me..so that helps.

  17. KeeblerMN says:
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    Good post.
    FYI, Nathan removed himself from the closer role according to multiple news outlets in the Twin Cities.

  18. papasmurf says:
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    If Boggs takes over, do you think he can keep the job the whole year?

  19. Shmorgie S. Board says:
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    Dumb rookie, rookie!

    Mike Leake was arrested Monday in Hamilton County, Ohio on charges of theft.

    Leake was stopped by Macy’s employees in downtown Cincinnati after trying to leave the store with nearly $60 worth of T-shirts. He was taken to jail and is facing a misdemeanor. Leake, 23, is earning right around $425,000 this season.

  20. preptime says:
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    @Shea Sera Sera:

    Royals have scored the most runs in the AL so far.

  21. parsec says:
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    I picked up Lance Berkman last week off of waivers. I have been offered Choo straight up for him. I have to make this trade, don’t I?

  22. trick dad says:
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    @parsec: Yes right now

  23. fitz says:
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    @parsec: duh!

  24. @Tony tone: If Motte was for sure the guy, I’d make that move. Since it could be anyone really, I would just hold on to Rodney. And I think I would go Snider for his upside.

    @Stophe: Leave Garza be.

    @Shea Sera Sera: I’d expect something like an ERA just below 4.00, about 7.5 K/9, a WHIP in the mid-1.20s and six or seven wins, if that helps.

    @papasmurf: LaRussa isn’t the type of guy to waffle with his closer situation much. Once he makes a change, I would be on that sticking for the rest of the year.

    @parsec: Do you really need an answer for this one?

  25. MrHappyTime says:
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    Who’s the better streaming option tomm, Phil Coke or Carl Pavano?? Thank you sir!!

  26. Charles says:
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    @ Everyone: Is Mike Stanton a buy low? His power has to come back, right? I’m thinking of trading Drew & Bourn for Stanton & Chacin.

  27. Eric says:
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    I see Lowrie on the waiver wire in my 10-team, mixed, roto league. I’d like to add him, but don’t see where I can fit him in. See anyone on here that I can drop for him?

    C – Napoli, M.
    C – Martin, R.
    1B – Teixeira, M.
    2B – Uggla, D.
    SS – Ramirez, H.
    3B – McGehee, C.
    OF – Abreu, B.
    OF – Choo, S.
    OF – Pagan, A.
    OF – Werth, J.
    OF – Young, D.
    U – Francoeur, J.

    RES – Hamilton, J.
    RES – Brown, Domonic

    If I were to cut one of my outfielders, I’d have to start Lowrie at Utility since both Brown and Hamilton are on the DL.

  28. J Mac says:
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    Narveson is a free agent in my league, but I need to find someone to drop: Buccholz, Jordan Zimmerman, Volquez, Gonzalez, Beachy, Brett Anderson, Soria and Axford

  29. Nuke LaDouche says:
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    Worth dropping Rodney to grab Boggs or Motte?

  30. RJ — Informative post. Thanks.

    Prospecting for saves here … I picked up Motte a few days back but now Lindstrom has been dropped (Boggs, Capps, Frank Francisco, Rodney, Santos, Uehara … all the other guys you mentioned are long gone).

    I could drop Motte for Lindstrom or grab Lindstrom at the expense of someone else (Beachy or Bourjos are the most likely candidates). This is a 20-team non keeper roto league.

    What do you suggest?

  31. knighttown says:
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    Is Johnny Gomes anymore than a 5th OF? I’m thinking he might be a sell high if I target a buy low. Who to go after? Choo? Dunn? Uggla? Morneau?

  32. fred says:
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    I’m in a 10 team mix is this a good trade for me I give up king felix, ginger hanson, and utley for gio, pineda, chacin, howie kendrick, and bj upton…what do u think

  33. Carns says:
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    @Eric:

    Yeah, shortstop. Hahahahahaha (sigh) Hanley sucks. Sorry man.

  34. Bad Bob says:
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    Drop Aaron Crow for Boggs in a dynasty league that counts Holds and saves? Currently have Perez, Storen, Bard, Gregerson and Crow as my RP’s.

    Cheers

  35. WDE05 says:
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    FYI for those of you interested in Jake Peavy. He only lasted 2/3s (15 pitches) of an inning tonight in AA and allowed 3 ERs before leaving with an injury. Really glad I headed Grey’s advice and held off on picking him up.

  36. Mike Leake's Shoplifting Emporium says:
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    Who out of the following should I pick up for 2B (currently have Raburn)?:

    Jed Lowrie
    Jonathan Herrera
    Angel Sanchez
    Orlando Hudson
    Danny Espinosa
    Orlando Cabrera

  37. Bryan says:
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    @ RJ

    Is this a good trade for me to accept…
    Giving Mauer, K-Rod and Carlos Pena
    Getting Choo, Moylan and Clay Bucholtz

    I of course will drop Moylan, so the deal is pretty much a 3 for 2 (but honestly I am ready to drop Pena anyways…so what you think?

    Thanks!

  38. A Hill O' Beans says:
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    Looks like Jerry Sands got the call in LA. I’d love to add him in my keepe, too bad Yahoo doesn’t have him in the player pool yet. Anybody have any thoughts on where he ranks among OFs?

  39. Roger Lodge says:
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    Who would you rather have in a standard scoring keeper league? Mike Stanton or Pedro Alvarez?

    The way I see it: Alvarez performed slightly better than Stanton when you compare their minor league numbers… similar power numbers/better BA/less Ks/more BBs. However, Stanton is 21 years old and Alvarez is 24 years old (at least!).

    I guess the key factor is whether or not you believe that Stanton will develop more patience at the plate or remain a free-swinging power hitter. Also, health should factor in although I can’t say that I know too much about either of their injury histories.

    Thanks!

  40. Dominic says:
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    who would you rather have going forward Madson or Uehara? Holds don’t count in this league.

  41. Tom Emanski says:
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    @A Hill O’ Beans: I love that ESPN adds all the players in the pool from the start, allowing owners to draft and risk as they please. I happened to guess right on Sands by picking him up yesterday.

  42. Tony tone says:
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    Going forward, should I trade Starlin or Elvis? Both have cool names so no clear edge there, but I’d like to move one.

  43. Long Bawls says:
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    Ya think J.P. Howell ever gets a chance to blow another save in Tampa?

  44. Rob says:
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    Drop Narveson for Carl Pavano?

  45. @MrHappyTime: Coke Man.

    @Charles: Definitely a good buy low right now.

    @Eric: Not too sold on Lowrie in a 10-teamer with no MI, but if you really want him I think you’re fine dropping Francoeur, especially with Hammy waiting in the wings.

    @J Mac: Beachy.

    @knighttown: Get anything you can for him now.

    @fred: Don’t do it.

  46. genghis chone says:
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    Rank for the rest of the season, FIP keeper league: Gavin Floyd, Ryan Dempster, Trevor Cahill. Cahill’s youth is an added bonus but I’m in first place right now.

  47. dja says:
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    bjupton or yovani gallardo.

    who gets the better deal in a 12 team h2h with obp?

  48. Nomar Mr. Nice Guy says:
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    In a league that counts holds and saves. I have Nathan and Boggs is available. I take it you stand pat here RJ, am I right?

  49. I’ve got Francisco on my DL and will have to waive one of my other relievers to activate him. Who would you drop?

    – Frank Francisco
    – Koji Uehara
    – Brandon League
    – Brian Fuentes

  50. Chad says:
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    @eric: Is this a keeper league? Otherwise I’m not sure why you’d be stashing an injured Dominick Brown in a 10-team mixed league. With your OF it isn’t like you have anyone that you’d start him over unless you had more injury issues. Isn’t the guy a long ways away from being on the major league roster? You’re killing yourself holding onto an unproven, injured guy in a shallow league with really short rosters. There has to be someone better out there for you to pick up that you could actually use. If he starts getting ready to come back you could always pick him back up again.

  51. @Peter D: I think League may have run out of value with the imminent return of Aardsma. If you can afford to wait a few days to activate Francisco, do so.

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