Remember a little while ago (say, a month) when I told you that if Ryan Madson continued to pitch well, he’d remain the closer upon Jose Contreras’ return? Remember how the comment section called me out about it? Well, Contreras has returned, and Madson’s still the closer. Sometimes you gotta go with your gut.
(By the way, resist the overwhelming urge to stroll through the archives and build an itemized list of all my swings and misses. I’m sure there’s plenty.)
There’s even been indication by manager Charlie Manuel that Madson may remain the closer once Brad Lidge comes off the DL. Could it happen? I’m not going to press my luck, but Madson clearly has plenty of fantasy value for now. Smart owners may want to sell now so as to get plenty of return. Dumb owners should continue hanging on to Ryan Franklin (seriously guys, 29 percent owned in Yahoo leagues?).
In other “nanny-nanny-boo-boo” news, Frank Francisco regained the closer role from Jon Rauch as predicted in the same column, but, after recording five saves in May, Francisco seems to have lost his touch, prompting the Blue Jays to turn to the spine-shuddering “closer by committee.” Francisco blew his first two save chances in the committee, which gives him losses in three of his last four appearances. Rauch secured a save on Friday, and he looks like the Jays’ best option right now. Octavio Dotel, stay loose. Save speculators could also give Jason Frasor a look, as he’s posted scoreless outings in nine of his 10 appearances this month as of Sunday.
Don’t look now, but Neftali Feliz has blown three of his last five save opportunities heading into Sunday. While he’s certain to remain the Rangers’ closer with a 1.50 ERA, what’s more disconcerting is the fact that Feliz has issued 14 walks versus nine strikeouts this year, which is a clear departure from the 71:18 K:BB ratio of 2010. He also has a 5.68 FIP and an obscenely lucky BABIP and strand rate. His fastball has gone from dominating to mediocre. Did he come back from his DL stint too early? Save vultures may want to grab Darren Oliver now in case Feliz needs to hit the DL again.
Kevin Gregg has a 1:1 K:BB ratio and a 1.71 WHIP this season while Koji Uehara has struck out 26 in 21.2 innings while issuing just five walks, good for a 0.88 WHIP. Gregg could be one or two blown saves away from losing his job. Uehara is worth owning even as a setup man with those numbers … Andrew Bailey is due back any day now (in fact, by publication he may already have been activated). Grant Balfour should still carry value for the next week or two, but Bailey should be activated in fantasy leagues immediately … We chronicled Brandon League’s horrible stretch in our last talk, and he’s rebounded nicely. The Mariners aren’t going to bother giving any other relievers a look; League’s the guy.
Mark Melancon has done a solid job with the closer role thus far, picking up two saves in the Toronto series last week. He’s still only 41 percent owned, and that number should be higher … I wouldn’t mess with the Dodger bullpen right now. The top two options are hurt, and the third option is out with a mind, as Al Michaels would say. That leaves about five guys in the mix for saves. Pass … Remember that Francisco Rodriguez and Heath Bell are trade candidates. With June around the corner, you may not want to wait much longer to ship them away in your fantasy leagues.