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Closer Updates: Athletics, Mariners, Giants

We spotlight three California teams this week. For less west coast bias, check out @closernews on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates.

Athletics
"You know, I once read an interesting book which said that, uh, most people lost in the wild, they die of shame."

Anthony Hopkins uttered that gem in "The Edge," a mediocre, little-known survival flick I stumbled upon on Netflix a few months back. I never would have guessed I'd quote Hopkins from anything other than personal favorite "Silence of the Lambs," but sometimes life surprises us, eh?

Anyway, I thought this pearl of wisdom was perfectly appropriate advice for those of us -- including yours truly -- who bought into the "new and improved" Brian Fuentes a few weeks back. We mustn't die of shame, as it were, for having been fooled by a pitcher who has so quickly reverted back to his old, terrible form. Instead, let's soldier ahead and uncover some solutions.

Last week, after Fuentes' third meltdown in four appearances, Manager Bob Melvin has said he'd be going to a three-man committee of Ryan Cook, Grant Balfour and, yes, Fuentes, one which will be dictated on a game-to-game basis by rest and matchups. Setting aside Fuentes and Balfour, both of whom fantasy owners are in no rush to add or hold onto based on their respective performances during their runs as closer, let's have a look at Cook.

The righty has generated some buzz in his first year with Oakland, remaining unscored upon till late May. He boasts a pretty 0.69 ERA and strong strikeout rate that look great on paper, ut the 5.19 BB/9 and subsequent 3.90 SIERA suggest that it's entirely unsustainable. Cook may be one of those pitchers who can defy advanced ERA estimators, but I want to see more than one-third of a season's worth of data before I concede that. Between the small sample, strong defense and pitcher-friendly home ballpark, it's more likely that Cook has been the beneficiary of some good luck so far.

If I were forced to throw my hat into this three-closer circus, I'd start with Cook based on the outside chance that he can keep up this pace and run away with the job. But that's as much a condemnation of Balfour and Fuentes as it is a vote of confidence in Cook's skills or that the A's are inclined to give him a fair shake.

Mariners
I believed that the M's preferred to have Brandon League closing even after they demoted him, but I was pretty nervous about that call when I saw no-name relievers like Tom Wilhelmsen and Steve Delabar continue runs of excellence in his stead. It seemed it'd be tough for League to reclaim the job with those strong arms in front of him, even accounting for the Mariners' likely interest in trading him prior to this summer's deadline.

But sure enough, after League posted just 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball since his demotion, the M's announced he would soon be their closer again. Clearly, the team has faith in League and were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt after his slow start, but the guess here is that the move is also designed to prop up his stock in anticipation of the soon-to-heat-up trade market.

In any event, League is worth an add if he's hit the wire in your league. He could well be traded within the next six weeks, at which time he may become some other team's setup man, so he can't be counted on for saves through the season's balance. But whatever he contributes should make him worth an add at the cost of dropping the last player on your roster. Wilhelmsen owners (of which I am one) should hold on for now, because there's no guarantee League will rediscover last year's form, but it's looking like T-Wil's reign may soon end -- or perhaps be interrupted till League is dealt.

Giants
Santiago Casilla has returned from a minor knee ailment he suffered by absorbing a comebacker, so there's not a lot to discuss here from that angle. However, it's worth having a look at how Bruce Bochy divvied up the save chances during Casilla's absence. 

Once again, we were reminded that despite his dominance, Sergio Romo was not the automatic next-in-closer (as he wasn't when Brian Wilson was lost for the year). Because of his frailty, the Giants continue to handle Romo with caution; he's pitched just 17 innings in his 22 appearances. Thus, they're hesitant to be bound to deploying him in all proper save situations when in fact he may not always be available. So when they encountered five save chances while Casilla was out, three went to Romo and one apiece to Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt.

Romo is owned in many standard roto leagues, which is fine by me because of his ridiculous ratios and strong strikeout rates, but if you're handcuffing him on the off chance Casilla gets hurt or is for some reason demoted, there are better places you can look for such an investment. Calculate your investment in Romo accordingly.

Quick-ish Hits
Rafael Soriano was unavailable Monday night due to a blister, but the injury is not believed to be serious. David Robertson is on a minor league rehab stint, but the Yanks have said previously that Raf-Sor will remain closer when D-Rob returns. ... Sergio Santos suffered another setback during a recent bullpen session. Casey Janssen remains Toronto's closer for the foreseeable future. ... Drew Storen threw off a mound recently and is progressing nicely from elbow surgery. He is still expected back around the All-Star break.

 

 


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