The closer carousel came to a screeching halt late last week, but it stopped in so many places I can't keep my thoughts straight. First there was dead weight being dropped in Miami - someone needs to tell Heath Bell that fastballs down the middle don't usually produce good results - then a quick stop at Wrigley Field.
Only problem was Carlos Marmol had as much difficulty finding the carousel as he does the plate so we had to move on without him to Kansas City where Mariano Rivera suffered a devastating knee injury. Finally we docked on the West Coast as Don Mattingly finally made a switch for the Dodgers. Time for a breakdown of all these situations.
Miami Marlins: Heath Bell has been in a constant struggle and he doesn't appear to be breaking the slump. His velocity has steadily decreased and he can't seem to spot his off-speed pitches. Sadly, I don't see much hope for Bell outside of the fact that the other options aren't exactly rock solid.
Steve Cishek gets ground balls and has a decent strikeout rate and Edwin Mujica has proven he can get people out. But like it was on command, Cishek blew the save last night after Mujica pitched a clean inning so the picture gets murkier still.
At this point, Bell owners should just move him to the bench and hold on to him if they can afford to because I'm sure he'll work his way back into save chances.
Chicago Cubs: The wildness of Carlos Marmol is no secret for most fantasy baseball owners. He offers tantalizing strikeout numbers but punishes team's WHIP. His swerving slider is impossible to hit but most hitters can pinpoint if it is going to make it over the plate.
With playoff possibilities a long shot for the Cubbies, I'm sure Marmol will get another shot and the replacement options are even shakier than the Marlins. Rafael Dolis is currently occupying the role of closer, but he doesn't have a long history of dominating stuff. James Russell is a lefty and managers tend to shy away from lefties - apparently ignoring the immense success Billy Wagner and Randy Myers achieved.
I expect Marmol to have his job back by the end of May, but owner beware it will be a wild ride.
New York Yankees: Closing out ball games has not proven to be a strong point for Dave Robertson. After loading the bases in his first chance, he wiggled out of it. However last night he wasn't as fortunate and the Tampa Bay Rays pulled out the win after Robertson gave up four.
The perception of pressure involving a closer is a myth in my opinion but maybe some guys can't handle the perceived pressures of the ninth inning. It is far to early to label Robertson as such but with Rafael Soriano in the bullpen, manager Joe Girardi won't waste time sticking with a struggling closer.
Robertson should be owned because even if he loses his closing job, he goes back to being a strikeout machine as a set-up reliever. I'm willing to give Robertson another chance and hopefully Girardi feels the same way.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Since about the middle of last season, pundits have speculating that Kenley Jansen would usurp Javy Guerra in no time. Well Guerra held him off and started the season as the closer, but that has recently changed.
Seduced by Jansen's enormous strikeout rate, Mattingly apparently felt it was time to change up the roles. Guerra blew a couple saves, but managers these days have zero patience and he lost his role. The good thing for Guerra is Mattingly has still used him in the 8th inning so he isn't far away from saves.
Jansen has a history of injury and wildness, so I expect Guerra to get a few more opportunities before the season closes. Either guy could lead the Dodgers in saves the rest of the way and in my mind, both are rosterable.
Got closer questions? Bullpen situations you want analyzed? Drop me an email at email@example.com and I'll be sure to check it out.