Each week, Baseball Press will be providing some "under the radar" fantasy players for NL-only leagues, AL-only leagues and mixed leagues. We'll review the diamonds in the rough on the waiver wire that might help you boost your fantasy team in 2012.
Under the Radar - Preseason Closers
Thursday March 29th, 2012
With several closers suffering injuries late in spring training, there may be some options in your league worth picking up that will collect you the handful of saves that can make a difference at the end of the year for your team.
*Owned percentages via Yahoo!
Brad Lidge - RP, Washington Nationals (13% owned)
News of incumbent Nationals closer Drew Storen starting the season on the disabled list puts off-season acquisition and veteran closer Brad Lidge at the top of the list to collect saves in Washington until Storen returns. Lidge had tremendous success as a closer earlier in his career, but has recently struggled in the ninth inning while trying to pitch through injuries to both his arm and knee. The 35-year-old right-hander was effective when he returned from the disabled list at the end of the 2011 season, posting a 1.41 ERA while striking out 23 batters in 19 1/3 innings pitched. Lidge also has had a solid spring training, allowing two runs in seven innings pitched with nine strikeouts. Storen, who is dealing with elbow pain, does not project to miss a lot of time to the start of the season, making Lidge a short term source of saves.
Sean Marshall - RP, Cincinnati Reds (69% owned)
The Cincinnati Reds lost their closer for the season when they found out that recently signed Ryan Madson was going to need Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm. Marshall, who is also new to Cincinnati this season via trade, appears to be the favorite to assume ninth inning duties. Spending his entire career up to this point with the Chicago Cubs, Marshall has never been named the closer, but he did have the opportunity to collect five saves last season. The tall lefty has always posted great numbers in the ERA, WHIP, and strikeout categories, making him a strong candidate to be very valuable to fantasy owners this season, especially with a good likelihood that he can rack of saves.
Aroldis Chapman - RP, Cincinnati Reds (47% owned)
Even though it appears Marshall will be the ninth inning man for Dusty Baker and the Reds, owners should not completely dismiss Aroldis Chapman as a ninth inning option at this time. The Reds seem conflicted on what to do with the fireballing southpaw, deciding if he should be kept in the bullpen or sent to the minors to be stretched out as a starter. Since both Marshall and Chapman are lefthanded, hitting matchups will not determine who will get the save opportunity, but Chapman's overpowering style may match up better against some hitters than Marshall's finesse approach on the mound. Even if he doesn't collect a large amount of saves, a strong argument can be made to still roster Chapman in most formats with his strikeout potential.
Jonathan Broxton - RP, Kansas City Royals (50% owned)
Similar to Cincinnati's situation, the Royals have lost their closer for the season. Now that Joakim Soria has opted to undergo Tommy John surgery, the team has not formally announced a replacement. Jonathan Broxton, who had tremendous success as a closer with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2009, but has since struggled to be effective in the closer role, will probably get the first chance to fill in for Soria. The Royals are leaning towards using Broxton in the role this year because he is the only pitcher in their bullpen with extensive closer experience. An offseason elbow procedure may have something to do with his successful spring so far, posting a 1.50 ERA with seven strikeouts over six innings pitched.
Greg Holland - RP, Kansas City Royals (42% owned)
While Jonathan Broxton may have the upper hand for ninth inning duties in Kansas City to start the season, fantasy owners could receive a nice return later in the season by picking up Greg Holland now. The 26 year-old righty had a very impressive 2011 season pitching out of the Royals bullpen, posting a 1.80 ERA over 60 innings pitched with 74 strikeouts. Even though he doesn't have the closer pedigree of Broxton, his recent performance and minimal health concerns make him the safer bet for fantasy owners down the road.
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