Consider yourself lucky or blessed if you are sitting there and still have your original closers and third basemen. It may be overstating the obvious but I have never seen a demise of closers to the likes we have already seen in 2012. Even the most durable relief pitcher of all time, Mariano Rivera wasn’t safe from the fray. So this weeks Waiver Flavor is focusing on repairing your relief pitching with side dishes of corner infield help and starters who are set up for a good stretch.
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Closer To Nothing
David Robertson – Yankees (Owned in 62% of leagues) – With the unfortunate season and perhaps career ending injury to Mariano Rivera, one of the best gigs in the business is now up for grabs. Robertson and Rafael Soriano are the two candidates to take over the closer role. It is very possible, perhaps even likely that Soriano gets the first crack at the job since he does have more closing experience and a heavy contract. But Robertson has been one of the best relief pitchers in the game for the past two seasons and offers the better swing and miss stuff at this stage of his career. If he gets the job he very likely could be the best relief pitcher in fantasy baseball the rest of the way.
Rafael Soriano – Yankees (Owned in 29% of leagues) – Soriano saved 45 games for the 2010 AL East Champion Tampa Bay Rays. He also was a very effective reliever and closer for the Braves prior to going to Tampa. This is why the Yankees signed him to a 3 year $35 million deal before last season despite having a healthy Mariano Rivera. These factors may give him the edge in becoming the Yankees new closer and if he is so named, Soriano would be the best free agent acquisition in any fantasy league anywhere.
Chris Sale – White Sox (Owned in 56% of leagues) – Sale was suddenly moved to the bullpen late last week and named the new closer for the White Sox despite performing admirably in a starting role. As a Chicagoan and a longtime White Sox insider I can tell you that this move was made not because of performance or any sort of elbow injury as they have implied. Sale has conditioning issues that the White Sox have been trying to figure out for the last two years. He is easily fatigued and just cannot put on any weight. So this move was made with the hopes of getting as much value out of Sale that they can without pushing him to brink. Either way, he has good value as the closer but there is quite a bit of risk her considering his endurance and the fact that he is lefty and we all know how lefty closers usually fare.
Steve Cishek – Marlins (Owned in 20% of leagues) – Heath Bell has been the worst relief pitcher this side of Mark Melancon in all of baseball this year. A change is desperately needed before the big spending Marlins fall too far behind the rest of the NL pack. Edward Mujica got a save opportunity last week but that was only because both Bell and Cishek had pitched on back to back days. Ozzie Guillen has officially demoted Bell from the closer job at least temporarily and thus you can expect Cishek to work the 9th inning for the time being.
Rafael Dolis – Cubs (Owned in 22% of leagues) – Dolis has a great arm including a mid 90’s fastball but he doesn’t miss nearly enough bats to be an effective late inning solution. This is a temporary fit until Carlos Marmol can figure out his slider and regain his shut down form of two years ago. It wouldn’t hurt to grab Dolis off the waiver wire but please don’t expect him to be a long-term solution.
Carlos Zambrano – Marlins (Owned in 21% of leagues) – This is the week that everybody realizes that Zambrano is a very worthy fantasy option. So far this season he’s racked up an 0-2 record but owns a 2.53 ERA, 23 K’s and a 1.18 WHIP while averaging over 6 innings per start. As soon as the Marlins offense and bullpen start clicking the win totals will be there. My guess is that will happen this week as Zambrano and the Marlins will face the Astros and Mets respectively. Now is the time to grab Zambrano before it is too late.
Daniel Bard – Red Sox – (Owned in 28% of leagues) – Bard also has two starts this week as he takes the bump against the anemic offenses of the Royals and Indians. I am surprised how available Bard is considering he plays in Boston and the knowledge that he’ll eventually wind up as the Red Sox closer at some point this season.
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Going On The Offensive
Pedro Alvarez – 3B – Pirates (Owned in 34% of leagues) – I had a feeling about Alvarez this season. Just when everybody was ready to write him off, Alvarez has caught fire and has racked up 7 HR, 15 RBI & 13 runs scored while raising his average nearly 200 points in the past two weeks. He is a must add for anyone who owns Youkilis, Sandoval, Longoria, Zimmerman, Valencia, Roberts or Uribe.
Will Middlebrooks – 3B – Red Sox (Owned in 3% of leagues) – Middlebrooks was the Red Sox top prospect entering the 2012 season. He has great power and seems like a natural run producer as well. He was off to a tremendous start for AAA Pawtucket hitting .333 with 9 HR’s and 27 RBI. With Youkilis’ back situation the way that it is, Middlebrooks may get more major league at-bats then any of us realize right now. I’d take a shot on him for at least a short term run if your 3B has gone down or is struggling.
Stephen Drew – SS – Diamondbacks (Owned in 25% of leagues) – I’ve decided to include Drew is each of the next few Waiver Flavor’s in order to stress how valuable he is at the shortstop position the rest of the way.
Carlos Quentin – OF – Padres (Owned in 24% of leagues) – This is the time to go out and grab Quentin off the waiver wire. He will be back in San Diego this week and will immediately be inserted into the middle of the Padres lineup. Quentin is a big time power hitter and run producer when healthy and these types of players normally aren’t available in free agency like this. Make the move now!!
Josh Reddick – OF – A’s (Owned in 12% of leagues) – I feel terrible about this one actually. I grabbed Reddick in a few of my leagues a week and a half ago out of more desperation than anything. I was going to include him in last weeks Waiver Flavor but kept him off because I just wasn’t sold on him as a long term type guy. But I’ve watched him very closely over the past couple of weeks and I must say that I’m impressed with the entire package. He has a ton of power but it’s his situational hitting and even his prowess on the basepaths that has me singing his praises. Reddick’s recent play has entrenched him as an everyday player in Oakland for awhile. So, I apologize for not recommending him sooner but at only 12% ownership there is still plenty of opportunity to go out and get Reddick before it is too late.
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