Stealing Saves

Before this season is over, at least half the league will change it’s closer at some point.

Maybe it will be due to injury, or maybe it will be because the normal closer gets rocked for a week straight. The bottom line is that fantasy owners put much more emphasis on the closer’s role than managers. Some managers are fine with a committee, going by matchups just like they would in the 7th or 8th inning.

Also, you don’t have to be Sandy Koufax to be able to get three outs consistently. We’ve seen mediocre, or even bad pitchers, rack up 30-40 saves in any given season. Here are some candidates to acquire saves cheaply this season:


ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH

Rafael Betancourt is coming at a major discount because he pitches in Colorado and he’s never been a full-time closer before. Of course, he also has a career 3.18 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. Betancourt as the stuff to run with the job on a team that is at least average in terms of win expectation. Most importantly, he has absolutely no competition behind him for the job.


THE HANDCUFF

Javy Guerra is the Dodgers’ unquestioned closer. However, setup man Kenley Jansen has the better stuff. We can draft both because Jansen will still be a fantasy asset even if he’s not getting saves. He’ll get fluky wins and help in ERA, WHIP and strikeouts. The same strategy can be employed with guys like Huston Street/Luke Gregerson and Matt Thornton/Addison Reed.


THE LESS TALENTED

Yes, we know that Jim Johnson, Sean Marshall, Brett Myers, Matt Capps and Brandon League aren’t that good. But they’re also set up to get a decent leash as the closer and one or two or even three of them are going to run with the job. Someone from the “less talented” tier will end up with 30-plus saves.


HOOPS PICKUPS

It’s crunch time in fantasy hoops. It’s also a time when real teams are tanking, shutting guys down due to injury giving young players run. That means we can steal championships by working the wire hard. Take a look at these guys:

1. Eric Gordon, SG, NO: Gordon was dropped in most leagues due to his chronic knee issues. But he’s in a contract year and is desperate to prove that he can sustain some health — even if it’s only for a month. We know he’s a top-40 fantasy asset when healthy, so the risk is worth the reward here.

2. C.J. Watson, PG, CHI: Derrick Rose admitted that his groin was actually bleeding when he originally injured it. He still hasn’t been cleared for contact, leaving Watson with at least another week of value.

3. Iman Shumpert, G/F, NYK: Amare Stoudemire’s back injury has forced the Knicks to go small. By using Carmelo Anthony at power forward, they get get the uber-athletic Shumpert on the floor for 30 minutes. He has a versatile, roto-friendly game.

BEARS SIGNED WHO?

Michael Bush is a starting-caliber running back that was stuck behind Darren McFadden in Oakland. He was also an unrestricted free agent, meaning he could look for a home where he’d get carries. So where did Bush end up? With All-Pro caliber Matt Forte in Chicago, of course.

Assuming Forte doesn’t hold out, we’re looking at some kind of timeshare here. Bush will certainly get the short-yardage and goal-line work. He’s also very good in the passing game. The Bears didn’t give him a 4-year, $14 million deal for now reason. Downgrade Forte in a major way.



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