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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Fantasy baseball: More closer drama

By now, hopefully you've learned to punt saves on draft day.

You can always acquire a closer on the waiver wire during the season, and three saves that were recorded on Sunday should tell you all you need to know about spending more than one pick in the first half of a draft on a reliever.

The three developments that caught our attention:

1. Kenley Jansen recorded his second save with the Dodgers.

Manager Don Mattingly tried to defuse any controversy by saying Javy Guerra is still Los Angeles' closer, but you have to believe Guerra's days are numbered. In two innings over his last three games, Guerra allowed five runs on nine hits, lost twice and blew a save. Overall, he's 7-for-9 in save chances -- with a 1-3 record, 6.10 ERA and 1.65 WHIP.

Jansen, meanwhile, is 2-0 with a pair of saves, a 2.45 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 24 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings. In three big-league seasons, he has an incredible 161 Ks in 95 1/3 innings.

Looking at Guerra's 2011 numbers (21-for-23 in save chances, a 2.31 ERA and 38 Ks in 46 2/3 innings as a rookie), it's understandable why Mattingly is willing to give his closer a couple more chances to fail.

But this much is clear: Guerra is only keeping the seat warm for Jansen, who struck out 96 in 53 2/3 innings last season. The closer's job should be Jansen's soon, and when that's the case, he likely will be a top-10 option at the position.

2. Santiago Casilla is the undisputed closer in San Francisco.

When Brian Wilson went down with a season-ending elbow injury, the initial speculation was the Giants would close by committee. Manager Bruce Bochy, however, seems to have settled on Casilla, who notched his fourth save, and third in the last four games, on Sunday. Casilla is 4-for-4 in save opportunities and has a 1.04 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and eight Ks in 8 2/3 innings. He's a must-start in any format in which you play multiple relievers.

3. Matt Thornton earns his first save for the White Sox.

Manager Robin Ventura said he used Thornton and not Hector Santiago because the former had the "body of work" against the Red Sox's ninth-inning order of Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz. He also said Santiago "still will be in there in the ninth."

The latter has blown two of his last three save chances and has an 8.53 ERA and 1.89 WHIP on the year. As we wrote in the Brian Wilson blog, Casilla was an unlikely choice to begin with.

For now, he's the closer, but his days, like Guerra's, seem to be numbered. Thornton has 10Ks in 11 innings and is 1-0 with a 0.83 ERA and 0.73 WHIP this season. In his career, he has 29 more strikeouts than innings pitched (509 and 480, respectively). He's never been a full-time closer (his career high is eight saves), but he might get his chance soon.

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