Kenley Jansen stepped into the Dodgers closing role full-time this year, and for the most part he's been a fantasy boon. Five wins, 25 saves, 86 strikeouts, strong ratios (2.54 ERA, 0.88 WHIP) — that all sounds good to us. His save percentage isn't terrific (he's blown six chances), but whatever you paid for him in March, you surely made a profit.
Sadly, the book on Jansen might be closed for 2012. And with that in mind, it's time to get familiar with Ronald Belisario.
Jansen has a history of heart problems, and unfortunately they're affecting him again. Let's check in with Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, one of the most credible beat reporters in the business, as he surveys the Wednesday scene from the LA clubhouse:
[Jansen], released after being hospitalized overnight, was not in the clubhouse when reporters arrived and he did not give the club permission to discuss his condition.
What is known is that he missed four weeks last year with a similar episode that required blood thinners, which forced him to go on the disabled list because of the bleeding risk in baseball activities. He also had a mild episode during Spring Training this year but did not miss playing time.
There are other possible treatments, but if the blood thinners are required, Jansen is probably out for the rest of the year. He has 25 saves and a 2.54 ERA, having inherited the closer job from [Javy] Guerra in April.
Jansen pitched Monday night in the high altitude and was battered for four runs in two-thirds of an inning.
There's no obvious closer-in-waiting option here, but Belisario looks like a good place to start. The 29-year-old righty picked up a working-man's save Wednesday at Colorado (five outs), and he's been a reliable soldier in the LA bullpen this year (2.84 ERA, 1.01 WHIP). The K/BB rate isn't glittering (47 strikeouts, 21 walks), but he should be able to skate by. A ridiculous ground-ball rate (over 62 percent) helps keep the ball in the park (just two homers allowed). Belisario is unowned in 94 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Belisario was 0-for-3 on saves this year before Wednesday's conversion, but throw that stat in the shredder. It's meaningless for set-up men. All three of the blown saves occurred in the eighth inning of games, and in one instance Belisario was asked to protect a two-run lead with one out and two runners in scoring position. Non-closing relievers are routinely asked to hold a lead without getting the chance to secure the save. See the forest for the trees.
Maybe Brandon League could see some save chances if Belisario doesn't land the gig (or becomes overworked). League quickly allowed six runs over his first seven LA appearances, but he's been sharp over his last four games (4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K). He has the "past closing experience" tag that managers sometimes care about, too.
Some other veterans will be in Dodger blue for September, specifically Javy Guerra and Matt Guerrier. Guerra was a steady closer last year — unspectacular but effective. Guerrier is a longtime setup man, but maybe he gets a look if everything else collapses. Both relievers are working in Triple-A at the moment, Guerrier on a rehab assignment.
Place your bets, save chasers.
Venable is Chicken-approved (USP)• With the Dodgers leaving Colorado, it's time to audit the next Coors Field visitor. San Diego touches down for a weekend series, opening Friday, and it sets us up for some interesting offensive streamers.
Start with outfielder Will Venable, who's on a .328/.366/.552 binge this month with a couple of homers and a perfect 7-for-7 on steals. His stats are shaded against right-handed pitching and on the road (naturally), so you'll specifically want him for Friday (against Alex White) and Saturday (versus Jhoulys Chacin). Venable is ready to go in 94 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Catcher Yasmani Grandal can't wait to get back to Coors: he cranked two homers in his first MLB start, a thin-air special at the end of June. He's also gone deep once against this rag-tag Rockies staff at Petco Park. Grandal's first few games off the DL this month were a struggle, but he's bounced back nicely over the past five starts (6-for-17, six runs, homer, six RBIs, four walks). He's waiting your call in 92 percent of Yahoo! Nation.