Your bullpen's best pitcher needs to enter the game when these are the circumstances: it's the seventh inning, you have a slim lead, there are runners on base, less than two outs, and David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are due up.
There's a decent chance that those next two plate appearances will decide the ball game.
Last night, in exactly that situation, Rafael Betancourt took the mound for Cleveland. He struck out both Ortiz and Manny. There's not much question that he's the best pitcher in Cleveland's bullpen right now.
True, he allowed a home run to Kevin Youkilis to lead-off the eighth, but then he struck out JD Drew, retired the next two hitters, and left with a 4-3 lead.
In the fantasy community, we've made a lot of Betancourt's early struggles -- he's allowed four runs and two homers in seven innings -- but his stuff still looks excellent. He has seven Ks, and he's issued only one walk so far. Betancourt brought a 93 mph fastball and tough change into a high-leverage situation last night.
Joe Borowski brought absolutely nothin' into the ninth. He topped out at 83 mph, and he's almost certainly headed to the DL. He does not appear to have a major league arsenal right now. If you're an Indians fan, you have to question why he was allowed to face Manny last night. There wasn't even a visit to the mound...by anyone.
Anyway, the big question on the table is who will be the Indians' closer going forward. Brandon Funston likes Masa Kobayashi to take over, which is certainly a possibility. I've added Kobayashi in five leagues today.
But I don't really think he's the guy. In all of the leagues in which I've added him, Betancourt is already owned -- usually by me, as in the Friends & Family League. If Cleveland intends to move their best relief pitcher into the closer's role, then Betancourt will be the guy.
Despite saving 20 or more games in Japan in each of the past seven seasons, Kobayashi isn't quite as overpowering. His pitching motion is fun -- he rises onto his toes, pauses, then delivers -- but he lost seven games and had a 3.61 ERA in Japan last season. He's not pitching any of the most important innings for Cleveland right now.
Jensen Lewis has been at least as impressive. The 23-year-old right-hander has 41 Ks in 37 major league innings, and opposing hitters are batting .229 against him. Like Kobayashi, Lewis is not really a hard-thrower. He locates his pitches extremely well, and the results have been terrific.
My best guess at Cleveland's post-Borowski bullpen configuration is this: Betancourt closing, with Lewis, Kobayashi and Rafael Perez handling the seventh and eighth. So if I can add just one guy in a fantasy league, it's Betancourt.
He's thrown 2.2 innings over the last two days, though, so don't be surprised if he's not available tonight.
Update: Naturally, seconds after posting, I see that Borowski is indeed headed to the DL. They're calling it a "strained triceps," but it's really just an inability to get outs. Borowski is an example of a player I would not bother to stash on my fantasy team's DL.
And another thing: If you added 30-something saves to last season's stats, Betancourt would have been an elite closer, similar in value to Papelbon, Nathan and Putz. That might be the best reason to pick him up.