Robin Ventura and Joe Maddon made confusing closer situations a bit more clear this weekend, as both have seemingly ‘named’ temporary closers. Hector Santiago, owner of a nifty screwball, and Fernando Rodney, he of the 7.88 BB/9 rate last year, will apparently be getting the save attempts for their respective teams going forward.
The new White Sox closer is a left-handed reliever who started 15 games at double-A last year with somehwat decent results, I suppose. He netted a 3.60 FIP and 3.56 ERA in his double-A tenure. The 24-year-old should see better results as a reliever, but I have mixed feelings in judging how effective he is going to be this year.
The screwball and changeup he possess should help him neutralize hitters of opposite handedness better than the average left-handed reliever, but I still expect Addison Reed to push for this job throughout the season. A series of slight hiccups will certailny force Santiago out of the job, and Reed is the better prospect with the better stuff. Even so, any closer is a must-own in roto. Santiago won the position due to a stellar spring, as he posted a 0.82 ERA. Maybe he does turn into a very effective late-inning reliever, ala Jonny Venters, who went through a similar transition two years ago. I am temporarily skeptical.
Rodney has been around for some time and most everyone knows by now that he simply is not a very effective reliever. There is a chance that he becomes better than he has been in the past with the nice defense behind him and if he reverts back to roughly 4.5 BB/9 rather than the ugly 7.88 mark he netted in 32 innings last year.
With Farnsworth sidelined for 4-6 weeks, Rodney has a chance to prove himself over the next month. I think it is feasible for him to hold onto the role throughout the next month, but I would also not be surprised at all if he blows a few small leads and is removed from the closer spot. Joel Peralta will be pushing him for save opportunities if he struggles, but just like Santiago, he is a must-own since he is in line for the save opportunities. The Rays should be a very good team throughout the year, and Rodney should see a decent amount of save attempts until Farnsworth returns.