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Mark Melancon and Joel Peralta: Early Waiver Wire Closers

When was the last time you saw a single position in fantasy take such a beating before the season even gets underway?  First there was the sudden change to Brett Myers in Houston.  Then Joakim Soria and Ryan Madson headed for the DL, each in need of Tommy John surgery.  Then Drew Storen had elbow issues and Frank Francisco needed his knee drained.  It’s been a disaster, right?

Well, now it gets worse as Andrew Bailey heads to the shelf for three to four months with thumb surgery and Kyle Farnsworth lands on the DL with elbow soreness.  The waiver wire has been a hotbed of action for the last few weeks and it’s getting even hotter with these next two guys…

Keep in mind that these ownership percentages are as of Tuesday, April 3rd at 9:15 PM (eastern).  They are almost guaranteed to go up by the time this is published.

Mark Melancon, BOS |RP|  Ownership:  ESPN – 5.9%  Yahoo – 42.0%

With Daniel Bard winning a spot in the rotation and Alfredo Aceves landing one by default, Melancon becomes the best option and clear-cut successor to Bailey.  You would actually have to think that the Red Sox signed traded for Melancon during the offseason with this exact scenario in mind.  Not that they knew Bailey would be lost for so long, but he hasn’t exactly been a model of health over these last two years.  In fact, he hasn’t thrown more than 50 innings since 2009 because of stints on the DL, so an insurance policy like Melancon is just smart baseball.

Melancon has the experience, having saved 20 games for the Astros last season, and should fare pretty well as the team’s new closer.  He’s a big-time ground ball pitcher (56.7% last year) which should play nicely in Fenway, and though he posted a 7.99 K/9 last year, his SwStr% was close to 10.0%.  So atleast when he’s not forcing them to mash it into the dirt, he’s missing a good number of bats.  He may not be the marquee name you’d like to have, but so long as he gets the job done, your fantasy team should stay afloat in saves and your ratios won’t get torched.

Joel Peralta, TB |RP|  Ownership:  ESPN – 0.2%  Yahoo – 11.0%

This is actually more of a best guess than anything else considering the way Rays manager Joe Maddon handled the bullpen prior to Farnsworth’s emergence last year.  But Peralta handled closing duties late last year when Farnsworth’s elbow was acting up then and he finished the season for them in relatively strong fashion.  He doesn’t have overwhelming stuff, but he mixes up his pitches nicely and hitters end up making below average contact against him.  Similarly to Melancon, Peralta’s K/9 last year was 8.11, but he’s posted swinging strike percentage above 10.0% in each of the last three seasons.

But despite his success late last season, Peralta is, by no means, a lock to hold down the job by himself if Farnsworth lands on the DL.  Both J.P. Howell and Fernando Rodney have closing experience and people have been talking about Jake McGee as a closer-of-the-future for the last two years.  We will likely have to wait until we know more about Farnsworth’s condition before we know what Maddon is thinking, but given his past, it could be totally up in the air.  Peralta makes for a “best guess” here, but don’t go blowing your FAAB wad just yet.