Relief pitching - the only position in fantasy baseball that keeps me up at night. With just two consecutive bad outings, your reliever can be buried in middle relief hell (see Jordan Walden) or wonder what to expect from his manager and job security (see Brandon League).
Yet there are bargains and bloated values everywhere and the bullpen is not exception.
Ernesto Frieri (Los Angeles Angels)Ernesto Frieri is and will continue to be the closer for the Los Angeles Angels for the remainder of the 2012 season. Barring injury, he is the man. Posting a 0.00 ERA and .023 BAA since joining the team has simply solidified the role for him. The 52 strikeouts in 26 innings pitched this campaign doesn't hurt either. This news may come late, but he is worth the haul it may take to land him.
Brad Lidge(Washington Nationals)Lidge is pure penny stock - a speculative play. He is only truly suited for closing which means he may get opportunities depending on the health of Drew Storen. I wouldn't pay for him but I also wouldn't hesitate adding him to my roster from the waiver pile. Lidge could rejoin the Nationals in 10 to 14 days as he continues to rehab from a sports hernia injury.
Brandon League(Seattle Mariners)
Like Jordan Walden, I have to ask what League did to lose the closer role in Seattle. Has he had a bad stretch? Absolutely. So have a bevy of other closers who have managed to maintain their roles. Does anyone trust Tom Wilhelmsen or Shawn Kelly (zero lifetime saves between them)? League saved 37 of 42 opportunities last season. I would take my chances on buying low.
Fernando Rodney (Tampa Bay Rays)Rodney is now 35 years old and sports a career WHIP of 1.42 over 446 career games. He has never been a dominant strikeout pitcher and until this year has been very hittable as compared to elite closers (lifetime .240 BAA). He is the 2012 Derek Lowe of relievers. Sell, sell, sell.
Jonathan Broxton(Kansas City Royals)It hasn't quite been smoke and mirrors for Broxton but he has just 14 strikeouts in 21.2 innings pitched. A .244 BAA is not a good number for a closer. Plus, who knows when he will be hurt again. If Aaron Crow or Tim Collins ever get hold of the role I am not sure if either would surrender it. If I could get a solid low-second or third tier starter for him I would jump at the chance.
Brian Fuentes(Oakland Athletics)
What owner of Fuentes doesn't hold their breathe every time he takes the mound in the ninth? This guy gets more chances than Larry King (see 'Larry King marriages' on your favorite search engine) and always seems to work his way out of the stopper role expeditiously. Left-handed, there is too much of a chance he winds up as a middle reliever for a contender come July. Ryan Cook (six hits allowed in 25 innings pitched but also 15 walks) is a very intriguing option for the Athletics. It also wouldn't be a shock for Oakland to give Grant Balfour another crack at the role.
Sources: Yahoo! Sports
Robert Watkins is former investment professional and partner. A native New Yorker until 9/11, he considers Pa. his adoptive home. A passionate Yankees fan and Pennsylvania sports enthusiast, Robert is a frequent contributor to Yahoo! Sports and News.