Fantasy baseball category killers: saves

Fantasy baseball category killers: saves

By Rob Steingall
CSNChicago.com

Greg Holland, Royals: The theme of the week appears to be speculation plays, as rumors are swirling that Jonathan Broxton could be on his way out of town. There are plenty of good options in the Royals bullpen to assume the role, but Holland could be the first in line to collect saves if Broxton is ultimately dealt. Also keep an eye on Kelvin Herrera, who could vulture saves as well.

Wilton Lopez, Astros: A contender could scoop up Myers based on his experience and track record at the trade deadline, creating a ninth inning vacancy in Houston. Brandon Lyon is still in the mix, but he could also be on the move, so we look to Lopez as the guy to assume the closer role. Fresh off the disabled list, if he proves healthy and effective, Lopez makes the Astros' decision to move their veteran arms could become much easier.

Glen Perkins, Twins: Matt Capps is on the trade block, and if he's dealt, Perkins could be the permanent ninth inning replacement in Minnesota. He's converted 4-of-5 opportunities since Capps went on the disabled list, and is a far better option than Jared Burton. He's a great speculation play with the trade deadline fast approaching.

Bobby Parnell, Mets: Frank Francisco is still feeling pain in his injured oblique, thus providing Parnell more opportunities to seize the closer role permanently. He's a hard thrower who has always had the potential to be a shut down closer, but seems to slip up when given an opportunity to shine. He should stick in the role for at least another 2-4 weeks, provided the Mets don't acquire a closer at the trade deadline (with Broxton being a name thrown about).

Steve Cishek, Marlins: Juan Carlos Oviedo suffered a setback during his minor league tune up, and Heath Bell has been awful, so let's have a look at Cishek. He picked up a five out save on Saturday, and has a tidy 2.08 ERA on the season. With the Marlins bullpen a complete mess at the moment, Cishek is certainly worth a look.

SportsTalk Live: Should White Sox risk starting Chris Sale in season finale?

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SportsTalk Live: Should White Sox risk starting Chris Sale in season finale?

CSN's David Kaplan hosts a round table discussion with K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Ben Finfer from ESPN Radio, and Jordan Bernfield of 670 The Score. The panel discusses the controversial end to last night's Cardinals/Reds game, questions whether Chris Sale should make his last start of the season, and share Vin Scully stories.

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below:

 

 

Bears defensive backs using off-field bonds to improve on-field ones

Bears defensive backs using off-field bonds to improve on-field ones

Every Thursday night, Bears defensive backs try to all get together at Tracy Porter’s house for dinner. But it’s not about the food.

"None of us can cook," said cornerback Bryce Callahan, laughing.

At the risk of channeling some inner Marc Trestman, it’s about the get-together itself, which always involves popping on some game film and doing extra study beyond the time at Halas Hall. And it’s also building something off the field that they believe they can take onto it.

One of the keys to excellence in any working group is the individuals connecting in ways that make the whole greater than just the sum of the parts. That’s the point ultimately, taking some personal connections onto the field and making the entire defensive backfield collectively better.

Relationships among players have never been recorded as intercepting or even deflecting an NFL pass.

"For me it starts off the field, getting to know one another, how that person is," said cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc, familiar with a similar internal chemistry from his time with the New England Patriots.

"You get that feeling for every individual, and you take that on the field. It creates a close bond, and we’ve got that bond. We try to look through each other’s eyes, communicate what you were thinking and he was thinking on this play or that, and that’s the biggest thing."

Offensive lines are generally thought of as the group most benefited by camaraderie and closeness. They typically have an O-line dinner most weeks, with checks for the meal not uncommonly reaching into four-figures.

"Those boys can EAT," LeBlanc marveled. "We stick to wings or ribs."

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

But the secondary consists of four individuals rotating coverages the way a line moves with different protections or assignments. Double-teams in the defensive backfield require the same cohesion and familiarity as ones on the other side of the football.

The Bears have started the same base four defensive backs in all three games — Porter and Jacoby Glenn at the corners, Adrian Amos and Harold Jones-Quartey at the safeties — but the Bears are working in multiple rookies, and Callahan (hamstring) has been inactive along with Kyle Fuller, projected to be the starter at right corner but now on IR. Rookie safety Deon Bush was inactive the first two weeks, then played at Dallas. Rookie corner Deiondre’ Hall was pressed into action on defense for 18 plays at Houston and 28 against Philadelphia.

With the in-game mixes-and-matches necessitated by injuries, the familiarity among secondary members is looked at as nothing short of vital. Comments, right or wrong, from a friend can be taken better/more constructively than ones from a relative stranger.

"Just more of being ready to pick each other up, be ready," Amos said. "It just shows you how quick you can go from scout team to on the field, so everybody has to be talking together.

"The closer we are on and off the field, the better we are together."

LeBlanc agrees.

"We talk to each other like friends, in a unit, trying to dissect a play right after it happens, rewind and see how we can to it better.

"You can’t be out here trying to communicate and you don’t even really know the guy next to you."