Fantasy baseball category killers: saves

Fantasy baseball category killers: saves

By Rob Steingall
CSNChicago.com

Ernesto Frieri, Angels: When is this guy going to finally start getting some respect? He's only owned in 60 of Yahoo! leagues, which is criminal. His microscopic ERA (0.87, 0.00 for the Angels) and gaudy strikeout totals (53 K in 31 IP) make him one of the very best relief options in baseball, and someone who should be an immediate add to your fantasy team if you're lucky enough to stumble across him on your league waiver wire.

Tyler Clippard, Nationals: With Drew Storen possibly on track to return right around the All-Star Break, you still have roughly four weeks to profit from Clippard in the saves department. He's always had a closer skill set, and has done a great job in the role thus far, converting all nine of his opportunities since assuming the role. Ride him while you can, and enjoy the great ratios and strikeout totals that come along with the handshakes.

Heath Bell, Marlins: Don't look now, but Bell has converted his past 11 save opportunities, and hasn't given up a run since May 26th. He's back on track, and once again a trusted option in fantasy circles. With his contract and track record, he'll have a pretty long leash, even if he has a few more small hiccups along the way.

Carlos Marmol, Cubs: It looks like he has his job back, and converted his first opportunity on Friday. Marmol has been nothing short of awful this season, but with a chance to collect handshakes once again, he immediately gains value in all standard formats. Make the add, but keep a bottle of Pepto-Bismol by your side.
Brett Myers, Astros: He's still getting the job done, quietly putting together a season in which he converted 16-of-17 save opportunities while posting a 1.99 ERA before giving up eight singles in an inning on Monday. Ignore the fluky ERA spike. He plays for a bad Astros team and carries starting pitcher eligibility, making him a sneaky good play in formats with specific pitcher designations.

Kyle Schwarber catching again is a good step for a banged-up Cubs team

Kyle Schwarber catching again is a good step for a banged-up Cubs team

MESA, Ariz. – The Cubs are so strong up the middle that Javier Baez can star for Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic and return to camp as a super-utility guy/late-game defensive replacement. 

But that projection in late March is based on across-the-board health, which never happens in a 162-game season. World Series MVP Ben Zobrist (stiff neck) hasn't played in a Cactus League game in almost a week. All-Star shortstop Addison Russell (stiff back) became a late scratch to Friday's lineup at Sloan Park.

After trying to make a diving catch in center field, Albert Almora Jr. exited in the third inning of a 4-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians with what the Cubs called "left neck tightness," though he still plans to play in Las Vegas this weekend.  

On the other side of the spring-training complex in Mesa – away from the crowd of 15,473 in a minor-league game against a Colorado Rockies squad – the Cubs did get a positive piece of news on the health front: Kyle Schwarber went four innings behind the plate, going Tony Pena style and trying to reduce the stress on his body.

"I love catching," Schwarber said. "Whenever I played baseball, I was always a catcher. For me to be able to do that today – and feel pretty good about myself walking away from the day – it was a good step."

This is clearly important to Schwarber, an intensely driven personality who doesn't want to hear "no." Otherwise, the Cubs probably would have shut this down already, not wanting to risk it with a franchise player, someone who might blast 35 homers at the top of their lineup.

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But the medical staff cleared Schwarber when pitchers and catchers reported to Arizona – 10 months after he underwent surgery on his left knee to reconstruct his ACL and repair his LCL – and it could become a valuable skill again. 

"The most difficult part I would probably say was setup-wise," Schwarber said, "trying to find that timing of your moves and everything like that. Sometimes I felt like I was a little late getting my setup. But that all came. It's been a year since I got behind there, so overall everything went really well."

The Cubs already have one of the best young catchers in the game (Willson Contreras) and a two-time All-Star making $14 million this season backing him up (Miguel Montero). Schwarber doesn't want to put a number on how many starts he might make behind the plate, though the Cubs have framed it as in case of emergency, an extra late-inning option for manager Joe Maddon or maybe something that makes sense with a particular matchup. 

"As of right now, it's still the third-catcher role," Schwarber said. "I'm down for whatever, but I know the majority of the time is going to be out there in left."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Mark Sanchez officially signs with Bears

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Mark Sanchez officially signs with Bears

On the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Chris Emma, Seth Gruen and Danny Ecker join David Kaplan to discuss the Mark Sanchez signing. Does this mean the Bears won't draft a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft? 

Later, the White Sox named Jose Quintana their Opening Day starter, but lose Carlos Rodon and Todd Frazier to injuries. 

Finally, Robin Lopez is back after serving a one-game suspension. The panel looks at the Bulls matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below.