Fantasy baseball category killers: saves

Fantasy baseball category killers: saves

By Rob Steingall

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.

Why Cleveland's Mike Napoli was rooting to face the Cubs in the World Series

Why Cleveland's Mike Napoli was rooting to face the Cubs in the World Series

CLEVELAND — Buoyed by a sense of the history that will be made sometime next week, Cleveland Indians first baseman/designated hitter Mike Napoli was rooting for the Cubs to win the National League Championship Series and be his team’s opponent in the World Series. 

Napoli, who was on the losing side of the 2011 World Series with the Texas Rangers and won the 2013 World Series with the Boston Red Sox, said he’s well aware of the stigmas attached to the Cubs’ 108-year championship drought and the Indians’ 68-year stretch without a title. Having these two teams meet to have one of those streaks end should provide a breathtaking backdrop to the Fall Classic. 

“That’s the reason why I wanted the Cubs to win, to play against them,” Napoli said. “What they’ve gone through —  I thought it would be an amazing scenery to be able to play in both of these stadiums at this time. I thought it would be something cool.”

Napoli added that he has plenty of friends on the Cubs stemming from his three seasons in Boston. He was teammates with Cubs starters Jon Lester and John Lackey and catcher David Ross in that championship-winning year of 2013. 

But the magnitude of what’s on the line for not only the Indians’ fanbase, but the Cubs’, is why Napoli wanted this to be the matchup in the World Series. 

“They’ve gone through a long wait,” Napoli said, “so it’s pretty cool for them to make it.”

Local product and former fan Jason Kipnis has 'zero conflict' extending Cubs' World Series title drought

Local product and former fan Jason Kipnis has 'zero conflict' extending Cubs' World Series title drought

CLEVELAND — His first loves were Ryne Sandberg, Mark Grace and Sammy Sosa. He believes Steve Bartman is totally innocent. And he’s ecstatic to see the Cubs in the World Series because of what it means to his family and friends.

But don’t mistake any of the Cubs nostalgia that Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis is feeling for weakness. When the 112th World Series kicks off between the Cubs and Indians on Tuesday night, the Northbrook native has no issue extending the North Siders’ misery one more year.

“Let me reiterate — there’s zero conflict at all,” Kipnis said at media day on Monday at Progressive Field. “It was like, ‘Why do I have to beat the Cubs?’ Not ‘Why does this have to be versus the Cubs?’ There’s not one part of me that (wants the curse to end). Let’s be clear on that.”

What isn’t quite as certain is Kipnis’ status for Game 1, which starts at 7:08 p.m. CST. The veteran sustained a freak ankle injury — “it wasn’t exactly a mild sprain,” he said — during a victory celebration on Wednesday after the Indians wrapped up their first American League pennant since 1997. Kipnis said the swelling in his ankle has reduced and he’s hopeful to be ready to play “on the biggest stage in front of everyone I know.”

Already pleased with his own accomplishments, Kipnis, 29, said he was overcome with emotion on Saturday night as he read the social media posts of friends and family after the Cubs wrapped up their first trip to the Fall Classic since 1945. Kipnis’ love for the Cubs started early with Sandberg and Grace and flourished with the epic 1998 home run chase between Sosa and Mark McGwire.

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A neighbor of Bartman’s, Kipnis hopes the Cubs reunite with one of the most infamous fans in baseball history now that the club has returned to the World Series after a 71-year absence. Kipnis recalls how the incident made Bartman the talk of the town and how it also required a police presence outside his home in case an overzealous fan took things a little too far.

“He never asked for all the stuff that probably happened to him afterwards,” Kipnis said. “I don’t think he deserved any of that. He’s actually probably a very loyal fan and wanted a foul ball and it was just the way the events turned that turned him into a scapegoat.

“I would love it to see if he threw out a first pitch. Probably everyone would go nuts.”

Despite their love of the Cubs, Kipnis said loved ones refuse to put him in awkward spot. He knows how deep their attachments are and yet Kipnis has never felt any animosity — even if he wants to extend the drought one more year.

“It’s just what I grew up around and it’s just going to be fun,” Kipnis said. “It shouldn’t be a conflict, shouldn’t be nerve-wracking at all. It’s really just one of those professional perfect storms that kind of comes to a player’s opportunity where you get to play in front of everyone you know.

“They’re like, ‘There’s no question who we’re rooting for.’ That means a lot to me.”