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Fantasy Fix: How Do You Spell Relief?

The current crop of fantasy relief pitchers appears to be an even sorrier lot than usual. If they are not getting benched by long-term or season-ending injuries, they are, like new (and temporary?) White Sox closer Hector Santiago, getting hammered by the opposition.

Santiago, the supposed screwball maestro, was not drafted in many fantasy leagues, but he became a hot pick-up after he earned a save in the Sox' first victory of the season. But, he already has given up three home runs, and blew his first save Monday night against Baltimore.

He is not the only closer who is struggling. Heath Bell, RP, MIA, and Sergio Santos, RP, TOR (the Sox' former closer) both have 12.00 ERAs. John Axford, RP, MIL, so brilliant last season, has a 10.13 ERA. You count Carlos Marmol, RP, CUBS, with an 8.76 ERA, in this group, too, though he seems to have settled down a bit in the rare occasions the Cubs have had need for him.

Unlike some of the closers who have been hit with major injuries, you may not want to drop these guys just yet. However, you may want to bench them for a while, and that begs the question of what to do with your RP slot in the meantime.

One option is to pick up someone from the waiver wire who actually is getting saves:

Jim Johnson, RP, BAL: He has four saves already, though has been ignored on the assumption the Orioles won't win much. That may be true as the season unfolds, but you might as well ride him for now.

Fernando Rodney, RP. TAM: Called in to close while Kyle Farnsworth is injured, Rodney has four saves, and a 0.00 ERA. It could be a temporary role, but can get you saves while someone like Bell gets his problems worked out.

Henry Rodriguez, RP, WAS: In Drew Storen's absence, he has been sharing save opportunities with Brad Lidge, but his overpowering fastballs and 0.00 ERA suggest he could take over the job himself.

Another option is to pick up RPs who can get you wins or extra strikeouts:

Jeff Samardzija, RP, CUBS: He is of course starting this year, but still has his RP eligibility. It remains to be seen how effective he will be all season for a losing team, but he's 2-0 so far.

Lance Lynn, RP, STL: He moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation with the injury to Chris Carpenter, and he may not be a lock to start all season, but does have a 2-0 record and a 1.50 ERA.

Aroldis Chapman, RP, CIN: The Cuban lefty always seems to be on the cusp of starting, but right now as a set-up man he has 15 strikeouts in just eight innings. If he gets two or three appearances a week, that's like having another starter, strikeout-wise.

Expert Wire
* The Faster Times examines the epidemic of closer injuries, with Brian Wilson, RP, SF, the latest to go down.

* Opposing Views likes Bryan LaHair, OF, Cubs as a waiver pick-up. I'm still waiting for him to get enough first base starts to qualify there.

* Bleacher Report provides pointers on how to trade a superstar. Why would you want to trade a superstar?

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Dan O'Shea welcomes your comments.

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