2012 Fantasy Baseball Breakdown: Rafael Dolis vs. Steve Cishek

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I'll be analyzing two different players of the same position who are available in at least 50 percent of both ESPN and Yahoo! leagues. If you're torn between who to add, this column should offer some insight into each players' strengths, weaknesses and prospects going forward.  

The following duel is between two interim closers - one with lesser skills and more job security, and the other with a closer-worthy profile who is stuck in a committee.

Rafael Dolis ChC-RP | 34% ESPN and 33% Yahoo) 

The most pressing question here - who is Rafael Dolis (pronounced "Doe-leese") and why should I trust him? A limited Wikipedia entry asks me to believe he's a 24 year-old homegrown talent who began his pitching career back in 2006. He recorded 17 saves in 72 IP in Double-A in 2011, with a 3.22 ERA and 48 Ks. He skipped Triple-A entirely, and outside of a 1 1/3 inning audition in 2011, has zero major league experience. However, the Cubs turned to him once Carlos Marmol did his implosion thing, and he's managed to record three saves despite an apparent timeshare with James Russell and a very uncloser-like profile (5 K/8 BB in 19 IP). Similar to shaky predecessors such as Chris Perez or Fernando Rodney, Dolis is what you might call a "dormant volcano." He's someone you should continue to ride so long as you have a backup plan ready just in case he erupts - be it a handcuff in Russell, a proven vet like Kerry Wood or a longshot sleeper like Michael Bowdoin - don't tempt fate (or your ERA) by riding him solo. That said, he's already earned himself a bit of pull on his leash, having allowed just one earned run with two saves and a win since April 30. Not to go analogy-crazy, but one might compare Dolis to a lukewarm Bud Light when you're really craving a Stella Artois in a challis - the quality might be lacking, but it still gets the job done. As always, saves are saves.

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Steve Cishek Mia-RP | 31% ESPN and 37% Yahoo) 

In contrast, Cishek is the anti-Dolis, a high-strikeout pitcher (16 Ks in 15 IP) who hasn't yet been handed the keys to the ninth. He uses a hard sinker to induce ground balls more than 50 percent of the time, which in-turn lowers his propensity to give up the long ball (an absurd 0% HR/FB so far) - a quality you typically look for when trying to protect a lead. He's also a God-fearing man, as his Twitter profile can attest, and it's always a plus to have the Good Lord on your site (just ask Mr. Tebow). Unfortunately for Cishek, the Marlins bullpen is currently a muddled mess, as team brass may find it hard to swallow their pride and remove their newly-minted $27 million dollar man Heath Bell from the closer role for good. But he's been awful (7 K/10 BB, 10.24 ERA in 9.2 IP) and despite what manager Ozzie Guillen tells the media, he does not make the team better when he's on the mound. Edward Mujica, who 's recorded two saves since May 3, is also in the mix, and may be viewed as the more stable option (just four walks in 14 1/3 IP). In most situations, skills eventually win out, and if Cishek were in most situations he'd probably be owned in more than one-third of both ESPN and Yahoo! leagues. However, the Marlins' bullpen drama makes him a question mark for the time being. 


This dilemma isn't a problem for deep-leaguers, where saves are at a premium. But if both Cishek and Dolis are available in your league, and you happen to be, say, a Mariano Rivera owner, take the sure thing for now and ride Mt. Dolis until he erupts. I would think Cishek's fate is more likely to be tied to management's desire to get its money's worth from Bell, but he remains one to monitor closely nonetheless.

Written by Matt Gelfand exclusively for Follow Matt's fantasy baseball adventures on Twitter:@GelfBHQ.

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