Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat - NL

by Tim Heaney on August 25, 2010 @ 14:30:00 PDT

 


In fantasy baseball, the closer position remains volatile. Rarely does every closer hang on to the job for an entire season - injuries, poor performance and managerial decisions can cloud a team's bullpen picture.

Should you be concerned about a struggling stopper? Which relievers are climbing the depth chart? Are any injuries popping up? KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat keeps you informed when you're looking for saves.

Key

Job security (JS) score 1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable)
Health (H) score 1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

Closer: Hong-Chih Kuo, Jonathan Broxton

Understudy: Octavio Dotel

Pittsburgh Pirates RPs Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek
Hanrahan still has edge over Meek

Why are many surprised that Kuo is still receiving save chances? The lefty came on to wrap things up Tuesday, working around a hit and his throwing error. The catch: All five of the opposing hitters were right-handers.

Torre hadn't given the full closer reins back to Brox even after the righty's Saturday outing. Maybe Broxton's 29-pitch Sunday blowup made Torre hesitant to use him in a pressure sitch; the righty hasn't pitched since then and could be on a brief break. Kuo had briefly stumbled in closing while Broxton was exiled, but the lefty's overall brilliance this year will probably keep him in save chances, even as a co-stopper.

Broxton must not be dropped. Kuo has been pitching more often on back-to-back days, but his workload remains under the microscope, meaning Broxton probably will have chances to prove himself in the near future.

Job security score: 4

Health score: 5

Pittsburgh Pirates

Closer: Joel Hanrahan, Evan Meek

On Tuesday the Bucs disregarded the fantasy baseball world. Hanrahan entered the contest with two outs in the seventh. The Pirates were comfortable in letting him face the St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols with one on and two out in a tied game; he induced a pop-out.

In the eighth, Hanny stayed on to face Matt Holliday and worked around a walk to sustain Pittsburgh's two-run lead.

Meek's ninth inning was eventful. He allowed a leadoff single and later a one-out RBI single. He allowed another one-bagger to load the bases before inducing a foul-out and a pop-out to end it.

Los Angeles Dodgers RP Hong-Chih Kuo
Kuo, Nellie! Still a player in 'pen

Both relievers have had tough August campaigns, but while Meek remains an option to close, Hanrahan is still the front-runner, despite manager John Russell's assertion: "Neither one is our closer." The Bucs wanted to retire a Triple Crown threat in a key situation - "We liked when we brought in Hanrahan," per Russell - and bucked the stats-weighted trend to do it. Refreshing, in a way. And at least Hanny picked up a vulture victory.

If Meek is still out there, you can pick him up, but don't think his Tuesday appearance will make him a favorite to be stopper. He's still a slight second in the pecking order.

Job security score: 4

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

  • When asked about whether Bobby Parnell would receive save chances, New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel maintained he would use Hisanori Takahashi to close unless a matchup dictates otherwise. The organization still thinks highly of Parnell. Manuel: "... there will probably come an opportunity for (Parnell) to save games if we think going into the later inning that he's a better matchup than, say, Takahashi."
    Parnell has the stuff to do the job. Deep mixed leaguers who are running out of speculative options could try out Parnell.
  • Pitching on his third straight day and fourth in five days, the Colorado Rockies' Huston Street notched a third straight scoreless one-inning save Tuesday - a streak in which he has thrown only 32 pitches. The more aggressive Street cited corrected execution of his changeup for his improvement.
  • With Brandon Lyon unavailable Tuesday, Wilton Lopez received another save opportunity for the Houston Astros. Lopez couldn't convert, though, as he gave up a two-out solo jack to blow the one-run lead. In this marathon, Jeff Fulchino locked things down in the 16th. Lopez remains the secondary saves target to Lyon with Matt Lindstrom (back) on the DL.
    Lindstrom, by the way, will take the mound Wednesday to throw a bullpen before the game. He threw off flat ground last weekend and is improving. There's no firm timetable for his return yet.
  • The Arizona Diamondbacks are no closer to naming a closer. Manager Kirk Gibson was asked again if Juan Gutierrez would be the closer, and Gibson tiptoed around the question again.
    "(Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.) and I have talked about it," Gibson said. "We look at the lineup ... and try to determine how we can best get through it. Would I want a closer? Sure. Has that been determined? No. We're not there."
    Fantasy folks: Fly with Guti and Aaron Heilman if you have to, but good luck.
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Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: AL | NL

Fantasy baseball closer depth charts: AL | NL

About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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