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.
|Job security (JS) score
||1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable)
|Health (H) score
||1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)
Understudy: Drew Storen, Sean Burnett
Storen failed to record an out in the ninth Sunday, blowing a three-run lead and allowing all four of his opposing batters to cross home, capped by a game-ending two-run jack. It was the first time he gave up a run in seven September outings, but his already shaky WHIP this month rose to 2.00 following the disastrous botched save and loss.
The Washington Nationals' righty is the closest thing the Nats have to a stopper, but manager Jim Riggleman isn't acknowledging Storen as such. "None of the guys are strictly seventh, eighth or ninth inning," Riggleman said. "We're going to use them as needed. We're hoping someday Drew is that guy that can pitch in the ninth. We're not saying it's now. We're not saying it's next year."
The vastly improved Burnett remains a candidate for save chances this year and could be stashed on deep rosters. Storen holders should hang on; despite the team's claims that Storen isn't the stopper, that is how he has been used.
Job security score: 1
Health score: 5
Ryan Franklin returned to the St. Louis Cardinals Friday after a leave of absence and is considering retiring after the 2011 season. The righty, who's 25-for-27 in save chances this year, wrapped up Sunday's winning affair (one scoreless inning, one hit, two K's). The vet threw a knuckleball twice in recording one of those whiffs. As if he needed another addition to his vast array of stuff.
Riggleman: Storen not the guy
- The Pittsburgh Pirates stuck to their word in putting forth an even-handed audition for their 2011 stopper, calling upon Evan Meek to wrap up Sunday's game in a scoreless frame. Joel Hanrahan pitched in the eighth inning twice this weekend but could still see one or two chances down the stretch, especially since Meek has pitched on three straight days.
If Meek remains unowned, grab him. Hanny should be retained in deep setups for his K's, at least, and the Buccos' tryout of Meek might not keep Hanny from an opportunity.
- Are the Atlanta Braves continuing auditions for Billy Wagner's replacement? Craig Kimbrel recorded the Sunday save as the Bravos rested Wagner for the upcoming series with the Philadelphia Phillies. The K-happy righty fanned three in his first MLB closure and now has a 0.63 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP and 29 K's in 14 1/3 innings this year. Kimbrel is a must-watch for all leagues in 2011 - his dominance makes him an ideal saves candidate.
- Since Aug. 1, the Houston Astros' Brandon Lyon leads the majors with 17 saves and hasn't allowed a run in 29 of his last 32 outings. He notched two more by shutting the door Friday and Sunday.
Matt Lindstrom probably won't have a chance to make a big fantasy dent in the saves category, so it's probably safe to discard him if you need to make noise in your standings.
- Off the wagon again? Huston Street's streak of 10 scoreless appearances disappeared after he allowed two runs on six hits and a walk in three combined innings of weekend work. The Colorado Rockies' righty captured a Friday save but yielding the tying run in the ninth Sunday. No job security threat here despite the weekend acquisition of Octavio Dotel.
- Brad Lidge stepped up Saturday for a scoreless one-inning save for the Philadelphia Phillies. Post-break, Lidge carries a 2.63 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP and 17 saves. His slider looks back in form, and he's throwing it more frequently. Lidge plans to mix in more fastballs as the season closes so that he'll throw them confidently in the postseason.
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 LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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