Also see: Fantasy baseball closer depth charts
In fantasy baseball, the closer position remains volatile. Rarely does every closer hang on to the job for the entire season - injuries, poor performance and managerial decisions can cloud a team's bullpen picture.
Should you be concerned about a struggling stopper? Which setup men are climbing the depth chart? Any lingering injuries popping up? KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat series keeps you informed when you're looking for saves.
Closer: Jason Frasor
Next in line: Brandon League
Disabled list: Scott Downs
Downs (toe) aggravated the injury to his left foot that forced him to miss 19 games in June and July. Frasor assumes ninth-inning duties. If yourself or someone like you hasn't already done so, grab him.
Manager Cito Gaston acknowledged that Downs was probably pitching with a little pain and didn't want to admit it. It seems obvious in hindsight, but it was apparent throughout Downs' string of inconsistent efforts since his return from his first stint on the disabled list. It has been suggested that Toronto may have activated him hastily after the club reacted swiftly to B.J. Ryan's comments about his workload by releasing him.
Even pitching coach-slash-messiah Brad Arnsberg couldn't pinpoint Downs' problem, though; Arnsberg noted only that Downs wasn't hitting his spots as much and his sinker wasn't as sharp. "I didn't really see mechanical flaws, or anything like nursing his toe or anything that got my dander up as far as, 'Boy, we need to make an adjustment.'"
Gaston said he's uncertain when Downs will be back, but don't expect it be in the near future. The Jays will make sure the southpaw is completely healthy before they subject him to the rigors again. Reports today surmise: likely not until September.
Frasor, who has a 2.09 ERA and four saves, should have long-term value considering how relatively few games remain. The right-hander punctuated a victory Saturday by pitching two-thirds of an inning. Keep in mind, however, that he has been a little shaky in save situations (three earned runs allowed in 7 1/3 innings).
Gaston said he might mix in League, too, at least when Frasor is unavailable. Accardo was recalled after the Downs move. Toronto acquired Roenicke at the deadline; the hard-throwing righty has experiencing closing contests in the minors. League and perhaps Roenicke will have AL value, but ignore Accardo.
Job Security score: 3
Health score: 5
Closer: Kevin Gregg
Gregg was awful in the first couple of days of our eighth month: two blown saves, six hits, including three round-trippers and five earned runs allowed in 1 1/3 innings. However, manager Lou Piniella reiterated that Gregg is his man, to the dismay of Cubs fans who've chosen to express their anger in the five-seven-five syllabic pattern made popular somewhere in the Far East.
Piniella can't possibly view Marmol, with his 8.47 walks per nine, as a better option. Guzman is incredibly inexperienced, which doesn't work in his favor. Grabow is likely to be a matchup play. This bullpen is just heavily taxed; in July, North Side relievers pitched more innings than any other big league club's 'pen. Gregg logged 14, his heaviest monthly workload to date.
Heilman picked up Gregg's slack Saturday by pitching a perfect 10th to seal a victory. He couldn't repeat his effectiveness Sunday, dishing out two hits, including a homer, to "blow" a save in the seventh. Samardzija, the newly acquired Grabow, Guzman and Marmol had already appeared in Saturday's contest, so don't read into it.
Lefty B.J. Ryan can opt out of his contract if he's not up by Aug. 10, and it's uncertain if he will be. Piniella wondered aloud why the club might need three southpaws in the bullpen. He then pointed out that he doesn't make such decisions. Ryan's gas has been averaging a mere 86 to 88 mph. The former Toronto Blue Jays reliever can stick around until rosters expand next month, if he desires.
Gregg isn't going anywhere - at least not any time soon. The rest of Chicago's relievers have little value outside NL leagues, except for maybe Marmol, who'd be your handcuff if you're worried.
Job Security score: 5
Health score: 4
Also see: Fantasy baseball closer depth charts
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570. Follow @NicholasMinnix
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