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.
Closer: Chad Qualls
Understudy: Juan Gutierrez
Qualls' positive Tuesday results - after fixing a mechanical flaw - didn't last long. The Arizona Diamondbacks' righty promptly yielded a leadoff homer in the ninth frame of a knotted affair with the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday. He allowed a single and an RBI double before being yanked, eventually ending up with three earned runs allowed on three hits in one-third of an inning.
Arizona manager A.J. Hinch questioned Qualls' approach on the homer at-bat and wasn't pleased overall: "It's getting pretty ridiculous to be honest and it's no fun to lose these games," he said. "It's hard. And it's hard to find new ways to describe late-inning failures where they scratch not one, not two, but multiple runs on top of us to take us out of games." Hinch wouldn't say whether he'd start using Qualls in lower-leverage appearances, but you have to think his confidence in Qualls needs to be reaffirmed soon.
Wednesday was the third straight night Qualls pitched; he compiled 10 tosses for a total of 47 in the last three nights. Arizona has Thursday off, so that might've played into the decision. Though Hinch's frustration is mounting, Qualls owners have to hang tight. Since he's a relief pitcher, his potential ratio damage isn't that bad this early in the season, and you should keep him in your lineup for the save chances.
Qualls says his surgically repaired left knee isn't an issue, but maybe the D-backs will place some blame on his knee for an impending DL stint. Don't count on that, but it's something to think about, especially if Gutierrez is either on your bench or floating on the wire and you have a spot to burn on him.
Job security score: 4
Health score: 4
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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