by Bryce McRae
on May 3, 2010 @ 14:00:00
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: Alfredo Simon
Understudy: Cla Meredith
The O's demoted Jim Johnson to Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday to try to correct his stuff. His 2010 stats: 6.52 ERA, 1.97 WHIP and a .349 opponents' average. His issues stem from a lack of confidence and mechanical problems.
Johnson's demotion likely means this is Simon's job for now. He earned his second save in as many chances Saturday. It also marked the first time he has worked on consecutive days since returning to the O's.
Options outside of Simon are thin: The O's have discussed the possibility of using one of their young arms (Jake Arrieta?) in the 'pen with no rotation spots available. Uehara's return could happen this week, but it's uncertain if they'd put him into a closing situation right away.
Gonzalez has just started a throwing program. He's expected to need three weeks before beginning a rehab assignment; the lefty might return by the end of May if he avoids setbacks.
For now, at least, Simon is the best saves bet; maybe a young arm like Arrieta could do the job, but it's tough to speculate on someone who hasn't done the job yet in the bigs. Make Simon a priority addition in all leagues, if you haven't already.
Meredith and Uehara are worth AL-only speculation as a backup plans.
Job security score: 1
Health score: 4
Closer: Neftali Feliz
Understudy: Frank Francisco
Francisco believes he has corrected a flaw in his delivery: Per Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, Francisco was collapsing his back side, which caused his pitching arm to slip underneath the ball during his delivery. Spotting the hitch has helped turn things around; Francisco has allowed just one run in his last nine innings.
Francisco has also been cultivating his curveball, which he used in a three-pitch strikeout in a save Saturday. He wasn't available Sunday after pitching in six of nine games; current closer Feliz worked the ninth Sunday for his third save in as many chances.
It appears only a matter of time until manager Ron Washington moves Francisco back to the full-time ninth-inning role; he recently said he prefers to have Frankie's experience at the back end. Francisco should be owned in all leagues.
Job security score: 2
Health score: 4
About Bryce McRae
Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.
Don't miss these great reports....
Recent KFFL releases
Fantasy Football Rankings: Standard Scoring
Fantasy Football Rankings: PPR Scoring
Fantasy Baseball Closer Depth Charts: White Sox chaos coming?
Fantasy Football Rankings: Scoring only