Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat - NL

by Bryce McRae on June 1, 2010 @ 12:00:00 PDT

 


Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: AL | NL

Fantasy baseball closer depth charts: AL | NL

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)

 

Milwaukee Brewers

Closer: John Axford

Understudy: Trevor Hoffman

Lurkers: Carlos Villanueva

Disabled list: LaTroy Hawkins (shoulder)

Milwaukee Brewers RP John Axford
The Ax is chopping

Axford worked the ninth Saturday to earn the save. The Canadian righty has surrendered two runs in his eight innings since joining the big league club. He has 13 K's and a 1.00 WHIP. Oh, and two saves. His stuff is good enough to keep the job, and manager Ken Macha said "it's hard not to bring him in."

Where does that leave Hoffman? Macha said after Saturday's game, "I'm not eliminating Trevor ... I want to give [Hoffman] a few more innings. But it's going to be nice if we have coverage like that."

The Hoff has looked better in his last three appearances, giving up just one hit and one walk in three innings. His command has improved. You shouldn't drop Hoffman - he might be put back in the role - but The Ax should be acquired in all leagues.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 4

Arizona Diamondbacks

Closer: Chad Qualls

Understudy: Aaron Heilman

Lurkers: Esmerling Vasquez, Juan Gutierrez

Qualls blew another save Sunday - his fourth - after settling down recently. He gave up two runs on four hits. Two days before, he gave up two runs on one walk and three hits in the eighth inning of a 5-0 loss. Those two appearances were his first since working four days in a row from May 19-22. His pitch counts weren't high in that stretch, but it could be affecting him adversely.

D-backs manager A.J. Hinch probably doesn't have any other options in the ninth. Gutierrez is still righting himself. Vasquez balked in the winning run in a ninth-inning tie yesterday. Heilman gave up one run and three hits in two innings Sunday.

Heilman then Vasquez are probably your best bets for speculating. Don't expect much if either is given an extensive look, which doesn't seem likely.

Job security score: 2

Health score: 4

Philadelphia Phillies

Closer: Jose Contreras

Understudy: Brad Lidge

Lurkers: J.C. Romero

Disabled list: Ryan Madson (toe)

Manager Charlie Manuel plans to work Lidge back into the closer's role. Contreras' performance as the interim closer (three saves, 0.59 ERA this season overall) means Manuel can afford to take his time with Lidge.

If Lidge is available, pick him up. He worked one scoreless inning Monday. Lidge said the command of his slider was on in Monday's appearance; if that's the case, Lidge would have a decent shot at recapturing something close to his '08 form.

Given Lidge's injury history, though, Contreras should remain on all rosters, even if Lidge takes back the closer's mantle. The Cuban vet has performed adequately as a ratio reliever this year.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 4

Mound meetings

Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: AL | NL

Fantasy baseball closer depth charts: AL | NL

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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.

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