Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat - NL

by Tim Heaney on June 16, 2010 @ 13:25:00 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)

 

Arizona Diamondbacks

Closer: Aaron Heilman

Understudy: Chad Qualls

D-backs manager A.J. Hinch handed the majority closer duties to Heilman, though he said he might use Heilman earlier in the game if important situations arise.

Grab Heilman everywhere, as long as you're not dropping anything of long-term value. Heilman has stood out among the heap of Diamondbacks relievers, and there's a chance he could be the go-to saves guy for a while.

Remember, though, that he has posted just 10 career saves and hasn't had a long-term stretch in the role. The righty's groundball rate has tanked, and opponents are making more contact; his increased flies and lucky HR/FB could come back to bite him, especially at Chase Field.

His strand rate is far above his career mark, but effective relievers can easily post such high figures, even with a less inspiring track record. Heilman's increased changeup use partially explains his improvements, including his slashed walk rate. Those yearning for saves should take the potentially bad with the possibility to improve in a counting category.

As for Qualls, Hinch will probably use him in low-pressure appearances so the righty can work on "his delivery and pitch-making." Stash Qualls. If he shows improvement, there's a good chance he'd see save opps again.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 4

Florida Marlins

Closer: Leo Nunez

Arizona Diamondbacks RP Aaron Heilman
There's a new snake in town

Nunez blew the Marlins' save chance and lost the game Tuesday, giving up one run on two hits. It was his first botched opp since May 4. His command and groundball rate remain outstanding, but some luster is disappearing.

Opponents are hitting .364 versus Nunez in his five June innings (5.40 ERA). Is he becoming too reliant on his helpful changeup? Maybe, at least according to the Texas Rangers' Josh Hamilton, who said he was sitting on a changeup on his leadoff single.

Luckily for Nunez owners, the Fish don't have another legitimate closing option at hand outside of maybe the erratic Clay Hensley, the best shot as a pure desperation add. Nunez has been sealing the deal, even if he has been rougher in the process.

Job security score: 4

Health score: 4

Mound meetings

  • Huston Street (groin, shoulder) showed increased velocity in his Monday rehab outing, reaching 91 and 92 mph, an improvement of 3 to 4 mph over his earlier trips. The Colorado Rockies closer is slated to throw today and Saturday for four outs each with Triple-A Colorado Springs, with a decision on his activation to follow.
  • For his fourth straight outing, the Pittsburgh Pirates' Octavio Dotel gave up a run. Entering the ninth yesterday with Pittsburgh down by one, the righty gave up a walk. Dotel's pickoff attempt turned into a throwing error, which advanced the runner to third. A single later scored the run.
    Dotel's job isn't in jeopardy merely because of his current poor streak; two of his gaffes came in non-save situations. Evan Meek is the speculative add, though, if your roster needs potential closures, though the Pirates also might turn to Joel Hanrahan.
  • Francisco Rodriguez surrendered a two-run homer Tuesday but walked away with a save. It was the first time the New York Mets righty had given up a run since June 2 (six outings).
  • The blistering Ryan Franklin allowed his first run - a solo homer - since May 14 but still came away with a St. Louis Cardinals closure. He hasn't blown a save since May 7, his only gaffe all year.
    A .248 BABIP warns of a correction, but as long as he keeps his walks at a pristine level and induces his now typically high grounder totals, he'll be fine.

Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: AL | NL

Fantasy baseball closer depth charts: AL | NL

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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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