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.
|Job security (JS) score
||1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable)
|Health (H) score
||1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)
Understudy: Juan Gutierrez, Chad Qualls
Lurkers: Aaron Heilman, Sam Demel
Qualls didn't record an out Saturday, allowing two hits and two runs (one earned, thanks to his fielding error) after entering the ninth with a three-run advantage. Gutierrez cleaned up the mess, inducing a pop-out and a double-play grounder to close it out.
Gutierrez has surrounded falterings on June 30 and July 5 with nine scoreless innings since June 8. Everyone who looks at surface stats must note his serviceable 3.14 post-May ERA. Was that an audition for Guti to step in?
Will the Bucs hand the baton to Meek?
"I guess I reserve the right to change my mind," manager Kirk Gibson said regarding the closer situation. "Do we want to have a defined back end? Of course we do, but we're not there right now."
If you're longing for saves, see if you have someone to drop to see if Gutierrez is the answer. This is a messy situation, since Qualls is still considered a factor. Gutierrez has the baton for the moment, but that could easily change in this frustrating saves relay. If you have to play this game to keep up with saves, you might be switching options frequently.
Job security score: 1
Health score: 4
- The All-Star break can't come soon enough for Octavio Dotel, who blew a save chance Friday and Sunday, giving up three runs on four hits in 1 1/3 combined frames. The Pittsburgh Pirates' 36-year-old hadn't given up a run in nine outings before stumbling Friday. In fact, he had been pretty stellar since April (2.11 ERA in May and June), blowing just one save chance since April 30 heading into weekend action.
Dotel will walk batters frequently but remains serviceable - so useful, in fact, that he could be traded before the deadline to a setup-needy contender. The Bucs deny it, but it wouldn't hurt deep league owners to be prepared by scooping up Evan Meek for forward thinking.
- Florida Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez recently urged Leo Nunez to stop relying on his changeup. The right-hander appears to be responding; he has thrown a shutout inning in each of his last four save chances while fanning five, walking none and giving up just one hit. Two of those closures came this weekend.
- Brad Lidge (Philadelphia Phillies) recovered from Thursday antics by holding his opponents scoreless in two appearances this weekend: 1 2/3 frames, two walks, one hit and two K's along with a Sunday closure. Despite Philly fans' boos, Lidge is the go-to guy in this 'pen, with Ryan Madson being the speculative fantasy option.
- Huston Street has allowed just one run since June 24 (nine appearances). The Colorado Rockies stopper pitched a perfect saving inning Friday and Saturday after a shaky save Thursday; he needed only 47 pitches to get through those three days. His velocity jumped up Friday, seemingly because he's getting more comfortable.
Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: AL | NL
Fantasy baseball closer depth charts: AL | NL
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.
Don't miss these great reports....