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: Bobby Parnell, Pedro Feliciano
Lurkers: Hisanori Takahashi, Manny
K-Rod's season comes to a close
Francisco Rodriguez (thumb) suffered a torn ligament in his right thumb - possibly while allegedly assaulting his father-in-law last week, according to some reports. Rodriguez will need surgery to fix the injury, and it looks like he is done for the season.
Target Parnell first if you have to speculate. He has the stuff to close and has seen ample work in the eighth inning this year. Lefties have hit him hard in brief time this year, but the righty had four saves for Triple-A Buffalo before his June call-up, so he might be a better fit for the role.
The lefty Feliciano struggles against righties and would probably likely be saved for situations loaded with left-handed bats. He has four career saves but is typically more of a situational specialist.
Don't count on any of these relievers single-handedly bringing you up your standings in saves, though. This looks like it could be a fluid situation.
Job security score: 1
Health score: 5
Closer: Jonathan Broxton
Understudy: Hong-Chih Kuo, Octavio Dotel
Brox's Thursday blowup was followed by a one-hit shutout frame in the eighth inning Friday. Before Friday's contest, the deposed righty worked in the bullpen with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and bullpen coach Ken Howell. Broxton is trying to prevent his torso from rotating too much when he releases the ball. In Friday's outing, manager Joe Torre said Broxton "looked like he was still feeling for it."
With Brox working out his kinks, Kuo wrapped things up Sunday with a scoreless inning and two K's for his fourth save in five chances this year; his botch came in a seventh-inning appearance.
Torre doesn't want to overuse Kuo; the lefty wanted to pitch Friday, but Torre rejected the idea because Kuo had pitched Wednesday and Thursday. Dotel is Torre's choice to pitch in save chances on nights when the lefty isn't available.
Job security score: 3
Health score: 5
Closer: Matt Lindstrom (back)
Understudy: Brandon Lyon
Tests showed no structural damage on Lindstrom's stiff back, which has him in day-to-day listing. Lindstrom was available Sunday after taking a three-game break but wasn't used because of the Astros' big lead. Lyon filled in well for Lindstrom this weekend, closing things out Friday and Sunday with a shutout frame in each appearance.
Though Lindstrom appears to be nearing a return, saves-desperate owners could pluck Lyon if they need to keep pace and are running out of options. Lindstrom's back has been a lingering issue this year, so Lyon could still see a few saves even if the stopper comes back; Houston might want to rest him occasionally.
Job security score: 4
Health score: 4
Closer: Huston Street
After a clean save Friday night, Street's weekend ended with a Saturday loss (two innings, one run, three hits, two walks) and a Sunday blown save (two unearned runs on one walk, one hit batsman and one hit, all with two outs).
On Sunday, an error by the typically sure-handed Clint Barmes helped doom Street's outing, but Street's 7.56 August ERA in 8 1/3 innings points to more enveloping struggles. Street's changeup has been coming in high to opposing batters, per manager Jim Tracy, but Street said his pitch release feels like it's coming around.
As long as he's healthy, Street will close for this team, barring a monumental meltdown. Mixed leaguers will find a hard time being comfortable with speculating on a replacement - even Manuel Corpas, who has been erratic.
Job security score: 4
Health score: 3
- The Drew Storen-Sean Burnett Show continued for the
Washington Nationals this weekend. Burnett wrapped up a save Friday in two
innings of work, with four of the six batters he retired - in order - being
lefties. Storen retired the side in order Sunday for another closure.
Expect this pair to continue in these duties for awhile, with Storen being
the better fantasy target if he's still available because Burnett's use will
probably be dictated by the amount of lefties due up.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates' closer battle still looks undecided. Joel Hanrahan
hasn't pitched since July 12, has allowed at least one run in three of
his last five outings and has split his save opps since the trade of Octavio
Evan Meek, meanwhile, allowed four runs on five hits and a walk
Friday in the eighth. The righty said his velocity wasn't down, but pain in
his right calf made him uncomfortable. The saves-hungry population should
try to lock up both if possible, but Hanrahan is the better choice if you
need to choose.
- The Philadelphia Phillies' Brad Lidge hasn't allowed a run or a walk in each of his last
seven outings, including a scoreless Sunday save. All's clear for now.
Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: AL
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....