Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat - NL

by Tim Heaney on August 18, 2010 @ 12:25:00 PDT

 


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)

Houston Astros

Closer: Brandon Lyon

Understudy: Wilton Lopez, Matt Lindstrom

Astros skipper Bradley Mills has pulled the struggling Lindstrom from the stopper position, handing the role to Lyon before Tuesday's game. Lopez, however, took the ball and notched his first career closure last night. Lyon had pitched on three of the last four days and was unavailable.

Lopez will probably continue to be the candidate when Lyon needs a break. Lopez has more intriguing skills with a mix of grounders (51.7 percent this year), control (0.90 BB/9 in 2010) and his success in holding on inherited runners (25 of 26 this year).

Houston Astros RP Brandon Lyon
The not so cowardly Lyon

The 'Stros aren't removing Lindstrom completely, though, and claim they want to build up his confidence in situations with less pressure before giving him saves duty back. The righty was given medication last week to help his back spasms that have been affecting his delivery.

Lyon should be owned everywhere. Lopez's occasional opportunities can be useful in deep leagues. Though Houston believes he can succeed in pressure situations, there might not be enough time for Lopez to earn frequent save chances, since Houston wants to bring Lindstrom back into the role.

Hang on to Lindstrom everywhere; his early-season success still holds weight with the Astros.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 4

Mound meetings

  • New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel asserted that Hisanori Takahashi is his closer of choice. "For the most part, he'll be the guy if he's fresh and the matchups look favorable for him," the skipper told reporters. "He'll be the guy that we'll close games with." Manuel added that he wasn't sure how many straight days Tak could take the mound.
    Typical Manuel response: certainty mixed with ample uncertainty. Tak leads the way, but that could change in the near future. "Jenrry Mejia, closer" whispers in September? Maybe so if the Mets continue their quest to void Francisco Rodriguez's contract.

  • After his tiptoeing, five-out save Tuesday, John Axford has two saves and a win in his last three outings of shutout work, a total of 5 1/3 innings. He has seven walks in his last four games, but the Milwaukee Brewers' co-closer is at least dulling the ratio blast by pitching one-plus innings.
    A Goose Gossage disciple: Six of Ax's 18 saves have come in more than one frame. Manager Ken Macha remains comfortable using the righty in this fashion; he rested Axford Sunday. The hurler hasn't complained about his arm, and this workload doesn't appear to be an issue.

  • Interim Los Angeles Dodgers closer Hong-Chih Kuo was unavailable Tuesday. Manager Joe Torre said before the game that either Octavio Dotel or the usurped Jonathan Broxton could be available for the save. The Dodgers didn't need one in their 6-0 win. Kuo should be available Wednesday.
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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.

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