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.
David Aardsma will be sidelined for a few days with an oblique strain. Brandon League will fill in for any save chances and should be acquired by those desperate for save chances. League threw a scoreless inning in non-closing work Sunday and already proved to be a wins vulture this year.
Valverde reacquaints himself
Pitching on the second straight day (and what was his third appearance in four days), the Toronto Blue Jays' Kevin Gregg stumbled Friday, allowing a run on a walk and two hits before yielding to Jesse Carlson, who induced a fly-out for the save. On Sunday, Jason Frasor stayed on for a four-out save, keeping Gregg on the bench.
No word on why Gregg didn't come in Sunday. Maybe manager Cito Gaston was frustrated with Gregg's Friday performance, or maybe Gregg was getting some more rest after pitching Thursday and Friday. It's hard to speculate on anyone besides Frasor at this point, but if your race might be determined by saves, might as well take a stab.
- Jose Valverde (elbow) returned to an in-game mound Sunday for the first time since Sept. 15. The Detroit Tigers' right-hander retired the heart of the Texas Rangers' order in a 1-2-3 inning. He isn't 100 percent, but he should be available moving forward for save chances. Phil Coke owners should probably hang tight, though, if they need all the save chances they can get.
- Bobby Jenks (forearm), who hasn't pitched since Sept. 4, wasn't missed by the Chicago White Sox this past weekend. Matt Thornton registered a scoreless two-inning save Sunday. Chris Sale tossed a scoreless inning Saturday to wrap up a four-run win after the leadoff runner chased J.J. Putz with a leadoff walk.
Consider Sale and Thornton the best options for saves as long as Jenks is out. The stopper's return for 2010 - and beyond - is still in doubt.
- After successful cleanup surgery for Andrew Bailey (elbow) last week, Bailey said he felt "amazing" at physical therapy recently. He should be ready to pitch in three months.
On Saturday, the Oakland Athletics could've used him. In the eighth inning of a tied affair, they brought in Michael Wuertz, who was returning from a thumb injury, to face a bunch of righties; Wuertz gave up the game-winning homer. Craig Breslow entered in the ninth and pitched a scoreless inning despite allowing a hit.
Oakland has not been married as to when they use either reliever. With Jerry Blevins (shoulder) unlikely to pitch again this season, maybe Breslow is saved for lefty situations, but both Wuertz and Breslow should be owned for the final week.
- Chris Perez was happy to be unavailable this past weekend; his wife gave birth to the couple's first child. The Cleveland Indians' stopper should be back with the team Monday.
Replacing Perez on Sunday was recent call-up Vinnie Pestano, who worked around a two-walk out for his first career save. The righty saved 17 games combined for Triple-A Columbus and Double-A Akron this year while fanning 11.61 batters per nine innings and improving his control. The 25-year-old might have a place in the big league 'pen next year.
- Though it shouldn't be much of a concern for the rest of the fantasy baseball season - you're not benching him at this point - Mariano Rivera blew his third save chance in eight September opps Sunday. Opposing runners are 8-for-8 in steal attempts on Rivera this year; four of them came when he allowed two runs on two hits last night.
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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