Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat - AL

by Nicholas Minnix on March 2, 2011 @ 04:09:59 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 cloud a team's bullpen picture.

Should you be concerned about a struggling stopper? Which relievers are climbing the depth chart? Have any injuries popped 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)

Minnesota Twins

Closer: TBD

Understudy: Joe Nathan, Matt Capps

J-Brox's offering, Wilson's back:

NL Hot Seat | Depth charts

Nathan doesn't think there's any reason to doubt that he'll be ready for opening day. Ron Gardenhire shares that optimism, although he isn't as vocal about it. The 36-year-old's arm will do most of the talking, but the attitude is encouraging. The right-hander believes that his recovery from 2002 shoulder surgery prepared him for the rigors of a long rehab.

It doesn't negate the likelihood that he'll struggle, at least a bit, early on. Capps remains important Nathan insurance, and Nathan remains a potential bargain.

Job security score: TBD

Health score: TBD

Seattle Mariners

Closer: TBD

Understudy: Brandon League

Lurkers: Chris Ray, Daniel Cortes, Manny Delcarmen, Josh Lueke

Disabled list: David Aardsma

By the end of last week, Aardsma was close to putting all his weight on his surgically repaired hip, but he hasn't lost the crutches. No change in his outlook: He's out until May. League remains the favorite to substitute, with Ray the likeliest to breathe down his neck and Cortes a possible long-term successor.

Job security score: TBD

Health score: TBD

Texas Rangers

Closer: Neftali Feliz

Understudy: Alexi Ogando

Lurkers: Tanner Scheppers, Darren O'Day, Mark Lowe

Texas Rangers RP Neftali Feliz
Nathan on his way back

On Thursday, all eyes will be on Feliz as he makes his first spring start. Jon Daniels' assessment of the value of a starting pitcher versus a reliever has no shortage of more vocal endorsements from outsiders. It's unlikely that Texas staffers will feel pressure to move Feliz to the rotation beyond what they've placed upon themselves to evaluate this possibility - unless the right-hander thrills and the club plays it close to the vest. Ron Washington and crew expect to make a decision on his role in about two or three weeks.

Alexi Ogando had a rough beginning to the spring, but that's not a concern. He's still a sleeper to close. The organization could bring in an outsider to save contests if they move forward with Feliz as a starter. SI.com's Tom Verducci believes that 22-year-old's zinger and slider, which wowed hitters in camp, are enough to get by with an OK changeup, as other young ace-material hurlers do. If the Rangers remain convinced about the breaking ball, Feliz's changeup sits at the fulcrum of his fortune.

Job security score: 5

Health score: 5

Toronto Blue Jays

Closer: TBD

Understudy: Frank Francisco

Lurkers: Octavio Dotel, Jon Rauch

Francisco, easily the favorite, was dealing with soreness that he insisted is ordinary for him at this time of year. "It's just adjusting to spring training. It's getting ready, getting looser," he said a week ago. All accounts back him up. He's expected to be ready for game action within the next week. Dotel did himself no favors in his first spring action, anyway.

Job security score: TBD

Health score: TBD

Mound meetings

  • Andrew Bailey continues to up his work in bullpen sessions and will soon toss batting practice. The Oakland Athletics won't rush their closer, who has reported no issues and remains a high-upside purchase that could come at a discount.
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Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat | AL depth charts | NL depth charts

About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.


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