Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat - NL

by Tim Heaney on March 31, 2011 @ 12:45:32 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)

 

Arizona Diamondbacks

Closer: J.J. Putz

Understudy: Juan Gutierrez

Lurkers: David Hernandez, Sam Demel, Kam Mickolio

After being sidelined since March 18, Putz threw in the ninth frame Tuesday against a Mexican League squad. Apparently, that convinced him he's ready for the season. And just because he needed more work, he struck out the only batter he faced in Wednesday's contest. He worked back-to-back days, a positive way to enter the season.

Twins twosome, Rays roundup:

AL Hot Seat | Depth charts

He finishes with a whopping 4 2/3 spring innings (only five outs in the Cactus League) because of his revised preparation schedule. He had some trouble with his splitter but touched 93 mph with his Tuesday heat.

You should still keep an eye on how he performs to start the year. Putz is no stranger to injuries. Our hierarchy is conservative: Gutierrez's experience pitching in save moments for Kirk Gibson gives him a slight edge over the other wannabes, but if Hernandez shows Gibson what he did in relief last year, he should easily leapfrog Guti.

Job security score: 4

Health score: 3

Philadelphia Phillies

Closer: Jose Contreras

Understudy: Ryan Madson

Disabled list: Brad Lidge

That smoke we smelled last time turned into a Dante production.

Lidge (shoulder) will be shut down for three to six weeks. After that timetable is up, he could require a month or more before he is ready to pitch in a game. He said he hopes to be back for the second half. Enthused?

Philly will give Contreras the first shot at taking the saves reins. Madson isn't out of the picture, but Philly has hemmed and hawed about moving him out of setup duty because they're not confident in his closing abilities.

Washington Nationals RP Drew Storen
Storen sharing, biding his time

He still warrants an addition if you're grasping, but, if you still have the chance, Contreras remains your best shot at plucking something from this bonfire, and it's lining up to be a long, rewarding burn. Don't dismiss the skills growth he showed last season.

Job security score: 2

Health score: 5

San Francisco Giants

Closer: Committee

Understudy: Sergio Romo

Lurkers: Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez

Disabled list: Brian Wilson

Blackbeard will start the season on the DL. He threw 25 pitches in Scottsdale Tuesday and reported positive bodily juju. Good vibrations: The backdating of Wilson's DL stint to March 22 means he could be back in action next Wednesday at the earliest. Hang tight.

Beard 2 will, in all likelihood, step in for Beard 1. Romo, who added a sinker to his war chest this spring, has the best closer-like skills of the fill-in options. Lefties Affeldt and Lopez were mentioned as possibilities by Bruce Bochy and might see a matchup once in a while, but they aren't worth a strong bid. Romo at least offers consistent K and ratio help to warrant carrying him after a stopper stint. The southpaws, plus Casilla, are more volatile.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 5

Washington Nationals

Closer: Committee

Understudy: Drew Storen, Sean Burnett

Lurkers: Tyler Clippard, Todd Coffey

Manager Jim Riggleman picked his two favorites from this litter, pegging righty Storen and southpaw Burnett as his top two saves options. Burnett didn't give up an earned run in 9 1/3 spring innings while fanning four and walking one. Storen's spring was slightly rougher - an 11.12 ERA in 11 1/3 frames - but he generally improved despite a rough finale and allowed only two free passes compared to 11 K's.

Burnett warrants a moderate FAAB investment because he retired both righties and lefties efficiently last year, meaning Riggleman will probably be comfortable using him even if he isn't facing mostly lefties. However, skip said that he'll probably take the opposing lineup's order of hitting handedness in mind.

The Nats want Storen to stand out, but it will take longer than many drafters perceived. He'll require patience, but he's the best bet to pay off for the entire season.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 5

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Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat | AL depth charts | NL depth charts

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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