by Ryan Dodson
on August 8, 2007 @ 16:00:00
Welcome to KFFL's Closer Hot Seat. We forecast every sketchy closer situation in the majors each week, and we'll let you know who is next in line for the job in the very volatile closer situations across baseball. Sit back, relax and put your feet up as we fire up this week's Closer Hot Seat.
Durability grade: 1 (very injury-prone) to 10 (extremely durable)
Job security grade: 1 (very shaky) to 10 (firm grasp)
HOT SEAT STATUS: INJURY QUESTIONS
Closer: Alan Embree
Next in line: Huston Street
Other possibilities: Santiago Casilla
Analysis: Embree blew the save Aug. 6 when he allowed a homer in two innings of work. His season now looks like this: a 3.35 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP, one win and 13 saves. However, Street hasn't been able to avoid giving up runs, as he allowed a run in the same game. Street has a 5.40 ERA with eight strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings since returning from injury. It could be any day that Street resumes his role as the closer. If you own Embree, be prepared to lose his value in the coming days. If possible, trade him to the Street owner.
Durability grade: 9
Job security grade: 1
Next in line: Frank Francisco
Other possibilities: N/A
Analysis: Benoit hasn't had a save chance yet, but manager Ron Washington has tried to get him one. However, Washington brought in Wilson to get a one-out save Aug. 1 after Benoit threw 2 2/3 shutout innings with four strikeouts. Benoit has five wins, one save, a 2.85 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and 65 strikeouts in 60 innings. In the long run, we feel he will eventually get the bulk of the save chances. However, Wilson nailed down the save Tuesday night, too, and he has the hot hand with three saves, two wins, a 2.28 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP and 51 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings. Right now, you should handcuff the two if you have the room. Otsuka (elbow) is out at least another two weeks, and there's no guarantee that he will return as closer right now.
Durability grade: 5
Job security grade: 2 (Last week: 3)
Next in line: Jamie Walker
Other possibilities: Chad Bradford
Analysis: This has been the strangest season in terms of closers. A lot of times managers over-manage these situations. After Ray (elbow) went down due to an elbow injury, the lefty Walker stepped in and nailed down four saves in eventless fashion. In fact, Walker hadn't allowed a run since June 24 before he imploded Tuesday, yet manager Dave Trembley named Baez the closer late last week. Baez has an ERA more than three runs higher, at 5.40, than Walker's. He also has a 1.33 WHIP and a declining K-rate at 5.63 - the lowest of his career. Baez has pitched well after the All-Star break, with a 1.93 ERA in 9 1/3 innings. He also has 112 saves in his career, including his first of the season Aug. 3. It just seems to be a curious move after Walker's early success, though. Baez is one of the weakest closers to have right now. However, he will likely record saves and should be owned in most leagues.
Durability grade: 7
Job security grade: 3
Closer: Brett Myers
Next in line: Tom Gordon
Other possibilities: Antonio Alfonseca
Analysis: Myers hasn't regained the dominance he had before his shoulder injury. Since returning, he has recorded a save and a win, but he has also allowed a run, with four strikeouts, in 4 1/3 innings. The Phillies should have enough offense to compete even with second baseman Chase Utley (hand) and outfielder Shane Victorino (calf) out. Myers is a good option as your closer and could be huge down the stretch.
Durability grade: 5
Job security grade: 7
HOT SEAT STATUS: LACKLUSTER PRODUCTION
Closer: Bob Wickman
Next in line: Octavio Dotel
Other possibilities: Rafael Soriano
Analysis: Wickman has been lights-out in his last three appearances. He might have felt some pressure when the team traded for Dotel at the deadline. In Wickman's last three innings, he has allowed one hit, one walk and struck out four batters. His recent performance is not surprising considering that those innings have come at Turner Field, where he has yet to allow an earned run this season. He has given up 17 earned runs in 19 2/3 innings on the road this year. Overall, he has 18 saves, a 3.89 ERA, a 1.45 WHIP and 33 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings. Wickman's roll has come at the right time for a team with playoff aspirations, but beware Wickman away from Atlanta. After the deal for Dotel, manager Bobby Cox said his three top relievers (Wickman, Dotel and Soriano) could be interchangeable in late-inning situations. The team's next road trip may indicate whether that's true or not.
Durability grade: 6
Job security grade: 5 (Last week: 4)
About Ryan Dodson
Dodson is a KFFL Contributor and has been with KFFL since 2002.
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