Closer Hot Seat

by Ryan Dodson on May 2, 2007 @ 16:00:00 PDT

 


Welcome to KFFL's Closer Hot Seat. We'll 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. So sit back, relax and put your feet up as we fire up this week's Closer Hot Seat.

KEY

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

Atlanta Braves

Closer: Mike Gonzalez (Bob Wickman is on the disabled list)

Next in line: Rafael Soriano

Other possibilities: Tyler Yates

Analysis: After a great start to the season, Wickman blew two saves allowing five runs in 1 2/3 innings. The team knew something wasn't right, and they were right. He landed on the disabled list with an upper back injury. Gonzalez figures to move into the closer role due to his stellar performance in the role last season. Gonzalez, after a rocky start, has been great lately. He has a 1.74 ERA and a bloated 1.65 WHIP, largely due to control problems early on. Soriano has had two bad outings in which he allowed six runs. He has been lights out in the other 10 1/3 innings this season. Look for him as a fallback option right now. Gonzalez has dealt with shoulder pain the last few days, but he should be fine. In fact, he picked up the win the same day Wickman hit the DL. Get him rolling in your lineup.

Durability grade: 7

Job security grade: 9

Toronto Blue Jays

Closer: Jason Frasor (B.J. Ryan is on the disabled list)

Next in line: Casey Janssen

Other possibilities: Jeremy Accardo

Analysis: Frasor started out well in his new role as he converted both of his first two save chances. His ERA was at 1.74. However, he has allowed six runs on six hits and five walks in his last 1 2/3 innings. One of those outings ended up as a blown save. His ERA sits at 6.00 with a decent WHIP of 1.17. Frasor's 12 strikeouts in 12 innings are promising, but Jeremy Accardo struck out the side May 1 and hasn't allowed a run this season. With B.J. Ryan out until mid-June, Frasor has the chance to rack up 10 to 15 saves if he can hold on to the job. Keep him in your lineup.

Durability grade: 10

Job security grade: 8

Texas Rangers

Closer: Akinori Otsuka (Eric Gagne is on the disabled list)

Next in line: Joaquin Benoit

Other possibilities: Frank Francisco

Analysis: Otsuka allowed his first run of the season and blew the save April 28. He earned the win, though. He has one win, three saves, a 0.93 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP and 10 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings. His time as a closer may be dwindling though as there are reports that Gagne will be ready in a week. Once Gagne returns, expect him to go back into the closer role. Otsuka is a good option for your lineup right now. Keep him in there even after Gagne returns as well.

Durability grade: 9

Job security grade: 9

HOT SEAT STATUS: LACKLUSTER PRODUCTION

New York Yankees

Closer: Mariano Rivera

Next in line: Kyle Farnsworth

Other possibilities: Scott Proctor

Analysis: Surprised to see his name here? We are too. Rivera has been awful this season. He finally recorded his first save April 28 after blowing his first two chances. He has a 10.57 ERA, a 1.83 WHIP and has allowed 11 hits in 7 2/3 innings. He has struck out eight batters in that time though. This isn't a good way to get a contract extension. The silver lining is that April was Rivera's worst month last season when he had a 3.72 ERA and blew one of his five save chances. It's only one month into the season, so there's not a big cause for concern right now. Keep an eye on this situation though.

Durability grade: 6

Job security grade: 9

Houston Astros

Closer: Dan Wheeler

Next in line: Chad Qualls

Other possibilities: Brad Lidge

Analysis: Since blowing a save April 3, before inheriting the job, Wheeler hasn't had much trouble nailing them down. In that time, though, he only has three saves. He hasn't allowed a run since April 10, and his ERA has fallen to 3.00 with a 1.00 WHIP. Lidge has been getting outs as well. Over the last four outings, he has allowed one run on six hits, one walk and has struck out 11 batters in 5 2/3 innings. The frequent hits aren't a good sign, but that is negated by the strikeouts. Wheeler is safe for now. However, if Lidge gets on a roll, he's going to start getting a hard look at save opportunities again. He has had his share of troubles at times, and there aren't many that expect him to be the long-te

Durability grade: 10

Job security grade: 5

Pittsburgh Pirates

Closer: Salomon Torres

Next in line: Matt Capps

Others: Damaso Marte

Analysis: Torres has been obliterated in two of his last three outings; and the third outing, he allowed a homer. His ERA is now at 6.75 with a 1.67 WHIP. On top of that, he has struck out just six in 12 innings. Manager Jim Tracy loves Matt Capps, and he is having a great season. Capps has a 0.63 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP in 14 1/3 innings. There are sentiments that the team needs Torres' rubber arm back in the setup role. Therefore, it's probably just a matter of time before Capps takes over as a closer.

Durability grade: 8

Job security grade: 6

HOT SEAT STATUS: COMMITTEE SITUATIONS

Cincinnati Reds

Closer: David Weathers

Next in line: Mike Stanton

Others: Todd Coffey

Analysis: Weathers has been scuffling a bit after a strong start. He has been getting hit around a bit, and those hits have been scoring. His control has been great though with one walk in 10 innings. His ERA sits at 2.70, and his WHIP is at 1.00. He also has eight strikeouts in 10 innings. Altogether, his numbers haven't suffered too much. Weathers' job is safe, so no worries here.

Durability grade: 8

Job security grade: 7

Kansas City Royals

Closer: Joakim Soria (Octavio Dotel is on the disabled list)

Next in line: David Riske

Other possibilities: Ryan Z. Braun

Analysis: Soria continues to be the closer while Dotel is out. He has only recorded two save chances since April 22. He has good numbers with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP with 14 strikeouts in 12 innings. Braun, the rookie right-hander, was picking up steam early on. However, he has walked seven batters in his last 4 1/3 innings and saw his ERA jump from 1.13 to 4.82 in a couple of weeks. Riske is completely out of the picture with a 6.35 ERA after starting as the closer. Soria is a good option right now and is someone that may have a bright future in the role.

Durability grade: 8

Job security grade:

Florida Marlins

Closer: Henry Owens

Next in line: Matt Lindstrom

Others: Taylor Tankersley

Analysis: We are finally gaining clarity in the Florida closer situation. Owens has thrown four straight scoreless one-inning outings. He tallied a win and two save in those outings. He has a 2.30 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP and 10 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. His strikeouts have been increasing after starting the season with just four strikeouts in his first 8 2/3 innings. Owens appears to be the closer for now. Tankersley (4.05 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) and Matt Lindstrom (2.45 ERA, 1.36) appear to have a backseat for now. Look out for Tankersley if Owens falters. However, if Jorge Julio (calf) rights his ship after returning from the disabled list, don't be surprised if he takes the job back mid-season.

Durability grade: 8

Job security grade: 5

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About Ryan Dodson

Dodson is a KFFL Contributor and has been with KFFL since 2002.


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