Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Frank Francisco struggles, Matt Capps tinkers

by Tim Heaney on July 8, 2011 @ 12:16:40 PDT


What are the odds that you still own the relief pitchers you rostered in your fantasy baseball draft?'s Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat series gives you no-nonsense ratings of performances, injuries and managerial decisions in MLB bullpens. Get your arm loose: Let's find fantasy baseball players in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball league who'll get saves.


Job security (JS) score 1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable)
Health (H) score 1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)


Minnesota Twins

Closer: Matt Capps

Understudy: Joe Nathan

Lurker: Glen Perkins

Minnesota Twins RP Matt Capps
Capps improving, but hardly safe

Though Nathan was the designated Wednesday closer, there technically isn't a set stopper right now in Minnesota, but Ron Gardenhire is trying to work Capps back into form. On Thursday, after Perkins pitched a perfect eighth, Capps tossed a 1-2-3 ninth frame (two groundouts and a pop-out) in a 6-2 victory - not the stat fantasy owners were looking for, but a sign of improvement.

The righty, who claims he feels fine physically, watched video and saw that he was over-striding while releasing the ball; he worked on this Wednesday with pitching coach Rick Anderson.

This mustn't preclude fantasy owners from grabbing Nathan; the trade deadline could open up save chances for Nathan and eliminate the same for Capps. Or, continued Capps issues could ignite the Twinkies' initial plans to slide Nathan back into his old Minny role. Nathan must be owned before his destiny is decided.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 5

Toronto Blue Jays

Closer: Frank Francisco

Understudy: Jon Rauch, Octavio Dotel

Lurker: Jason Frasor, Shawn Camp

A few days after Rauch's meltdown, Francisco was, well, frank toward reporters last night in his frustrations following Thursday's disaster. He started the ninth with a 4-0 lead but allowed two hits and a walk and left with the bases loaded and left-handers coming up. Though Rauch was also warming up, southpaw Luis Perez came in instead. He eventually allowed a two-run single and the game-losing grand slam.

It wasn't a save situation when Francisco entered, but that wasn't what John Farrell wanted to see in a season of calamity at the back end. Is Rauch next to close? He hasn't been much better.

Dotel? His last eight games (seven frames) have been of shutout ball, with six K's and only three hits and one walk allowed. Problem is he's hardly as effective against left-handed sticks, who hold a .968 OPS against him (compared to righties' .501).

Since May ended, Frasor has posted a 6.23 ERA; some of the magic has worn off. But while not as dominant, he holds the best overall skills of these four arms.

Francisco owners must stay put with him but starting considering backup plans; he might not get the next save chance. Though Rauch might've missed his grip on re-acquiring the gig full-time, he was warming as a backup plan Thursday and makes sense as the next to pursue ... as long as it's done with a loose investment.

Dotel has a closer history that might be enough for John Farrell to run with, but his struggles versus lefties hinder his shot at full-time duty. Maybe Farrell reaches a desperate point and doesn't mind the matchups; not a secure bet for saves, but it's a dice roll with some foundation.

Frasor and Camp remain watch candidates.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

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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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