Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat

by Tim Heaney on April 11, 2011 @ 15:18:57 PDT


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


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


Chicago White Sox

Closer: Matt Thornton

Understudy: Chris Sale, Sergio Santos

Lurkers: Jesse Crain

Thornton registered a blown save in two of his three chances, and Ozzie Guillen said he'll be instituting a committee. Sound familiar? Guillen made the same proclamation last year and ended up sticking with Bobby Jenks (when healthy). Maybe it's a motivational ploy. Maybe it's just Ozzie Being Ozzie.

St. Louis Cardinals RP Ryan Franklin
Franklin: safe, if not sound

Either way, Ozzie originally defended Thornton after his recent struggles. Remember that Thornton threw 33 pitches Friday (after tossing 34 Wednesday) and wasn't used Saturday, when Sale stepped in and worked around a homer to close it out. Guillen said if Thornton hadn't logged that many throws, he would've been given that chance. The southpaw also had some defensive lapses behind him Friday to extend more chances to the opposition.

Ozzie's latest knee-jerk reaction gives you more reason to speculate on the others in the listed order, especially in deeper setups, but Thornton is still the main option. There's little reason to panic yet. In fact, if his owner is, drop an e-mail asking about the lefty's availability.

Job security score: 3

Health score: 5

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Closer: Jordan Walden

Understudy: Fernando Rodney, Scott Downs

Lurkers: Kevin Jepsen, Hisanori Takahashi

Scioscia kept his promise made last week, giving Rodney a save chance Sunday after he showed he can right the ship. The righty came through with a perfect ninth, the third straight scoreless frame of his weekend. The release point in his delivery was off in his last outing as a closer, but it looks like he rediscovered it.

Walden, anointed the closer Tuesday, threw 25 pitches in Saturday's extra-innings affair and wasn't in line to be used Sunday. It was a good opportunity to give Rodney a shot, given how most of the bullpen wasn't available.

You should still consider Walden the main stopper until we hear otherwise, but Rodney should also be owned and handcuffed to Walden; though Walden has the talent to run with the role, Scioscia could easily go back to Rodney. Don't let potential saves escape you.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 5

St. Louis Cardinals

Closer: Ryan Franklin

Understudy: Jason Motte

Lurkers: Mitchell Boggs, Miguel Batista, Fernando Salas

Franklin has blown three saves in four chances - already more gaffes than he had in 2010 - but La Russa is sticking with the veteran because he doesn't believe the other options can do the job yet. Although Franklin has yielded nine base runners in 3 2/3 innings, he has also had some "help" from his defense in botching potential outs.

There aren't a lot of stats to deal with, but Motte has been his wild self so far, and while Boggs has the arm to do the job, his control is far from developed. Salas is a sleeper but isn't a good bet for the near future. La Russa is stubborn - for Franklin's sake, in a good way. Despite Motte's improvements last year, it's highly doubtful he has done enough to step in immediately. Batista has done the job before but might be more valuable to them as a swingman.

TLR believes in Franklin, who has a longer track record, albeit with rough spots. Dave Duncan backs pitchers that are comfortable putting the ball in play via location-based pitching; this goes a long way in explaining their loyalty to the hittable righty.

Even with St. Louis' slow start, it'll take more than a bad week to undo this arrangement on a permanent basis. It's a possibility later this year, though, because of Franklin's uncertain status after this season. Just know that any speculation you make will probably be dead weight for a while.

Job security score: 5

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

  • The Tampa Bay Rays' first win of 2011 was wrapped up by Kyle Farnsworth, who threw a clean inning Friday. When Joel Peralta pitched in the ninth inning of losing efforts, perhaps it was more so because they wanted Farnsie for more vital situations. Farnsworth remains the favorite here.
  • Jonathan Broxton has five saves in five chances, but the Los Angeles Dodgers' closer has just one strikeout. The Blue don't seem to mind as long as he's recording the final out, even with his rough innings so far. At least his fastball velocity is back up to the mid-90s. He's safe for now, but more whiffs will make his team and owners more comfortable.
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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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