Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat - NL

by Tim Heaney on September 7, 2010 @ 14:30:00 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 can cloud a team's bullpen picture.

Should you be concerned about a struggling stopper? Which relievers are climbing the depth chart? Are any injuries popping 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)

 

Florida Marlins

Closer: Clay Hensley

Understudy: Leo Nunez, Jose Veras

Lurkers: Jose Ceda, Brian Sanches

Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez and Nunez agreed that the righty will step aside from saves until he can recapture the electricity his pitches showed earlier this season. Hensley takes over - for now, at least; Rodriguez said he figures Nunez will regain the role at some point this year as long as he progresses well.

Los Angeles Dodgers RP Jonathan Broxton
No saves for you: Broxton

Hensley's shelf life probably isn't that long, but save chasers need all the help they can get right now. Don't drop anything valuable for him. Nunez should be tucked away until he can reclaim saves work.

Ceda, who recorded six saves with sparkling numbers for Double-A Jacksonville this year, was recalled this weekend and has closer stuff. He's a closer option for the future but isn't anything more than a deep NL-only flier.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 5

Los Angeles Dodgers

Closer: Hong-Chih Kuo

Understudy: Kenley Jansen, Octavio Dotel

Lurkers: Jonathan Broxton

Dodgers skipper Joe Torre said he won't use Broxton to close out games for the rest of the season. Broxton's rough Saturday - a blown save and loss after allowing a two-run jack in the ninth - was the kicker.

Broxton can be dropped in most mixed setups. Kuo's injury history and delicate handling are reasons deep leaguers could hold on to Broxton if they're clinging to any possible saves. Torre could change his mind, but Brox hasn't given him much reason to, and the Dodgers are likely more concerned with Brox straightening himself out in non-pressure situations.

Kuo's use will continue to determine the secondary options' save opps. Jansen was the likely choice to close Sunday if needed, but he wasn't; Dotel will remain an option, too, which limits Jansen's potential to help. Deep leaguers with a saves need could take a chance on one of them, but they'll more likely wind up canceling each other out.

Job security score: 4

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

  • Brandon Lyon continues to allow the Houston Astros to keep Matt Lindstrom in setup duty. Lyon notched the saves Saturday and Sunday; he has now thrown 14 consecutive scoreless innings, with 13 K's and a 0.97 WHIP, in that stretch.
    Lindstrom said he's focusing more on regaining his form than reclaiming the closer's role this year. He has thrown only two scoreless one-inning appearances since his return from the DL. Lindstrom still might see chances before the end of the season if manager Bradley Mills deems him ready, but Lyon doesn't appear to be in danger.
  • Juan Gutierrez recorded the save for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday and continues his unacknowledged closer role. In nine appearances (9 1/3 innings) since coming back from the DL, the righty has posted a 0.96 ERA with five K's and a 1.07 WHIP.
    Some extra sweat is probably a reason for his improvement. When he was on the sidelines, Guti embarked on a more arduous workout in the weight room; he put extra work into his legs. He has trimmed down over the last month.
  • John Axford threw three scoreless innings over the weekend for the Milwaukee Brewers, including a two-inning save Sunday. Trevor Hoffman, meanwhile, might be called upon to go for his 600th career save this week, considering the Brew Crew is in the midst of a home stand.
    Last week, manager Ken Macha said he wouldn't save Hoff for a home save opp, but if Milwaukee falls into a chance, it's hard to bet against them giving him a shot.
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates' Joel Hanrahan registered the saves on Friday and Monday. Evan Meek threw in the eighth inning Monday for his first work since being hit on the right hand with a batted ball. Hanrahan is still the better bet for saves in this 'pen.
  • Having pitched in each of the previous three contests and on five of the previous seven days, Brad Lidge was unavailable Friday. The Philadelphia Phillies instead used Ryan Madson to wrap up that game. The resurgent Lidge came back to save contests Saturday and Monday.
  • Since he couldn't go to the beach or work on his certified ninja skills this past weekend, Brian Wilson resumed his role as the San Francisco Giants' lifeguard while recording a save Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The righty has taken an in-game mound on seven of the last nine days.
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Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: AL | NL

Fantasy baseball closer depth charts: AL | NL

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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