Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat

by Tim Heaney on June 29, 2009 @ 00:00:00 PDT


Also see: Fantasy baseball closer depth charts

In fantasy baseball, the closer position remains volatile. Rarely does every closer hang on to the job for the entire season - injuries, poor performance and managerial decisions can cloud a team's bullpen picture.

Should you be concerned about a struggling stopper? Which setup men are climbing the depth chart? Any lingering injuries popping up?'s Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat series keeps you informed when you're looking for saves.


Job Security score
Health score
1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable)
1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)


Cleveland Indians

Closer: Kerry Wood

Next in line: Chris Perez

Other possibilities: Jensen Lewis, Rafael Perez, Matt Herges

Disabled list: Rafael Betancourt

The Tribe acquired Perez from the St. Louis Cardinals for infielder Mark DeRosa to give themselves a clear understudy to Wood and presumably their future stopper. Perez has fallen off (7.88 ERA in June) after a hot start, but his 2008 experience shutting the door with the Cards gives him value. AL-only speculators and Wood owners who still have a shot at him should take it.

They also demoted Lewis to Triple-A Columbus; manager Eric Wedge said Lewis may have been getting ahead of himself regarding his improvement.

Betancourt (groin) is scheduled to deliver in a simulated game Monday after a 45-pitch bullpen session Saturday.

Job security score: 5

Health score: 3

Florida Marlins

Closer: Dan Meyer

Next in line: Leo Nunez

Other possibilities: Brian Sanches

Disabled list: Matt Lindstrom, Kiko Calero, Scott Proctor

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez will stick with Meyer as his closer until Nunez (ankle) is healthy enough to shut the door. Nunez pitched a scoreless inning Saturday in a non-save chance, and Gonzalez wants to test the waters with Nunez before entrusting him to wrap things up.

Meyer will probably be more useful than Nunez anyway because of his peripheral success this year. Calero (shoulder) may return sometime this week, and he'll likely enter the mix, too.

Job security score: 2

Health score: 4

Houston Astros

Closer: Jose Valverde

Next in line: LaTroy Hawkins

Other possibilities: Chris Sampson, Tim Byrdak

Disabled list: Doug Brocail

It would turn out to be his second BS in three opps.

This weekend revealed Houston's current situation. Valverde had worked back-to-back days when Friday came around, so the 'Stros went with Hawkins for a scoreless closure.

Despite recording the first two outs in Sunday's ninth inning, Valverde seemingly could've used some more rest. After surrendering a two-run dinger to let things fall apart, he finished the road trip with two botched chances. "I don't like that, because I know I can do this," Valverde said after the game. "I did it last year, and I did it all my life. I have to check something. I think I'm doing something wrong."

Does his recently healed calf have something to do with it? The 'Stros are comfortable with the Hawk as a backup plan, meaning you should hang on to whichever option you own - preferably both.

Job security score: 5

Health score: 4

Philadelphia Phillies

Closer: Brad Lidge

Next in line: Ryan Madson

Other possibilities: J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin

Lidge's first save since June 1 cost him a walk and a hit, but he managed to keep the Sunday affair scoreless. Those two baserunners reached to start the inning, but the vet worked around them by forcing a popout, picking off a baserunner and inducing a grounder.

This was, however, a slight improvement over his Friday outing (two earned tallies in one-third of an inning). His mechanics seem to be in check; his knee wasn't bothering him Friday, and it apparently remained a dead issue Sunday.

Philly will likely let Lidge work things through, but that Madson handcuff looks pretty good right now, doesn't it?

Job security score: 5

Health score: 4

Mound meetings

  • Don't look now, but the Washington Nationals' Mike MacDougal has three saves after visiting the category with a scoreless inning Sunday. He has traded whiffs for groundballs, but don't say we didn't foresee some stability with his newfound approach.
  • Yesterday Mike Gonzalez gutted through his first save since June 7. The Atlanta Brave overcame a leadoff single, a run-scoring single and an inebriated on-field intruder to retire a mixture of righty and lefty hitters. Rafael Soriano came in for the eighth, also to face both batters' boxes.
  • Brian Wilson has kept things quiet for most of the San Francisco Giants' season. During his three-run blown save Saturday, he gave up his first runs since May 21 and his first walk since June 5. Wilson was studying video of his recent disaster before Sunday's game, so hopefully he'll divulge the problem soon.
  • On the day that the New York Yankees' Mariano Rivera joined him in the 500-saves club, Trevor Hoffman showed that he may be sobering up after a buzzed start to his first Milwaukee Brewers season. He has yielded a run in three of his last five showings, but he didn't waste an opportunity this year until Saturday's two-run failure.
  • The Yankees' interest in Colorado Rockies closer Huston Street has swelled. There were reported discussions in mid-May about the righty, but this came before manager Clint Hurdle was fired and the Rockies stormed into playoff contention. Street owners in single-year leagues should root for the Rockies as hard as they can; otherwise, Street keeper league puppet masters might be overjoyed at his opportunity to succeed Mariano Rivera.
  • Floating rumors say the Pittsburgh Pirates would be open to offers for Matt Capps. Should the unthinkable happen, the boring fill-in answer would be John Grabow, who had mixed results in the interim role last season. Hard-throwing righty Jesse Chavez, 25, would be an intriguing answer, too, and the first one to speculate on for upside in NL leagues at the moment.
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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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