Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat

by Tim Heaney on July 10, 2009 @ 01:00:00 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? KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat series keeps you informed when you're looking for saves.

Mound meetings

  • Dan Wheeler finally entered the 2009 saves column for the Tampa Bay Rays, shutting the door in a scoreless frame last night. Don't get too speculative in mixed leagues, though; J.P. Howell presumably had a day of rest after tossing 2 2/3 frames in the previous two days. Even if Howell and Randy Choate are owned and you're absolutely looking to be saved, I still wouldn't be too confident in Wheeler's frequency of opportunities, but he should be scooped up in AL setups already. Howell remains The Man here.
  • Obviously preoccupied with his previous outing, the Seattle Mariners' David Aardsma cruised to a scoreless six-pitch, one-frame wrapup last night. The righty stands 18-for-20 in opps this year and hadn't let one cross the plate since May, so a night like Wednesday, to some degree, was bound to happen eventually. His ability to bounce back speaks volumes about his maturity as a major leaguer.
  • For all the grief he has given his owners this year, Brad Lidge has tied a bow on 17 games for the Philadelphia Phillies. He holds a 2.25 ERA in four July appearances, with seven K's and just two walks in four frames. With Lidge rediscovering useful heat, opponents are hitting just .167 against him this month.
  • The Cleveland Indians have made their fans wait for wins this year. The same can be said about their bullpen, as closer Kerry Wood recorded his second July save - a four-out fray - but only his third since May 28. In only four appearances since June 23 (the end of his recent three-game rough patch), Wood has held opponents scoreless while fanning four and allowing one hit without a walk. Manager Eric Wedge would be comfortable bringing Wood into the eighth inning again as long as he has had plenty of rest. At the rate his setup crew is throwing, it may turn into five outs.... 
  • More Wood shavings: His average fastball velocity is up to 95.5 mph, and he has started leaning on his cutter and curveball as secondary options. He apparently joined the same rehab group as Lidge: Slider Abusers' Anonymous. Wood has picked his spots when using his favorite pitch, increasing its effectiveness in recent outings.
  • Do we have to start worrying about Arizona Diamondbacks stopper Chad Qualls again? Snakes manager A.J. Hinch said he'll consider using Qualls for more than one inning if necessary. Remember the forearm problems Qualls endured earlier this season? That was partially due to an overly heavy workload. While that was an extreme case and you shouldn't panic, pay attention here. 
  • Huston Street traded a run for the second out on his way to another save for the Colorado Rockies. As long as the Rox keep rolling, it's hard to think they'd ship their bullpen revelation.
  • Similar to what Bryce McRae pointed out yesterday about this pitcher's rival, the New York Yankees' Mariano Rivera may be in line for a rest within the next few days after pitching on back-to-back days. Of course, Mo only used 11 pitches in each appearance, so he still may pitch Friday if needed. Keep tabs on his schedule this weekend.
  • The Florida Marlins' Kiko Calero returned with a fury in a perfect inning Thursday. The Fish plan to conserve his use, at least in his initial few games back on the field. He probably won't be used in consecutive games.

Also see: Fantasy baseball closer depth charts

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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 LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.


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