Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat

by Tim Heaney on August 24, 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 (JS) score
Health (H) score
1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable)
1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)


Los Angeles Dodgers (co-)closer Jonathan Broxton
J-Brox set up George Sherrill Saturday

Los Angeles Dodgers

Closer: Jonathan Broxton

Next in line: George Sherrill

After Broxton recorded the Friday closure, Saturday presented a different take. Manager Joe Torre put Broxton in for the eighth inning after a leadoff single. He retired three of the four batters he faced, which included two righties, a switch bat and a lefty.

Torre wanted Broxton to put out the right-handed fire early and let Sherrill close out the ninth. Skip obviously felt the eighth-inning matchup was more important than the ninth-inning slate; Sherrill faced five righty sticks but worked around trouble to preserve the two-run win.

Torre iterated the move was purely based on the eighth-inning worries and not an indication of Broxton's job security. "I basically decided to flip-flop them because of where they were in the lineup," Torre told reporters. "It's a nice situation to have. We're not as concerned about who gets the stat as much as the only stat that's important is that W on the left-hand side."

Sherrill hasn't yielded a run in 11 games donning blue. We're not saying to grab the lefty immediately everywhere, but given Broxton's troubles and the continued potential for spot saves, Sherrill probably shouldn't be floating on the wire.

Job Security score: 4

Health score: 4

Toronto Blue Jays

Closer: Jason Frasor

Disabled list: Scott Downs

On Friday Janssen recorded the closure instead of Frasor, who hadn't pitched since Aug. 18. The Jays entered the ninth with a four-run lead. League surrendered two singles to start the ninth and, after recording an out, yielded to Janssen, who gave up a three-run jack before recording a popout, allowing a double and forcing a groundout. Ugly, indeed.

Luckily for Toronto, Downs (toe) will probably be activated from the DL Monday, though he might not return to shutting the door just yet. In his three rehab outings, the lefty allowed one run on three hits and a walk with two whiffs in 2 1/3 frames.

The urgency of Downs regaining closer duties may depend on the matchups. Gaston also admitted, however, that no one else has really made noise in the job and the Jays haven't exactly given Downs much work this year. We don't expect them to hesitate too long in reinstating Downs there despite their spoken hesitation. This may be a cloudy picture heading into 2010 if they don't give him more chances to prove he can do the job.

Job Security score: 3

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

  • The Florida Marlins saw a UFO Friday: an appearance by Leo Nunez - in fact, a scoreless outing - who had a weeklong siesta. Florida plans to use him more sparingly; they're concerned about his frame and delivery. Nunez has appeared in a career-high 57 contests. "He has that violent delivery, and we are being careful," skipper Fredi Gonzalez said. While he may be spotted sometimes, Nunez, 14-for-16 in save chances, doesn't appear to be in any danger of losing his grip, especially since they're making a bigger effort to protect him.
  • Matt Lindstrom, next in line to Nunez in Florida, has made some more refinements to his delivery over the past week. "I'm keeping the ball in my glove a little bit longer," Lindstrom said. "I'm not separating my hands as early. I was looking at video the other day. When I lift my leg up, I take [the ball] out immediately. Now I'm keeping it behind me. They could see the ball coming out of my glove, up and around. Now, they don't have as much time to see the white part of the ball. It helps me with my arm angle a little bit, too." His heat has returned to its upper-90s goodness, too. Lindstrom hasn't given up a run, hit or walk in his last four outings (2 2/3 frames).
  • Carlos Marmol fanned two batters, including window-browsing Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez, in a spotless debut as Chicago Cubs closer.
  • Just when we thought J.P. Howell was back on the wagon after three straight shutout appearances, he cost the Tampa Bay Rays a victory Saturday by giving up a two-out, game-tying jack. This was Howell's first botched ninth-inning chance all season. Don't fret too much about this.
  • Joe Nathan blew a Minnesota Twins save Friday against the Kansas City Royals but ended up with a two-inning win by shutting the door in the 10th. Given he threw 53 pitches Friday, Nathan didn't even dress for Saturday's game, leaving the already fantasy-worthy Matt Guerrier to wrap it up after five outs. No issues here except for resting the big man.
  • On the topic of vacations, Jose Valverde received the night off Saturday after slamming the door in the previous three games. Understudy LaTroy Hawkins, the stopper during V's DL stint, filled in admirably for his 11th closure. Hawkins remains worthy of ownership in deeps.
  • Infielder Eric Bruntlett's game-ending unassisted triple play bailed out the Philadelphia Phillies, who made two errors to allow a run and put undue pressure on Brad Lidge. Despite his infield making things interesting yesterday, the tormented stopper has closed the book in his last three games without surrendering an earned tally.
  • Joakim Soria's infrequent schedule continued with a Kansas City Royals home loss in the 10th inning Saturday. He has allowed three homers this month alone, but a triple did him in this time.
  • Doing his best Mariano Rivera impersonation, Matt Capps has given the Pittsburgh Pirates three scoreless one-inning appearances since being blown up Aug. 13. His new cutter has probably come in handy.
  • Oakland Athletics stopper Andrew Bailey (knee) was seen walking with a heavy wrap on his left knee this weekend. He says he's fine and felt OK after he took the mound for the first time in five days. Keep an eye out here.
  • Jim Johnson overcame a rough ninth (two hits, one run) to record the Baltimore Orioles' save Sunday and register a closure for his second straight outing. The potential tying run stood at third before it was closed out.
  • New York Mets reliever Billy Wagner
    It sounds like Wagner will stay put
    The Boston Red Sox rejected Billy Wagner's demands that would allow him to waive his no-trade clause; the chances of Wagner leaving the New York Mets and heading to Beantown are in serious jeopardy. The deadline to reach a deal for the veteran is 1 p.m. EDT Tuesday. Does Jonathan Papelbon consider this an ego save?
  • Then again, who says ego has to be a bad thing? Chris Perez had a Freudian discussion with himself after his disastrous July 7 outing and is now in the midst of a 15 1/3-inning scoreless streak. The Cleveland Indians reliever has fanned 19 and walked only four in that time. He has appeared in three ninth-inning situations (no save chances) since joining Cleveland. It looks as if he's next in line to Kerry Wood. Perez's four-seamer has been effective when running inside against righties and away from left-handed bats. Maybe he could give sessions to depressed fantasy owners who have drafted him in the last two seasons.

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 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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