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.
Job Security (JS) score
Health (H) score
1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable)
1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)
Likeliest sub for Qualls: Juan Gutierrez
Closer: Juan Gutierrez
Next in line: Clay Zavada
Other possibilities: Daniel Schlereth
Injured: Chad Qualls
Great timing to trade Jon Rauch, right? Qualls (knee) helped record the final out the hard way Sunday by taking a line drive off his left kneecap, which was dislocated and popped back into place. He will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the injury and his timetable.
Qualls hadn't been placed on the DL at press time, but it's safe to say he'll miss at least a decent chunk of action. Grab Gutierrez in all leagues as he reportedly would be the likely choice to pick up 'Zona's saves slack. You can't count on Zavada and Schlereth, but it's probably worth speculating on them, in that order, for NL setups. As for Qualls, wait for an official diagnosis before considering jettisoning him.
Job Security score: 2
Health score: 5
- If you're riding the Brad Lidge roller coaster, you're on the upswing: The Philadelphia Phillies' stopper had a smooth weekend with a pair of one-two-three-inning saves (no hits, no runs, no walks, two strikeouts). Lidge has put forth a spotless runs column in six of his last seven outings. He claims his slider has felt as good as it has all year. Maybe his new haircut helped, too.
- Being used on back-to-back days didn't seem to affect Leo Nunez this past weekend. He held the San Diego Padres scoreless in one-inning outings Saturday and Sunday, working around a leadoff walk by retiring the last three hitters in the latter. The Florida Marlins had expressed concern over his workload and may decide to rest him if they need a savior tonight, which would probably lead to Matt Lindstrom's service.
- Entering in the 12th inning with a one-run advantage Sunday, Jonathan Broxton stumbled out of the gate for the Los Angeles Dodgers with a walk, a strikeout and another walk before fanning the last two batters. He needed 27 pitches to wrap things up.
- J.P. Howell shut the door Saturday without allowing a run, responding to his back-to-back blown saves heading in. Before Saturday's game, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon said he didn't believe Howell was suffering from arm fatigue and that Howell would continue to be the closer; the southpaw's most recent effort helped ease concerns even more.
- By recording a save Saturday to give Cleveland Indians stopper Kerry Wood a rest, Chris Perez affirmed his next-in-line status. He also continued his scoreless streak, which has spanned 17 1/3 frames and has seen 20 K's, four walks and a .127 opponents' clip. If you haven't jumped on his deep mixed bandwagon yet, you should, but beware that this run could snap soon.
- The San Francisco Giants have off today, meaning they'll give default rest to Brian Wilson, who appeared in all three games (48 pitches) of their crucial weekend series against the Colorado Rockies.
- We hope your weekend was better than Joe Nathan's. If it wasn't, we hope you recovered as well as he did. The vet gave himself and the other Minnesota Twins more work to clean things up Sunday. Nathan threw the ball away on a potential double-play grounder, but he followed that with a strikeout, a short flyout and a grounder. He also had to work around trouble Friday after recording the first two outs. He allowed two doubles while yielding a run and a walk before fanning the final hitter to preserve a one-run victory.
- We had a Francisco Rodriguez sighting Sunday; the righty needed just nine pitches to log his first save and second appearance since Aug. 21. New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel recently said he would try to give the righty more work in non-save chances, but K-Rod didn't look too rusty yesterday and was slated to pitch no matter what; the Mets are off Monday.
- Andrew Bailey (knee) is 15 for his last 15 in save opps for the Oakland Athletics. Though it will probably linger for the last month of the year, his balky knee doesn't appear to be much of a concern.
- Trevor Hoffman recorded two saves over the weekend. The deadline for the Milwaukee Brewers to work out a waiver deal with the San Francisco Giants passed Monday.
- Surrendering a leadoff walk didn't derail Carlos Marmol Friday; the new Chicago Cubs closer retired the next three hitters, including two on strikeouts, to preserve a three-run win.
- Rebounding from the "L, BS" Thursday, Jim Johnson faced the minimum in the ninth to tie a bow on the Baltimore Orioles' Sunday win.
- Just in case you forgot this bullpen - heck, this team - exists: The Toronto Blue Jays have not recorded a save since Casey Janssen's fill-in appearance Aug. 21. Jason Frasor, the current stopper, hasn't thrown since Aug. 25 and has just three appearances since Aug. 10. Scott Downs has touched an in-game mound only thrice since his return from the DL. The 2010 closer job remains up in the air.
Also see: Fantasy baseball closer 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 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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