Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat

by Tim Heaney on May 20, 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 - injury, poor performance or 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 Closer Hot Seat keeps you informed when looking for saves.

Key

Durability grade: 1 (very injury-prone) to 10 (extremely durable)

Job security grade: 1 (very shaky) to 10 (firm grasp)

Cleveland Indians

Closer: Kerry Wood

Next in line: Jensen Lewis

Disabled list: Rafael Betancourt

In blowing his last two save chances, Wood isn't contributing much to a team that doesn't offer many closure opportunities. He lacked heater movement and struggled to offer anything other than a fastball in his gaffe last night, allowing the Kansas City Royals to jump all over him with two homers and four runs scored.

Wood has been mowing down batters at a near-career pace this season (12.46 per nine) and has maintained blazing fastball speed. Outliers: a .391 BABIP and a 63.2 percent strand rate. Don't overreact; look for a slight rebound, especially since a few blowups in the last month have skewed his numbers.

Durability grade: 6

Job security grade: 9

Philadelphia Phillies

Closer: Brad Lidge

Next in line: Ryan Madson

Other possibilities: Chad Durbin

Three appearances, three straight saves for Lidge. He allowed a walk and a hit last night on 22 pitches, though he worked around that jam for a scoreless appearance.

His control and location were the main issues, according to Philly pitching guru Rich Dubee. Lidge has worked around iffy walk totals in past seasons, but he needs to induce more groundballs to negate his fluky 50.8 flyball percentage.

Still, the righty looks to be back to normal as the corrections to his windup appear to be alleviating his knee.

Durability grade: 7

Job security grade: 10

Pittsburgh Pirates

Closer: Matt Capps

Next in line: John Grabow

Disabled list: Tyler Yates

Capps had the night off after toeing the rubber five of the previous seven days. The struggling righty has been making most of his mechanical tweaks on flat ground, not a mound, so it may take some time for his alterations to take effect, but skipper John Russell has noted improved command from Capps.

Could we see the Bucs place Capps on a retroactive DL stint to rest his elbow and allow him to become comfortable with his alterations? His recent brief absence due to elbow soreness may be a good excuse.

Grabow has been overworked, too, but it wouldn't be surprising if he saw some save opportunities in the near future as Capps works things out.

Durability grade: 7

Job security grade: 10

Mound meeting

  • The Kansas City Royals' Joakim Soria (shoulder) threw on flat ground yesterday and will wait to see how his shoulder feels today before taking the next step; he can return from the DL Saturday, May 23, but is not guaranteed for that date.
  • Trevor Hoffman loves the land of beer and brats. Despite missing the first three weeks of the season, he has locked down his first 10 save chances in Milwaukee Brewers blue and gold; he required only eight pitches last night. What sticks out: nine K's in 11 innings - and no walks. This reeks of a great sell-high opportunity, even more so if your team is already stacked with stoppers.
  • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim relievers didn't give up a run last night. I know - hard to believe. Closer Brian Fuentes extended his scoreless outings stretch to six games and has been a rock in an otherwise pebble-like 'pen.
  • LaTroy Hawkins (hip) would have been available last night if the Houston Astros needed. A chiropractor session cleared up Hawkins' soreness, so he's ready to resume filling the gap left by Jose Valverde (calf).

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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