Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat

by Tim Heaney on September 8, 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)


Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies CL Brad Lidge
Owners are on the ledge with Lidge

Closer: Brad Lidge

Next in line: Ryan Madson

Other possibilities: Brett Myers

The Phillies didn't have much bullpen leeway Monday with Madson (oblique) and Lidge (finger) unavailable. Manager Charlie Manuel said he would've used Lidge if he were forced to pick one of the two, but he wanted to stay away from them. Reports say Lidge has a blister on his right pitching hand, and it's unknown how long Lidge has dealt with it or whether either reliever will be available Tuesday.

Madson's injury makes this even better news: Over the weekend the Phillies welcomed back Myers, and the righty obliged with two scoreless one-inning appearances. Myers is worth a grab in deep setups, especially if the aforementioned injuries swell.

Job Security score: 5

Health score: 4

Detroit Tigers

Closer: Fernando Rodney

Next in line: Brandon Lyon

Rodney rested Saturday and Sunday after tossing 35 pitches Friday. Lyon recorded back-to-back wrap-ups.

'Do-Rod will receive another siesta sometime in the near future; he was suspended three games for throwing a ball into the stands following that Friday save. When the final whip comes down, the Tigs presumably would return to the Lyon's den, which makes the righty an immediate pickup everywhere if only for a rental. Remember, the temporary switch may be delayed a bit given the pending appeal process.

Job Security score: 5

Health score: 4

St. Louis Cardinals

Closer: Ryan Franklin

Next in line: Kyle McClellan

Other possibilities: Jason Motte, Trever Miller, Josh Kinney

More rest: Franklin will receive a day off Tuesday and possibly Wednesday. The righty has given seven free passes in his last seven contests, and Franklin admits his command has been erratic. On Sunday he blew his first save chance since July 22.

The playoff-bound Redbirds probably won't shy away from protecting Franklin for October. For now, expect some vintage Tony La Russa mixing with Jason Motte, Kyle McClellan and lefty specialist Trever Miller, which makes it tough to peg one sub. The third has been the most effective bullpen arm of the group and would be the most well-rounded fantasy asset even after Franklin returns.

Job Security score: 5

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

  • We're seeing the bad Leo Nunez again. The Florida Marlins stopper allowed three runs on three hits (two homers, including a walkoff) without recording an out in losing the game Sunday; he has gaffed in two of his last three chances. Nunez has now served up 12 meatballs in 60 frames this year. The Matt Lindstrom watch continues; the young righty has a 2.45 ERA since his return from the DL.
  • It has been a relatively seamless substitution for lefty Franklin Morales at the Colorado Rockies' back end. He has shut the door four times in the last week without giving up a run. Injured Rockies incumbent Huston Street (biceps) threw 20 tosses Monday. It was successful, but Street complained a bit of tightness and tentativeness early before he loosened up. He may return to action by the weekend, but he may not be reinserted into the closer role immediately.
  • Francisco Rodriguez (quadriceps) has dealt with bouts of cramping in his left quad. He fought through one Sunday, working around an allowed run before notching his 30th closure for the New York Mets. K-Rod says he's fine, but it's worth keeping an eye on. Pedro Feliciano would probably be the best speculative target.
  • With the weekend fort held down by Phil Hughes (one win, one save, no hits, three K's in 2 1/3 innings), the New York Yankees' Mariano Rivera (groin) successfully returned to his post Monday during the front end of a doubleheader. Mo said he could've pitched Sunday if needed.
  • Chicago Cubs CL Carlos Marmol
    Marmol is laying claim for 2010
    It has been a very sweet ride for Carlos Marmol, who has walked just three hitters in his last five appearances - an improvement for the Chicago Cubs righty. He has put even more dirt on the discussion for the 2010 job, going 6-for-6 in chances following the Kevin Gregg era.
  • Mark Lowe filled in for David Aardsma Friday after the latter had appeared in three straight contests for the Seattle Mariners. Lowe worked around a hit in a scoreless appearance. Aardsma has not pitched since Thursday and should be good to go today if needed.
  • Joe Nathan has settled down with two consecutive scoreless, walkless saves for the Minnesota Twins.
  • Andrew Bailey also reassured the Oakland Athletics by rebounding from a rough save Saturday with a scoreless inning to shut the door Sunday.
  • Since July ended, Kerry Wood has received only five save chances for the Cleveland Indians. However, he has nailed down each shot and has been stellar in 13 innings, with 16 K's and four walks. He wrapped up two games over the holiday weekend without any issues.
  • If Neftali Feliz (Texas Rangers) is STILL sitting on your waiver wire, shame on you: He boasts a 0.41 ERA and 0.27 WHIP, with 28 K's and one walk in 22 frames. He has a nice shot at picking up a random save here in there during his two-inning outings, one of which came Friday.
  • Houston Astros closer Jose Valverde might remove the first part of that intro next year; he plans to test free agency this offseason.
  • More '10 fodder: Koji Uehara is slated to return to the Baltimore Orioles bullpen, and manager Dave Trembley has hinted that he can envision him as a backend reliever. "He throws strikes," Trembley said. "That's what you want, somebody who throws strikes." A more fitting role for this year would be for Uehara to serve as a middle-innings bridge.

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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