Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat

by Tim Heaney on September 9, 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? KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat series keeps you informed when you're looking for saves.

Key

Job Security (JS) score Health (H) score
1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable) 1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)

Philadelphia Phillies

Closer: Brad Lidge

Next in line: Ryan Madson

Other possibilities: Brett Myers

A vote of confidence was followed by a censure. Skipper Charlie Manuel pulled Lidge after the righty once again made things exciting in the ninth last night with a two-run lead. Lidge's downfall: a single, a groundout, a plunked batter, a wild pitch that sent the runner to third, and a walk.

Enter Madson: strikeout and groundout on six pitches. Save.

Enter controversy?

"There comes a time when, I don't know ..." Manuel said. "We're trying to win a championship." Lidge said he had a private chat with Manuel after the game and Manuel told him he still had the job. Manuel, however, told reporters he wasn't sure what would happen if a save situation came up Wednesday.

Brad Lidge, Cleveland Browns
Lidge's leash may be nearing an end

It's best to believe Manuel would think long-term here because Lidge is locked in for another two years. However, the righty may not get the shot every time for the rest of the regular season. The Phils have a big enough divisional lead that they could - COULD - help Lidge work through his problems without concern over repercussions, but it's risky for them to potentially throw away games for this purpose. Their October dreams may contribute to Lidge owners' September nightmares.

Bumps and bruises may also prompt them to keep him fresh. Lidge has been bothered by a blister on his right index finger, though he says it's not a hindrance anymore. He pegs it on his increasing use of two-seam heaters. "Obviously it's an important finger when I'm throwing my slider," he said. "But it's not a big deal." Madson is also battling some biceps tendonitis but didn't show it was bothering him in cleaning up Lidge's mess.

Bottom line? Lidge owners and save seekers MUST grab Madson - and Myers if they've lost out. We expect Lidge to see chances for the rest of the year, but this may become a pseudo-committee as Lidge readies himself for the postseason. 

Job Security score: 3

Health score: 4

Mound meetings

  • The Florida Marlins were graced with the Dr. Jekyll version of Leo Nunez Tuesday as the lithe righty sent the Fish home happy and did his best to keep Matt Lindstrom at bay. A scoreless frame locked in a 12-pitch save. Nunez started to change his approach, throwing an off-speed offering in his first pitch out of the pen. He said he may have been too predictable in his M.O.; in his Sunday blowup, his first pitch was a heater that left the yard. "The last few games I feel like they've been timing that first fastball. But the next game I have in my mind to bury the pitch a little more," Nunez said. "Maybe now I have to look at trying to get ahead with a breaking ball. But I still have to come in there and challenge guys. Sometimes they're going to hit it." 
  • Kyle McClellan took the ball last night to spell closer Ryan Franklin and recorded an uneventful St. Louis Cardinals save. Franklin will also rest for Wednesday at least, but it isn't safe to think McClellan will be the only interim stopper. Trever Miller and Jason Motte may also see a chance.
  • We had a Jason Frasor sighting. He fanned a batter in a scoreless save inning for the Toronto Blue Jays. Frasor looks like the leading in-house candidate for the 2010 closer job.
  • A save didn't come easy for Rafael Soriano as he gave up a run for the Atlanta Braves. He has now pitched in each of the last three games (four days).
  • Another Colorado Rockies save chance sans Huston Street (biceps), another closure for Franklin Morales in his place.
  • No risk in job security here, but Brian Fuentes (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) has now walked five in his last four outings (three innings) and blew the save Tuesday.
  • The top two active scoreless streaks were broken in the same game last night: It's a clean slate for Cleveland Indians righty Chris Perez (20 2/3 innings) and Texas Rangers righty Neftali Feliz (20 1/3 frames).

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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