Closer Hot Seat

by Ryan Dodson on April 18, 2007 @ 16:00:00 PDT

 


Welcome to KFFL's Closer Hot Seat. We'll forecast every sketchy closer situation in the majors each week, and we'll let you know who is next in line for the job in the very volatile closer situations across baseball. So sit back, relax and put your feet up as we fire up this week's Closer Hot Seat.

KEY

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

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

HOT SEAT STATUS: INJURY QUESTIONS

Toronto Blue Jays

Closer: Jason Frasor (B.J. Ryan is on the disabled list)

Next in line: Jeremy Accardo

Other possibilities: Shaun Marcum

Analysis: Ryan imploded over the weekend and immediately went on the disabled list with a strained left elbow ligament. He's expected to miss six weeks. Marcum picked up the save the day that Ryan hit the disabled list. However, Frasor, who closed 17 games for the team in 2004, will take over as the closer. The Southern Illinois University product has struck out nine batters in six innings with a 1.23 ERA and a 0.68 WHIP. Tuesday Frasor earned his first save in his new role. He can serve as a good option for saves in the next few weeks. A lot of experts are enamored with Accardo's potential. However, he has yet to prove he can consistently get major league hitters out.

Durability grade: 10

Job security grade: 8

Texas Rangers

Closer: Eric Gagne

Next in line: Akinori Otsuka

Other possibilities: Joaquin Benoit

Analysis: Gagne came off the disabled list Friday and nailed down the save in his first game. He allowed one hit and struck out one batter in his scoreless inning of work. He hasn't seen the field since then, as the Rangers were blown out against the Seattle Mariners the following two days and then destroyed the Chicago White Sox 8-1 Tuesday. Look for the team to bring Gagne along slowly, but expect him to pitch, even in a non-save situation, in the next couple of days. Gagne isn't a must-start yet, but he looked good in his first outing and should be in your lineup.

Durability grade: 2

Job security grade: 6

HOT SEAT STATUS: LACKLUSTER PRODUCTION

Houston Astros

Closer: Dan Wheeler

Next in line: Chad Qualls

Other possibilities: Brad Lidge

Analysis: Wheeler continues to be a rollercoaster, as he allowed four hits and two runs in an inning April 10. His next outing, April 13, he struck out the side in a scoreless inning of work. Wheeler remains a risky closer right now, but Lidge isn't improving much in a setup role. Lidge has allowed three hits and two walks in two innings with a strikeout since his demotion. Hold on to Lidge right now, but if you have Wheeler, keep him in your lineup.

Durability grade: 10

Job security grade: 5

HOT SEAT STATUS: COMMITTEE SITUATIONS

Cincinnati Reds

Closer: David Weathers

Next in line: Mike Stanton

Others: Todd Coffey

Analysis: Weathers has blown the opposition away thus far with five saves in as many opportunities. He has a 2.46 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP and four strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. Weathers has a strong grip on the closer's job, but don't get too comfortable with him. He has allowed seven hits, and it's probably just a matter of time before they begin turning into runs.

Durability grade: 8

Job security grade: 7

Kansas City Royals

Closer: David Riske (Octavio Dotel is on the disabled list)

Next in line: Joakim Soria

Other possibilities: Ryan Z. Braun

Analysis: About two weeks ago, Riske nailed down his first save opportunity in relief of Dotel, who's on the disabled list due to an oblique injury. However, he blew his next opportunity. He hasn't seen another save opportunity since then, although the team hasn't created many opportunities. The team wants Dotel to go on a rehab assignment before returning. This means he'll be out at least another two weeks. Soria was picking up steam by picking up a save and striking out a batter an inning with no earned runs before he allowed three runs in a third of an inning Monday. A dark horse is Braun, who has a 1.12 ERA, a 0.75 WHIP and eight strikeouts in eight innings. Keep your eye on him until Dotel returns.

Durability grade: 7

Job security grade:

Florida Marlins

Frontrunner: Henry Owens

Next in line: Taylor Tankersley

Others: Matt Lindstrom

Analysis: When you see 4.59, you think that's a below-average ERA. However, that is former closer Jorge Julio's WHIP. His ERA is 19.06, and he has given up 15 hits and 11 walks in 5 2/3 innings. It's almost amazing his ERA isn't higher. The team wants to use him as their closer, but he's forcing their hand. Owens will turn 28 in less than a week, and he may have the closer job gift-wrapped for him. He throws hard, but he has only recorded two strikeouts in eight innings. He hasn't allowed a run and has a 0.75 WHIP as well. Lindstrom was a factor in this race until he allowed two runs on two hits and two walks in an inning Monday. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said that Tankersley figures into the equation against left-handers. Look for Owens to take over sooner than later until Julio figures it out.

Durability grade: 8

Job security grade: 1

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About Ryan Dodson

Dodson is a KFFL Contributor and has been with KFFL since 2002.


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