Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Jordan Walden, more

by Tim Heaney on May 12, 2011 @ 12:10:40 PDT


What are the odds that you still own the relief pitchers you rostered in your fantasy baseball draft?'s Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat series gives you no-nonsense ratings of performances, injuries and managerial decisions in MLB bullpens. Get your arm loose: Let's find fantasy baseball players in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball league who'll get saves.

Mound meetings

  • Hong-Chih Kuo's yips have gotten the better of him; the Los Angeles Dodgers placed the struggling lefty on the DL with anxiety disorder, recalling similar problems Kuo battled in 2009. His return timetable is unknown. With Jonathan Broxton (elbow) sidelined for an indefinite period, this gives Vicente Padilla nearly full reign on closing duties.
    He wrapped things up Tuesday, working around a two-out double for a scoreless, two-strikeout stanza. He's 3-for-3 in save chances, and if he's still available, grab him now and come back. We'll save your place.

    Matt Thornton RP Chicago White Sox Thornton gaining some confidence

  • Jordan Walden has had a rough go of late, posting an 11.25 ERA and only converting one of three closure opps. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim could turn to Fernando Rodney or Scott Downs for some save work eventually, but a full-fledged change? Unlikely.
    Though his K/9 is not the lofty rate it was last year, Walden has induced a similar level of swinging strikes. Plus, he started incorporating a changeup last week, and there's often an adjustment period for an augmented arsenal. He might wind up scrapping the offering altogether. Tinkering can lead to poor results, and this time, the staff can pinpoint a potential reason for his struggles.
    Rodney hasn't been effective, either, and Downs remains more useful in setup situations. This is something to watch, but nothing to panic about yet in mixed leagues.

  • Joakim Soria's fastball is off. His four-seamer topped out at 91 mph in his blown save last night, and his cutter (some call it a slider) reached the same plateau. Louis Coleman, who's closer-capable, shut the door in the 10th.
    The average heat on Soria's four-seamer is nearly 2 mph lower than it was in 2010. Maybe there's a mechanical flaw or fatigue here. Counting on the suddenly competing Kansas City Royals removing him from the role is not a wise bet, but maybe he'll see a lighter schedule. If you have to scrape this barrel, Aaron Crow, Coleman and Tim Collins should be your pecking order.

  • Matt Thornton finally closed the door for the Chicago White Sox. Don't get too excited - it came in the 10th inning after Sergio Santos, the presumptive closer, threw two frames. Though hardly consistent, Thornton has put together more useful appearances lately. If he starts to put things together, he can be employed in AL-only lineups with more comfort - and maybe, just maybe, he gets some more save chances down the road.
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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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