Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Neftali Feliz, more

by Tim Heaney on May 20, 2011 @ 12:28:24 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.


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


Los Angeles Dodgers

Closer: Jonathan Broxton (DL)

Understudy: Vicente Padilla (DL), Hong-Chih Kuo (DL)

Lurkers: Kenley Jansen, Matt Guerrier, Mike MacDougal

Padilla (forearm) went on the DL Thursday with issues that could be related to his offseason surgery. Don Mattingly said Wednesday, when Padilla's forearm prevented him once again from being available, that Guerrier would probably be the ninth-inning option in the next save chance, with Jansen setting up. That was the arrangement that closed out Tuesday's contest.

Los Angeles Dodgers RP Kenley Jansen
Kenley can, but so can Guerrier

But that was before they knew Padilla was hitting the DL. They'll probably go with a committee, depending on matchups, comprised of the three Lurkers. Guerrier is probably the first choice, but his skills aren't those of a closer. He has experience going for him.

Jansen's elite K ability makes him the most attractive candidate to help fantasy teams. He did the job for a stretch when the team was in a similarly desperate stretch last season, and he has rebounded from early-season struggles. He's rawer than the other two options, but he's the most talented.

There's no return timetable yet for Broxton and Kuo, either. This arrangement could last for a few weeks, and though it'll be messy, you'll at least grab a piece if you acquire Guerrier or Jansen. All things equal, Jansen would have a better shot at running away with the gig and remains your first target.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 5

Texas Rangers

Closer: Neftali Feliz

Understudy: Darren Oliver, Arthur Rhodes

Lurkers: Cody Eppley, Mark Lowe, Darren O'Day (DL), Tanner Scheppers

Feliz doesn't look like himself. The Rangers' stopper blew a save for the second straight night, allowing an inherited run to blow a Thursday save try. He might still be trying to get healthy after returning from a shoulder-prompted DL stint.

Either way, his tidy ERA is hiding some disturbing patterns. His dominance is way down, and his walk rate is higher than his K/9. His opponents' liner rate has surpassed 20 percent, and he has failed to strike out a righty batter while struggling against them otherwise. In conjunction with an average fastball velocity that's approaching a drop of 2 mph from last year, his pitch movement is probably fouled up, too.

His stuff proved more effective against lefties than righties last year, and that has continued. But the drop-off against the more common hitting handedness? Maybe righties are catching up to more of his stuff, like the way many have adapted to hitting Mariano Rivera. Feliz could be catching more of the plate against them.

Is Feliz hesitant to reach back for full power on his offerings? Is he still feeling pain and trying to pitch through it? The Rangers might give him a brief break, but they'll be hesitant to remove him from the role given how much they've invested in keeping him there. If you can pass on potential saves, it's worth waiting out his struggles with him on the bench until he shows some positive signs.

Job security score: 5

Health score: 4

Mound meetings

  • Ryan Madson has performed so well as closer that he might not relinquish the Philadelphia Phillies' gig, per Charlie Manuel. With Jose Contreras (elbow) potentially returning next week and Brad Lidge (shoulder) possibly to follow in the next month, this could be complicated. The common notion is that when Lidge is healthy, he's the closer, but Madson is staking his claim in dominant fashion.
    "It will be a tough decision, but I think it'll work itself out," Manuel said. "I think when [Madson is] pitching like that, he kind of makes it tough right now to move him. What would be the point?" All three are worth hanging on to in fantasy leagues until this shakes out.
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Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat | AL depth charts | NL depth charts

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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