Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat - AL

by Tim Heaney on August 2, 2010 @ 14:00:00 PDT

 


In fantasy baseball, the closer position remains volatile. Rarely does every closer hang on to the job for an entire season - injuries, poor performance and managerial decisions can cloud a team's bullpen picture.

Should you be concerned about a struggling stopper? Which relievers are climbing the depth chart? Are any injuries popping up? KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat keeps you informed when you're looking for saves.

Key

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

 

Cleveland Indians

Closer: Chris Perez

Kerry Wood's departure to the Bronx leaves Perez all alone in the job. Pick up Perez everywhere. Don't expect Cleveland to move away from the righty that they consider their future at the position; any speculation below Perez will give you a roto headache.

Wood can now be dropped in all mixed leagues but possibly holds value in deep AL-only leagues if you're desperate for saves and reliever strikeouts.

Job security score: 4

Health score: 5

Baltimore Orioles

Closer: Alfredo Simon

Understudy: Mike Gonzalez

Cleveland Indians RP Chris Perez
All alone: Perez

Is Gonzo creeping closer to save duty? Simon served up a three-run walkoff jack to lose another save and Friday's game. The righty, who has converted 15 of 18 save opps this year, has now allowed at least one run in four of his last 10 outings, and three of his last five.

Friday was his third outing in four days - is he wearing down? He threw just 6 1/3 innings in an injury-shortened 2009 season, and the O's have heavily relied on him throughout the year.

Over his last four appearances, Gonzalez has thrown 4 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, allowing just one hit and fanning two. The lefty has shown up in the eighth inning in his last two outings. With his velocity jumping back up to '09 levels, it might be only a matter of time before he regains the closer job.

The team's financial investment in Gonzo, the exit of interim skipper Juan Samuel (a Simon supporter) and Buck Showalter's arrival as manager make a transition back to Gonzalez a likely case. If you need help in the saves category, you shouldn't let him float out there for someone else to stash.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 4

Detroit Tigers

Closer: Jose Valverde

Understudy: Ryan Perry

Valverde's second half has been as spastic as his post-out celebrations. The stopper has an 11.57 ERA, a 2.29 WHIP and a .290 opponents' average since the break, surging his ERA from 0.92 (July 10) to 2.54. He threw 60 pitches Friday night in walking the bases loaded and giving up a grand slam, barely holding on for a one-run victory. Perry was warming up before Valverde gave up the granny.

Papa Grande insists he's healthy. He was slated to study film over the weekend with Detroit Tigers pitching coach Rick Knapp, who's known to fix problems effectively. Valverde hadn't pitched in four days before Friday's game - manager Jim Leyland pointed to that as a possible reason for the gaffe.

Stick with Valverde. It'll take an even longer collapse for the Tigers to move away from him. Some correction was bound to happen anyway, but he's still a top stopper when in peak form.

Perry could be a desperation flier in ALs, but Phil Coke could also be considered if Valverde needs a short- or long-term break. Don't put much stock into either setup man.

Job security score: 5

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

  • Jonathan Papelbon blew a three-run Boston Red Sox lead Sunday but backed into a win, even after giving up a run on two hits. He recorded three outs on nine pitches, though, and for what it's worth he entered the game with two on, none out, and immediately gave up a two-run double.
    Even with Paps' K/9 down, cries for his closer head are exaggerated: His skills have remained solid through an erratic season. As desperate as Daniel Bard's backers seem to be, don't start the protest yet.
  • Rafael Soriano has now taken an in-game mound on three straight days - also five of the last six and seven of the last nine. The Tampa Bay Rays' closer might get a reprieve soon, but there's no reason to take him out of your weekly lineup.
  • Matt Capps picked up his first Minnesota Twins save Friday, working through a hit to keep things scoreless in his 27th overall save of the year.
  • With scoreless saves Friday and Sunday, Brian Fuentes has now thrown a shutout appearance in 14 of his last 15 appearances. In that stretch, he has a 0.60 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP with 12 K's. Even with a GB/FB that's dropping far below what was an already shaky level, his increased strike zone pounding and first-strike percentage are helping his efficiency.
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Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: AL | NL

Fantasy baseball closer depth charts: AL | NL

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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