Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat - NL

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)

 

Pittsburgh Pirates

Closer: Evan Meek, Joel Hanrahan

The two righties are expected to share closing duties for now after the Bucs traded Octavio Dotel.

Hanrahan has more upside, but Meek has been more consistent this year. Both closers have the pedigree for the job, but Hanrahan has more K power. For what it's worth, Dotel recommended Hanny for the job on his way out the door, and Hanny has been the eighth-inning option for most of the year.

Both relievers are worth acquiring, but keep in mind this might be a tight race that isn't even decided this season. If you're desperate to move up in saves and can fit both on your roster, do so. Go with Meek as your first option if you can't, but don't sleep on Hanrahan.

Job security score: 4

Health score: 5

Los Angeles Dodgers

Closer: Jonathan Broxton

Understudy: Octavio Dotel, Hong-Chih Kuo

Despite Broxton giving up a two-run homer to lose the save and the game Saturday, manager Joe Torre is sticking by the righty. Bullpen coach Ken Howell said Broxton was OK while throwing in the bullpen before entering that contest.

Pittsburgh Pirates RPs Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek
Hanrahan (left), Meek square off

Brox has two blown saves and allowed six runs in five second-half innings, but Broxton's problems, according to Torre, point more to a lack of confidence and trying to be too fine with his pitches. This, Torre says, is partly responsibly for the righty's velocity drop.

The manager has not given any thought to replacing Broxton with the newly acquired Dotel or the highly effective Kuo. Maybe they acquired Dotel because they are concerned about Broxton, but they probably just wanted insurance.

Job security score: 5

Health score: 5

Arizona Diamondbacks

Closer: Committee

Understudy: Aaron Heilman, Juan Gutierrez

Lurkers: Sam Demel

The D-backs had some trade rumblings surrounding Heilman, but they ended up sending Chad Qualls to the Tampa Bay Rays. In giving up just one run over his last eight appearances (10 2/3 innings), Heilman has posted a 0.84 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP with nine K's. The righty recorded a scoreless save Friday.

Gutierrez's 4.91 July ERA doesn't bode well for his chances of earning consistent saves duty. Though Heilman, Gutierrez and Demel, in that order, are worth hanging on to in NL-only, this situation remains a mess - something to watch more so in mixed leagues in case someone emerges. It isn't worth chasing until we see something definite.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

  • Another up-and-down weekend for the Philadelphia Phillies' Brad Lidge: He allowed a single, a walk and a game-losing three-run jack Saturday, but the righty rebounded with a perfect 11th inning Sunday for his sixth conversion in seven tries.
    Manager Charlie Manuel's willingness to stick with Lidge affirmed the vote of confidence he gave the day after the pitcher's blowup. Lidge is still trying to make adjustments while pitching with a slower fastball, and it looks like Philly will wait him out for now.
  • Matt Lindstrom (Houston Astros) was unavailable Sunday because of tightness in his back, so Brandon Lyon stepped up with a scoreless one-inning closure. Lindstrom battled back spasms earlier in the year and missed a few contests. Don't go chasing Lyon, but at least keep an eye on him if more bad news on Lindstrom comes out.
  • Brian Wilson was unavailable Friday and Saturday due to back tightness; the San Francisco Giants went with Chris Ray Friday, and he notched a one-out save. Wilson returned Sunday and worked around a walk with a two-strikeout, one-inning wrap-up.
  • The Washington Nationals, who say they'll split saves among Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Sean Burnett for now, didn't have a chance to showcase a new save setup this weekend. For what it's worth, Storen entered the ninth inning twice in non-save work. He ended the inning with an out Saturday and fanned two in two scoreless frames Sunday. He remains the best bet for closures and should be owned everywhere.
  • Francisco Cordero had a busy 82-pitch weekend for the Cincinnati Reds. He suffered the loss Friday by giving up two runs on a hit and two walks in 1 1/3 innings. Coco then worked around two hits for a closure Saturday - and one hit for another save Sunday.
    He has thrown on four of the last five days, but he said he pitches better when he has frequent work. Cordero didn't receive any save threats or help at the trade deadline, so the Reds are all-in with him.
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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 LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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