Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat

by Tim Heaney on June 1, 2009 @ 01:00:01 PDT

 


Also see: Fantasy baseball closer depth charts

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

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

Key

Health (H) score: 1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)

Job Security (JS) score: 1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable)

Florida Marlins

Closer: Matt Lindstrom

Next in line: Leo Nunez

Other possibilities: Kiko Calero, Dan Meyer

Disabled list: Scott Proctor

Having walked at least one batter in his last five outings, the triple-digit flamethrower faltered again Saturday by entering in a non-save situation, creating an opportunity, and turning things over to Nunez, who tacked on a one-out save.

They used him because he hadn't seen a mound since Wednesday. Lindstrom will remain the closer, per manager Fredi Gonzalez, but the righty needs to bolster his strike zone sonar. Nunez is a productive speculative pickup, and Calero should also be owned in deep parties.

Health score: 4

Job security score: 4

Oakland Athletics

Closer: Andrew Bailey, Brad Ziegler

Next in line: Santiago Casilla, Michael Wuertz

Other possibilities: Jerry Blevins

Ziegler has been absent from save chances since May 20, yet Bailey's luster is wearing off a bit. His K's have been consistent, but he's being hit a bit harder. The book on him is growing.

Given Bailey pitched at least a frame on back-to-back days over the weekend, we could see more mixing and matching from Geren in the near future. Still, it looks like Bailey is the better option of the two.

You're already in a bind if you're counting on consistent saves from this team. If you have Ziegler, all you can do is hang tight until other developments arise. 

Health score: 5

Job security score: 4

Tampa Bay Rays

Closer: N/A

Next in line: Dan Wheeler, J.P. Howell

Other possibilities: Randy Choate, Joe Nelson, Jason Isringhausen, Grant Balfour

Disabled list: Troy Percival

Choate re-entered the baseball world with back-to-back saves this weekend, but keep in mind the team and manager here. Both Choate entrances came with a bevy of left-handed hitters on the docket.

There's a chance they could keep the 33-year-old submariner in lefty-heavy save chances because it would help to keep Howell as his lefty setup man (he has vastly improved against righties, too, so he has more use in crucial setup situations).

Choate was also a fresh arm with only two innings of MLB work this year before his productive weekend, so Maddon probably had no problem using him on consecutive days to rest the other taxed arms.

The Rays 'pen has been an equal-opportunity saves employer in non-Percival times, and that should continue, even with Choate's recent string. Wheeler, who has the most closing experience of any healthy Rays arm not named Isringhausen, probably won't be used against lefties, who are hitting .320 against him this year.

This will continue to be a guessing game. Wheeler has the best long-term potential here, but he might not cash in for the near future. Howell is by far the least likely to hurt you if he isn't put in during a save chance; though his current role is fitting the team better, they wouldn't hesitate to go to him if they need stability.

The sidelined Percy is undecided on his future; he'll likely work to regain strength in his shoulder before broaching his second retirement.

Health score: N/A

Job security score: 1

Mound meetings

  • Brandon Morrow continues his control mission, but he had a mayday experience by giving up two runs on three hits and a walk Saturday. Always looking on the bright side of life, Seattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said he was pleased with Morrow, who looked comfortable with a mechanical adjustment that allows him to stride toward home plate; it helps the angle of his pitch delivery. It will probably be awhile before he can overtake David Aardsma, who has been wild but effective, but it's an encouraging step that could prompt taking a fantasy chance on the talented righty.
  • Joakim Soria (shoulder) could return to calm things down in the Kansas City Royals bullpen as early as tomorrow. He's scheduled to travel with the monarchs to St. Petersburg, Fla., as they take on the Tampa Bay Rays. Keep tabs on when to put him back in your lineup, but in leagues where transactions reflect on the next day's action, you may want to be proactive.
  • New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel said young reliever Bobby Parnell could take over eighth-inning duties from the faltering J.J. Putz. Manuel said he wouldn't mind settling for Parnell in closing situations if both Putz and closer Francisco Rodriguez were incapacitated. NL leaguers should scoop up the fire-throwing Parnell, once a promising Mets prospect.
  • The Texas Rangers employed C.J. Wilson in the nightcap of their Friday doubleheader. This was merely to rest Frank Francisco, who wrapped up the first contest. No changes imminent here.

Also see: Fantasy baseball closer depth charts

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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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