Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat

by Tim Heaney on June 2, 2009 @ 00:00:00 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

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

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

Arizona Diamondbacks

Closer: Chad Qualls

Next in line: Tony Pena 

Other possibilities: Jon Rauch, Juan Gutierrez, Daniel Schlereth, Clay Zavada

Qualls is suffering from right forearm tightness and hasn't pitched since May 28. Pena stepped in Monday night and picked up an adventurous one-inning save (two unearned runs, three hits).

The D-backs hope to have Qualls back in action tonight; the worm squasher was heavily used during a recent weeklong stretch that included rainouts and a pair of extra-inning games in a doubleheader.

A longtime speculative target, Pena has the mid-90s stuff to step in, but Gutierrez has tacked on a save this year, and Rauch has held the job in the past. Working in Pena's favor as next in line: Rauch is by no means the same hurler he was in 2007 (faltering control chief among his problems), and Gutierrez, a former starter, is a valuable innings eater at the back end.

Schlereth profiles as a future closer, and manager A.J. Hinch said he would be confident in using him on back-to-back days. Still, they're trying to limit his pitch counts (at most 25 per appearance), so installing him as a permanent replacement should Qualls go down doesn't seem realistic.

It's time to go snake hunting. Aim at Pena first, but if he's taken, target in this order: Gutierrez, Schlereth, Rauch and Zavada.

Health score: 4

Job security score: 4

Mound meetings

  • After seeing action on three straight days and four consecutive games, Seattle Mariners stopper David Aardsma was kept out of last night's game and probably won't take the mound tonight. Mark Lowe would've shut the door if needed last night, and because he didn't take the mound he would presumably receive that chance tonight. Brandon Morrow will probably continue middle relief work.
  • Last night the Florida Marlins' Matt Lindstrom responded after a tough weekend outing with two K's in a one-inning punctuation. He tossed just 12 pitches - 11 in the zone. For all the trouble he has endured this year, he has converted seven uninterrupted save chances, and continuing this efficient aggressiveness will only make his triple-digit stuff more dangerous.
  • Another Joakim Soria (shoulder) reminder that his return to the Kansas City Royals could come today. Stay tuned.

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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