Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat

by Tim Heaney on June 8, 2009 @ 12:00:00 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?'s Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat series keeps you informed when you're looking for saves.


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

Expect forearm issues to linger for Qualls (forearm), who had a rough weekend. He suffered from soreness Saturday after appearing Friday, but Sunday he blew a save by giving up two dingers. He probably won't pitch on consecutive days in order to attempt preventing a DL stint. 

Pena rebounded from a rough stretch in his last outing, going spotless Sunday before Qualls botched the game.

A closed-door meeting took place between Rauch and manager A.J. Hinch. The pair claims the discussion touched on Rauch's role; the righty wants to come in during significant innings with a lead, but he had been appearing when they were behind.

Rauch hasn't given up a run in six appearances since May 25, walking just two in the meantime. Rauch has shut the door in the past, but he still carries extreme flyball risk - at Chase Field, that's a no-no.

Pena has earned closer buzz for the last few years and would be the safest choice to pick up. He has less potential to hurt you than Rauch.

Job security score: 4

Health score: 4

Florida Marlins

Closer: Matt Lindstrom

Next in line: Leo Nunez

Other possibilities: Kiko Calero, Dan Meyer

Disabled list: Scott Proctor

At least Florida is willing to let Lindstrom learn while pitching. Another blowup scarred Lindstrom's stat sheet. Though he's 8-for-8 in closing things out since his April 28 debacle, a hit has shown up in his line in each of his last five starts; the latest was a non-save situation Saturday in which he allowed two runs on two walks and a hit in just two-thirds of an inning.

The main issue: failing to trust his triple-digit heat. Manager Fredi Gonzalez refused to install a closer-by-committee setup, saying, "I like to know who you have in that back end of the game so you know how to get to them."

Nunez should be on your speculative list, though. Sure, Lindy has been getting the job done, but Nunez cleaned up his compatriot's latest mess and remains next in line.

Job security score: 4

Health score: 4

Philadelphia Phillies

Closer: Brad Lidge

Next in line: Ryan Madson

Other possibilities: Chad Gaudin, J.C. Romero

Back-to-back blown closures this past weekend continued the relapse of Lidge's once dormant Albert Pujolsitis after a five-outing streak of scoreless baseball.

What was a guarantee last year is now a crapshoot.

Manager Charlie Manuel says he isn't changing the hierarchy; he said altering Lidge's role will only exacerbate the problem. His first blown save of the weekend came after a two-out error prolonged the game, but Lidge has appeared much more hittable this season and is having trouble identifying the problem.

Unless you have an abundance of closers, benching Lidge shouldn't be in your mind. Picking up Madson in shallow leagues would be OK if you're severely depleted, but it's wiser to tuck him away if you're hurting in deep setups.

Job security score: 5

Health score: 4

Texas Rangers

Closer: Frank Francisco

Next in line: C.J. Wilson

Other possibilities: Darren O'Day, Eddie Guardado, Jason Jennings, Warner Madrigal

Disabled list: Joaquin Benoit

Francisco (shoulder) has been unavailable since Wednesday with shoulder soreness. They're pretty much going on what Francisco reports to them about how he feels on game days.

Wilson filled in on the only save opportunity this past weekend and looked solid other than a walk by shutting the door on the Boston Red Sox

The Rangers aren't ready to put Francisco on the DL yet, and if they do, it may be similar to his earlier stay this year, when they did so only after having him rest for awhile so they gain a better retroactive date.

Expect Frank-Frank to be out a few more days, with a DL decision likely to follow. Wilson should be grabbed in the meantime.

Job security score: 5

Health score: 3

Washington Nationals

Closer: Mike MacDougal

Next in line: Joe Beimel

Other possibilities: Joel Hanrahan, Julian Tavarez

Disabled list: Kip Wells

Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice ... we drop you from our fantasy teams for good. Hanny probably won't get another shot after his second demotion this season. He has no value without saves in any league; if you're absolutely desperate in deep NL leagues, you can keep Hanrahan as a last resort, but you won't be gaining much from it.

MacDougal, meanwhile, has resurrected his career after a stint at Triple-A Syracuse. His aggressiveness with his heater, which touches the mid-90s, won the affection of the pitching coaches that had to deal with Hanrahan's over-reliance on his slider.

No one else has done the job this year, so even a brief successful stint may at least give some stability to the former All-Star closer for the Kansas City Royals. He has walked only two batters in the 3 2/3 frames since he has been called up. This doesn't appear to be the same pitcher as the righty who stuffed his own stat sheet with the Chicago White Sox earlier this year.

Job security score: 2

Health score: 4

Mound meetings

  • The Seattle Mariners turned to Sean White Sunday for a one-inning save, finally enacting on the proposed committee situation they called it when they removed Brandon Morrow. The M's are trying to conserve David Aardsma, the chairman of this group who had pitched on back-to-back days heading into Sunday's game. Aardsma is still the best option here.
  • You don't expect this from the Oakland Athletics, but it appears safe to call Andrew Bailey the closer. Mixed league owners still clinging to Brad Ziegler either are longing for something that won't arrive in the near future, or have stopped checking their rosters.
  • It wouldn't be shocking to see San Diego Padres sealer Heath Bell given a day or two off after pitching three frames in the last two days, including the impromptu doubleheader Sunday. Sure, Bell has made a career of eating as many innings as hot wings, but being the closer changes your schedule.
  • The Houston Astros' Jose Valverde (calf) will start a rehab assignment Wednesday at Double-A Corpus Christi and, if that goes well, could return to the 'Stros Friday.
  • Angel Guzman proved his worth outside of setup work yesterday by closing down a 14-inning affair for the Chicago Cubs. No changes imminent here - just a reminder of the season he's having (2.28 ERA, 25 K's, eight walks and a 0.90 WHIP in 27 2/3 frames). Carlos Marmol is so last year.
  • Randy Choate has the easiest closing job in baseball. He earned another one-out save Saturday for the Tampa Bay Rays after Dan Wheeler was blown up in the ninth. Choate was employed against lefty-hitting New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. This is par for the course of manager Joe Maddon's matchup play.

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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