Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: Joe Nathan, more

by Tim Heaney on April 18, 2011 @ 13:11:26 PDT


What are the odds that you still own the relief pitchers you rostered in your fantasy baseball draft?'s Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat series gives you no-nonsense ratings of performances, injuries and managerial decisions in MLB bullpens. Get your arm loose: Let's find fantasy baseball players in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball league who'll get saves.


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


Minnesota Twins

Closer: Matt Capps

Understudy: Joe Nathan

Nathan was removed from the stopper role over the weekend so he can get his stuff right in non-save situations. Capps, a stop-what-you're-doing grab if still available, responded Sunday by successfully wrapping up the game.

His track record allows Minny to take their time correcting Nathan, though that isn't set in stone. This was considered Plan B from the get-go. Nathan owners shouldn't drop him but in most cases shouldn't have him in their lineup while he tries to right the ship.

Job security score: 3

Health score: 5

St. Louis Cardinals

Closer: Ryan Franklin

Understudy: Miguel Batista, Mitchell Boggs

Lurkers: Jason Motte, Trever Miller, Eduardo Sanchez, Fernando Salas

St. Louis Cardinals RP Ryan Franklin
Who, if anyone, replaces Franklin?

Not exactly what Dave Duncan has in mind: The contact-happy Franklin's pitch movement has stumbled so much that his lack of closer-type stuff is now crippling his game and making him batting practice fodder.

Tony La Russa displayed declining confidence Sunday. After Boggs pitched a solid eighth, the Cards started the ninth with Miller, who allowed a double to tough lefty bat Andre Ethier. Franklin entered and lost the one-run lead - and perhaps his job - on a two-run dinger.

Boggs has recovered after spring back issues delayed his season prep; even as they remain hesitant to vault him into consideration, the Cards note he's moving in the right direction for ninth-inning work. His stuff is probably the best suited for the job, and he has been used in more tight situations so far than Motte, who's still trying to become a pitcher instead of a launcher.

The stress-inducing but savvy Batista seems to be up TLR's alley, though; the manager recently noted the righty's closing experience in talks with the media. Sure, 31 of his 41 saves came in an otherwise messy 2005, but that performance means something to the skip right now.

Sanchez and Salas have live arms and closed on the farm but, with their minimal MLB experience, likely won't be issued a long-term opportunity just yet.

At minimum, the Cards expect to discuss this mess during their Monday off-day. Boggs' talent doesn't necessarily make him TLR's man. Batista defies the roto axiom of buying skills but is a better example of La Russa's recent stopper preferences. In this case, that's the better speculative direction if you can't lock up both options.

Job security score: 2

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

  • The Toronto Blue Jays said Jon Rauch might stick as closer for a bit even when Frank Francisco (pectoral) returns, presumably as early as Tuesday thanks to his one-inning, two-strikeout Sunday performance. The Jays want to ease in Frank Frank, who regained some of his velocity Friday after a rough start to his rehab work. Even if Rauch continues to pitch well, expect the Jays to return Francisco to closing when he proves ready.
  • Kyle Farnsworth stopped the Tampa Bay Rays' ninth-inning bleeding with a one-out save Friday and, even if Joe Maddon hasn't said it yet, stands atop this reliever pack.
  • Drew Storen threw a two-inning save Sunday; Sean Burnett blew one for the Washington Nationals on Friday and hasn't worked since. They had been saying both were options and finally acted on it. If Storen is available in your league, grab him now.
  • Fernando Rodney has thrown six straight scoreless appearances; he credits returning to the delivery he used when he was in Detroit. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim probably aren't moving away from Jordan Walden in the near future, but Rodney is widely available and worth a deep league stab for long-term save stashers.
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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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