Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat - AL

by Tim Heaney on September 20, 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?'s Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat 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)


Detroit Tigers

Closer: Phil Coke

Understudy: Ryan Perry

Lurkers: Jose Valverde (elbow)

Los Angeles Angels RP Fernando Rodney
Halos are sticking with Rodney

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Coke will close out games, "hopefully temporarily," until Valverde comes back from elbow tendonitis, in a few days if not more. Leyland is hoping that even more so after Coke let a four-run lead evaporate on three hits and two walks in one-third of an inning Sunday.

The Tigs eventually pulled it out, but it did Coke no favors in preventing Perry from receiving another opportunity to close. There has been no talk of shutting Valverde down for the rest of 2010, but with Detroit out of the playoff race, it isn't out of the question.

Leyland's anointment of Coke makes him the first choice if you must pursue. Either way, this isn't a pretty situation for the fantasy stretch run.

Job security score: 1

Health score: 4

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Closer: Fernando Rodney

Understudy: Jordan Walden

Lurkers: Kevin Jepsen

Rodney's line on Saturday, his second straight day of work: one run allowed on three hits in one inning, and his third blown save in his last six chances.

The righty was given the day off Sunday, and Walden stepped in for the closure by retiring the typically tough Carl Crawford. Well, he literally stepped in for it; the batted ball ricocheted off his leg and to first baseman Juan Rivera.

Rodney has a 6.48 ERA this month, typically his roughest during the year (career 5.10 ERA, 22-for-34 in save tries in September). Manager Mike Scioscia backed up his stopper, though, saying he's still throwing the ball well. Walden and Jepsen have both been solid this month, but they probably would be interchangeable the next time Rodney needs a break - brief or extended. The Halos look content to keep throwing 'Do-Rod out there.

Job security score: 4

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

  • The Chicago White Sox still don't know when they'll have Bobby Jenks (forearm) back in action. Originally he was thought to be returning for a road trip that starts tomorrow, but that's looking less likely, according to manager Ozzie Guillen. Jenks hasn't pitched since Sept. 4, when he closed out both games of a doubleheader.
    Jenks will probably need to appear on the West Coast trip to have a realistic shot of appearing on a mound this season. If you're stashing him and need to address areas outside saves, you probably don't have to hold on to Jenks. Chris Sale should continue to serve as the top saves option, with Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz behind him.
  • David Aardsma (Seattle Mariners) recorded scoreless one-inning saves Friday and Sunday. In yesterday's, he worked around two walks.
    Since the All-Star break, the Dutchman is flying with a 0.84 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 21 K's in 21 1/3 innings. His .159 second-half BABIP probably means luck is on his side, but he has kicked his grounder inducement back up in the last two months. Maybe he's learning to pitch to contact effectively - something that would make him a more solid No. 2 closer next year if he were to keep Seattle's job.
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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 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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