Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat

by Tim Heaney on June 3, 2009 @ 01:00:00 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)

Chicago Cubs

Closer: Kevin Gregg

Next in line: Carlos Marmol

Other possibilities: Angel Guzman, Aaron Heilman

With the Cubs staked to a two-run advantage Tuesday, a Gregg strikeout backfired in the ninth; the Atlanta Braves' Garret Anderson fanned but reached first base on a wild pitch, leaving the tally at just one out. Two batters later, a two-out, two-run jack botched Gregg's chance.

Sure, it's easy to pick on Gregg, but for all the ballyhoo surrounding Marmol's stellar May (1.29 ERA), Gregg's numbers deserve a balanced argument. A four-run fiasco May 16 was one of just two May appearances (13 for the month) in which he allowed a run. Gregg has blown just two of 10 chances this year.

Control and the long ball (five dingers and 13 walks in 22 1/3 frames) will be long-term issues, but Gregg has been doing his job on the whole.

Marmol also has five walks in his last three outings; he has a 27-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio, with 12 walks coming in those 14 glorified May frames. He isn't doing much to convince manager Lou Piniella to go away from Gregg for now.

Job security score: 5

Health score: 4

Mound meetings

  • A four-day vacation taught Arizona Diamondbacks closer Chad Qualls to avoid pitching through discomfort, something he tried when he appeared in five contests in a recent seven-day span. The righty was available to pitch last night after his respite. You can breathe a sigh of relief, but keep Tony Pena in your peripheral vision or on your saves-desperate list.
  • Houston Astros fireman Jose Valverde (calf) is targeting his return for the June 12-14 series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He tossed a bullpen session Monday and is expected to test his mobility sometime this week; he'll throw to hitters Saturday if all goes well. It's hard not to think LaTroy Hawkins, who has been solid as Valverde's replacement, would at least have spot duty during Valverde's return while the normal closer regains his form.
  • Huston Street blew his first save of the season Tuesday for the Colorado Rockies. His throwing error put the leadoff ninth-inning batter on third base, so his ERA wasn't affected. This shouldn't amount to anything in the worry department.
  • Closer's day off: Brad Lidge saw game action on four straight days for the Philadelphia Phillies (nestled within a five-outing scoreless streak), so after Chad Durbin made things interesting with a five-run lead, Ryan Madson came on to record the final out for his second save this season.

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 LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.


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