Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat

by Tim Heaney on June 12, 2009 @ 01:00:01 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 and 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
Health (H) score
1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable)
1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)

Houston Astros

Closer: LaTroy Hawkins

Next in line: Chris Sampson

Other possibilities: Tim Byrdak

Disabled list: Jose Valverde

This hierarchy will likely be altered this evening.

This will be a storybook abdication, too. Hawkins blew a save chance last night, and Valverde (calf) is expected to be activated from the DL today and regain his stopper role immediately.

It'd be wise, if possible, to hang on to Hawkins for at least the immediate future. You'll want to make sure Valverde's calf holds up; plus, trade rumors surround both righties. Hawkins could return to the role or earn a chance somewhere else; he has already proven competent as a closer.

If you can't retain Hawkins or someone else cuts him, keep the vet near the top of your watch list.

Job security score: 4

Health score: 5

Mound meetings

  • Not enough people own C.J. Wilson, who is holding the fort down with Frank Francisco (shoulder) still unsure of when he'll pitch again. Wilson tied a bow last night. Even if Francisco returns soon, Wilson should be on save chasers' - and Francisco owners' - rosters. 
  • Southpaw Joe Beimel wrapped it up for the Washington Nationals Thursday by sitting down a lefty and two righty bats in order. Closer Mike MacDougal had pitched three innings over the previous two days (including a two-inning shutout stint Wednesday). Sure, it's fun (painful?) to believe Nats skipper Manny Acta is being indecisive. The likely scenario: Mac needed a rest, and Beimel is the next in line.
  • With his scoreless one-inning save Thursday, the Arizona Diamondbacks' Chad Qualls now has pitched back-to-back days. He allowed three hits and a run in his previous outing. More good news: The commanding righty (25 K's, four walks) discovered via video that he had been swinging his left leg outward during his delivery instead of lifting it. That has piled on the problems caused by his recent forearm stiffness. If he applied this observation to Thursday's outing, similar performances could come in waves, though the D-backs will probably continue to be tight with his schedule.
  • Flyballs will remain a problem for the Colorado Rockies' Huston Street. He let up a three-run dinger last night in a save situation, but he was only responsible for the batter. Street eventually shut the door. Scary thought: The reliever-desperate New York Yankees are interested in the righty as a setup arm. And we said Coors Field would be a problem for him.... Be wary of Street trade whispers.
  • Bobby Jenks' second spoiled chance of the season came Thursday, but the Chicago White Sox rallied to win. The same game saw the Detroit Tigers' Joel Zumaya yield the winning run (unearned) without retiring a batter.
  • No cause for long-term concerns, but here's a reminder of how a basement-dwelling squad can sour a closer's routine. The Kansas City Royals' middle infielders each made throwing errors on a potential double-play ball that would've closed out the eighth and kept a two-run lead. Instead, Joakim Soria emerged and promptly let the inherited tying run score on a double.
  • Since we're all about speculating, let's do it again. Kelvim Escobar is moving to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim bullpen. They don't have a clear next-in-line option to Brian Fuentes. Just saying....

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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