StrategySeptember 4, 2009

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Closer Complex: It Tolls for Thee

By Matthew Robertson

As we enter the final month of the season, it is becoming evident that the long season, physical durability of players, and risk of injury is starting to take a toll. This means that fantasy owners entering their playoffs will start clamoring for stability in an attempt to start the best roster possible. But accidents do happen and one recently happened to Arizona closer Chad Qualls. An errant liner hit Qualls on the knee and broke his kneecap. I’m no doctor but it appears fairly hard for a pitcher to pitch when they can barely walk. So, what to do? Well, the replacement for Qualls was fairly logical, as the Diamondbacks just happened to send Jon Rauch to the Twins a few days prior. The move opened the ninth-inning door for Juan Gutierrez and enabled the D-Backs to call-up top relief prospect Daniel Schlereth. So far, Gutierrez has converted all of his save opportunities and averages almost a strikeout per inning with his upper 90’s fastball. But like most young high velocity throwers, his control isn’t always up to par as he does walk a few too many batters and gets hit by lefties a little too hard. Still, he’s a pretty good choice for the rest of the season and could have a bright future ahead of him if he performs well.

Another closer feeling the effects of the long season is Rockies closer Huston Street. After only blowing one save this year, the former Texas Longhorn has been experiencing pain and tightness in his ribcage. Franklin Morales was installed as closer when Street couldn’t go and should continue to get spot duty until Street heals. Yearly leagues shouldn’t overrate and invest too heavily in Morales as Street is reportedly slated to return to active duty next week. Morales should rack up some Ks and be a good fill in until Street returns. So, owners looking to get one or two saves before next week should pounce while you still can.

Another situation to watch would be the closing situation in Cleveland, as Kerry Wood does not look healthy, and the Indians may decide to limit his time or simply shut him down and look toward next season. Enter Chris Perez. Perez has so far pitched close to 20 scoreless innings and would be the clear replacement should Wood not close. Perez is also the future closer of the Indians so dynasty and keeper league should hold on to him if possible. Still, the Indians aren’t too good and don’t figure to have many leads in the ninth inning.

Matthew Robertson is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Matthew in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Havok1517.
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