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NL Closer Watch - updated 6/2

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NL Closer Watch - updated 6/2

Postby phunkadelic » Mon Jun 02, 2003 1:10 pm

NL Closer Watch from ESPN Insider


Monday, June 2, 2003




Arizona Diamondbacks

Matt Mantei
Security: High

Profile
Arizona Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
7 2 22.2 4.37 29 8


5/22 - 5/28: 3 G, 2.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, (0-1, 1 Sv, 1 BS)


Monday update: While Mantei's MRI was technically good news, revealing no serious damage to his shoulder, the team placed him on the 15-day DL to rest him. The bad news for speculative fantasy owners is Mike Koplove was also placed on the DL. He's set for a Tuesday MRI. Who closes? Good question. Weekend action suggests a platoon of righty Oscar Villarreal and lefty Mike Myers is the best bet.


Fantasy Insurance: Mike Koplove. Mantei's trouble could be Koplove's opportunity. The reliever proved effective as a closer in spring training and has continued pitching well in set-up duty this season. He's unproven, but there's no reason to think he wouldn't get the majority of save chances should Mantei go on the DL.


Other Options: Oscar Villarreal, 21, is tough to hit -- opponents are hitting just .214 in 35.2 innings against him -- but he's also walked 24 batters and might not be polished enough for ninth-inning duty. Lefty Mike Myers is tough on left-handed hitters but right-handed hitters own him. Veteran reliever Scott Service has been getting shelled recently, removing him from consideration.







Atlanta Braves

John Smoltz
Security: High

Profile
Atlanta Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
19 1 28.0 0.96 34 4


5/22 - 5/28: 3 G, 3 IP, 0 H, ER, 0 BB, 5 K (0-0, 1 Sv).
Status: Smoltz is healthy. That's all you need to know.



Fantasy Insurance: Roberto Hernandez. The Braves really hope Smoltz doesn't get hurt. Hernandez has allowed home runs in four of his last five appearances, allowing a total of seven hits, five walks and seven earned runs in 5.1 innings.


Other Options: Right-hander Trey Hodges could soon displace Hernandez, although the Braves might still prefer the veteran should Smoltz get hurt. Hodges has limited opponents to a .193 batting average. Jung Bong continues to impress. His recent save was of the three-inning variety in a blowout, but he's an interesting sleeper prospect. Then again, his future is probably as a starter. Veteran Ray King is a solid lefty option who has been tough this season against right-handed hitters, although walks are a concern.








Chicago Cubs

Joe Borowski
Security: Low

Profile
Chicago Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
10 2 24.0 1.88 28 6


5/22 - 5/28: 3 G, 3 IP, 2 H, ER, 2 BB, 3 K (0-0, 3 Sv).
Status: Call this an unfortunate vote of confidence. Chicago manager Dusty Baker has said that Borowski is in no danger of losing his job right now, but will lose the job in the future. Baker said Antonio Alfonseca will eventually reclaim the job, once he rounds into full form. This despite the fact that opponents are hitting .153 against Borowski.



Fantasy Insurance: Alfonseca. Although Alfonseca proved the future isn't the present by allowing four hits and three earned runs in an inning on May 26, it still appears he's worth owning. Baker's words might be part bluster, but Alfonseca is a good bet to finish the season with at least 10 saves.


Other Options: Kyle Farnsworth has the strikeout totals that will probably earn him a shot at a closing job somewhere down the road, but for now he's a quality set-up pitcher. Given the guys ahead of him, he's a notch below a pitcher like Octavio Dotel. Mike Remlinger has rebounded after a slow start and remains a last-ditch closing option. Rookie Todd Wellemeyer has made himself a longshot sleeper by working his first 5.2 innings with nine strikeouts and no walks.









Cincinnati Reds

Scott Williamson
Security: High

Profile
Cincinnati Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
11 1 21.1 3.80 26 14


5/22 - 5/28: 2 G, 2 IP, 2 H, ER, 0 BB, 2 K (0-0, 0 Sv).


Status: After a scare with his elbow on May 26, Williamson appears fine. He's throw without pain and is ready for action. But combined with the back woes he's endured this season and a history of injuries, he's causing fantasy owners some sleepless nights.


Fantasy Insurance: There is no clear insurance for Williamson, and that's a problem. Kent Mercker, Felix Heredia and Gabe White have the three best ERAs on the team, but not one of them is a sure-fire closing option. Mercker's 14 walks in 19.2 innings are a bad sign and right-handed hitters have success against him. Gabe White has better control but similar problems against right-handed hitters. Fellow lefty Felix Heredia's problems are a mix of Mercker and White's, and he didn't endear himself with a lousy outing in a tight game against Atlanta on May 26. The answer? Probably closer-by-committee.











Colorado Rockies

Jose Jimenez
Security: Medium

Profile
Colorado Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
11 1 24.1 6.29 13 8


5/22 - 5/29: 3 G, 3 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, K (0-0, 0 Sv).
Status: Colorado's winning ways haven't resulted in many save opportunities for Jimenez, but his job security appears to have stabilized. Still, even Colorado pitchers should allow 41 hits in 24.1 innings.



Fantasy Insurance: Javier Lopez. It's a long way from afterthought to closer, but Lopez could make that leap this season. There hasn't been much talk of letting the side-arming lefty replace Jimenez, but that will change if he keeps this up. Lopez hasn't given up a home run and is limiting opponents to a .155 average through 20.2 innings. Right-handers have no more success against him than lefties.


Other Options: Todd Jones is still in the mix, given his closing experience, but he's pitching as poorly as anyone on Colorado's staff. Veteran Steve Reed would be an option if the Rockies wanted to replace Jimenez with someone more proven than Lopez.







Florida Marlins

Braden Looper
Security: Medium

Profile
Florida Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
8 1 29.1 2.76 19 10


5/22 - 5/28: 4 G, 3.1 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 3 K (0-0, 3 Sv).


Status: Looper lives in the middle class of closers. He's good but not great on a team that gets an average number of chances. But there's no need to worry about his job security.


Fantasy Insurance: Tim Spooneybarger. Opponents are hitting just .181 against Spooneybarger this season. And although he's been used for some long stints recently, he likely remains the top one-inning option should Looper get hurt.


Other Options: Lefty Armando Almanza has 29 strikeouts and just six walks in 26.1 innings, but right-handers are hitting him too well to consider him a closing option.








Houston Astros

Billy Wagner
Security: High

Profile
Houston Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
15 1 30.0 1.80 36 7


5/22 - 5/29: 4 G, 4 IP, 5 H, ER, 0 BB, 5 K (0-0, 4 Sv).


Status: Wagner's job is as safe as any in baseball


Fantasy Insurance: Octavio Dotel. Virtually untouchable, Dotel has allowed a hit in less than half his appearances. Opponents are hitting just .146 against him and he has a 4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Sound like a future closer to you?


Other Options: On most other teams, rookie Brad Lidge would have fantasy owners falling over themselves. But on Houston, he's a distant third or fourth when it comes to potential saves. But that doesn't change the fact that aside from a few more walks, his numbers look a lot like Dotel's. As if those three aren't enough, Ricky Stone has a 1.97 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 32 innings.









Los Angeles Dodgers

Eric Gagne
Security: High

Profile
Los Angeles Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
18 0 26.0 2.42 46 5


5/22 - 5/29: 2 G, 1.2 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, BB, K (0-1, 1 Sv).


Status: That's 18-for-18 in save chances and nearly two strikeouts an inning, for those counting at home. Barring injury, he's all set.


Fantasy Insurance: Paul Shuey. Despite an awful history as a closer, it's tough to argue with Shuey's performance this season. He's pitched three perfect innings since coming off the DL.


Other Options: Guillermo Mota has allowed three earned runs in his last two appearances (5.0 IP) and still has a 1.60 ERA. In other words, he's been pretty good. He'd be right in the mix with Shuey if Gagne were to get hurt. Yet another Los Angeles reliever with an ERA less than 2.00, Paul Quantrill is a veteran with 19 career saves.









Milwaukee Brewers

Mike DeJean
Security: Medium

Profile
Milwaukee Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
10 3 26.1 4.10 20 12


5/22 - 5/29: 3 G, 3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, BB, K (0-0, 2 Sv).


Status: DeJean appears back on track after suffering through a brief slump. The Brewers stuck with him through the fade, suggesting they have confidence in him finishing the year as their closer if he isn't dealt.


Fantasy Insurance: Curtis Leskanic. The former closer could fill the role in Milwaukee if DeJean leaves, but Leskanic hasn't pitched since May 19, when he allowed three earned runs in 0.2 innings. He's not listed as injured.


Other Options: Southpaw Matt Ford doesn't get much work, but he's good when he does. The same goes for right-hander Leo Estrella. Valerio de los Santos is recently off the disabled list and pitching well.










Montreal Expos

Rocky Biddle
Security: Medium

Profile
Montreal Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
15 1 27.1 3.95 25 14


5/22 - 5/29: 2 G, 2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, K (0-0, 2 Sv).


Status: Biddle gives up a few more hits and walks than the elite closers, but he gets the job done. And the Expos are careful how they use him, as Biddle has earned saves in eight of his last nine appearances. He quietly locking up the job for the remainder of this season and possibly beyond.


Fantasy Insurance: Scott Stewart. Still effective overall, Stewart has cooled slightly since a great start. But with his closing experience, he's the obvious first choice if anything happens to Biddle.


Other Options: Joey Eischen remains sharp, although he's struggled against left-handed hitters for some reason. T.J. Tucker has also been sharp and had four saves last season.












New York Mets

Armando Benitez
Security: High

Profile
New York Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
15 4 30.1 3.56 31 18


5/22 - 5/29: 4 G, 4.1 IP, 3 H, ER, 4 BB, 7 K (0-0, 3 Sv).


Status: While Benitez continues to be mentioned in trade talks -- some of which have him ticketed for set-up duty -- he'll remain New York's closer as long as he's healthy.


Fantasy Insurance: Dave Weathers. Weathers has the kind of set-up resume you like to see in insurance closers, although he hasn't been especially sharp this season.


Other Options: Scott Strickland is expected to be out through at least June. Both Graeme Lloyd and Mike Stanton could conceivably step in and close games if necessary. Lloyd has been the better of the two this season.











Philadelphia Phillies

Jose Mesa
Security: High

Profile
Philadelphia Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
13 2 20 5.40 11 10


5/22 - 5/29: 2 G, 2 IP, H, 0 ER, BB, 3 K (0-0, Sv).


Status: The Phillies have been on a losing skid, and for a change, Mesa has had little to do with it. Despite his penchant for making things interesting, he's converted 13-of-15 save opportunities. And the Phillies have shown little inclination to put his job up for grabs.


Fantasy Insurance: Carlos Silva. The heir apparent, Silva hasn't been pitching well enough recently to put any pressure on Mesa.


Other Options: Were Mesa to get hurt, a lefty-righty platoon of Rheal Cormier and Turk Wendell might make more sense than Silva. Cormier has allowed just 16 hits in 25 innings, while Wendell has a 1.15 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 15.2 innings.











Pittsburgh Pirates

Mike Williams
Security: Medium

Profile
Pittsburgh Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
14 3 20.1 6.64 10 13


5/22 - 5/28: 2 G, 2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (0-0, 2 Sv, 1 BS).


Status: Williams isn't pitching well, but he's far from alone in that respect among Pittsburgh relievers. He's battled a leg injury which his manager says has contributed to his woes, but he has converted 14-of-17 chances. This would be a situation to watch if the Pirates had other options, but they don't.


Fantasy Insurance: Joe Beimel. This is the best the Pirates can do after Williams, and even Beimel is starting to get hit. The southpaw has allowed seven hits in his last 5.2 innings. Oh, and right-handed hitters are hitting .340 against him.


Other Options: Scott Sauerbeck might be a better option than Beimel despite a worse ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio. The lefty has been equally effective against both left- and right-handed hitters, holding both under .200 averages. But with 13 walks in 21 innings, control is an issue.












St. Louis Cardinals

Cal Eldred
Security: None

Profile
St. Louis Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
4 2 19.0 3.79 16 8


5/22 - 5/28: 1 G, 1 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 0 K (1-0, 1 BS).


Status: The Cards are anxiously awaiting the return of Jason Isringhausen. Last year's closer should begin a rehab assignment in the next few days, with the hope of returning to the active lineup within a week or two. Until then Eldred may remain on top of the platoon heap, although he blew a save on May 23 and has allowed five hits in his last 2.1 innings.


Fantasy Insurance: Jeff Fassero. The last pitcher other than Eldred to pick up a save, Fassero sports a 6.06 ERA. He worked just 6.1 innings, suggesting no matter what, he's not going to be a frequent visitor to ninth-inning duty.


Other Options: Potential closing prospect Mike Crudale has a WHIP (1.84) that's significantly higher than his ERA (1.04). That's not a good thing, and it will probably keep him from seeing any save opportunities if Isringhausen really is back within two weeks. Steve Kline and Dustin Hermanson remain options, although fantasy owners will be lucky to get a save out of either.






San Diego Padres

Matt Herges
Security: Low

Profile
San Diego Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
1 2 26.0 2.42 25 16


5/22 - 5/28: 3 G, 2.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (0-0, 1 BS).

Status: The Padres have just one save since April 24, and that one went to lefty specialist Jesse Orosco. But that may not stop Herges from losing a job it's unclear if he ever held. He's allowed eight hits and four earned runs in his last four innings, being charged with a loss and a blown save.


Fantasy Insurance: Mike Mathews, Jaret Wright or Luther Hackman? Your guess is as good as ours. None of them have pitched especially well and none look like promising closing options.



Other Options: Brandon Villafuerte is on the 15-day disabled list, ensuring he'll continue not getting saves. The venerable Orosco has two saves, but he's purely situational.








San Francisco Giants

Tim Worrell
Security: High

Profile
San Francisco Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
13 2 28.1 1.27 23 10


5/22 - 5/28: 2 G, 3 IP, H, 0 ER, BB, 3 K, (0-0, 0 Sv).

Status: After a very active stretch, Worrell has been getting some rest with the Giants on a losing streak. But he's firmly entrenched as the closer.


Fantasy Insurance: Felix Rodriguez. F-Rod simply hasn't been that special this season. Opponents are hitting nearly .270 against him, and he's walked 12 in 24 innings. But with Joe Nathan struggling, he's probably the top option behind Worrell.

Other Options: Nathan has allowed five hits and six earned runs in his last 1.2 innings. His great start is a distant memory, and it's tough to imagine Felipe Alou having much faith in his potential closing skills. Veteran lefty Scott Eyre has been consistent, but he's no closing threat.
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phunkadelic = the man

Postby lifeform » Mon Jun 02, 2003 1:33 pm

Hey, phunkadelic--

You = the man

Many thanks!
Everything you know is wrong.
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Postby warrick95 » Mon Jun 02, 2003 3:14 pm

Great report, man. That helps a lot. Hopefully the deal with Arizona's closing situation getsclearer if a save opp occurs tonight.
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Postby Giants Rule » Mon Jun 02, 2003 3:26 pm

Thanks, Phunk. Can you post the AL when it becomes available? Appreciate it.
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Postby thehat » Tue Jun 03, 2003 5:52 am

It's a great report. Unfortunately, it's from ESPN. Following fantasy advice from that site is a sure ticket to mediocrity. They got a couple things wrong on this report, as per usual. They never even mentioned Valverde in the Arizona report. He may not be the closer de jour, but he's ahead of Villarreal and Service. As for the Borowski/Alfonseca situation, this is what Dusty supposedly said when Alfonseca was activated. That was one month ago and nothing has changed. Nor is it especially likely to for the simple reason that Alfonseca isn't very good.
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