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NL Closer Watch

Postby zoozam » Fri Jun 20, 2003 12:04 pm

Arizona Diamondbacks

Jose Valverde
Security: Filling in

Profile
Arizona Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
4 0 6.0 3.00 10 4


6/12 - 6/18: 2 G, 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, BB, 2 K, (0-0, 1 Sv)


Status: Matt Mantei is eligible to come off the DL, but he remains sidelined by shoulder weakness. He's set to throw in the bullpen on Friday, which could put him within a week or two of returning if all goes well. Until he returns, and possibly for a short time after he returns, Valverde has pitched well enough to keep filling in.


Fantasy Insurance: Mike Koplove. But should Valverde falter at all, Koplove could step in and take at least a share of the job. He's shown some rust in coming off the disabled list -- five hits and two earned runs in 4.1 innings -- but nothing to cause too much worry. Before getting hurt (shoulder tendonitis), Koplove looked like a capable closing option.


Other Options: Bret Prinz is throwing batting practice and could return from the 60-day DL soon. Oscar Villarreal continues having substantial trouble against left-handed hitters (.507 slugging percentage), making it tough to envision him as a closer. The same holds true for southpaw Mike Myers against right-handed hitters.






Chicago Cubs

Joe Borowski
Security: Low

Profile
Chicago Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
14 2 33.2 2.14 37 9


6/12 - 6/18: 2 G,2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (0-0, 2 Sv).


Status: They're starting to get ugly, but Borowski keeps converting save opportunities. He's allowed 10 hits and three walks in his last six appearances (6.2) innings, but he converted all four save opportunities in those games. The warning lights are warming up, but until Borowski blows a few games, even Dusty Baker won't be able to contemplate a change.


Fantasy Insurance: Antonio Alfonseca. Continuing to pitch about as well -- but certainly not much better -- than Borowski, Alfonseca remains in the mix. Given his record, Chicago's need to trade for a third baseman and Baker's earlier comments about his eventual role, it's worth stashing Alfonseca on your bench if you're hurting for saves.


Other Options: The Cubs have no shortage of sleeper closer candidates. Kyle Farnsworth has nasty strikeout numbers and is limiting opponents to a .180 batting average. Todd Wellemeyer is a sleeper pick, but he's probably too raw for ninth-inning duty. Veterans Mike Remlinger and Mark Guthrie could also fill the role in an emergency.






Colorado Rockies

Jose Jimenez
Security: Low

Profile
Colorado Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
16 2 32.0 6.47 17 11


6/12- 6/18: 4 G, 2.1 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 0 K (0-1, 1 Sv, 1 BS).
Status: First off, manager Clint Hurdle says Jose Jimenez is still his closer. But there can't be much slack left in that rope. Jimenez was pulled without recording an out on June 18 after allowing two hits and a walk. That came just two days after blowing a save against the Padres. For the year, left-handed hitters are hitting .458 against him. Despite Hurdle's assurances, there may not be a closer in more trouble right now.



Fantasy Insurance: Justin Speier. The man who replaced Jimenez on June 18 and earned a save, Speier gets the nod for now. He's been among the Rockies most effective set-up guys this season, despite a 1.54 WHIP (largely the result of 40 hits in 35 innings). A promising reliever with Cleveland in 2000, Speier has enjoyed modest success with the Rockies and has decent strikeout potential.


Other Options: Javier Lopez got cold at the wrong time. A sleeper candidate after a fantastic start to the season, the rookie has allowed 11 hits and nine earned runs in his last three appearances (1.1 IP). Veteran Todd Jones has been about that bad for most of the season. Steve Reed always post good numbers in Colorado and never gets save chances. It looks like that will continue.






Montreal Expos

Rocky Biddle
Security: Medium

Profile
Montreal Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
17 3 35.1 3.82 36 18


6/12 - 6/18: 2 G, 1.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (0-1, 0 Sv, 1 BS).


Status: Frank Robinson isn't always conventional when it comes to his bullpen, but it's tough to figure his recent use of Biddle. At the close of a 23-day road trip, Robinson used Biddle in both ends of a doubleheader against the Pirates on June 18. The problem was he used him in the seventh inning of the first game ... with the Expos down five. Biddle was then hammered in the second game, blowing his second save opportunity in the last four chances. He's still the closer, but fantasy owners are on alert.


Fantasy Insurance: Luis Ayala. He hasn't seen much work since picking up two saves in a four-day span early in June. When Ayala did get a longer look, he coughed up a two-run lead in the eighth against Oakland on June 14. He's a viable alternative if Biddle struggles, but he's not pitching significantly better at this point.


Other Options: Scott Stewart is giving up too many hits -- 31 in 30 innings -- but he's been generally effective in set-up work and has closing experience. Also available are veterans T.J. Tucker and Joey Eischen.







New York Mets

Armando Benitez
Security: High

Profile
New York Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
17 4 37.1 2.89 37 18


6/12 - 6/18: 2 G, 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (0-0, 0 Sv).


Status: Ignore the save Benitez didn't get on June 18 -- it went to Dan Wheeler but was of the three-inning variety -- but don't ignore the trade rumors. The Mets have no need for a high-priced closer. Most teams would look at Benitez as a closer, but a deal sending him to the Yankees would be bad news for fantasy owners counting on him for saves. On the mound, Benitez continues to pitch well.


Fantasy Insurance: Dave Weathers. If Benitez moves on, Weathers is the most obvious replacement. The veteran doesn't have much closing experience, but he's been a top-tier set-up guy for years. At this point, it may be worth speculating on him in NL-only leagues.


Other Options: Scott Strickland is likely out for the year following surgery. Graeme Lloyd -- who served briefly as Montreal's closer -- and Mike Stanton are other experienced options, although neither is pitching as well as Weathers. Wheeler had four saves for Triple-A Norfolk but he's a longshot at best.








St. Louis Cardinals

Jason Isringhausen
Security: Medium

Profile
St. Louis Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
0 0 3.0 0.00 0 2


6/12 - 6/18: 3 G, 3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K (0-0, 0 Sv).


Status: With Cal Eldred struggling, the Cards have little choice but to throw Isringhausen in the mix a little ahead of schedule. He hasn't looked amazing in his first three appearances, but he's gotten the job done. The Cardinals haven't generated many save opportunities since Isringhausen returned.


Fantasy Insurance: Cal Eldred. It's not quite an implosion on the scale of Juan Acevedo, but fill-in closer Eldred has been bad recently. He's allowed six hits and seven runs in his last three appearances, recording just three total outs. It's time for fantasy owners to start dropping him, although he could land another save or two.


Other Options: Lance Painter has returned from the DL, joining a mix that includes Jeff Fassero and Steve Kline. Dustin Hermanson is out of the picture after being sent to the minors.








San Diego Padres

Rod Beck
Security: Low

Profile
San Diego Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
2 0 6.1 2.84 7 2


6/12 - 6/18: 3 G, 3 IP, H, 0 ER, BB, 3 K (0-0, 2 Sv).

Status: Suddenly the team that never generated save opportunities has too many for one guy to handle. Beck picked up saves on June 15 and June 16, leaving him unavailable for the next day's opportunity. But all in all, it's tough to find anything wrong with Beck's performance as closer. It seems like fantasy owners should feel comfortable banking on 15 saves out of him.


Fantasy Insurance: Jay Witasick. The sleeper in all this, Witasick picked up the save on June 17, when Beck was unavailable. He's pitched a full inning just once since returning from the DL but figures to remain a late-inning option.



Other Options: Not far behind Witasick is former closer Matt Herges. With a 2.62 ERA (although 1.49 WHIP), he hasn't done much to fall out of favor, it's just the team seems to view him more as a set-up pitcher than a closer. But keep his name in mind if injuries hit the other two.








POTNETIAL NOISE (Updated on June 19)





Milwaukee Brewers

Mike DeJean
Security: Medium

Profile
Milwaukee Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
15 4 34.1 4.19 28 15


6/12 - 6/18: 3 G, 3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (0-0, 1 Sv).


Status: DeJean doesn't have great numbers and blows his share of saves, but rumors that the Brewers are thinking of trading Curtis Leskanic is just more proof that his job is safe.


Fantasy Insurance: Leskanic. The target of trade rumors involving Kansas City and Colorado, Leskanic is a DeJean owner's best insurance as long as he's in Milwaukee. He's been walking a ton of guys recently, but he hasn't allowed a run in his last five innings.


Other Options: Southpaw Matt Ford has good overall numbers, but he's not ready to step up in role after allowing 10 hits in his last 4.2 innings. The same goes for Leo Estrella, although his slide hasn't been as pronounced. Arguably a better option than either is Valerio de los Santos.











Philadelphia Phillies

Jose Mesa
Security: High

Profile
Philadelphia Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
16 3 27.0 5.00 16 12


6/12 - 6/18: 1 G, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (0-0, 0 Sv).


Status: Mesa hasn't pitched much recently, which is probably the best way for him to go about keeping his job. But talk has cooled of Mesa being replaced, and Larry Bowa's fuse has probably recharged enough to allow Mesa a few more blown saves.


Fantasy Insurance: Rheal Cormier. Continuing to pitch brilliantly in set-up duty, Cormer remains the best option if Bowa really does get fed up with Mesa.


Other Options: Turk Wendell doesn't strike out many hitters but he's doing everything else right. Wendell has a 0.76 ERA and 0.93 WHIP while limiting opponents to a .160 batting average. That's dominance. Carlos Silva is more or less out of the closing mix after allowing nine hits, six runs and three walks in his last 5.1 innings.








Pittsburgh Pirates

Mike Williams
Security: Medium

Profile
Pittsburgh Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
19 3 25.2 5.61 12 17


6/12 - 6/18: 3 G, 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, BB, K (0-0, 3 Sv).


Status: The numbers are ugly -- really ugly -- but Williams keeps getting saves. But it is interesting that his last three saves came from a total of 1.1 innings pitched. If the Pirates are starting to pick and choose the batters they think Williams can retire, a change isn't out of the question.


Fantasy Insurance: Scott Sauerbeck. The pitcher who preceded Williams in all three of those recent saves, Sauerbeck pitched in five straight game from June 13 - June 18. He doesn't give up a lot of hits -- opponents are hitting just .198 against him -- but he walks way too many batters. He's not worth considering at this point.


Other Options: Owning the best numbers of any of Pittsburgh main relievers, southpaw Joe Beimel is another option should the team look to replace Williams with an internal option. After that, good luck finding a viable option.







San Francisco Giants

Tim Worrell
Security: High

Profile
San Francisco Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
16 3 37.0 1.95 29 12


6/12 - 6/18: 3 G, 2.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 2 K, (0-1, 0 Sv, 1 BS).

Status: Has Worrell been reading the rumors about Ugueth Urbina? He blew his last save opportunity and has allowed five hits in his last 2.2 innings. Not exactly the stuff of job loss, but disturbing if the team was already looking at proven options. Worrell isn't in danger of losing the job to an internal candidate, but keep an ear to the trade winds.


Fantasy Insurance: Felix Rodriguez. He's not the dominant pitcher of two seasons ago, but Rodriguez is getting back on track. Take away May and his ERA would be well under 4.00. He's not worth owning in anything but the deepest of NL-only leagues.


Other Options: We're not saying Joe Nathan is done, but he's allowed 12 earned runs and six home runs in his last 13 innings. He's not a closing option. Scott Eyre has a save this season and is tremendous against left-handed hitters.










ALL QUIET (Updated on June 19)



Atlanta Braves

John Smoltz
Security: High

Profile
Atlanta Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
26 1 38.2 0.93 47 6


6/12 - 6/18: 2 G, 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, BB, 2 K (0-0, 2 Sv).
Status: Smoltz is healthy. That's all you need to know.



Fantasy Insurance: Trey Hodges. He's actually hit a rough spell -- allowing four hits and two runs in his last two appearances (2.1 IP), but injuries to others lift him up.


Other Options: Roberto Hernandez is on the 15-day DL with a back injury. He'll probably regain his role as primary set-up guy upon returning, but it's not like he's pitched all that well this season. Still, if Smoltz were to get hurt, Hernandez would be far and away the most experienced option. Veteran southpaw Ray King continues to pitch well in situational duty and Jung Bong remains an intriguing sleeper.







Cincinnati Reds

Scott Williamson
Security: High

Profile
Cincinnati Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
17 1 30.0 2.70 37 19


6/12 - 6/18: 2 G, 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K (1-0, 1 Sv).


Status: Williamson walks a few too many guys, but that's the only thing wrong with his game now that he's healthy.


Fantasy Insurance: The Three Amigos. Gabe White, Kent Mercker and Felix Heredia have the best ERAs among Cincinnati pitchers. All have thrown well and all are southpaws. But not one leaps out as a clear closer candidate should Williamson miss extended time. Heredia has the best numbers against right-handed hitters, but he faded in May. It's probably not worth the roster space to try and guess which one would emerge at this point. Right-hander Scott Sullivan is 6-0, but he continues to pitch erratically.








Florida Marlins

Braden Looper
Security: Medium

Profile
Florida Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
12 2 37.1 2.65 27 12


6/12 - 6/18 1 G, 1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (0-0, 0 Sv).


Status: It would be nice if Looper hadn't given up six hits in his last two innings or had seen a save opportunity in the last week, but he'll keep getting whatever chances the Marlins generate.


Fantasy Insurance: Tim Spooneybarger. The catch is Spooneybarger is on the DL, removing him from consideration until June 27. But MRI results were negative, meaning he should be back right around that date. He'd hit a rough spot before going on the DL, but the injury helps explain that.


Other Options: Allen Levrault has a 2.16 ERA in 25 innings, but he's also given up 32 hits. That kind of imbalance can't exist forever. Other options? Juan Alvarez, Armando Almanza ... there aren't many viable alternatives.










Houston Astros

Billy Wagner
Security: High

Profile
Houston Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
20 2 41.1 1.96 55 9


6/12 - 6/18: 4 G, 4 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K (0-1, 1 Sv, 1 BS).


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 .156 against him and he has a nearly 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.









Los Angeles Dodgers

Eric Gagne
Security: High

Profile
Los Angeles Clubhouse


2003 Stats
Sv BlSv IP ERA K BB
27 0 37.0 1.70 67 8


6/12 - 6/18: 4 G, 4 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K (0-0, 4 Sv).


Status: With Smoltz, as good as it gets.


Fantasy Insurance: Paul Shuey. Despite an awful history as a closer, it's tough to argue with Shuey's performance this season. He's allowed just one earned run in 11.1 innings since coming off the DL.


Other Options: Guillermo Mota and Paul Quantrill would also factor in things if Gagne got hurt.
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Postby zoozam » Fri Jun 20, 2003 3:03 pm

bump for ev'one
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zoozam!

Postby lifeform » Fri Jun 20, 2003 3:10 pm

All hail zoozam! All hail the provider of the Closer Watch!

May the gods of fantasy baseball smile upon you and your fantasy teams, zoozam.
Everything you know is wrong.
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Postby Dr.DooM » Fri Jun 20, 2003 5:35 pm

I don't think Dave Weathers is a clear cut alternative once Benitez is traded. I believe Art Howe mentioned that John Frnaco will be getting save opportunities if Benitez goes.
Experience is a hard teacher. She gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.
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Postby Madison » Fri Jun 20, 2003 9:50 pm

Thank's again Zoozam. We do appreciate the info.! ;-D
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