h2h Corner ~ Red Light District, the Closer Carousel

Closers do most of their work late at night, often after most upstanding fantasy managers have gone to bed. They necessitate early checking of box scores and Fantasy Baseball 101 to see if they secured the win for the home team. They are your average, everyday closers. And that is the best way to describe this Motley Crew – average. Any average reliever, if he’s asked to record the game’s final three outs, can make a halfway decent closer. So, you never pay for saves, which, oddly enough, is the first rule of closers.

The second rule of closers is to buy low and sell high. A save is a save; rarely will a reliever completely destroy your ERA/WHIP for a given week. So, if you can trade a currently hot closer like Trevor Hoffman for a currently slow closer like Joe Nathan, do it.

As always, trades can go either way. Even if you sell high on a guy that ends up with the most saves and your new closer puts up a goose egg, it’s not the end of the world. Remember, the waiver wire is always just one click away. That is, if you have a comprehensive knowledge of major league bullpens (or read this column). The order below presents a hierarchy of which bullpens you should be monitoring right now. It is subject to change as the wind doth blow.


Tampa Bay Rays: So Troy Percival could be retiring; you’d think the Rays’ pen would be prime for save candidates. Well, watch out what you wish for. It looks like Jason Isringhausen had the lead, well until he walked three batters and allowed a single to lose a remarkable game. Wheeler stepped in admirably last year (13 saves) but hasn’t been as good this year. Still, I most want Wheeler, then Joe Nelson, followed by JP Howell, Jason Isringhausen and finally Grant Balfour. If you need saves, I’d speculate in that order.

New York Mets: People were justifiably worried about K-Rod before he started the season. However he did his best to quiet those concerns. Unfortunately, on May 24, Rodriguez was rushed to the hospital after playing catch – yeah catch. After leaving the hospital he said, “It’s not sore; no pain right now,” according to Anthony Dicomo of MLB.com. Still, the Mets might carefully manage his appearances over the coming weeks, which could give Putz some additional save opportunities.

Philadelphia Phillies: Lidge has had an up and down season so far. In his last four appearances he has two blown and two converted saves. During that span, he allowed four runs, six hits and three walks. If you are in a deep league, you might want to speculate on Ryan Madison. However, it will take a much rockier roller coaster ride for Lidge to lose his job.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Capps has had a horrible year so far. It got a little worse when a line drive nailed the very elbow that landed him on the DL earlier in the year. However, unlike Soria, Capps was able to make 25 throws on Wednesday, according to Jennifer Langosch at MLB.com. Still, it’s unlikely Capps will see high leverage situations until the weekend. So, if every save matters in your league, grab John Grabow until Capps successfully saves a game.

Kansas City Royals: The latest Joakim Soria news: he threw 15 pitches on Wednesday and said his shoulder felt fine, according to the Associated Press’ Doug Tucker. Ride the Juan Cruz while it lasts – it could be another 10 days of save opportunities. But I’d be dropping him if you need to heavily speculate on the Rays situation.

If there is a fluke injury to a closer, please refer to the handy dandy closer chart below.


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