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.
Washington Nationals: In his last five innings, Hanrahan has two saves, while giving up no runs, only allowing four hits, three walks and accumulating eight Ks. It looks like Hanrahan could be rounding back into that good strike out closer that he was last year.
Tampa Bay Rays: So Randy Choate, the 33 year-old journeyman lefty has gotten the last two saves – albeit against heavy lefty line-ups. He made it seven pitchers to earn saves for the Rays this year, none of whom are named Dan Wheeler or Jason Isringhausen. That said, I most want Wheeler, then JP Howell, followed by Randy Choate, Joe Nelson, Jason Isringhausen and finally Grant Balfour. If you need saves, I’d speculate in that order.
Oakland Athletics: Ziegler hasn’t pitched in the ninth inning in about a month. Meanwhile, Andrew Bailey is two for four in saves chances in that period. In the last month, Bailey has struck out 20 batters in 16 innings, while posting a 3.24 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. He is the guy to have, but Wuertz (10 Ks in his last 11.2 IPs with a 3.09 ERA and 0.94 WHIP) could provide some occasional saves.
Florida Marlins: It has become evident that Leo Nunez will get the next shot at saves should Matt Lindstrom continue to implode (in his last 3.2 IPs, he has given up five runs, seven hits and seven walks). According to Fredi Gonzalez and MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, Lindstrom “is a work in progress.” The closer job is still Lindstrom’s but the leash is a tad shorter and it’s clear you want Nunez.
Kansas City Royals: According to MLB.com’s Dick Kaegel, Soria could be activated any day now, as he made the trip with Kansas City to St. Petersburg. Those of you who enjoyed Juan Cruz until the last few starts can feel free to drop him. The cheap saves were nice though, right?
Philadelphia Phillies: Lidge has had an up and down season so far. However, he has been up a lot lately – three straight saves this past week. He’ll be fine in the long run.
If there is a fluke injury to a closer, please refer to the handy dandy closer chart below.