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: No one wants to take the reins in the Rays pen. Choate, a lefty specialist, has solidified that specialist role. Outside of that, it’s murky at best. I’d rank the closers I most want after Choate as Wheeler, JP Howell, Jason Isringhausen and finally Grant Balfour. I’d probably rather gamble on Francisco being injured than guess on the Rays situation if you can’t get Choate or Wheeler.

Texas Rangers: Wildness would have been the first guess as to why Frank Francisco was removed from the closer role. While he hasn’t been removed from the role, he also hasn’t pitched in almost a week. According to T.R. Sullivan at MLB.com, Francisco “remains day-to-day with a strained right shoulder.” CJ Wilson is the immediate add in almost all formats.

Washington Nationals: If you owned Joel Hanrahan, that means you’re desperate. You might as well go ahead and pickup Robert Meiklejohn MacDougal, he of the career 4.12 ERA and 1.52. I doubt he keeps the job, but if you’re speculating for saves, you might as well.

Florida Marlins: Speaking of speculating, Matt Lindstrom has not been good lately, yet manager Fredi Gonzalez has given a lukewarm vote of confidence “he’s saved 11 out of 13 and the last eight in a row, so you have to give him an opportunity to keep plugging away,” according to Juan Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel. Still, Lindstrom has given up three runs over his last 3.1 IPs (four appearances) and sports a 6.17 ERA and 1.44 WHIP.Leo Nunez would be a useful speculative add — at least he can throw strikes.

Arizona Diamondbacks: According to Nick Piecoro at the Arizona Republic, Qualls expects his forearm issue “to be a grind to get it back to feeling good and comfortable.” If you’re in a deep league, and Tony Pena is available go ahead and grab him. Still, Juan Gutierrez could also be in the mix for some saves. So there are some options for darkhorse saves.

Houston Astros: Take a bow, LaTroy Hawkins, you’ve done an admirable job. However, Jose Valverde should be back anytime now. Give Valverde a few appearances, but if he pitches well in a couple of outings you best be jettisoning Hawkins.

Oakland Athletics: Speaking of “potential” closers you can drop. It appears Andrew Bailey has locked down the closing duties. Wuertz could pick up a rogue save here and there, and so could Ziegler, but I wouldn’t count on that.

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


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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Albert Lang on June 8, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Apparently Choate’s nickname is Wild Board — that’s awesome


  2. […] Rangers: As profiled last week, CJ Wilson should be owned. It is likely Francisco’s stint on the DL will end when he is eligible […]


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