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).

People seem to devalue closers in h2h leagues, viewing them as one-category wonders that can’t be trusted to either retain a job or post consistent saves from week-to-week. While the latter half of that statement might be true, that doesn’t mean closers have less (or no) value.

It’s important to remember that there is always safety in numbers. Rather than getting a few good closers, stockpile a bunch of decent closers. There is no reason to be carrying Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Paplebon as your only closers. I’d much rather own George Sherrill, Matt Capps, Fernando Rodney, and Huston Street, plus fringe-relievers like JP Howell and CJ Wilson – or you can substitute in Andrew Bailey, Rafael Soriano, David Aardsma, Dan Meyer…you get the point. To break it down further, for a 25-man roster you need to have at the least three closers, but hopefully five or six depending on the roster spots available.

You can guarantee that your team will win at least one category by accumulating fringe closers. Doing so means you only need to worry about winning five other categories. With a cadre of “below average” closers, you’ll have one step up on the competition because your team only has to win 5 categories out of 9 to take a week, whereas your opponent has to take 6 out of 9. It’s that simple. Build a strong base of closers and an average team will be in a much better position to post a near .600 winning percentage.

You might be concerned about the ERA/WHIP ramifications of carrying crappy closers. I wouldn’t worry – you can pitch upwards of 70 IPs a week, so your starters will have more to say about your ratios than your motley crew of closers.

So, before your league mates figure this out, obtain cheap closers. Trade the Papelbons, Riveras, Bells, Nathans of the world for a combination of two lesser closers. In 5×5 h2h, there is really no such thing as a quality closer, only a quantity of closers.


Florida Marlins – The DL bug has seemed to bite a lot of closers this year. The latest closer to succumb was Matt Lindstrom. All year it seemed Leo Nunez was on the precipice of taking the closer’s role from the shaky Lindstrom. Not so fast my friend, says Fredi Gonzalez (or me doing a Fredi Gonzalez impression). According to Joe Frisaro at MLB.com, the manager is looking to split the closer role between Nunez and Dan Meyer. Meyer has been awesome this year, striking out 30 batters, while posting a 2.03/0.81 ERA/WHIP. He also has starting pitching eligibility, which means he can slot nicely into your line-up. You prefer to have Nunez, but Meyer is a nice consolation price. In super deep leagues, you can look to Kiko Calero, as well.

Update: Last night Dan Meyer was brought in to close; however he didn’t quite get the job done (allowing two hits in 0.2 innings). Leo Nunez was brought in to record the one-out save. Still, Meyer will get the occasional save, especially when lefty match-ups dictate it. Think of Meyer as a much better version of Randy Choate.

Texas Rangers: Last week, I said:

“I’d hold onto CJ Wilson, even though Frank Francisco is off the DL. Francisco’s first appearance was in a non-save opportunity and manager Ron Washington is on record saying he wants to ease Francisco into the position.”

According to Drew Davison from the Dallas Morning News, Manager Ron Washington wants Francisco to pitch in at least one more non-save situation. Looks like CJ Wilson could provide a couple more rogue saves. Plus it’s not like Francisco has been the picture of health.

Toronto Blue Jays: Jason Frasor owners should be a bit happier. According to Mark Zwolinski for the Toronto Star, Cito Gaston said Frasor remains the team’s closer AND Scott Downs will not return from the DL when he is eligible. In fact, Gaston went so far to say “we don’t know when he’ll be back, to be honest with you.”

Trade Bait: Much like if there is a fluke injury, you should understand the chart below. If you’re in a deeper league, you should probably handcuff the following closers as the trade deadline approaches (the appropriate handcuff is listed below):

  1. George Sherrill
  2. Matt Capps
  3. Huston Street
  4. Kerry Wood
  5. Bobby Jenks
  6. Chad Qualls

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


All stats as of June 29.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Nice piece. I think you’ve nailed the best closer philosophy an owner can have. Which is to own as many cheap save options as possible and never pay full price when you can avoid it.



  2. This obviously depends on your starting roster — but if you play in deep leagues that require you to start a lot of players, like i do — it’s best to hoard the mediocre relief pitchers….

    They also can have value if you can hoard enough. I’ve got 30 more saves than any other team in one h2h league, so i’m trying to sell a closer or two off. everyone else is about .500 in saves, so if one team gets a coupe of closers from me, they’ll have a 1-category win every week against the rest of the league, that makes my closers have even more value…


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