h2h Corner ~ Red Light District, the Closer Carousel

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, Rafael Soriano, and Huston Street, plus fringe-relievers like JP Howell and Fernando Rodney – or you can substitute in Andrew Bailey, Leo Nunez, David Aardsma, CJ Wilson…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.

Relievers you should be jumping on (in order):

Florida Marlins — If for some reason, an owner soured on Leo Nunez (and he is available in 77 percent of Yahoo! leagues), I’d be jumping on him right quick. Sure the Marlins haven’t had a save chance in 12 games, but the first person to get the opportunity was Nunez, not Dan Meyer. Also, according to the Miami Herald, there is no target date for Lindstrom’s return. If you have Meyer, I’d still holding onto him; however, if someone more attractive (like CJ Wilson) becomes available, go for it.

Texas Rangers – Frank Francisco has hit the DL for the 99th time this year. According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, Francisco has a mild case of pneumonia. Those rushing to grab CJ Wilson shouldn’t get too enamored with him as Francisco is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday. Still, Francisco hasn’t been the picture of health, so having CJ Wilson (especially if you are a Francisco owner) is a good insurance policy for those speculating for saves.

Los Angeles Dodgers – Much like with Francisco, Jonathan Broxton has a murky injury situation. Since Joe Torre said that Broxton’s big toe was something “that won’t be 100 percent anytime soon,” people went to the wire in droves to add Ramon Troncoso. Much to their chagrin, Broxton picked up back-to-back-to-back saves on July 18, 19 and 20. He pitched three innings, allowing one hit and two walks, while striking out six. Still, there is no telling when the big fella might reaggravate the toe. If I owned Broxton, I’d also pick up Troncoso (if he’s available). If you’re trolling for saves, you could do much worse (cough: Joe Beimel).

Oakland Athletics – Don’t fret Andrew Bailey owners. There isn’t a changing of the closer guard. Michael Wuertz received the save opportunity because Bailey had pitched three innings over the past three days. However, this does show that Wuertz is a very valuable middle reliever. He is on pace for 105 Ks and has posted a 2.78/1.01 ERA/WHIP. He’ll get the odd save chance as well, so you could do worse than to roster Wuertz – I mean he has two less saves than MacDougal and so many more Ks. Also, there are wisps from the San Francisco Chronicle that Bailey was injected with Synvisc recently in his left knee. Wuertz just got a little more appealing.

Washington Nationals – It wouldn’t be a closer carousel without mention of the Nationals. While MacDougal seems to be doing well (2.37 ERA and five saves), it is mostly an illusion. His ERA is shielded by three unearned runs and a healthy 1.68 WHIP (which keeps going up). Oh and don’t forget his atrocious 7:11 K to walk ratio. Lately, new manager Jim Riggleman has said that he will “[look] at a closer-by-committee with MacDougal, and Joe Beimel.” So, if you’re in a deep league you should grab Beimel if he is available. Still, don’t expect too many returns, as the Nats have only 26 wins, doing there best to make the Amazins look good.

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 (Jim Johnson)
  2. Matt Capps (John Grabow)
  3. Chad Qualls (Jon Rauch)
  4. Huston Street (Manny Corpas)
  5. Bobby Jenks (Octavio Dotel)
  6. Kerry Wood (Chris Perez)
  7. Heath Bell (Edward Mujicia)

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

closers

All stats as of July 21.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Evan Rosen on July 22, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    Saw MacDougal throw tonight. Granted, he was pitching against a Mets ballclub that is the equivalent of a Triple A squad, but he looked good. Throws VERY hard. Good pickup for a Nats bullpen that was terrible before he arrived.

    Reply

  2. […] Closer Carousel. […]

    Reply

  3. Clearly he is an advantageous pick-up, but those underlying stats are so bad and, well, the nats have blown 20+ saves to go against their 27 wins (total). They’re abysmal.

    I’d say MacDougal was a trade target, but i dont think he’d be useful for a competing team. I’d still rather have Michael Wuertz, but i have a thing for Ks.

    Reply

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