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 five categories out of nine to take a week, whereas your opponent has to take six out of nine. 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):
Chicago Cubs – If you don’t know, now you know…the long-awaited Carlos Marmol, closer, is in full flight. While Marmol has seen his walk rate almost double (eight per nine IPs) this year, he struck out two batters in his latest save chance without allowing a hit or walk. You should be jumping on that now.
Los Angeles Dodgers – So Joe Torre is notorious for mismanaging a bull-pen, destroying arms, etc. Has he started to manage bull-pens correctly? On Saturday, Torre brought Broxton in to pitch to the Cubs 3-4-5 hitters in the eighth inning. You know who mopped up and earned the save? George Sherrill. Obviously, this is a rare occurrence. It isn’t all that likely that the opposition’s 3-4-5 hitters will bat in the eighth inning. Still, those trolling for saves in deep leagues should be jumping on Sherrill should he be available.
Philadelphia Phillies – Brad Lidge’s latest implosion was saved by a triple play. Manual still has full faith in Lidge, according to CSNPhilly.com, “that elusive bit of confidence…will be the difference for the closer is beginning to resurface.” Still, Lidge owners should be very aware of Madson at the moment.
Toronto Blue Jays – Scott Downs was recently activated from the disabled list. However, according to Major League Bastian, Gaston isn’t in a rush to return Downs to his closer roll: “But [Downs] hasn’t really had the opportunity to show us that [he should be the closer] one way or the other — not much.” The pen arm to own is and will continue to be Jason Frasor.
If there is a fluke injury to a closer, please refer to the handy dandy closer chart below.
All stats as of August 23