h2h Corner ~ Red Light District, the Closer Carousel

People seem to devalue closers in h2h leagues, viewing them as one-category oneders 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.

At play-off time you have to maximize the categories. If you win ERA, you only need to win five categories. That’s a .500 winning percentage. So if you lock up ERA and saves, all you have to do is win three of the remaining eight categories – or post a .325 winning percentage. It ain’t pretty, but that’s what trophy…let me finish, wives are for.

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…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):

Arizona Diamondbacks – As someone who literally just dropped Juan Gutierrez in a 20-team league, I cringe whilst I write. Anyway, you need to be running, hopping, jumping your way to him. Spend your remaining FAAB, use a high roster claim. This late in the season, there is less bullpen turmoil. Grab Gutierrez now. Also, it might help to grab Esmerling Vasquez – if you have the room and moves.

Cleveland Indians – Kerry Wood has not really earned his pay check, his fantasy owners’ faith or a very long leash. With Wood ailing, Chris Perez, closer of the future, stepped in and pitched a scoreless ninth to get the save. Perez turned in seven saves down the stretch in 2008, but I doubt he’ll be able to get that many this year. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “I could have pitched,” said Wood, “but we want to be smart about this.” Still, if you need saves, rostering Perez until this is sorted out could be a wise move.

Texas Rangers – The Rangers have been a steady inhabitant of the red light district, given Francisco’s injury woes this year. While Francisco and CJ Wilson haven’t been steady as of late, new comer, Neftali Feliz has been superhuman. In just 17.1 IPs, Feliz has amassed 22 Ks, while only walking ONE batter, giving up five hits and one run. If Francisco were to go down, I’d bet Feliz would replace him. CJ Wilson, I relieve you of hand-cuff duties.

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


All stats as of August 30.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Dan King on August 31, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Great article as usual. Just picked up Gutierrez this morning before your article came out… one step ahead for once.
    Next time, don’t forget to slide in Billy Wagner to Boston’s Robin or Alfred spot. As we of Red Sox Nation are aware, Pap has been known to fatigue around this time of season. The random save opportunity may arise.
    Keep up the good stuff!


  2. Posted by Albert Lang on August 31, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Thanks, Dan.

    As a Pap owner, I’m not too concerned with Wagner. I think he is way down in the pecking order of that pen. He might get the odd save when Pap is being rested, but that’s really a matter of chance. I’d rather have Okajima and Saito…plus Wagner is unable to pitch in back-to-back games, from what I’ve heard.

    What’s odd, one of my bet friends is named Dan and a crazy Sox fan — watching the 2004 play-offs with him was pure joy…

    Thanks for reading and posting. If there are any particular articles you are looking for in the future, let me know!


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