h2h Corner ~ the Closer Carousel (update)

As Kevin Nealon said, “yeah, lot of pressure. You gotta rise above it. You gotta harness in the good energy, block out the bad. Harness. Energy. Block. Bad. Feel the flow, Happy. Feel it. It’s circular. It’s like a carousel. You pay the quarter, you get on the horse. It goes up and down and around. Circular. Circle. With the music. The flow… all good things.”

It is no different than with a majority of major league closers. Sure some are like violent roller coasters (Armando Benitez) and some are like the teacups (Mariano Rivera), but most are in the muddy middle. Thus introduces your weekly reliever mash-up.

Relievers you should be jumping on (in order):

Philadelphia Phillies – Those that bought Ryan Madson on the cheap have been heavily rewarded so far (three saves), even though it has been a bit rocky (4.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP). Those are small samples (six innings) and the team seems to have a lot of trust in Madson. In addition, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com has reported that it is possible that, when he returns, Brad Lidge will not be the closer. According to Charlie Manuel, “it’s something to talk about. But I don’t know what we’re going to do. It depends on how we’re doing and where we’re at with our pitching. We want to do what’s best for Lidge and the team.” At this point, Madson has a lot of value (yes, over Jim Johnson, Fernando Rodney, Frank Francisco, and Juan Gutierrez). Of course, if Madson blows saves in spectacular fashion like he did Tuesday night, the fanatics will be begging for Ledge to get another shot.

Baltimore Orioles – Over the weekend, I went from hating Jim Johnson to loving him in a 24-hour span. He did nothing down the stretch last year for me and blew a couple of Orioles leads already this season. However, that was all forgotten when he pitched two scoreless innings to net the save on Sunday. Those scoreless innings gave me the win in ERA in my most competitive h2h league for the week. In addition, according to the Baltimore Sun, Michael Gonzalez has taken a visit to Dr. James Andrews to get a second opinion on his pitching shoulder. Enjoy the wild ride for at least three weeks, Johnson owners.

Los Angeles Angels of AnaheimBrian Fuentes is set to come off the DL tomorrow. According to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, he will slide right back into closing duties. Still, Fernando Rodney’s success in his absence has tightened the leash a little bit. I wouldn’t be cutting Rodney right away, unless someone like Madson or Johnson is available.

Texas Rangers – Yes, this ranking means I’d rather own Fernando Rodney than Frank Francisco. In his young MLB career, Neftali Feliz has proven to be almost unhittable (35.2 IPs, 15 hits, 11 walks, and 46 Ks). Feliz has tallied 20 more punch outs than hits and walks combined. I don’t see Francisco getting the full-time closing duties back (barring injury). However, that doesn’t mean he’s worthless. He is clearly number two in the pen and will be called upon to get saves when Feliz has been overworked.

Arizona Diamondbacks – Incumbent closer Chad Qualls has had a rocky start to 2010 (8.44 ERA, 2.44 WHIP and 10 hits in 5.1 IPs). Two things to note: small sample size (!) and ridiculous BAbip (.429). Everything batters put in play is falling. This will correct itself. Another reason not to worry? Juan Gutierrez, who saved nine games successfully in 2009 when Qualls was injured, has been just as bad (9.00 ERA, 1.60 WHIP). If you own Qualls in a deep league, you should own Gutierrez. However in 10- and 12- team mixed leagues, Gutierrez might not be ownable, certainly not over Francisco, Madson, etc.

Colorado RockiesAccording to the Denver Post, Huston Street played catch three times recently, but won’t be truly evaluated until he faces live batters. In the meantime, Franklin Morales has blown two saves but hasn’t been spectacularly awful (5.79 ERA, 1.5 WHIP). The Rockies seem to be comfortable using Rafael Betancourt in high leverage situations throughout any given game rather then making him the closer. It looks like Morales will have a decent amount of rope, but you should keep an eye on Betancourt.

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

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All stats as of April 20.

FB101’s 411: Stay on top of close news: make sure Ryan Madson, Jim Johnson, Fernando Rodney, and Frank Francisco are owned.

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