h2h Corner ~ the Closer Carousel

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):

Baltimore Orioles – The Baltimore Sun has called Alfredo Simon the Orioles “anointed closer.” That’s good enough for me. Well, not exactly, what’s good enough for me? Simon’s last three appearances were all in “closer” situations. The 29-year-old three-year veteran has not allowed a run in three innings, while securing two save opportunities. He has struck out five batters, walked four and given up two hits. He’s not great, but he’s closing (Always be Closing). I wouldn’t drop Koji Uehara, Cla Meredith or the other bullpen rascals until we’re sure Simon’s says save. Well, actually, feel free to drop Jim Johnson.

Texas Rangers – Everyone seems to have the impression that Frank Francisco has pitched fantastic since he lost the closer role. Well, that’s not really the case. Since Neftali Feliz picked up his first save (April 12), Francisco has pitched seven IPs, given up five hits, walked five, and struck out five. I think the Rangers are trusting Feliz a bit more, bunt it’s clear Francisco will get save opportunities.

[UPDATE] Last night, Francisco came on for a save opportunity in the eighth with two outs. He got one out, but had a disastrous ninth (two hits (one HR) and a walk). Never fear, Feliz came barreling out of the pen to secure the Rangers victory.

Philadelphia PhilliesRyan Madson did his best Gus Frerotte impression – kicking a chair and breaking a toe. Madson is now sitting on the DL. This would seem to be perfect timing for Brad Lidge as he comes of the DL, right? Well, in his first appearances (0.1 IPs), he gave up two hits (one HR), and one run. The good news? It wasn’t a save opportunity. In fact, according to MLB.com, it appears, Charlie Manuel is easing Lidge back into the role. That means that Jose Contreras is the interim closer. Is he more useful than Alfredo Simon? Not quite, but he isn’t worthless.

[UPDATE] Lidge pitched well last night against St. Louis, striking out two. All it should take is one or two good outings to get Lidge back on the carnival carousel ride. Contreras’ value will be short lived.

San Francisco Giants – Over the weekend, Brian Wilson was held out of a save opportunity because he has a strained right groin. Bruce Bochy asked Sergio Romo to face right-handed batters before asking Jeremy Affeldt to get a lefty. The injury seems minor, but until he is healthy, Romo and Affeldt should be owned in leagues where every saves matter. Romo will likely be given more opportunities (as he is a righty), so he’d be the first grab here.

Colorado Rockies Jack Moore at FanGraphs has a great write-up on Jim Tracy’s bull-pen maneuvering over the weekend. Basically, Tracy brought in his closer, Franklin Morales, to pitch an “important” situation with two runners on in the eighth. Morales struck out the two batters he faced to protect the four-run lead. Then, Tracy brought in Manny Corpas (remember him?) to finish the game. Corpas gave up a homerun to Aubrey Huff, but otherwise closed out the game. It is possible Corpas, not Rafael Betancourt, is the proper handcuff for Morales, who is the handcuff to Huston Street . Tracy likes having the flexibility to use Betancourt throughout the game. Anyone trolling for saves with Betancourt might want to cut bait for Manny Corpas.

Without further ado, your bullpen hierarchies:

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All stats as of May 3.

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One response to this post.

  1. […] Alfredo Simon (BAL), 16.6% owned: Mike Gonzalez won’t be back until early June, and since his recall, Simon has tossed five scoreless innings and picked up three saves. The 1.60 WHIP and 6:4 K:BB ratio are both items for legitimate concerns, but with every clean outing (as on April 8), Simon further solidifies his spot as temporary closer. The Orioles aren’t the best of ballclubs, but Simon could easily get 6-8 more saves before Gonzalez’s June return if he can hold onto the job. For the most up-to-date information on the closing situation for all major league teams, be sure to check out Albert Lang’s column. […]

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