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):

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim –I hope you didn’t cut bait on Fernado Rodney yet. Brian Fuentes blew a three-run save opportunity in spectacular fashion last night. He gave up three runs on three hits and a walk and saw his ERA climb from 4.05 to 7.04. The biggest saving grace is that the Angels came back to win the game. In addition, Fuentes has been striking some guys out: 10 Ks in 7.2 IPs, so there is some cause for optimism. However, if you own Fuentes, I’d hope you own Rodney.

Cleveland IndiansHello Kerry Wood! According to Manny Acta, Wood will be the closer in Cleveland starting today. Chris Perez and his 5/7 save conversion is now a middle reliever. You have to hang onto Perez for a bit, as Wood has neither been good nor healthy. Still, the Indians need to squeeze all the value out of Wood they can, which means dressing him up as prettily as possible so they can trade him later in the season. However, once they’ve gotten rid of Wood, Perez will end up with more save opportunities, maybe even three times as many saves as he has now. For now, he’s simply Robin to Wood’s Batman.

Colorado Rockies – As previously noted by Nevin Nelson, Manny Corpas has become the interim closer of the Colorado Rockies. With Huston Street due back in a couple of weeks, Corpas holds slightly more temporary value than Chris Perez of the Indians. However, over the balance of the season, I see Perez getting more saves than Corpas.

Philadelphia Phillies — Don’t let Jose Contreras go just yet, even though Charlie Manuel has been on the record saying Brad Lidge is ready to close the door in the ninth. Manuel was confident, until recently that is, according to The Zo Zone. Apparently, Lidge has a new-found stiffness in his right elbow (the one he, ya know, uses for pitching). More than likely this is just another blip on the Lidge-closing train. However, Contreras has another avenue toward ninth-inning duties, so you’ve got to hold on for that one more chance.

Chicago White Sox – Now, onto the big news in the closing profession. You can trust Ozzie Guillen to speak his mind and he clearly is frustrated to the point where he might replace Bobby Jenks. Mark Gonzalez, of Breaking Chicago Sports, vets the potential replacements. Matt Thornton should be owned in almost all leagues because he can throw 70+ IPs, strike-out 80+ and maintain solid ratios. All of that should make him the surefire next-in-line closer, right? Well, not so fast. Managers have grown accustomed to having a lefty or two to use during a game. In addition, it’s not like the White Sox don’t, seemingly, have other “quality” options. JJ Putz was an exceptional closer for two years, which gives him the “he’s done it before” aura. While he has a horrid ERA (4.91), his WHIP is good 1.18. Mostly, he’s been a bit unlucky with the HR ball (in 2010, he is giving up 1.6 HRs/9, for his career just 0.9). There is also youngster Sergio Santos. Remember, the White Sox trusted a young rookie as closer to a World Series just a few years ago. While Santos only has 12.1 Major League innings, he has impressed (0.73 ERA, and a 0.81 WHIP). In 12-team leagues or larger all three should be owned. If you can only have one, I’m going with the best pitcher, Thornton, then the guy who’s done it, Putz, followed up by the rook, Santos.

For immediate closer-handcuff situations check-out the nifty super-hero simile laden chart below.

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All stats as of May 9.

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