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):

Chicago White Sox – I feel like I’ve written this story a dozen times this year: “The White Sox’s closer’s role is open,” reports Mark Gonzales for Chicago Breaking Sports. From a baseball sense, you would like Guillen to always play the match-ups, given that he has two shut-down righties and one shut-down lefty. So, for the immediate future, it looks like Guillen will mix and max his relievers. I still want Jenks the most, but after him, I’d go JJ Putz, who has been terrific all year, and then Matt Thornton (who has been terrific lately). In deep leagues, it doesn’t hurt to take a flier on Sergio Santos, but he walks a whole bunch of people. Still, like the previous times I’ve written this post, I believe Jenks will again become the full time closer. Even Guillen agrees, “We’re a better club with Bobby as the closer.”

Baltimore Orioles — For those of you who don’t follow the Orioles rabidly (as I do), you may have missed the fact that the team activated Mike Gonzalez. He wont be getting all the save chances just yet. Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com reports that he will be “eased” back into the role. For the next few weeks, Alfredo Simon will retain some value. However, the Orioles paid Gonzalez to close and he has a two year deal. If they are ever going to recoup some of the money they sunk into him, he’ll have to get saves. It was a nice ride with Simon, but I’d rather have Gonzalez from here on out.

Arizona Diamondbacks – When I think of how woeful my Orioles bullpen is, I always try to think of how bad Diamondback fans must feel. Their pen is an absolute mess, with no one able to keep the ball in play. Juan Gutierrez, who had a fantastic year in 2009, is giving up 3.3 HRs per nine innings – that is atrocious. He is posting a decent K:BB walk rate (2.31) – that alone is keeping him from a double-digit ERA. I wasn’t on the Sam Demel bandwagon when they first traded for him, but he clearly deserves his shot at ninth-inning duties. Since coming over from the A’s, he has posted a 3.60 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and a 4.33 K:BB rate. Throughout the minors, he has kept the ball in play (he only allowed 0.5 HRs per nine), something very important in the desert. I’d be betting on Demel from here on out.

Toronto Blue Jays & Seattle Mariners – It seems trade winds are whirling around these two teams, with David Aardsma, Kevin Greg and Scott Downs mentioned predominantly. I really only mention this for those speculating for saves. It’s hard to predict which relievers will get moved, but if you can acquire a few understudies, you could end up with two closers by the deadline. Downs ,Brandon League, Shawn Camp and Jason Frasor could all see themselves get saves. I like Downs the most, then Camp, then Frasor, and then League – I just don’t see teams valuing Aardsma.

If you need to grab a reliever in a pinch, check out the below bullpen hierarchies.

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All stats as of July 22.

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