Early Season Save Options

Mar 31, 2009
If you’re looking to get an early jump in the Saves department Kevin Gregg of the Cubs, Carlos Villanueva of the Brewers and Detroit’s Brandon Lyon could be short-term solutions.

Gregg won the starting job over Carlos Mármol, but Mármol turned in a better 2008 season, and could earn the role if Gregg struggles.  Mármol sported a 2.68 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, .135 BAA, and 114 Ks in 87-1/3 Innings last year after posting 1.43, 1.10, .169, and 96 in 69-1/3 2007 Innings.  Gregg, on the other hand, posted a 3.41 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, .203 BAA, and 58 Ks in 68-2/3 2008 Innings, and 3.54, 1.23, .206, and 87 in 84 2007 Innings.  Gregg did manage 61 Saves over the last two years, but Mármol could work his way in the Closer role if he shines and Gregg struggles early.

Villanueva is truly a short-term fix.  Trevor Hoffman simply needs to get up to speed after missing a couple weeks with a strained oblique.  It’s only Hoffman’s second stint on the DL in his brilliant career, and it won’t be a lengthy one.  The Brewers open up with San Francisco so it’s quite possible Villanueva snags a couple of Saves in the first week.

Lyon’s situation is a little more tenuous.  He hasn’t exactly excelled in Spring Training going 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in 9 Innings.  His counterpart Fernando Rodney wasn’t any better posting a 7.88 ERA in 8 Innings with a matching 0-2 mark.  Lyon has a little more experience in the Closer role recording 26 Saves last year for Arizona.  My guess is if Lyon struggles early, Rodney will get a shot.  They both will be bumped in that role though if Joel Zumaya can comeback from a shoulder injury AND stay healthy.  Unfortunately for the Tigers and Zumaya, he’s as injury-prone as he is talented. 
There you have it.  Three options that could get you off to a good start.  Just beware they all could evaporate rather quickly.
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