Rotoprofessor’s Closer’s Report: American League
Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor
Last week we checked out the National League closers, so this week we turn to the American League:
Baltimore Orioles - George Sherrill - There has been talk of the Orioles shopping him at some point, reopening the job for Chris Ray, so continue to monitor that possibility. For now, Sherrill has been great, picking up 10 saves in 12 chances while striking out just over a batter per inning. A trade seems to be the only reason he’s going to get bumped from his spot.
Boston Red Sox - Jonathan Papelbon - We all know he’s one of, if not the best closer in the game, so what do I really need to say? If he needs a day off the team has Takashi Saito and Hideki Okajima, but their opportunities are few and far between.
Chicago White Sox - Bobby Jenks - He’s been great this season, going 12-for-13, and is extremely safe in his role, which he has now held since late in 2005. Octavio Dotel has been amazing in a set-up role, but there’s just no chance of him getting save opportunities in Chicago.
Cleveland Indians – Kerry Wood - His job is completely safe, despite an inflated 6.00 ERA and 1.67 WHIP. He hasn’t given up a run in his last five outings (1 win and 3 saves), so he may have finally put things together.
Detroit Tigers – Fernando Rodney - He is a perfect 10-for-10 this season with a 3.00 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. For a team that seemingly is always looking for a closer, he’s been a blessing. Don’t ignore Joel Zumaya, the perennial closer-to-be for this team, but then again, would it surprise anyone if he were to miss some time in the near future due to injury? Also, with the way Rodney’s been throwing, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else is doing?
Kansas City Royals – Juan Cruz - It’s his job, but it may be a mere couple of hours until he is returned to a set-up role. Joakim Soria is back with the team, though to date it is not known when he will return to the active roster. Once he does, he instantly becomes a must-start, with Cruz only holding value in leagues that value middle relievers.
Los Angeles Angels – Brian Fuentes - Francisco Rodriguez he is not. Granted, he does have 13 saves (in 16 chances), but he’s done it with a 5.30 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. It just goes to show you that this team plays close games continually, meaning whoever is slipped into the closer role is going to be among the most useful in saves (he’s tied for the AL lead). He’s better then the ERA and WHIP he’s posted thus far so look for him to improve.
Minnesota Twins – Joe Nathan - When you have a weapon like this, does it matter who else is in the ‘pen with him?
New York Yankees – Mariano Rivera - The Yankees have to hope he continues to do what he has done for years, because there is little else dependable in that bullpen.
Oakland Athletics – Andrew Bailey - What the heck happened to Brad Ziegler? After his amazing rookie campaign he has struggled, losing his job to Bailey, at least temporarily. Bailey’s numbers are good, but he has blown three saves while only successfully converting two chances. That is not a recipe for a long stay in the closer’s role and it would seem that Ziegler will likely get another opportunity before long.
Seattle Mariners - David Aardsma - Brandon Morrow has looked terrible, which allowed Aardsma to take over the job and flourish in it. While he blew his first save of the season on Saturday, it’s going to take an awful lot for him to be bumped at this point. He has 8 saves with a 2.13 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.
Tampa Bay Rays - Who the heck knows, honestly. This is such a mess with Troy Percival out. Dan Wheeler? Jason Isringhausen? J.P. Howell? Any could get a chance, but recently the flavor of the week has been Randy Choate. Sure, if you need saves you can take a flyer on him for a week or two, but be prepared to quickly move on. This seems likely to be a revolving door for a while.
Texas Rangers - Frank Francisco - A preseason sleeper among closers, he has emerged in the early going. He has suffered through some injuries, but he went his first 17.2 innings without giving up a run. He has 11 saves to go with a 0.48 ERA and 0.86 WHIP, making his job completely safe and him a great option.
Toronto Blue Jays - Scott Downs - It was originally B.J. Ryan’s job, but after he missed time due to injury Downs emerged and has been able to hold onto the job. In 23 innings of work he’s posted a 2.35 ERA and 0.91 WHIP, walking just two batters. There’s always the chance that Ryan reclaims the spot, but as of right now it seems like it’s going to be a while before the team even considers it.
What do you think of the American League closers? Who is the most likely to lose his job? Which set-up man are you eyeing?
Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.