Rotoprofessor’s Closer’s Report: National League
Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor
Last week one of the things people requested was a look at the closer situations across the league. This week I’m going to focus on the National League and next week we’ll focus on the American League. This will then become a weekly feature, alternating between the two leagues.
Atlanta Braves - Mike Gonzalez/Rafael Soriano – Bobby Cox continues to interchange these two. Mike Gonzalez struggled his last time out, forcing Soriano to come in and clean up his mess and pickup the save. Does that make Soriano the favorite to close moving forward? Who knows, but it doesn’t seem like anything is going to change immediately. They will continue to share time, meaning they both will have some value, though not as much as if they held the job outright.
Arizona Diamondbacks - Chad Qualls – He has blown two saves overall, but has given up runs in three of his last four outings. He really needs to be monitored, but for now his job appears fairly safe.
Chicago Cubs - Kevin Gregg – He has done what Kevin Gregg does, posting a 5.40 ERA and 1.69 WHIP. While people are still curious to this decision from Lou Pinella in Spring Training, a change could be on the horizon. Carlos Marmol has had just one bad outing (4 earned runs over 0.1 innings) and is currently carrying a 3.60 ERA and 23 K in 20 innings. At this point one or two blown saves is likely all it would take, so stash Marmol if possible.
Cincinnati Reds - Francisco Cordero – He is a very consistent option, pitching to the tune of a 1.80 ERA and 1.15 WHIP thus far in ‘09. His job is as safe as any.
Colorado Rockies - Huston Street – His name has perpetually been in trade rumors since he was acquired this off-season. He’s done a good job thus far and is safe in his role for the time being. Manny Corpas was always expected to be the ultimate replacement, but he has been incredibly hittable this season. A trade could thrust him back into the role, but that’s about the only way right now.
Florida Marlins - Matt Lindstrom – He’s struck out a batter per inning (19 K in 19 innings) this season, but has also walked 15. For a closer, the latter is a number that really is inexcusable and makes it difficult to successfully do his job. The 6.16 ERA and 1.68 WHIP will attest to that. With those numbers Lindstrom is nothing more than a #2 closer, at best. It would appear Leo Nunez would be next in line, who may be worth stashing given Lindstrom’s struggles.
Houston Astros - LaTroy Hawkins – He’s just the placeholder for Jose Valverde, who could return in early June. Hawkins has looked good, for the most part, but it’s only a matter of time before he slides back into a set-up role.
Los Angeles Dodgers - Jonathan Broxton – He has quickly emerged among the games elite, plain and simple. He has 35 Ks over 23 innings while picking up 5 wins and 11 saves to go along with a 1.17 ERA and 0.61 WHIP. All you can say when looking at those numbers is wow. There’s no reason to look at any potential replacements.
Milwaukee Brewers - Trevor Hoffman – What were those whispers of Hoffman being finished after last season? He’s a perfect 11-for-11 in saves with a 0.00 ERA and 0.38 WHIP since missing the early part of the season. Obviously, a regression is going to come sooner or later, but he’s still going to be worth using in all formats.
New York Mets - Francisco Rodriguez – The back scare behind him, K-Rod is back closing out games. He is one of the elite in the game. J.J. Putz is the fallback option, but his opportunities are surely to be limited.
Philadelphia Phillies - Brad Lidge – It is amazing to be saying this after his perfect season last year, but it would not surprise me to see him removed from the closers role if he blows another save soon. That’s what happens when you blow two high-profile saves in Yankee Stadium. Ryan Madson would be the replacement, making him worth stashing if you are desperate for saves. It’s no guarantee that the change is coming, however.
Pittsburgh Pirates - Matt Capps – While it is still his job, he is going to miss some time due to taking a line drive off his elbow on Monday. It’s still unknown if he will end up on the DL, but John Grabow appears in line to pick up a few saves, at least in the immediate future.
San Diego Padres - Heath Bell – There were questions surrounding his abilities to replace Trevor Hoffman, but he has put those to rest in a big way. He’s allowed just 1 earned run this season while striking out 24 over 19.1 innings. He’s a lock to keep his job this season.
San Francisco Giants - Brian Wilson – He proved last season that he can handle the role, even with a slightly higher ERA. He’s doing the same thing this season, so there really is nothing to worry about. He saved 41 games last season with a 4.64 ERA and should continue to get all of the opportunities.
St. Louis Cardinals - Ryan Franklin – All the talk was about Jason Motte or Chris Perez prior to the season. There was even rumblings of Chris Carpenter being shifted to the closers role. When all else failed the Cardinals turned to Franklin who has been nothing but spectacular thus far. He has 11 saves to go along with a 1.53 ERA and 0.79 WHIP. At this point it is going to take an awful lot for one of those youngsters to wrestle the job away from him.
Washington Nationals - Is there anyone? I guess Joel Hanrahan is back to closing games, but who really cares. The one thing this team has proven is that no matter who gets the opportunity to close, he should be considered a shaky option at best. It’s nice that Hanrahan has not given up a run in his last three outings, but how long will that last?
What does everyone else think? Which closer do you think has the most tenuous hold on his job? Which potential replacement are you looking to stash?
Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.