Rotoprofessor’s Closer Report: National League
Last week we checked out the American League closers (click here to view), so this week we turn to the National League (all stats given are through Monday):
Arizona Diamondbacks – Chad Qualls - He gave up runs in three out of five outings from 6/7 – 6/18, which certainly should bring question to his ability to hold down the job. Tony Pena, who would have likely been his replacement, has allowed 4 runs in his last two innings, so scratch that. Qualls has blown three saves, and while he’s worth using while he holds the job, he’s a low-end option right now.
Atlanta Braves – Mike Gonzalez/Rafael Soriano - This one continues to just bounce back and forth, depending on the match-ups. It appears like Bobby Cox may never settle on one clear-cut #1 closer, so both will hold value in fantasy formats, but more of a last resort option. If either one were to ever emerge as the guy in Atlanta, they would be a solid #2 option.
Chicago Cubs – Kevin Gregg - For all those expecting him to lose his job at any moment, he has actually settled in of late. He hasn’t allowed an earned run since 6/2, spanning 9 outings, reducing his ERA to a respectable 3.66. His prime replacement, Carlos Marmol, continues to walk batters at an alarming rate, now carrying a BB/9 of 9.09. There’s just no way that Lou Pinella puts that type of control problem into the ninth inning. Never going to happen. Gregg’s job is definitely safe for now, barring a complete breakdown.
Cincinnati Reds – Francisco Cordero - Here is one of the safest closers in the NL. Even if his numbers weren’t as impressive as they’ve been (2.10 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) in converting 17 of 18 opportunities, he’d be a solid option. Right now, he’s pitching like one of the elite.
Colorado Rockies – Huston Street - There has always been speculation that the Rockies wanted Manny Corpas to emerge with the job at some point this season, but he is now on the DL and has struggled at times. Street, on the other hand, has been solid all year, with a 3.19 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. If the Rockies appear to fall out of the race, Corpas will be worth stashing because a trade of Street would become significantly more likely. As of right now, he has little value.
Florida Marlins – TBD
Matt Lindstrom went on the DL. Leo Nunez is a likely option, but Dan Meyer pitched a perfect ninth last night against Baltimore with one Strikeout for his first career Save. It could be Meyer’s job until Nunez is available. Depending on how many opportunities he gets, it could be Meyer’s job to loe.
Houston Astros – Jose Valverde - He’s back and pitching with a vengeance. He’s pitched 5.1 innings since coming off the DL, picking up 3 saves while not allowing an earned run. In fact, he’s allowed just 3 hits and 0 walks, striking out 7. He’s a must use option once again, plain and simple. If you are a LaTroy Hawkins owner, while he may pick up a vulture save now and then, he has little value outside of formats that value holds. There have been rumors of Valverde being dealt, but with Houston just 5 games out of first and their belief that they are never out of a pennant race, that seems unlikely right now.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Jonathan Broxton - His statistics speak for themselves. 6 Wins. 17 Saves. 56 Strikeouts (in just 35.1 innings). 2.29 ERA. 0.82 WHIP. He is the best closer in the league in 2009. That’s the bottom line.
Milwaukee Brewers – Trevor Hoffman – Well, he is mortal after all. He’s allowed runs in two of his last three outings, including being saddled with his first loss of the season. Still, he is currently holding a 1.31 ERA and 0.77 WHIP. Who is going to complain? At his age, it is possible he wears down as the season progresses, so if you have an opportunity for an upgrade, I would not necessarily avoid it.
New York Mets – Francisco Rodriguez – I know, he’s blown two saves since the last time we discussed him, but one of them should be on the statistics of Luis Castillo, not K-Rod. Everyone is going to blow saves occasionally, so the one legitimate blown save doesn’t bother me in the least. He’s been fantastic this season and is among the best in the league once again.
Philadelphia Phillies – Ryan Madson - There is absolutely no controversy in Philly. Madson looked good early on, but has given up runs in his last three outings, chalking up a pair of loses. Upon his return, Brad Lidge will be given the opportunity to immediately to take back his closers role. If he can rebound is another story, but he’s going to be the man.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Matt Capps - He’s got 16 saves, but done it with a 5.16 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. If he pitched for another franchise I’d be worried about him being yanked from the role, but it’s the Pirates, so he appears to be safe. He’s usable, since he’s going to get saves, but he’s certainly not one of the better options right now. If something happens, John Grabow figures to step into the role, so keep that in mind if you are desperate.
San Diego Padres – Heath Bell - There have been rumors/speculation that he could be moved prior to the trade deadline, so that is certainly something worth watching. He has been spectacular thus far, picking up 19 saves with a 1.19 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. If he were to be moved for whatever reason, it would likely be a free-for-all as to who takes over, so basically hope that doesn’t happen.
San Francisco Giants – Brian Wilson - He has picked up a save in ten of his last eleven outings. His ERA, which sat at 4.87 on 5/21 is all the way down to 2.94. He’s been perfect over his last four innings. He has 13 Ks in 9.1 innings in June. He is putting it all together right now, to say the least. He could sputter back down to earth, but right now he is a great option in all formats.
St. Louis Cardinals – Ryan Franklin - Talk about coming out of nowhere to emerge as a must use closer, he is the prime example for those who believe in not drafting a closer early. He has a 1.00 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. He’s only allowed an earned run in two appearances all season, the last of which came on 5/20. Those young Cardinals relievers clearly missed their opportunity to claim the job, because Franklin seems unlikely to relinquish it.
Washington Nationals – Mike MacDougal – Is this role finally settled in DC? In his last three appearances (3.2 innings), he has given up just 1 hit and 2 walks, picking up 2 saves in the process. Of course, he hasn’t struck a batter out in those games, but we’re just splitting hairs now, aren’t we? If he’s going to hold onto the job, then he’s going to have value to fill out your staff, but I’m going to believe it when I see it. Check back in with me in two weeks and let’s see what’s going on.
What do you think? Which National League closer is most likely to lose his job next?
Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.