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Here’s the 2013 LestersLegends Closer Rankings for NL-Only Leagues.
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1. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
Kimbrel is ridiculous. In 2011 he recorded 46 saves with a 2.10 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and 127 strikeouts. His saves (42) and strikeouts (116) dipped, but his ERA (1.01) and WHIP (0.65) were off-the-charts good. He’s the best closer in baseball. Period.
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2. Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds
Chapman could be the filthiest pitcher in baseball. He’s certainly in the discussion. He picked up 38 saves and 122 strikeouts while posting a 1.51 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP. He could end up in the rotation, but no matter his role, he will be a force.
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3. Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals
Motte nailed down 42 saves as well while striking out 86 batters. His 2.75 ERA and 0.92 WHIP put him right up with Kimbrel and Chapman. He’s the best of tier two in my book.
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4. Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies
Papelbon got back on track last year with 38 saves, 92 strikeouts, a 2.44 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP.
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5. Sergio Romo, San Francisco Giants
Romo recorded 14 saves with 63 strikeouts, a 1.79 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP. He was nearly untouchable during the postseason with a 0.84 ERA and a 0.47 WHIP.
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6. Rafael Soriano, Washington Nationals
The Nationals have great young pitching so the save opportunities should be there for Soriano. He had 42 saves, 69 strikeouts, a 2.26 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP.
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7. J.J. Putz, Arizona Diamondbacks
Putz has 77 saves over the past two seasons while sporting a 2.48 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. He’s a little bit of a slow starter, as evidenced by his 3.73 ERA first half ERA over the past two years. He’s been untouchable after the break, posting a 0.91 mark.
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8. Huston Street, San Diego Padres
Street can flat out get the job done. He has a career 1.04 WHIP and a 9.2 K/9 ratio. He was great for San Diego last year, posting a 1.85 ERA and a 0.72 WHIP. So why isn’t he a top five closer? The simple answer is durability. He seems to get hurt every year.
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9. John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers
Axford has 81 saves over the past two seasons, but he struggled with his control last year, leading to a 4.67 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP. He averages 11.39 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) to offset some of the damage he does to your WHIP category.
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10. Jason Grilli, Pittsburgh Pirates
Grilli only has five career saves and he’s 36, but he had 90 strikeouts in 58-2/3 innings last yer. Plus, he posted a 2.91 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP.
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As you prepare for your fantasy baseball drafts, check out:

Joe Nathan Texas Rangers
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Here’s the 2013 LestersLegends Closer Rankings for AL-Only Leagues.
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1. Joe Nathan, Texas Rangers
Nathan returned to form with 37 saves, 78 strikeouts, a 2.80 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. Other than his 2011 hiccup, he’s been one of the steadiest closers over the past decade.
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2. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
Mo is a risk coming off a knee injury, but he should be able to bounce back. His cutter will still be troublesome for opposing batters. This could be his final season and I expect Mo to go out in style.
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3. Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles
Johnson actually had more saves (51) than strikeouts (41) last year. His peripherals (2.49 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) were good so he should remain a top ten closer.
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4. Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay Rays
Rodney saved 48 games last year with 76 strikeouts. His 0.78 ERA and 0.60 WHIP were ridiculous, but his career marks are 3.75 and 1.36 respectively. His peripherals will go up, but he should be in line for a bunch of saves.
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5. Chris Perez, Cleveland Indians
Perez has 75 saves over the past two seasons. After averaging a 5.9 K/9 ratio in 2011 he bounced back with a 9.2 K/9 mark. His career ERA is 3.23 with a 1.18 WHIP.
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6. Tom Wilhelmsen, Seattle Mariners
Wilhelmsen is an under-the-radar option. He saved 29 games last year while posting a 2.50 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and 87 strikeouts in 79-1/3 innings (9.9 K/9).
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7. Joel Hanrahan, Boston Red Sox
Hanrahan has 76 saves over the past two seasons, and one would think that the move from the Pittsburgh Pirates to Boston will increase his save opportunities. That said, he will be facing more potent lineups.
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8. Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals
Holland converted 16 or his 18 save opportunities and posted a 1.98 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP when he took over the closer gig. The Royals have an improved rotation, which should provide more leads to protect.
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9. Grant Balfour, Oakland Athletics
Balfour nailed down 24 saves last year, but posted a rock solid ERA (2.53) and WHIP (0.92). He records approximately a strikeout per inning and he’s nearly untouchable at home (1.06 ERA, 0.69 WHIP).
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10. Addison Reed, Chicago White Sox
Reed’s positives were his 29 saves and averaging nearly a strikeout per inning. His negatives where his ERA (4.75) and WHIP (1.36). He is only 24 and has good stuff. He should make strides in his second season at closer.
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As you prepare for your fantasy baseball drafts, check out:

Chris Perez
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We already looked at the LestersLegends’ top 10 fantasy baseball closers for 2013, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t additional options if you choose to wait on filling your relief pitcher slots to address other positions.
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John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers
Axford has 81 saves over the past two seasons, but he struggled with his control last year, leading to a 4.67 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP. He averages 11.39 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) to offset some of the damage he does to your WHIP category.
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Grant Balfour, Oakland Athletics
Balfour nailed down 24 saves last year, but posted a rock solid ERA (2.53) and WHIP (0.92). He records approximately a strikeout per inning and he’s nearly untouchable at home (1.06 ERA, 0.69 WHIP).
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Joel Hanrahan, Boston Red Sox
Hanrahan has 76 saves over the past two seasons, and one would think that the move from the Pittsburgh Pirates to Boston will increase his save opportunities. That said, he will be facing more potent lineups.
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Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals
Holland converted 16 or his 18 save opportunities and posted a 1.98 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP when he took over the closer gig. The Royals have an improved rotation, which should provide more leads to protect.
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Chris Perez, Cleveland Indians
Perez has 75 saves over the past two seasons. After averaging a 5.9 K/9 ratio in 2011 he bounced back with a 9.2 K/9 mark. His career ERA is 3.23 with a 1.18 WHIP. He could easily finish among the top ten fantasy closers.
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J.J. Putz, Arizona Diamondbacks
Putz is another closer that could finish among the top ten. He has 77 saves over the past two seasons while sporting a 2.48 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. He’s a little bit of a slow starter, as evidenced by his 3.73 ERA first half ERA over the past two years. He’s been untouchable after the break, posting a 0.91 mark.
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Addison Reed, Chicago White Sox
Reed’s positives were his 29 saves and averaging nearly a strikeout per inning. His negatives where his ERA (4.75) and WHIP (1.36). He is only 24 and has good stuff. He should make strides in his second season at closer.
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Huston Street, San Diego Padres
Street can flat out get the job done. He has a career 1.04 WHIP and a 9.2 K/9 ratio. He was great for San Diego last year, posting a 1.85 ERA and a 0.72 WHIP. So why isn’t he a top ten closer? The simple answer is durability. He seems to get hurt every year.
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Tom Wilhelmsen, Seattle Mariners
Wilhelmsen is an under-the-radar option. He saved 29 games last year while posting a 2.50 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and 87 strikeouts in 79-1/3 innings (9.9 K/9).
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Also check out:


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Here are the 2013 Lester’s Legends fantasy baseball closer rankings.
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1. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
Kimbrel is ridiculous. In 2011 he recorded 46 saves with a 2.10 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and 127 strikeouts. His saves (42) and strikeouts (116) dipped, but his ERA (1.01) and WHIP (0.65) were off-the-charts good. He’s the best closer in baseball. Period.
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2. Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds
Chapman could be the filthiest pitcher in baseball. He’s certainly in the discussion. He picked up 38 saves and 122 strikeouts while posting a 1.51 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP. He could end up in the rotation, but no matter his role, he will be a force.
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3. Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals
Motte nailed down 42 saves as well while striking out 86 batters. His 2.75 ERA and 0.92 WHIP put him right up with Kimbrel and Chapman. He’s the best of tier two in my book.
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4. Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies
Papelbon got back on track last year with 38 saves, 92 strikeouts, a 2.44 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP.
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5. Sergio Romo, San Francisco Giants
Romo recorded 14 saves with 63 strikeouts, a 1.79 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP. He was nearly untouchable during the postseason with a 0.84 ERA and a 0.47 WHIP.
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6. Rafael Soriano, Washington Nationals
The Nationals have great young pitching so the save opportunities should be there for Soriano. He had 42 saves, 69 strikeouts, a 2.26 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP.
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7. Joe Nathan, Texas Rangers
Nathan returned to form with 37 saves, 78 strikeouts, a 2.80 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. Other than his 2011 hiccup, he’s been one of the steadiest closers over the past decade.
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8. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
Mo is a risk coming off a knee injury, but he should be able to bounce back. His cutter will still be troublesome for opposing batters. This could be his final season and I expect Mo to go out in style.
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9. Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles
Johnson actually had more saves (51) than strikeouts (41) last year. His peripherals (2.49 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) were good so he should remain a top ten closer.
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10. Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay Rays
Rodney saved 48 games last year with 76 strikeouts. His 0.78 ERA and 0.60 WHIP were ridiculous, but his career marks are 3.75 and 1.36 respectively. His peripherals will go up, but he should be in line for a bunch of saves.
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As you prepare for your fantasy baseball drafts, check out:


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Here’s the 2012 LestersLegends Closer Rankings for NL-Only Leagues.
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1. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves: Recorded 46 saves last year with a 2.10 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and an absurd 127 strikeouts in 77 innings. With a top-notch pitching staff, he should see plenty of save opportunities once again.
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2. John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers: The Brew Crew will miss Prince Fielder, but they still have a rock solid rotation. Axford picked up 46 saves with a 1.95 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP, and 86 Ks in 73-2/3 innings. He more than proved that 2010 wasn’t a fluke.
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3. Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies: Talk about having a good starting rotation to pitch behind. Papelbon saved 31 games last year with a 2.94 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP, and 87 Ks in 64-1/3 innings. His only issue is that his starters often finish their games.
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4. Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants: Wilson’s health had a lot to with his struggles last year. Still he managed 36 saves with a 3.11 ERA, a 1.47 WHIP, and 54 Ks in 55.0 innings. I expect much more this year.
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5. Heath Bell, Miami Marlins: I don’t love the fact that he is no longer in PETCO, but Bell is still a top tier closer. He had 43 saves last year with a 2.44 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP, and 51 Ks in 62-2/3 innings.
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6. Drew Storen, Washington Nationals: Certainly met his lofty expectations with 43 saves, a 2.75 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP, and 74 Ks in 75-1/3 innings.
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7. J.J. Putz, Arizona Diamondbacks: Putz has a solid pitching staff to finish up for. Plus he had 45 saves, a 2.17 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP, and 61 Ks in 58.0 innings.
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8. Huston Street, San Diego Padres: Speaking of oft-injured, Street also fits that bill. Escaping from Colorado to San Diego is about as dramatic an improvements as you can make. Plus, he stays within the division.
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9.  Joel Hanrahan, Pittsburgh Pirates: Collected 40 saves last year to go along with a 1.83 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP, and 61 Ks in 68-2/3 IP.
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10.  Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs: Picked up 34 saves and racked up 99 Ks in 74.0 IP, but his ERA was at 4.01 and his WHIP at 1.38.
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11.  Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals: Finally solidified the Cardinals’ ninth-inning duties with nine saves, a 2.25 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, and 63 Ks in 68 innings.
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12. Rafael Betancourt, Colorado Rockies: He was a tale of two seasons. Before the All-Star Break he posted a 4.84 ERA in 35-1/3 innings. After the break he gave up just one earned run (0.33 ERA) in 27.0 innings. He’s somewhere in between.
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Also check out:

 


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Here’s the 2012 LestersLegends Closer Rankings for AL-Only Leagues.
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1. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees: I admittedly ranked Mo way too low last year. I figured Rafael Soriano’s presence would lead to less work. Until Mo hangs it up, he’s an elite option. Last year he had 44 saves, a 1.44 ERA, a 0.90 WHIP, and 60 Ks in 61-1/3 innings. With a better rotation he should easily be able to cruise to another banner year.
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2. Andrew Bailey, Boston Red Sox: Makes the move to Boston coming off a 24 save, 3.24 ERA, 1.10 ERA, and 41 Ks (41-2/3 IP) season. He has the ability, but is oft-injured.
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3. Jordan Walden, Los Angeles Angels: Walden ran with his opportunity last year picking up 32 saves with a 2.98 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 67 Ks in 60-1/3 innings. He has a great rotation in front of him.
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4. Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers: Saved all 49 of his attempts last year with a 2.24 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP, and 69 Ks in 72-1/3 innings. I can’t imagine that he can repeat that kind of success.
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5. Joe Nathan, Texas Rangers: Nathan has a new home as well, and it’s tougher on pitcher’s, but he has a solid staff in front of him, a great offense behind him, and an excellent track record.
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6. Sergio Santos, Toronto Blue Jays: Saved 30 games last year for the White Sox with a 3.55 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, and 92 Ks in 63-1/3 innings. Francisco Cordero is there is Santos struggles, which is a bit of a concern.
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7. Brandon League, Seattle Mariners: Delivered with 37 saves, a 2.79 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP, and 45 Ks in 61-1/3 IP.
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8. Chris Perez, Cleveland Indians: Saved 36 games last year with a 3.32 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP, and 39 Ks in 59-2/3 innings. The strikeout rates scares me.
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9. Kyle Farnsworth, Tampa Bay Rays: He was brilliant last year despite on 25 saves, thanks to his sparkling 2.18 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 51 Ks in 57-2/3 IP. Given his history and his age (36 in April), he makes me a little nervous of serious regression.
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10. Matt Capps, Minnesota Twins: Capps saved 15 last year, but blew nine save opportunities. Not exactly a comforting feeling.
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11. Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles: He was solid last year with nine saves, a 2.67 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, and 58 Ks in 91.0 IP. Matt Lindstrom’s presence concerns me.
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12. Grant Balfour, Oakland A’s: He’s the favorite to close for Oakland, though he doesn’t have much experience in that role. He was rock solid last year (2.47 ERA, 1.03 WHIP), but closing is a different animal.
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Be sure to enter the 2012 Fantasy Baseball Team Name Contest
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We already looked at the LestersLegends’ top 15 closers for 2012, but there are plenty of solid options out there.
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Mid-Level Options
Jonathan Broxton, Kansas City Royals: Likely to take over for Joakim Soria. Has the track record, assuming his fastball is biting.
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Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs: Picked up 34 saves and racked up 99 Ks in 74.0 IP, but his ERA was at 4.01 and his WHIP at 1.38.
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Sergio Santos, Toronto Blue Jays: Saved 30 games last year for the White Sox with a 3.55 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, and 92 Ks in 63-1/3 innings. Francisco Cordero is there is Santos struggles, which keeps him out of the top 15.
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Javy Guerra, Los Angeles Dodgers: He’ll have to beat out Kenley Jansen, but his 21 saves, 2.31 ERA, 1.18 WHIP give him leg up on Jansen. If he struggles in the least Jansen’s electric stuff could put him in the closer role.
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Brandon League, Seattle Mariners: Delivered with 37 saves, a 2.79 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP, and 45 Ks in 61-1/3 IP.
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Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals: Finally solidified the Cardinals’ ninth-inning duties with nine saves, a 2.25 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, and 63 Ks in 68 innings.
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Rafael Betancourt, Colorado Rockies:  He was a tale of two seasons. Before the All-Star Break he posted a 4.84 ERA in 35-1/3 innings. After the break he gave up just one earned run (0.33 ERA) in 27.0 innings. He’s somewhere in between.
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Chris Perez, Cleveland Indians:  Saved 36 games last year with a 3.32 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP, and 39 Ks in 59-2/3 innings. The strikeout rates scares me.
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Kyle Farnsworth, Tampa Bay Rays:  He was brilliant last year despite on 25 saves, thanks to his sparkling 2.18 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 51 Ks in 57-2/3 IP. Given his history and his age (36 in April), he makes me a little nervous of serious regression.
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Low-end Options
Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles:  He was solid last year with nine saves, a 2.67 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, and 58 Ks in 91.0 IP. Matt Lindstrom’s presence concerns me.
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Brett Myers, Houston Astros:  Returns to the closer role. He had success, but that was back in 2007 and he has pretty much started the rest of his career.
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Matt Capps, Minnesota Twins:  Capps saved 15 last year, but blew nine save opportunities. Not exactly a comforting feeling.
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Frank Francisco, New York Mets: After pitching in Texas and Toronto CitiField will seem like a luxury. He is injury-prone though, which makes him a risk.
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Grant Balfour, Oakland A’s:  He’s the favorite to close for Oakland, though he doesn’t have much experience in that role. He was rock solid last year (2.47 ERA, 1.03 WHIP), but closing is a different animal.
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Matt Thornton, Chicago White Sox:  He’s not a lock to close, which puts him in this category. He had more blown saves (four) than saves (three) last year with a 3.32 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. The good new is, his competition isn’t very impressive.
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Sean Marshall, Cincinnati Reds:  He should get first crack, but Aroldis Chapman is waiting in the wings.
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