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2012 MLB Closer Profile: Chris Perez, Cleveland Indians

Chris Perez had a breakout year in 2011. 

After three seasons (two-and-a-half technically), Perez has established himself as the closer of the Cleveland Indians. Last season, Perez was 36/40 in save opportunities with a 3.32 ERA. 

While on the surface, 2011 looks like a tremendously perfect year for Chris Perez, it was anything but that.  First, his ERA and WHIP jumped from his previous year’s success. What was also strange was Perez’s inability to record strikeouts. 

After posting 61 Ks in 2010, he recorded only 39 in 2011.  The good news is we didn’t expect 61.  In fact, 2011 was more to the norm for Chris Perez, and if you overlook his great numbers in 2010, you’ll notice that he actually had a great season. 

At 26, Chris Perez is one of the younger closers with great years ahead of him.  He has a natural maturity to the game, and playing for Dave Duncan back in St. Louis will serve him well throughout his pitching career. 

Going into 2012, Perez is playing on a one-year year and hoping to sizzle in 2012 and get the big deal he deserves. 

While the Indians are a rebuilding team, they are also a young team with plenty of great players on it.  Even with all the problems they had last season, the Indians still managed 80 wins.  I believe with a healthy squad, the Indians can win between 82-85 games in 2012.  

The question on the minds of many are who is the real Chris Perez?  Has he peaked, or can he achieve 40-45 saves? 

As a straight fastball (94-95MPH) and slider pitcher, he doesn’t throw anything fancy and depends on hitting his spot and pitches to contact.  Contact closers aren’t my favorite, because it only takes one hit in a lot of cases to blow a save, and the more contact you can avoid, the better.

Perez should have a fine year, and in a perfect world with an 83- or 84-win Cleveland Indians team, Perez could achieve 40 saves.  Either way, the best years of Chris Perez are yet to be seen, and 2012 won’t even be there yet, but he should continue to get better.


The Closer Report 2012 Projections

38 Saves, 5 Wins, 2.98 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 40 Ks 


2012 Fantasy Draft Analysis

Perez is just not one of my favorite closers in the draft, and there are many more closers with better value. 

He’s on a team that we just aren’t sure how well they will perform, and he himself has been inconsistent over the past couple of years.  His ADP has him going in the 17th round, and I think that is appropriate—maybe even a tad early.

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2012 MLB CLoser Profile: Jordan Walden, Los Angeles Angels

Jordan Walden slammed onto the scene last season and made waves as the new closer for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  While his start was strong and secured the job for himself, his overall performance wasn’t as sweet. 

Walden finished with 32 saves in his rookie season, but 10 blown saves to shadow his otherwise solid numbers.  He notched 67 Ks in 60 innings and finished with a nice 2.98 ERA. 

So what is wrong with Walden?  I dunno.  Let’s see—he’s a flamethrower, he pitches for the Angels (and that is a good thing) and he’s young.   

The biggest problems that Walden had last season were confidence and control.  As a rookie, confidence is half the battle, and when you lose confidence in yourself or in a pitch, that is bad for closers. 

Walden has a lights-out 98 MPH fastball, but controlling is another issue.  His BB/9 was uncomfortably high for a closer at 3.88. In fact, he walked batters in six of his 10 blown saves.  None of this is terrible news for Walden.  Let’s face it—he was a rookie, and he learned.  

I fully expect Walden to further mature in the 2012 season.  He should accrue more confidence and hopefully throw his changeup more.  Right now it doesn’t locate the best, but complementing his fastball with a changeup would make Walden absolutely dominating. 

With the team the Angels put together, Walden is an instant closer choice as a tier-two closer for any fantasy team.  While there is risk with Walden, manager Mike Scioscia is committed to his closer, and he showed that last year. 

If I owned Walden, I’d stay committed as well.


The Closer Report 2012 Projections

37 Saves, 5 Wins, 2.70 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 72 Ks 


2012 Fantasy Draft Analysis

With an ADP around 157, Walden looks like a great value you pick in the 13th round.  However, It would entirely depend on who is available.

As much as I like Walden, I don’t like closers about whom we are “unsure.”  I’d let Walden go in the 13th, and if he is around in the 15th round and you really want a closer, take him there.

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2012 MLB Closer Profile: Javy Guerra, Los Angeles Dodgers

Last year, among all the messes that the Dodgers organization was dealing with, one of them was their closer. 

The Dodgers opened the season with Broxton, who failed badly.  Then they tried several replacements like Kenley Jansen and others.  When Jansen hit the DL, they brought up Javy Guerra, and the rest is history. 

While I feel that Kenley Jansen is the future closer for the Dodgers, right now he is unreliable because of injury issues related to an irregular heart beat.  Jansen will be the setup man opening day.  In fact, the Dodgers bullpen is deep with veteran relief pitchers who should do well and keep Guerra in line for plenty of saves. 

Javy Guerra has limited experience as a closer. Last season, he notched 21 saves in 23 opportunities. He pitched in 47 games for the Dodgers in 2011, and that is the total for his career. 

Jumping on Javy Guerra from a fantasy perspective could be a bit dangerous, since he has yet to face normal closer adversary or close for an entire season.  That being said, the kid has good stuff. 

While Guerra did close in the minors, he has starter stuff.  He comes at hitters with a 95 MPH fastball, slider, changeup and curveball.  His out pitches are the changeup and curveball. 

While all of his pitches are average, he got enough to get three outs in the ninth.  His main problems will be control (3.47 BB/9) and being tested in stressful situations. 

Guerra walked 18 batters in less than 47 innings in 2011.  While that isn’t horrible, it’s not good either.  Also, he isn’t battle-tested, and 2012 will be another crazy year for the Dodgers, with the sale of the team yet to be completed.

The positives on Guerra are very good.  He did a great job closing in 2011 and has secured the job for 2012.  At 26, he is young and healthy and shouldn’t have any injury issues for the coming season.  He’s got a great track record through the minors and into the majors. 

If Guerra can stay focused and healthy, he will have a great season.  If not, Mattingly can put Jansen in at any time. 

Guerra will be a bargain no matter where he is drafted, so if you decide to draft him, make him a tier-three closer for your team and have two suitable closers already drafted.


The Closer Report 2012 Projections

35 Saves, 6 Wins, 2.78 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 62 Ks


2012 Fantasy Draft Analysis

Javy Guerra’s ADP is a staggering 283 (24th round).  He is a steal at that point. 

I would start targeting Guerra around Round 19 or 20.  If he is the best player available that meets your needs, draft him. 

Beware that with the craziness of the Dodgers, he might not be the closer come season’s end—either he will get traded or lose the job outright.

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2012 MLB Closer Profile: J.J. Putz, Arizona Diamondbacks

Let’s not joke.  J.J. Putz had an amazing comeback year in 2011, notching 45 saves for the well-built and oiled Arizona Diamondbacks team. 

He even did that while missing most of July on the DL, which we have become accustomed to with J.J. Putz. Even more amazing, he put up 21 saves between August and September. 

Everything about 2011 was amazing—his 2.17 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and a K/9 over 9!  Putz was one of the top closers in baseball for 2011. 

Enter 2012, and let’s get back to reality.  Putz is a good closer, but his career has been plagued with injury and inconsistency.  In his nine-year career, Putz has only reached 70 appearances one, and more than 60 appearances five times. 

He is also 35, which is a tough year for pitchers to hit.  Their stuff can certainly start to fade beyond 35.

So what do with J.J. Putz?  Do you expect a repeat of 2011 or something closer to his actual career?

Let’s start with the Diamondbacks.  They are a very good young team poised for a playoff run.  They have a solid, though shaky rotation led by Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and the newly acquired Trevor Cahill. 

Kennedy pitched amazingly last season, but chances of him repeating that performance are not good. 

Still, the rotation of the Diamondbacks will get many leads to the bullpen.  In front of Putz, he has several good veteran relievers including Takashi Saito, Brad Zeigler and David Hernandez.  All that bodes well for Putz.

As for the offense, it is shady.  After Upton and Montero, where will the hits come from?  Chris Young, Jason Kubel, Stephen Drew?  While the Diamondbacks have a sound offense, they’re going to suffer scoring droughts.

My concerns with Putz deal with his health.  If his arm “isn’t right,” he won’t do well.  Last year, Putz changed his pitching style a bit.  He threw more fastballs and less sliders, and he continued to abuse hitters with his splitter. 

His fastball tops out at 95 MPH, which is hittable by major league standards.  What he did so well in 2011 was hit his spots with his slider and throw a great splitter.  So, if you draft Putz in 2012, you have to hope for all that to play out in your favor again—I can tell you now, chances are slim. 


The Closer Report 2012 Projections

32 Saves, 3 Wins, 3.01 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 57 Ks


2012 Fantasy Draft Analysis

J.J. Putz has an ADP around 133, which means if you want to draft him, you better get him by round 12.  I’ll pass on that. 

At 35 and coming off a huge season, Putz is overvalued.  My recommendation is to pass on Putz that early.  If he is around in the 17th or 18th round take a chance, but otherwise you are taking on a closer who is injury-prone and hasn’t had two great back-to-back seasons since 2006-2007.

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2012 MLB Closer Profile: Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees

Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer of all time.  Any analysis I do of Rivera will open with that statement. 

However, he not the most dominating closer in MLB right now. Last season, I projected Rivera to save 30 games, and he pumped out 44. 

This was due to unexpected success by the Yankees and the failure of the American League East to contain them.  Rivera was 16/20 in saves against his own division, which the Yankees weren’t predicted to win.  He was also 100-percent healthy in 2011, and that was a tiny bit of a surprise. 

I might be a Yankee hater, but I’m not a Rivera hater.  He’s a God among men when it comes to closers. 

I just don’t see how at 42 he can continue to dominate American League hitters with one pitch, the cutter.  The last two seasons he’s combined for 10 blown saves, which is equal to his previous four seasons combined.  His ERA, while still amazingly low, has steadily increased each of the past three years. 

So what does that all mean?  Nothing.  It is impossible to predict anything but the best for Mariano Rivera, but the better question is, when will a collapse, big or small, occur? 

With that risk in mind, I’ve kept my expectations somewhat low for Rivera.  While he easily can break 40 saves, my projections have him around 35.

If this is Rivera’s last season, he could put it all on the table and be awesome.  It’s up to the fantasy manager to take that small but ever-present risk.


The Closer Report 2012 Projections

35 Saves, 6 Wins, 2.49 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 53 Ks


2012 Fantasy Draft Analysis

Right now, Rivera is going where he is expected, around Round 8. 

I wouldn’t touch him till round 11 or 12.  There is much more value later in the draft, and it’s probably better to take a SP or a position player in rounds 7-9 than to take a chance on Rivera.  It’s not a bad pick to take him there, just realize you are taking on a 42-year-old risk.

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2012 MLB Closer Profile: Joel Hanrahan, Pittsburgh Pirates

Joel Hanrahan had an amazing break out season in 2011.  He became the closer I expected him to be years before in Washington.  He put up 40 saves on historically one of the worst teams in MLB.  He also put up a career low ERA of 1.83 and his WHIP was also a career low of 1.05. 

Was this a lucky year for Hanrahan or is it a change that will stick?  I believe it will stick.  Hanrahan’s problems before 2011 had to do with his confidence in his fastball.  Hanrahan is a classic fastball/slider closer, and he has a great slider with tremendous movement. 

He also has a fastball that tops out at 98-99 MPH.  Before 2011, Hanrahan threw his slider twice as much as he did in 2011, and he even worked in an occassional change-up.  In 2011, he eliminated the change-up and threw his slider a lot less, and that made for great results.

First off, his fastball got better.  In 2010, his fastball averaged 96 MPH.  In 2011, it jumped to 97.1.  He threw his slider half as much and the results were more window shopping strikeouts on hitters expecting the slider and more late swings for ground balls or lazy pop ups.  National League hitters just never adjusted to the new Hanrahan, and he had insane success.

Will that success continue to 2012?  Yes, but beware that hitters now understand that he is throwing his fastball much more often and then will be prepared for that.  With that being said, if it remains around 98 MPH, then who cares?  Here it is, hit it if you can. 

The only thing that will slow down Hanrahan, besides some luck, is the Pirates.  They played amazing baseball for their standards in 2011, and I’m hard-pressed to see it again in 2012.  That means fewer wins, therefore fewer save opportunities for Hanrahan. 

Now that being said, the Pirates have made several additions to both their offense and pitching that should keep them around 72-75 wins. It’s just a matter of how well the team gels and how well guys like Burnett, Bedard and Correia end up pitching.

As far as fantasy owners are concerned:

The Closer Report 2012 Projections: 35 Sv – 4 Wins – 2.86 ERA – 1.19 WHIP – 65 Ks

2012 Fantasy Draft Analysis:

Hanrahan’s ADP has him sitting at 126, which is Round 11.  He is an intriguing pick at that spot, but I would not go for him that early.  Getting the Pirates closer dictates that you wait until at the very least the 14th or 15th round to grab him. 

In the 11th round, fantasy managers will have plenty of options for a closer that has more career success and is on a better team.  Don’t just draft Hanrahan because he put up big numbers in 2011, look at the big picture.

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2012 MLB Closer Profile: Joe Nathan, Texas Rangers

This one can get a bit sensitive and touchy.

I believe that Joe Nathan is hands down one of the greatest closers. 

When healthy, he can be one of the most dominating forces, with a lethal fastball that he locates well and a slider and curveball to compliment it. 

The reason that this analysis can get sensitive is because even I’ve lost faith in him. 

Nathan came back last year for the Minnesota Twins and looked uncomfortable.  He opened the season as the Twins closer, but quickly lost the job after only three saves.  He spent most of June on the DL and finally got the closer job back in mid-July. 

He notched 11 saves from July 16th through the rest of the season. 

The most important part of last season to look at is from mid-July till the end of the season.  Nathan was playing for a contract and to prove to himself and everyone else that he was back. 

Before he regained the closer role, his ERA stood at 5.56.  His numbers looked alright.  He recorded 21 of 43 strikeouts in the time period and dropped his ERA down to 4.84. Still, Nathan wasn’t dominant.  His fastball lost some juice and his curveball isn’t breaking the same. 

At 36, Nathan is entering the twilight of his career.  His velocity is slowing down and, therefore, so is his effectiveness.  I think the Rangers are taking a considerable chance with Nathan as their closer. 

Don’t  get me wrong on my analysis, Nathan could have a great season for the Rangers.  He will certainly get plenty of save chances. 

The question is, can he still get the job done? Are you willing to risk your fantasy team on a closer like Nathan?  I guess it all depends where you draft him. 

The Closer Report 2012 Projections: 32 Sv – 2 Wins – 3.45 ERA – 1.22 WHIP – 72 Ks 

2012 Fantasy Draft Analysis:

Nathan is being drafted higher than I expected, at a ADP of 184.  That is ahead of Jason Motte and Huston Street. 

In my eyes, that is ridiculous. 

Granted, it’s the sixteenth round and there is a whole lot of risk in that round, I just wouldn’t chance picking Joe Nathan until round 18 or 19.  There are healthy, better closers to pick over the aging Nathan.

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MLB Baseball Closers: The Best Closer in Baseball (And His Initials Aren’t MR!)

In 2011, one closer has stood above the rest and that is Joel Hanrahan. In 2008, Hanrahan joined the league of closers when he began closing out games late in the season and finished with nine saves.

He opened 2009 as the Washington Nationals closer, but quickly fizzled due to complete lack of control. He walked 14 batters in just 32.2 innings of work and batters compiled a .342 average against him. His biggest problem was not controlling his slider and that forced more fastballs and MLB hitters were expecting it.

He was a favorite closer of mine in 2009, but lost the confidence of everyone in the fantasy world and his managers. After being traded to the Pirates, Hanrahan got the change of scenery that he needed, and in 2010 replaced Matt Capps as the Pirates closer after Capps was traded to the Minnesota Twins. Since that time he has been the Pirates closer.

So why is he the best closer in baseball, right now as we speak? Chew on this fat and consider the numbers.

In 2011, Joel Hanrahan has broken out and joined the elite of the closers. He brings to the table a fastball that can top out at 97 MPH and a wicked slider that he has full control of that is clocked at 86 MPH. He’ll even mix a change-up in once and awhile. Since taking over as the Pirates closer in 2010, Hanrahan has 29 saves in 30 chances. This season he as compiled the most impressive array of stats for any closer. 



Hanrahan is one behind Brian Wilson for the MLB league lead. He has yet to blow a save and is only one of two closers (Jose Valverde the other) who remains perfect. He has also done all that as the closer for the Pirates, who are having an amazing season with a 41-40 record. They owe a lot of that to Joel Hanrahan.


Next to Andrew Bailey, who has been out most of the season, Joel Hanrahan has the best ERA amongst closers at 1.21. The next best is Francisco Cordero at 1.53. Mariano Rivera sits at 1.69. Hanrahan’s WHIP has remained below 1.00 all season and as of July 1 sits at 0.94. That is good enough for the fourth-best WHIP amongst closers with Andrew Bailey leading that group with 0.62. His WHIPERA (Combined ERA/WHIP) is a poultry 2.63, which in many regards is a great ERA alone.

Strikeouts and Walks

In 37.1 innings, Hanrahan has compiled 32 Ks and only walked eight batters. While those aren’t the most impressive numbers amongst closers, when the ball is put into play, hitters have only managed a BAA (Batting Average Against) of .203.


Overall, Hanrahan has only given up runs in four of his 37 appearances and has held his opponents hitless in 18 appearances. He has been a model of consistency for the season and will close for the National League if he is called on for that duty. He has been the best closer in baseball this season and every time we think he is about to slow down, he just blows away the opposing teams.

If you own Joel Hanrahan, keep him. At least until it gets closer to the trade deadline. He is a free agent next year and, even with the Pirates current success, they will move him if the deal is right. As I’ve written, lots of teams will be blowing up the Pirates front office phones asking about Joel Hanrahan.

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MLB Closers Wanted: Teams on the Hunt Come Trade Deadline

In July and even into August I expect to see several trades involving closers and setup men.   Teams are always in need of good relief pitching and start stacking their bullpens for a playoff run. I will give you the list of teams that will be on the nut for back-end relievers who will either become closers or be acquired to set up their current closer. 

This is critical to pay attention to if it impacts your fantasy baseball bullpen. I will recommend over the coming weeks on who to trade and who to keep. The last thing any fantasy manager wants to face is their prized closer being traded and becoming a setup man.

New York Yankees

The Yankees bullpen was the Achilles heal of the team to start the season. They signed an aging Rafeal Soriano, who proved to be unsuccessful as a setup man and is now on the 60-day DL. While they have the best closer in the history of baseball, even Rivera has been suspect at times and getting to him late in the game could get tough down the stretch. 

Also, remove Joba Chamberlain from the equation. He is out for the season with Tommy John surgery. David Robertson has pitched great, but by nature is not a setup man. The Yankees have added a slew of veterans like buddy Carlyle and Cory Wade and only have one left-handed pitcher in Boone Logan.

What They Need

Expect the Yankees to trade for an established closer. They will go after someone heavy who can command the strike zone and get strikeouts. They will also look to get another lefty for late-inning duties against lefty loaded teams like the Red Sox.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox have a solid one-two punch with Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon, so not much will be needed in that area. Matt Albers has filled in nicely for Bobby Jenks in the seventh-inning role, but the Red Sox may want to go deeper. They also lack a lefty in the bullpen, only have rookie Tommy Hottovy with Franklin Morales on the DL.

I can see the Red Sox looking for another lefty and in the past they have had interest in Brian Fuentes. They may look to replace prospect SP Michael Bowden in the bullpen with a strong seventh-inning pitcher.

What They Need

At the very least the Red Sox need a good effective lefty in that bullpen. They will also need another closer to back up Papelbon and Bard. Papelbon has his inning limit of 70 as everyone knows. We don’t know for sure when Jenks is coming back and even how effective he can be.

Colorado Rockies 

The Rockies are only four games out and are expected to make a run in the second half of the season as they always do.  In order to do that they will have to shore up their bullpen and protect closer Huston Street from being over worked. 

Matt Lindstrom and Matt Belisle have pitched well in the setup role, and Rafael Betancourt gives them veteran fire power in the late innings as well. They currently roster two lefties, Matt Reynolds and Rex Brothers. If the Rockies make a run, they need to protect their starters (who stink this year) with a bullpen that can go three or four innings almost every night.

What They Need

A proven lefty. After trading Morales, they have a big hole to fill. Pitching in Colorado, they can use a closer that will become a setup man who doesn’t pitch to contact like Carlos Marmol.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals bullpen is a mess, but that was expected when your opening day closer is Ryan Franklin. Franklin has almost become a memory in that bullpen and is all but been replaced by Fernando Salas. While Salas has pitched well, he’s the ideal closer for Tony LaRussa. He’s actually an ideal setup man with a rubber arm that can go two inning if needed.

LaRussa wants a veteran and as long as the Cardinals are positioned to make a run they will trade for one. Eduardo Sanchez is on the DL, but will be invaluable to the bullpen along with Jason Motte. Mitchell Boggs is also an effective middle man, but lefties Trever Miller and Brian Tallet are leftovers from other teams and won’t do well down the stretch. The Cardinals bullpen is ranked 24th in ERA at 4.30 and are a miserable 22-for-35 in saves.

What They Need

Expect the Cardinals to sign a closer to closeout games. LaRussa’s dream would be a Sanchez/Motte seventh inning, Fernando Salas eighth inning and Heath Bell in the ninth.

Philadelphia Phillies 

The Phillies don’t have the biggest needs and will not be desperate to add to their bullpen. However, they have a team built to win and will fill any holes they feel that they have. Right now their bullpen is stable with Madson, Bastardo, and the always ailing Jose Contreras. They are backed up by aging Danys Baez, then Kyle Kendrick, Juan Perez and David Herndon. 

They are expecting Brad Lidge to return. If he returns to form and is Castor Lidge and not Pollux Lidge (Gemini Twins), then he will fill the hole they need at back up closer/setup man.

What They Need

Phillies need a proven veteran lefty.  If Lidge doesn’t work out and if Contreras is hurt as we expect, they will go after a second closer like Heath Bell.

Texas Rangers 

For a team in first place, the Rangers have one of the worst bullpens. Their bullpen is ranked 26th with a 4.38 ERA and is 19-for-31 in saves. Closer Neftali Feliz has been erratic all season and has four blown saves already. After Feliz they have two aging lefties in Darren Oliver and Arthur Rhodes. Mark Lowe, who was once considered for closer, hasn’t had a good season and was demoted to AAA for a short amount of time.

If the Rangers want to find success in the playoffs or even make it, they will need to add one or even two more arms to their bullpen.

What They Need

The Rangers need a top-flight setup man and frankly a second closer—someone along the lines of Carlos Marmol, Joel Hanrahan or Joakim Soria. A Fernando Rodney for the seventh inning would help as well.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians have been a pleasant surprise in 2011, but they are fading. If they can hold on, they will make a move to add depth to their bullpen, which ranks fourth overall with a 2.99 ERA. Chris Perez has done an outstanding job, but at 26 he only has 190 innings in his career and has never pitched more than 63. In fact, they only have one reliever (Chad Durbin) over the age of 28.

What They Need

Another lefty to complement Tony Sipp. Possibly another closer to add depth for setting up Perez or resting him.

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2011 Fantasy Baseball: 10 Closers To Avoid Drafting

As it is every year, closers come and go throughout the season. Whether it’s performance-based or injury, they will be replaced.

Here are 10 closers that, despite their ADP, career numbers or Closer Report Draft Kit ranking, I’d avoid at all costs.


Ryan Franklin, STL

Okay, weren’t his 15 minutes up two years ago?

Credit where it’s due to the steroid survivor that he’s lasted this long. He’ll likely open as the Cardinals closer—but with no future contract and Jason Motte spreading his wings, circling above, Franklin won’t close for long.

I expect Motte to be the closer no later than May 15th, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he won the job in spring training in time for opening day.


Brandon Lyon, HOU

How many times has this guy had the closer job and then lost it? Had it, lost it again.

It shouldn’t surprise you that he’ll likely be on a short leash for the up and coming Houston Astros.

Wilton Lopez and Jeff Fulchino both can close just as good as Lyon and both have shown more consistency in their young careers.

Lyon could hold the job for two to three months at best, but either mediocre pitching or injury will do him in.


Kevin Gregg, BAL

Good ol’ 3G is back closing for yet another team in a third consecutive season. This time, it’s for the Orioles, who have proven throughout the years that they aren’t the best team for a closer.

Still, with an improved offense, the Orioles are likely to make a little noise this year and that bodes well for Gregg, Koji Uehara or the Gunslinger himself, Alfredo Simon. Kevin Gregg had a great start to last season, finishing 37/43 with a 3.51 ERA.

I don’t see him breaking 25 saves since his knee is due to give-out in June, nor do I see him keeping the job all year on a team with nothing to lose.


Matt Capps, MIN

So many people are drafting Matt Capps.

I think those people forget that Joe Nathan is due to come back this year and planning to be ready by the start of the season.

Capps may have one month as the closer, then bye-bye!


Kyle Farnsworth, TAM

Was this not the funniest closer deal of the offseason?

I understand MLB and Yahoo have to designate someone as the closer, but Farnsworth doesn’t excite me in the least. Besides facing Red Sox and Yankee hitters 38 times, he just stinks.

He’s a great seventh inning man (okay, eighth inning man), but the ninth is not his cup of tea.

Look for Joel Peralta or J.P. Howell to take the job from Farnsworth quite quickly, even in spring training.


Joel Hanrahan, PIT

If there’s one thing the Pirates have, it’s depth in their bullpen. Hanrahan is solid, but his capacity to control his pitches gets him into trouble.

Enter Evan Meek. He was not only a strikeout machine last season, but an All-Star. Meek has closer stuff and the bulldog mentality to get the job done.

That’s right, I see some Mike Fetters in him. Hanrahan should also watch out for José Ascanio.


Brad Lidge, PHI

I’ll say more because I just need to.

Okay, if you want to draft Brad Lidge to hold your fantasy bullpen together, then go right ahead. Besides having a sensitive ego, he also has knee and elbow issues. He’s a train wreck, heading on a collision course at a futile rate.

Yeah, I bet you get what I’m saying.

Whether or not Lidge is capable of keeping his closer job all season isn’t enough reason for me to draft him. He is far too inconsistent and I’d rather not see that 7+ ERA destroying my fantasy ERA again.

Ryan Madson and the always-aging Jose Contreras are waiting like hungry vultures.


Octavio Dotel, TOR

Don’t-Tel me he’s going to close for the Blue Jays?

Not only do the Blue Jays have three qualified closers in their bullpen, but they have one of the best bullpen’s on paper in the league. So to think that between Rauch, Francisco or even the hit TV show Frasor, that Dotel will end up closer is just plain crazy.

I’ll refer to it as Melnick Crazy!


David Aardsma, SEA

Aardsma is coming off hip surgery and that means he’s 60. Kidding!

Still, he’s not likely to be ready to start the season and waiting in the wings is by far the best slider in relief pitching, Brandon League.

Granted, he has bouts of inconsistency, but League clearly has what it takes to be an elite closer if given the chance.

If all goes well, League will open the season as the Mariners closer, not David “Achy Breaky” Aardsma.


Mariano Rivera, NYY

Oh my gosh! How dare I say it. It’s Farino crazy I tell you. I just said it—avoid Mariano Rivera. I say this for three reasons. 

  1. He’s 41+ (likely older)
  2. He’s coming off a season where he showed decline and dealt with two injuries.
  3. The Yankees signed Rafael Soriano to back him up.
  4. The Yankees just don’t provide a lot of saves chances.

Was that three? How about the fifth and most important one? If you do want Rivera, look to the fifth or sixth round to draft him.

There’s no way I’m spending a fifth draft pick on a 41 year old closer on a team that regularly wins 11-3. Last year, the Yankees ranked 18th in saves and that likely won’t change much.

Rivera should have a fine season, but counting on him to perform with numbers that justify a fifth round pick is just crazy and a poison for your bullpen.


By Todd Farino, The Closer Report 

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