Sunday, April 13, 2008

Week 2 Closer Report - Top 10 Closers, Injury Updates & Next In Line

Every 2 weeks, FSE takes a look at the closers around the majors breaking down the top 10 as well as guys that are struggling, injured and next in line to close. 

Top 10 Closers

#1 George Sherrill - 0-0, 5 S/0 BS, 2 BB, 3 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP
The Orioles have been hot out of the gate and Sherrill has been completely dominant. He has yet to allow a run or a HIT this season. I doubt Sherrill can keep this up mostly because the Orioles are destined to come back down to Earth. He is a good sell-high candidate.

#2 Jason Isringhausen - 1-0, 5 S/1 BS, 1 BB, 8 K, 2.57 ERA, 1.14 WHIP 
Izzy is tied with Sherrill for the league lead in saves and has looked good posting 8 Ks in 5 innings of work. The Cardinals should play plenty of close games so Izzy looks to be in line for a 30+ save campaign. As always, health is always the key concern with Isringhausen

#3 Joe Nathan - 0-0, 4 S/0 BS, 0 BB, 4 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
Business as usual for Nathan, continues to dominate American League hitters.

#4 Jonathon Papelbon - 0-0, 4 S/0 BS, 1 BB, 12 K, 1.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
Paps 12 Ks lead all closers. This guy is a workhorse out of the closer spot as the Red Sox rely on him regularly for 4 or 5 out saves.

#5 Joakim Soria - 0-0, 4 S/0 BS, 0 BB, 7 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.40 WHIP
Soria is perfect through his first 5 innings of work and has yet to let up a walk while striking out 7. One of the top surprises of 2007, Soria is showing that last season was no fluke.

#6 Bobby Jenks - 0-0, 4 S/0 BS, 3 BB, 1 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
While Jenks' K/BB ratio is a bit disconcerting there is no denying the results. The White Sox closer who is in a contract year has gotten the job done when called upon.

#7 Mariano Rivera - 0-0, 3 S/ 0 BS, 0 BB, 4 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP
Rivera got off to a slow start in 2007 which lead to the inevitable "is he done?" chatter. After signing a fat 3 year deal in the offseason, a happy Rivera looks as dominant as ever. 

#8 Francisco Cordero - 1-0, 2 S/0 BS, 0 BB, 3 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.25 WHIP
Cordero has been overpowering in his first 4 innings of work in Cincy allowing only one hit over that span while amassing 2 saves and a win. The Reds are showing some potential in the early season, a good sign for Cordero owners. 

#9 CJ Wilson - 0-0, 3 S/ 0 BS, 0 BB, 0 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.25 WHIP
One of the new closers on the block off to a fast start. Wilson finished 2007 strong after taking over as the Rangers closer in the second half and has looked good thus far allowing only batter to reach base over his first 4 innings. This week, Wilson racked up 2 saves in one day closing out both halves of Texas' doubleheader sweep of Baltimore.

#10 Matt Capps - 0-0, 3 S/0 BS,  2 BB, 5 K, 4.05 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
After getting rocked in his first outing of the season, a non-save situation against the Braves, Capps has pitched 6 scoreless innings in his last 5 games notching 3 saves over that time. Being on the Pirates hurts Capps' value some, but strictly in terms of talent, he is one of the better arms working the ninth inning in baseball.

Honorable Mentions - Manny Corpas (3 Saves), Brad Lidge (2 Saves), Huston Street (3 Saves this week)

The Shaky Five & Next In Line

#1 Trevor Hoffman - Hoffman has 2 losses and a blown save already in only 4 2/3 innings of work. Additionally, his ERA of 11.57, 4 walks and 7 hits have to be of great concern to Hoffman owners. The Padres play a ton of close games so Hoffman will get plenty of save opportunities. However, his days as an elite closer might be behind him.
Next In Line - Heath Bell 

#2 Brandon Lyon - Lyon has struggled early in the season after taking over the closer role in Arizona. He has blown 2 saves and taken a loss while posting a high ERA of 9.00. Bob Melvin has said that he still has confidence in Lyon as the D'Backs closer. However, with guys like Tony Pena and Chad Qualls in the Arizona bullpen, if Lyon continues to struggle a change may be in order.
Next In Line - Tony Pena and Chad Qualls 

#3 Eric Gagne - Gagne's time in Milwaukee got off to an inauspicious start in Chicago and hasn't gotten all that much better. He is tied for the league lead with 2 blown saves and doesn't appear over his struggles in the second half of 2007. Gagne will have a long leash in Milwaukee given he is making 10 million dollars this year and will get every opportunity to right his ship.
Next In Line - David Riske and Solomon Torres

#4 Joe Borowski - This guy was a workhorse last season, locking down 45 saves despite having a 5+ ERA. Borowski will get his saves but also will blow his fair share often in spectacular fashion (case in point 0.2 inn, 4 ER against Anaheim Monday). Last year, Borowski had a long leash with the Indians bullpen being young and unproven. With Rafael Betancourt having proven himself as a top 5 reliever and the arrival of Masahide Kobayashi from Japan, there is a better likelihood that Borowski would be replaced if he struggles in 2008.
Next In Line - Rafael Betancourt

#5 Jose Valverde - Going into the 2007 season, Jose Valverde was a model of inconsistency at the closer position. What followed was a breakout 47 save season and offseason trade to Houston. Thus far Valverde has been unable to capture his 2007 magic as he has blown a save and allowed a a run or more in 3 of four outings. The Astros don't really have a strong fallback option at closer so it's Valverde's barring monumental struggles. One really under the radar veteran to keep an eye on here is Doug Brocail who has looked strong in the early going.
Next In Line - Doug Brocail 

Closer News

BJ Ryan Returns

BJ Ryan was activated off the disabled list on Sunday.

Fantasy Impact - Ryan will be the Blue Jays' closer with Jeremy Accardo who struggled mightily in his last two outings returning to his 8th inning setup role. Ryan looked good while rehabbing and if he can stay healthy should be very productive closing for a good Toronto team.

Injury Updates

Francisco Rodriguez -After missing a week with two sprained ankles (yikes) K-Rod has been declared ready to return. Certainly get him in the lineup for week 3 as Rodriguez is still a top 5 closer with 40 save potential. However, we don't blame you if his injuries are making you a bit nervous.

JJ Putz - Putz out since April 1st with a ribcage injury threw off flat ground for 20 minutes on Saturday, his fourth consecutive day throwing, and said he felt great. Putz is eligible to come off the DL April 17th, however don't count on him returning in week 3 since he still hasn't thrown off a mound or worked a simulated game. Our best guess is Putz returns early-mid week 4. In Putz's absence the Mariners will use a closer by committee headed by Mark Lowe who should see a majority of save chances in week 3.

Rafael Soriano - Soriano hit the 15 day DL Monday with right elbow tendinitis. This comes after the Braves closer experienced elbow soreness in Spring Training. For all his talent, Soriano has been very injury prone over his career and these recent ailments surely have fantasy owners worried. Soriano is out for fantasy week 3 and will be eligble to return next Tuesday - he appears on schedule. In the meantime, Peter Moylan will see most of the work in the ninth inning with Manny Accosta another candidate to vulture saves. 

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