Of 32 possible closer jobs in major league baseball, 11 have already seen an injury or a change since the start of spring training. That’s 11 changes in two months of baseball in which only two weeks has actually counted. If this doesn’t get fantasy GMs to stop overpaying for saves, nothing will.
The lesson learned here is that it’s okay to wait until as late as possible to draft a closer. A fantasy GM could have not drafted a closer and ended up with Hector Santiago, Fernando Rodney, Santiago Casilla and Henry Rodriguez if he played his cards right. Any one of those four pitchers could possibly end up with more saves than Brian Wilson, Drew Storen, Matt Thornton and Kyle Farnsworth combined. Relief pitching is for suckers.
Now, let’s take a look at the news and notes for those guys helping or hurting us in saves for the week that was week two of the 2012 baseball season.
Brian Wilson is going to be on the shelf for a while. He has already undergone Tommy John surgery and Santiago Casilla has already converted a clean save for the Giants. Casilla will be backed up by sabermetric favorite Sergio Romo and Jeremy Affeldt in that order. Javier Lopez is a darkhorse for saves, but it would take a few blowups from a few different guys before he got a shot. A name to keep in the back of your head for September is prospect Heath Hembree. Hembree already has two saves in three appearances at Triple-A. Hembree has posted a K/9 over 10.00 at every level heâ€™s been at and should see the big league roster in September if not sooner. Hembree already has the dreaded â€œcloser of the futureâ€ label, so heâ€™ll probably be pitching at car dealerships for appearance fees in three years.
Jim Johnson is 5-5 in save opportunities. It looks like the Orioles were right in going out of their way to ignore Johnsonâ€™s poor spring. Itâ€™s safe to cut any other Orioles relievers if you havenâ€™t already.
Boston Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves has three scoreless innings and two saves since his dramatic meltdown against the Tigers. Meanwhile Mark Melancon has allowed 10 hits and 11 runs in four appearances. Franklin Morales has 4 â…” scoreless innings with four Kâ€™s and two holds. Morales looks like the handcuff at this point and Melancon looks like he’ll be selling insurance in a few months if this keeps up.Â
White Sox closer Hector Santiago blew his first save after converting three straight. Itâ€™s far too early for the White Sox to make any changes. Matt Thornton would be the handcuff if anyone had any clue what Robin Ventura plans to do if Santiago canâ€™t get the job done.
Jonathan Broxton was given the dreaded vote of confidence by Kansas City manager Ned Yost. Greg Holland hasnâ€™t done much to inspire confidence, but heâ€™s still worth a bench spot in most formats. Broxton has back-to-back scoreless innings in his last two appearances. Both were non-save situations. Letâ€™s not all rush to throw a parade in his honor. Â
Tampa Bay Rays reliever Fernando Rodney has a perfect ERA and four saves in six appearances. He appears to be the Rays closer for the immediate future, but heâ€™s proven heâ€™s capable of a fantastic meltdown at any point. Enjoy the 0.00 ERA while it lasts. Nothing about Rodneyâ€™s past indicates that heâ€™s capable of holding a closing job over the long haul.
Cubs closer Carlos Marmol appears to have bounced back from his ugly start. Marmol has 2 â…“ innings of scoreless work with a save in his last three appearances. Four of the seven outs have come via the strikeout. The line of succession behind Marmol isnâ€™t very clear. Kerry Wood is essentially a mascot at this point. Rafael Dolis would be a darkhorse candidate, but he has five walks in six innings so far this year. Could James Russell be in line for saves if Marmol falters? Heâ€™s not even worth a speculative add until something changes.
Dodgers closer Javy Guerra was 5-5 in save chances until Tuesday. Guerra gave up two runs on two hits and a walk while only recording one out. Guerra has earned a few more blown saves before getting a demotion.
Miami Marlins closer Heath Bell converted his first save on Tuesday after suffering two blown saves. Heâ€™s being paid a lot of money to pitch the ninth inning and its going to take a lot more than a couple blown saves to get Bell kicked out of the closerâ€™s role.
Pittsburghâ€™s Joel Hanrahan is sidelined with a strained hamstring. Journeyman reliever Juan Cruz has already notched two saves. It looks like Cruz has the inside track and Evan Meek isnâ€™t even worth a speculative add at this point. Thereâ€™s really not much to see here unless Hanrahan needs a trip to the DL. Hanrahan should be back on the mound this weekend, unless he suffers a setback.
Nationals reliever Brad Lidge has three scoreless innings and a save since blowing up in dramatic fashion against the Reds last week. Wha? Nats manager Davey Johnson didnâ€™t want to pitch Henry Rodriguez on three consecutive days, but it looks like this is, in fact, a two-man committee. These two could very well end up splitting save chances until Drew Storen is ready to make his return. Also, it was recently revealed that Lidge has been suffering from vertigo. As if this situation wasnâ€™t weird enough already. For those old enough to remember, vertigo derailed the career of a promising young power hitter named Nick Esasky in the late 1980s. Esasky went from a 30-homer season to a big free-agent deal to never playing in the majors again in the span of about six months. Lidgeâ€™s issues donâ€™t sound bad enough to land him on the DL, but there may be days that he will be unavailable.