As promised on Sunday, here is a cursory look at the National League closers and how they've done in the last month.
Hot: Billy Wagner (June stats: 8 SV, 0 BS, 0.00 ERA, 0.97 WHIP).
Unlike in the American League, the National League doesn't have a plethora of relievers throwing up lights up numbers this month. Only Wagner has managed to keep plugging along at such a blistering pace. He's still not as highly regarded as more high profile closers like Francisco Rodriguez or Jonathan Broxton, but there's a possibility he's going to out earn both in what he's saying will be his final season before he hangs them up.
Solid: Brian Wilson (9/1, 2.13/1.42), Francisco Rodriguez (8/1, 2.77, 1.38), Leo Nunez (6/1, 2.70, 1.30), Ryan Franklin (5/0, 2.70, 1.10), John Axford (5/0, 3.00, 1.42).
These numbers aren't exactly "solid" (outside of Franklin and maybe Nunez), but when you see the pitchers in the next groupings you'll understand. K-Rod definitely gets props in 5x5 leagues for the 20 whiffs he's put up over 13 IP. For all the talk of how great Axford has been, his numbers look good but certainly not so incredible that the Brewers would definitely keep him in the role all year long.
So-so: Octavio Dotel (4/1, 3.86, 1.29), Brad Lidge (4/1, 4.05, 1.35).
Dotel's bad numbers early mask the fact that he's been OK of late. Same goes for Lidge (these numbers don't include tonight's outing): he certainly hasn't been the spectacular closer he was in 2008, but he's been getting the job done.
Passable: Heath Bell (7/0, 3.72, 1.66), Jonathan Broxton (3/0, 3.48, 1.55).
High WHIPs for both of these established closers, but since they're both relatively established and don't have any blown saves, I wouldn't worry.
Stinking up the joint: Matt Lindstrom (7/3, 5.79, 2.04), Manny Corpas (6/2, 10.97, 2.16), Francisco Cordero (5/2, 5.73, 1.55), Matt Capps (5/3, 4.82, 1.82), Aaron Heilman (2/2, 3.75, 1.75), Carlos Marmol (2/1, 4.50, 1.50).
It's not good news for N.L. owners that nearly 40% of the available closers are in this category and stinking up their ERA/WHIP. If I had to rank these closers in the order I think that they can or will lose their jobs it would go Corpas, Heilman, Lindstrom, Marmol, Capps, Cordero. In fact, Cordero is the only reliever here I have confidence that he'll definitely keep his job the rest of the way. Corpas will give way to Huston Street soon, Heilman is just a fill-in for Chad Qualls and won't hang on to the job if he can't pitch either, and Brandon Lyon has quietly been very effective behind the suddenly bad Lindstrom. Capps and Marmol are both difficult to handicap. Jim Riggleman continues to insist that Capps' job is safe, but with the Nationals falling out of the race it wouldn't surprise me to see Drew Storen in the role come August. Marmol is back to walking the park (10 walks in 10 IP in June), and Lou Piniella has shown in the past that he isn't afraid to pull the plug on Marmol. Andrew Cashner certainly is an interesting play here if Marmol is yanked, but your guess is as good as mine as to who would take over the job if Marmol exited stage left.