Sunday, June 27, 2010

Closers - American League

Did you know that Bobby Jenks leads the American League in saves in the month of June with 10?

I didn't either until I looked it up.

Narratives with closers often get so drummed into our heads that we sometimes fail to look at the stats and see who is doing well in the short term and who isn't. Of course, a month of stats often shouldn't change our perceptions of how good a pitcher a closer is, but we should always eye how well or poorly a closer is doing in the short-term when we're trying to analyze how likely it is that he will keep - or lose - his job.

Tonight, I'll look at who does - and doesn't - have the hot hand in the American League. Tuesday, I'll look at the National League.

Hot: Bobby Jenks (10 SV, 0 BS, 0.75 ERA, 0.67 WHIP), Mariano Rivera (7/0, 0.00, 0.45), Jose Valverde (6/0, 0.84, 0.28), Jon Rauch (4/1, 1.13, 0.63), Rafael Soriano (3/1, 1.42, 0.47).

As mentioned above, Jenks is the only surprise here. If you're holding on to J.J. Putz or Matt Thornton hoping for a mid-season closer, it's probably not going to happen with the White Sox storming back into contention. Mariano, Soriano and Valverde have been dynamite all year and Rauch has been almost as good.

Solid: Neftali Feliz (7/0, 2.25, 1.13), Joakim Soria (6/0, 2.25, 1.13), Andrew Bailey (2/1, 3.38, 0.88).

These guys haven't quite been lights out as the first group but if you own them you're obviously not panicking about these types of numbers. Bailey is once again proving to be frustrating due to his lack of save opportunities - and hasn't been as lights out dominating as he was last year - but you have to assume the saves will come.

So-so: Kerry Wood (3/2, 4.91, 1.09).

Wood's numbers overall stink on ice, but this is just to point out that - despite the two blown saves - he's been better this month than he was in May. It's unlikely the Indians replace him until after the trade deadline...that is if they can't move him before then.

Stinking up the joint: Brian Fuentes (6/0, 5.87, 1.83), David Aardsma (5/1, 5.63, 1.50), Kevin Gregg (4/1, 8.10, 2.25), Jon Papelbon (4/2, 6.52, 1.45), Alfredo Simon (1/0, 5.79, 2.36).

With the exception of Papelbon, all of these pitchers are probably at various degrees of risk of losing their jobs. Fuentes has a gaudy K/IP rate but hasn't seemed right all year. His one bad outing this month was in a blowout, so he's probably safe for now. Aardsma also hasn't seemed quite right after a solid April and of his 10 outings this month, he didn't whiff a batter in seven of them. Gregg has seen the wheels come off after a great April. His K/BB since May is alarming. Neither Scott Downs nor Jason Frasor have been all that good this month, but I think Gregg still could be replaced if he continues to get pounded. Simon is allegedly the closer in Baltimore, but David Hernandez has outpitched him since moving to the pen and I could still see a switch in roles if Simon continues to pitch this badly.

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