Closers are always a popular topic at Rotisserie/fantasy baseball blogs, so I thought I'd take another look at the rock solid, steady and less steady options in the American and National League. The ratings are based on how the closers have done this month and not their overall numbers.
Today I'll look at the A.L. (5x5 earnings year-to-date in parenthesis).
Rock Solid: David Aardsma ($12), Brian Fuentes ($16), Kevin Gregg ($15), Mariano Rivera ($24), Rafael Soriano ($26), Joakim Soria ($22).
Rivera, Soriano and Soria are the clear non-surprises of this group. Soriano has been great all year, and the injury concerns that people had in March don't get mentioned now in August. Aardsma, Fuentes and - to a lesser extent - Gregg have all been pleasant surprises for their owners this month. Aardsma and Fuentes had both gone through their struggles but for the moment seem to have righted their ships. Gregg was a significant flight risk but no rumors have surfaced in August and it looks like the Jays might even keep him in 2011. You did well for yourself if you didn't panic and kept Gregg; you might have a cheap closer keep on your hands for next year.
Solid: Neftali Feliz ($21), Chris Perez ($13).
Feliz doesn't have a save this month, but it's hard to rank him lower with a 2.84 ERA and a sub-1 WHIP. I know it's frustrating if you own him, but the saves should come. Perez has been fine since the Indians traded Kerry Wood and - like Gregg - should make for a decent freeze next year.
OK: Matt Capps ($3 - A.L. only), Jon Papelbon ($21).
Capps continues his good ERA/bad WHIP ways for the Twins...and continues to get the saves, which is mostly what matters to his Roto owners. There's been a lot of hay made this month about how bad Jon Papelbon has become, but he has a better K/IP, BB/IP, and WHIP than his long-term replacement Daniel Bard has this August. I'm not completely dismissing the concerns about Paps, but I think the tenor of a lot of the anti-Paps columns seem to indicate the sky is falling when it's merely been lowered by a few feet.
Shaky: Jose Valverde ($17), whoever the closer is in Baltimore right now (???).
If you haven't been paying attention and have just glanced at Valverde's overall numbers, you're missing the fact that a major meltdown has taken place Post All-Star. Valverde has an 8.53 ERA and 2.053 WHIP in 12 2/3 IP since the break. An abdominal injury might bear some of the blame; he pitched Monday against the Yankees and multiple reports said he didn't look quite right. I'd pick up Phil Coke if he were available. Maybe Valverde will be OK, but he hasn't been OK for some time now.
Alfredo Simon is probably finished in Baltimore, but no one has really stepped forward yet, in part due to the lack of save opportunities for the O's. Rotoworld suggested Koji Uehara going forward. He's got the hot hand, but while he's a righty killer, he's been merely OK against lefties. Even though southpaw Mike Gonzalez is also better against righties, maybe Buck Showalter will mix and match based on line-ups going forward. Obviously, this is a poor place to look if you're hoping to make a big saves jump over the last fourth of the season.
Injured/On the Shelf: Andrew Bailey ($16), Bobby Jenks ($9).
Fortunately for Jenks owners, neither JJ Putz nor Matt Thornton has put his stamp on the job in Jenks' leave of absence. Putz in particular looks like he's out of gas. Bailey should begin a rehab assignment soon, so those of you who have enjoyed riding the Mike Wuertz train are about to lose that handful of saves he's been getting.