Friday, August 20, 2010

N.L. Closer Update: August

Yesterday, I looked at the closers in the American League. Today I'll look at the N.L.

Rock Solid: Billy Wagner ($29), Heath Bell ($26), Brian Wilson ($23), Brad Lidge ($8).
All of these guys have been rock solid anchors all year with the obvious exception of Lidge. Wagner has blown two saves this month but has been so great all year that he deserves inclusion here. Bell's WHIP hasn't been as dominant as his ERA but same deal. Wilson and Lidge have been lights out in August; the Phillies are going to be elated if this is the Lidge they'll have down the stretch.

Solid: Carlos Marmol ($18), Ryan Franklin ($17), Drew Storen ($7).
Franklin had two shaky outings to open August, but one was in a non-save situation and he's been fine since. He isn't a shutdown guy like those in the first list but he's still been more reliable than most N.L. closers. Storen and Sean Burnett both have two saves, but I suspect Storen's the guy going forward and in 2011. Only Marmol's WHIP keeps him from being an elite closer. The 100 strikeouts in August are huge, and while he hasn't racked up the saves, that's certainly far from his fault (four blown saves this year).

OK: John Axford ($17).
Axford's WHIP has been a little high, but he continues to keep the OBA down and has been murder on righties. I only put him here and not in the solid category because Trevor Hoffman has as many saves this month as Axford and the Brewers might want to see Hoffman get his 600th in a Brewers uniform before saying goodbye this winter.

Shaky: Leo Nunez ($19), Francisco Cordero ($14), Joel Hanrahan ($8)/Evan Meek ($14), Huston Street ($7), Aaron Heilman ($6).

There have been a lot of poor closing options this year in the National League; if you wonder why a lot of N.L. expert owners skimp on saves, these are all good reasons. Nunez really only had a handful of bad outings at the beginning of this month so should probably get a pass. Cordero has been shaky all year - 35 walks in 54 1/3 IP will do that for you. Fourteen dollars in earnings for a guy with 32 saves is unacceptable...even in 5x5. I lump Hanrahan and Meek together because it isn't clear to me who the guy is. Hanrahan has the Pirates only save this month, both Hanrahan and Meek have blown one, and Hanrahan finished a Pirates win in a non-save situation. My guess is Hanrahan, but it's just a guess. Street hasn't looked good this month and it wouldn't surprise me to see the Rockies turn to someone else if he continues to struggle. Heilman fits the same kind of meh profile as Street, but it's not like the D-backs have someone else reliable to turn to, unless they decide to take the plunge with Sam Demel.

Injured/On the Shelf: Jonathan Broxton ($16), Matt Lindstrom ($8).
Broxton will probably be back in the closer's role soon. His season hasn't so much been bad more than he's been so great some years that 2010 is a disappointment by comparison. Lindstrom will probably grab the closer's job when he returns. Brandon Lyon has been the better reliever all year long (he and Lyon both are on pace to earn $8), but as long as Lindstrom's terrible WHIP doesn't lead to a run of blown saves, he keeps the job.

Kaput: Francisco Rodriguez ($21)
The shame of the K-Rod incident is that he was actually having a very solid year before it all went down. Hisanori Takahashi will be the guy. He's a strong bet going forward. Despite pedestrian overall numbers, he has been dominant as a reliever (574 OPS against vs. 821 OPS against as a starter) and is better served in that role for the Mets.

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