[Insert Name of Pitcher Here] will see Dr. James Andrews on…. These are never comfortable words to hear, whether you are a baseball owner, general manager, manager or fantasy baseball addict. Ryan Madson was the first closer to fall, followed closely by Joakim Soria. And now it appears Drew Storen will meet a similar, though not TJ, outcome. Davey Johnson certainly thinks so, quoted as saying: “It doesn’t sound good.” It looks as though the loose body in Storen's elbow needs to be surgically removed, which will cost Storen about 1/2 a season. Since he will be out for awhile, we need to look at the Nationals’ bullpen and find our short and long-term replacements.
Lidge is well-traveled at this point, having closed in Houston and Philadelphia. At best, Lidge borders on a dominant closer; his slider can be devastating. At his worst, however, he is injured and the slider is flat, resulting in a lot of blown saves. Where is Lidge now? Somewhere in between the two extremes. He has the most experience closing in the Nationals’ pen. 2010 and 2011 were good seasons for Lidge, even with limited innings. If I were to call a favorite in the race to closer, Lidge is it.
Full disclosure – instead of picking up Lidge in FAAB, I went after Rodriguez. As you all likely know already, Rodriguez’ stuff is electric. Unfortunately, much like Ebby Calvin 'Nuke' LaLoosh in Bull Durham or Ricky Vaughn in Major League, Rodriguez does not always know where that stuff is going. His 6.00+ BB/9 leads me to believe he will not be consistently effective…yet. Moreover, his strikeout rate is no better (and in fact slightly worse) than Lidge’s. Rodriguez’ stuff, however, still keeps him in the mix.
We say this a lot – “The outs in the 7th inning and 8th inning are just as important as the outs in the 9th inning.” Well, I do not say that a lot, primarily because I do not believe it as stated. Those outs might be important, but, for whatever reason, not everyone is capable of getting those outs in the 9th inning. Regardless of what I believe, Davey Johnson believes it, and, as a result, I think Clippard stays right in the role he is in…setup man. Clippard put up a K/9 over 10, a BB/9 under 2, and a BABIP under .200. Will he repeat these numbers? Likely not, but he is likely the most effective reliever in the bullpen.
Burnett pitched as poorly in 2011 as he pitched well in 2010. The K/9 dropped significantly, while the BB/9 and HR/9 went up in a relatively significant manner. Burnett is probably somewhere between the 2010 and 2011 campaigns in terms of talent and effectiveness and, with better arms and more experience ahead of him, likely remains in his role.
Assuming Storen is out for an extended period of time, the bid on Lidge is between $15 on the low end and $30 on the high end. (Note: since I do not know your league or your FAAB budget, I put a wide range on the bid…adjust accordingly for your own league]. Rodriguez probably deserves a $6-$8 bid, since I think he will see the saves Lidge does not get. Clippard is a $4 pitcher, while Burnett is a $1-$2 pitcher, except in hold leagues, where Clippard and Burnett likely get a little bit higher bid.