It is probably the most important piece of fantasy advice somebody can give: do not buy saves. Spending a high draft pick on Francisco Rodriguez or lots of cash on Mariano Rivera just hurts your team. Save that for more important players; a lot of pitchers assume the closer’s role as someone is traded, demoted, or injured. Let’s take a look at nine situations in which the incumbent could lose his job.
CJ Wilson, Texas Rangers – The lefty has been knocked around a little bit recently, and the Rangers have another lefty, Eddie Guardado, who has made a living as a closer. The difference in their WHIP (1.40 for Wilson, 0.95 for Guardado) and ERA (4.46, 3.18) should be enough for Rangers brass to make a switch. Guardado could use a few saves to show off his trade value.
Huston Street, Oakland A’s – The strikeouts are there (38 in 35 innings), and the WHIP is okay for a reliever (1.05). A couple of losses, however, have bumped his ERA up to 4.08. But that’s not the reason Street is listed here. The A’s are likely to make the most of Street by dealing him at the trade deadline as the best reliever available. They could then place Joey Devine there.
Todd Jones, Detroit Tigers – Critics say that Jones should be out every year, but the handlebar mustache man gets it done every year. Jones is up to his old tricks as a cardiac closer with a 1:1 K:BB ratio, along with an unsightly 1.50 WHIP. Joel Zumaya, he of the 98-plus mph fastball, received a save Tuesday. This is a situation to keep your eye on.
Brian Fuentes, Colorado Rockies – There are multiple teams interested in Fuentes as a trade deadline acquisition. This just shows lefties get work, no matter what. His WHIP stands at 1.38 and he has blown four saves already. Look for Taylor Buccholz to get the opportunities once Fuentes is traded on July 31.
Trevor Hoffman, San Diego Padres – It’s hard to write the end for an elite player, but Hoffman might be reaching that stage. Baseball’s all-time saves leader has a 5.00-even ERA right now, along with a 1.19 WHIP. The changeup is still working, but Heath Bell is looking pretty good right about now. The only question is, When is Hoffman going to hang up the spikes?
Ryan Franklin, St. Louis Cardinals – With Jason Isringhausen back and presumably healthy, this becomes an interesting situation in St. Louis. Izzy has looked awful so far this year, but he is the more proven pitcher of these two. We’ll likely see a switch sometime soon, especially since Franklin’s 1.40 WHIP suggests his 2.75 ERA might be artificially low.
Joe Borowski, Cleveland Indians – On Tuesday, Borowski blew his fourth save opportunity of the season, which is a lot considering he missed extensive time due to injury. Anthony Castrovince, from the Indians’ official website, is reporting that Masa Kobayashi could take over the closer’s role, which would be a drastic improvement. With the Indians also out of contention, Borowski is likely to be dealt.
Troy Percival, Tampa Bay Rays – Percival suffered his second leg injury of the year while attempting to close out a save opportunity against the Boston Red Sox Monday. He was placed on the disabled list and it looks as if Dan Wheeler will be taking over. Is Percival healthy enough to close over the entire season?
Brandon Morrow, Seattle Mariners – With JJ Putz on the disabled list and having an awful season (5.21 ERA, 2.00 WHIP), Morrow has assumed the closer’s role. With the Mariners faring as poorly as they are now, it would be best for the franchise to slot Morrow into the rotation when Putz returns. However, this is also the same team that signed Richie Sexson and Carlos Silva to four-year deals.
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