|Fantasy Baseball: Player Watch 2005: Closer Report||| Print ||
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on April 18, 2005
1. Brad Lidge, Houston Astros – Lidge has already racked up nine strikeouts to match his three saves. Project that for an entire season and Lidge is on pace for nearly 170 Ks and 60 saves. Of course, “on pace” is quite a funny phrase. I think Lidge is the best closer from here on out; the fact that Eric Gagne is injured might help a little. His biggest rival is Chad Qualls.
2. Francisco Rodriguez, Anaheim Angels – The Angels are a pretty good team, which is a good indicator for some save opportunities. K-Rod, as his name implies, strikes out a large number of hitters because of the movement on his pitches. His slider in unnatural, probably the eighth wonder of the world. His biggest rival is Scot Shields.
3. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees – Mo Rivera has blown a few saves against the Red Sox and, at thirty five years old, he ranks up there in age. Don’t forget, however, the Yankees win a lot of games and they still play against the Blue Jays and Devil Rays. Rivera should get some saves and is definitely worth owning. His biggest rival is Tom Gordon.
4. Francisco Cordero, Texas Rangers – Cordero was groomed for this role during previous season and he has become a dominator, just as I had expected. Being the closer for the Texas Rangers, Cordero will get a lot of work, but he should get in some pretty good numbers and pitch like a top level closer for the rest of the year. Definitely worth your draft pick. His biggest rival is Carlos Almanzar.
5. Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins – Nathan is quite a story going from nothing relief pitcher to one of the best guys at the back of the Twins’ bullpen, which is saying a lot. He saved over forty last year and to think he won’t go over that number again this season is pure heresy. His biggest rival is Juan Rincon.
6. Billy Wagner, Philadelphia Phillies – INJURY ALERT. Wagner spent much time injured last year, so everyone should be wary. Everyone, that is, except for you. His arm, shoulder, and elbow are all fine so you should definitely draft him with the old (meaning younger) Wagner in mind. His biggest rival is Tim Worrell.
7. Keith Foulke, Boston Red Sox – Foulke is an incredible closer and can throw forty or fifty pitches an outing. Unfortunately, this is fantasy baseball, and a one pitch save is the same as a thirty pitch save (unless he gives up runs). Keith Foulke will probably get quite a few innings in non-save situations, so if you have an inning limit, be wary. His biggest rival is Mike Timlin.
8. Dan Kolb, Atlanta Braves – I know Kolb does not strike out that many hitters, but I have a feeling that he can save upwards of forty-five to fifty games this year. During his first week, he has looked great, and I really think he could get quite a few saves and move himself higher up this list later on in the season. Don’t draft him for the strikeouts, draft him for the numbers. His biggest rival is Chris Reistma.
9. Jason Isringhausen, St. Louis Cardinals – He’s not that great of a closer, but he plays on probably the best team in the National League, which translates into a few saves. I think Izzy can save forty once again this year, so think of him that way. His biggest rival is Julian Tavarez.
10. Armando Benitez, San Francisco Giants – I predicted the Giants will begin to show their age, a la the 2004 Mariners. It’s only one week into the season, but this has been a serious detriment to the Giants insofar. If Benitez is going to rack up those saves (and then choke a little towards the end of the year), he needs his team to start hitting and pitching like they are capable of. His biggest rival is Matt Herges.
11. Octavio Dotel, Oakland Athletics – Dotel is a better pitcher than some of the guys listed ahead of him, but I don’t think the A’s will have that many save opportunities. They should win quite a few games, around eighty, this year, but Dotel won’t save all of them. Don’t forget that youngster Huston Street should get a chance to close as well. His biggest rival is Huston Street.
12. Trevor Hoffman, San Diego Padres – Wow, this guy is great. Hoffman has had an excellent career, but his stats for this season are a little inflated. I expect him to bring those numbers down and get those strikeouts and saves up. Look for him to be higher up next time! His biggest rival is Akinora Otsuka.
13. Jose Mesa, Pittsburgh Pirates – How did this guy save forty three games last year? How did so few people know this guy saved forty three games last year? I drafted Mesa, despite his extraordinarily high ERA and WHIP, for his saves, that’s all. And this is the only reason you should draft Mesa, too. His biggest rival is Solomon Torres.
14. Eddie Guardado, Seattle Mariners – Not many left-handed closers in baseball, so you gotta give props to this fellow. Plus, an awesome nickname like “El Burrito” earns him the right to be drafted. This Mariners team is better than one of years past (by that I mean just last year), so he could feasibly save thirty five games. His biggest rival is Shigetoshi Hasegawa.
15. Danny Graves, Cincinnati Reds – Graves was absolutely on fire before the all star break last year, but the second half was absolute murder on him. He had very few saves, an extraordinarily high ERA/WHIP, and, in other words, was pretty much worthless. Draft him for the saves in the first half, and, like his teammate Paul Wilson, dump him at the break. His biggest rival is Ryan Wagner.
16. Guillermo Mota, Florida Marlins – Mota was an excellent setup man, which means he should be all right as a closer, but that word “should” means a lot. If he pitches as well in save situations as he did setting up Benitez and Gagne as years past, then he should do pretty good. His biggest rival is Antonio Alfonseca.
17. Yhency Brazoban, Los Angeles Dodgers – Brazoban pitched brilliantly last year setting up for Eric Gagne, but that closer is now hurt. Once Gagne returns, expect Brazoban to return to the setup role. The biggest question, however, is when Gagne will come back, as no timetable has been set for the goggled-one’s return. His biggest rival is Eric Gagne.
18. BJ Ryan, Baltimore Orioles – Ryan has had a little bit of trouble adjusting to the closer’s role, despite the fact that he’s a fine pitcher. As soon as he shows he adjusts, I will move him up this list quite a bit, mainly because of the 122 strikeouts he had last season. His biggest rival is Jorge Julio.
19. Troy Percival, Detroit Tigers – Percy has run into a little bit of trouble with the Tigers. He is definitely a good pitcher, but he’s an old one. I fully expect Percival to pitch like he is entirely capable of (thirty saves), but he’s gotta show me he hasn’t lost his stuff. His biggest rival is Ugueth Urbina.
20. Braden Looper, New York Mets – The Opening Day disaster seriously lowered his stock, as does his previous troubles with command. Looper is capable of saving forty games, he just needs to quit throwing balls and he will be all right. His biggest rival is Roberto Hernandez.
21. Miguel Batista, Toronto Blue Jays – The Blue Jays named Batista their closer, which left a bittersweet taste in my mouth. I expected the closer to be Justin Speier this year, but Batista, with previous quality efforts in bullpen roles, got the nod. Thankfully I drafted him in a fifteen team league and picked him up early in some other leagues. His biggest rival is Justin Speier.
22. Chad Cordero, Washington Nationals – The Nats are a pretty good team, but do you honestly expect them to win quite a few games? They are very talent, just like their closer, but not many save opportunities rest in front of this talented right hander. Keeper leagues, be forewarned on this fellow. His biggest rival is Luis Ayala.
23. Shingo Takatsu, Chicago White Sox – I would be wary of this fellow. In a recent game, he was throwing nothing but fastballs belt high, suicide for a pitcher. Expectedly, he blew the save, but in Japan his nickname was “Mr. Zero,” and I guess he had to have earned it. Don’t expect great things, but at least expect something. His biggest rival is Damaso Marte.
24. Danys Baez, Tampa Bay Devil Rays – Baez is a pitcher similar to Mesa: they both are much unknown quantities. Baez strikes out quite a few hitters and should be a thirty save closer for a team like the Devil Rays. He’ll produce closer numbers, just at a starting pitcher’s ratios. His biggest rival is Lance Carter.
25. Brandon Lyon, Arizona Diamondbacks – Lyon has had previous experience closing, mainly in Boston. I think he can close games once again, and being left-handed he will be seen a little bit better by Bob Melvin. Don’t expect a miracle of twenty-five saves, however. His biggest rival is Greg Aquino.
26. LaTroy Hawkins, Chicago Cubs – Hawkins is filling in temporarily for the Cubs, as Joe Borowski nurtures himself back to health. I expect Borowski to be healthy sooner rather than later, so Hawkins’ time in save situations might be coming to an end. That is, unless, Borowski shows his 2004 form, instead of 2003. His biggest rival is Joe Borowski.
27. Bob Wickman, Cleveland Indians – Wickman was lit up earlier in the season, so it remains to be seen if he can come back to the former dominator he once was. I expect twenty saves from him, probably no more because the youth movement has begun and Wickman isn’t young at all. His biggest rival is David Riske.
28. Jeremy Affeldt, Kansas City Royals – This youngster, another lefty, has great stuff, but never stayed healthy enough to be a starter (and he's on the DL right now). Last year manager Tony Pena did the smartest thing and put Affeldt in the closer’s role, but once again the youngster did not stay healthy. Health for him will be key, and if he’s healthy, expect some brilliant work from him. His biggest rival is Mike MacDougal.
29. Mike Adams, Milwaukee Brewers – Save opportunities should not be the problem for him, but turning those save opps into saves. Adams has not done much to distinguish himself at the Major League level, so don’t expect much brilliance from him. Twenty saves, at the most. His biggest rival is Derrick Turnbow.
30. Chin Hui Tsao, Colorado Rockies – Well, the biggest thing here to watch out for his the altitude. Tsao plays at the ballpark closest to the sun, so mistakes are usually big mistakes. Shawn Chacon had success in the role last year and saved thirty five, but with an incredibly high ERA and WHIP combination. The same will probably hold true for Tsao, if he, like Affeldt, can stay healthy. His biggest rival is Byung Hyun Kim.