In honor of Revenge of the Sith, a great movie that you should see (even though there are no baseball references whatsoever) this edition of Save Me, the third, will be called Episode III.
The save is a statistic often thought about and probably makes sub par closers with save opportunities more important than decent starters guaranteed rotation spots. Allow me to continue the madness!
1. Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins: Well, he finally gave up an earned run – guess I jinxed him in my previous Save Me article. Anyway, to the meat of this little quip. Nathan has moved to the top spot because he’s a dominating closer on a great team. Plus, his numbers are flat out ridiculous. Watch out for...JC Romero.
2. Brad Lidge, Houston Astros: Lidge, like the Astros, is starting to fall. He is a great pitcher on a poor team, which equals not many save opps. Get him for the strikeouts and great ratios, but get a guy with a lot of saves to help your team. Watch out for...Chad Qualls.
3. Francisco Cordero, Texas Rangers: The Rangers’ bullpen has lost two key cogs, but that doesn’t stop Cordero. He is now his own setup man, and that will give you extra Ks, but with a worse ERA and WHIP. I still think Cordero is a dominator, so look for great numbers the rest of the way. Watch out for...Doug Brocail.
4. Francisco Rodriguez, LA Angels: K-Rod is a little banged up, with a sore right forearm. This kind of thing could bother him for a long time or a short time, so let’s see what happens. The Angels have quite a bit of depth in their bullpen, so don’t look for him to be rushed along should a serious injury be there. Watch out for...Scot Shields and Brendan Donnelly.
5. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees: After many a preseason jitter, Mo Rivera seems to have calmed down. However, he has less saves than Dan Kolb (lost his job), Danny Graves (just horrible at times), and BJ Ryan (WHO?!). That means you should expect a good rest of the year, with possible as many as thirty saves from him. Watch out for...Tom Gordon.
6. Trevor Hoffman, San Diego Padres: This guy is always up there and he is always good. The Padres have a really great closer who just keeps doing the job, despite lacking a 99 MPH fastball. Making him all the better are his excellent setup men and the fact that the Padres are on a hot streak. Watch out for...Akinori Otsuka and Scott Linebrink.
7. Billy Wagner, Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies are in need of a hot streak, and they might have had one starting taking two of three from the Cardinals. The next thing they did was get blanked by the Orioles, never a good thing, though the Orioles are a good team. Wagner is hoping for a hot streak from him team, which manager Charlie Manuel says is coming. How much are you willing to bet he’s right? Watch out for...Aaron Fultz.
8. Jose Mesa, Pittsburgh Pirates: Mesa moves into the single digits in my rankings and he should be happy. The Bucs have quite a good reliever on their hands here and they might trade him very soon to make room for someone else that is cheaper. Be wary of him in NL only leagues because he might be switching to another league at any moment. Watch out for...Mike Gonzalez and Solomon Torres.
9. BJ Ryan, Baltimore Orioles: The lefty with the wild hair does not get much press, but I’ll give him a shoutout at the number nine slot. He strikes out many a hitter as well as locks down saves. Combine that with an excellent ERA and WHIP and you have yourself a darned good guy to have. Watch out for...Jorge Julio.
10. Keith Foulke, Boston Red Sox: Foulke is valuable in real life because he can last a long time in games, but that doesn’t matter in Fantasy Baseball. Foulke pitches on a championship club and does quite well with his save opportunities, despite allowing two runs to the Braves on Friday. I would draft him, but expect some high inning numbers that you may have to watch on a week-to-week basis. Watch out for...Mike Timlin.
11. Eric Gagne, Los Angeles Dodgers: I want to see what kind of stuff he has after returning from injury. Pretty soon he will probably be in the number 1 or 2 slot, though. Also, he has a two day suspension to battle, even though he is appealing it. Watch out for...Yhency Brazoban.
12. Eddie Guardado, Seattle Mariners: Everyday Eddie. El Burrito. This guy has nicknames. He also has talent! He has 12 saves with a great ERA and WHIP. Expect more of the same; however he might get torched in one outing just because that’s the kind of thing that happens to closers. Watch out for...Shigetoshi Hasegawa and JJ Putz.
13. Dustin Hermanson, Chicago White Sox: The ChiSox have officially removed Shingo Takatsu from the closing role. The underarmer has been replaced by Dustin Hermanson, brought in to give depth to the bullpen. Well, he is working out quite well, saving his tenth against the Cubs on Saturday. Expect some more great numbers, which should please many a ChiSox fan. Watch out for...Damaso Marte and Shingo Takatsu.
14. Jason Isringhausen, St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals finally got the closer back from the DL and he is pitching well, having saved a game on Saturday against the Royals. While this is not something to be amazed by, Izzy is still working himself into shape and will soon be back in full tilt action. Watch out for...Julian Tavarez.
15. Chad Cordero, Washington Nationals: The Cal State product Cordero has proved himself to be quite an addition to the Nationals’ bullpen. Drafted recently, he made a meteoric rise to the major league level where he is finally showing the same dominance that he did in college. Expect a great season from him. Watch out for...Luis Ayala.
16. Miguel Batista, Toronto Blue Jays: The Batista experiment continues and is not going badly for the only team in Canada. He has the same number of saves as Mariano Rivera with a lower WHIP, but less Ks. Batista is still an all right closer to have, especially in deep leagues. Watch out for...Justin Speier.
17. Braden Looper, New York Mets: Looper has some consistency troubles, which should keep fantasy owners wary. However, he is still a 30 save guy. His ERA and WHIP won’t impress, but he is still a worthy guy to have on your (Fantasy) staff. Watch out for...Roberto Hernandez.
18. Ugueth Urbina, Detroit Tigers: The Tigers sure are glad they didn’t trade him before the season after signing Percival. Anyone with Percival’s injury history definitely needs to have a backup and a good one at that. Urbina is thriving in that role in Detroit, but expect a return to the setup role when Percy returns. Watch out for...a healthy Troy Percival or Kyle Farnsworth.
19. Danny Graves, Cincinnati Reds: At times, this fellow is downright atrocious. At times, you love having him on your roster. I would take the bad with the good and keep him. Expect a slight drop off in the second half, making the All Star Break a good time to deal him to another team. He has the talent to close, as well as the pitches, but his makeup is questionable. Watch out for...Ryan Wagner.
20. Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs: The Cubbies have moved Dempster into the closer’s role, which buys Joe Borowski some time. Dempster has done well, saving his first two games against the Pirates, following two Jose Mesa meltdowns. There will be some rough times with Dempster, but expect some good. Watch out for...a healthy Joe Borowski or (don’t laugh) Kerry Wood.
21. Chris Reistma, Atlanta Braves: The back of the Braves’ bullpen has seriously fallen apart. Dan Kolb has lost his closing job and it looks like a classic case of trying to do too much. Manager Bobby Cox has said that he will do “closer by committee” but honestly Reistma will get the majority of the save opportunities. Watch out for...Jorge Sosa and a revitalized Dan Kolb.
22. Danys Baez, Tampa Bay Devil Rays: The D-Rays are not that great of a team, but they have a fireballer in Baez. I expect him to put up some fine numbers, but in the end, there will be many better options than him for your staff. His ERA will be that of a starting pitcher’s and his WHIP won’t be much better. Watch out for...Lance Carter.
23. Derrick Turnbow, Milwaukee Brewers: Turnbow has given up a lot of walks throughout his career, but has not done so lately. In fact, he is downright dominating. I think this might be a little flash in the pan, so I’m going to take a while before moving him up the list. Take a gamble on him if you want. Watch out for...Mike Adams.
24. Bob Wickman, Cleveland Indians: The Tribe is going with something from their past: Bob Wickman. He is definitely a hold over from the days when the Indians were dominating, but he no longer is the same guy he was. Age has taken his toll, and the Tribe will be shopping him at the deadline if they are out of the race. Watch out for...David Riske.
25. Todd Jones, Florida Marlins: Jones is doing a fine job holding down the fort. He has racked five saves with a good ERA, but a not-so-good WHIP. If Jones wants to continue closing (for the Marlins and your fantasy team) he’ll need to limit the number of hits and walks he gives up. Watch out for...a healthy Guillermo Mota or healthy Antonio Alfonseca.
26. Brian Bruney, Arizona Diamondbacks: I bet you haven’t heard of this guy before. The D’Backs have lost Brandon Lyon for a while and they have named closer of the future, Bruney, the man. He should be expected to rack up the numbers, but don’t expect a whole lot, because he is just holding down the fort. Watch out for...a healthy Brandon Lyon or Greg Aquino.
27. Huston Street, Oakland Athletics: The A’s have lost Octavio Dotel to the DL, which means that Street is first in line to score some save opps. He is built for this sort of thing, pitching as a closer in college and going through the A’s system in the same role. There will be some growing pains and it will be interesting to see how the youngster reacts to his first failure, but this is the beginning of something good here in Oakland. Watch out for...a healthy Octavio Dotel or Juan Cruz.
28. Tyler Walker, San Francisco Giants: Well, I got this wrong a fortnight ago. I expected Herges to close, but Alou surprised me and went with Tyler Walker. Watch out for...Matt Herges or Jim Brower.
29. Brian Fuentes, Colorado Rockies: The Rockies have lost their original closer Chin Hui Tsao to the DL for the rest of the season because of a torn labrum. Byung Hyun Kim is making a return to the rotation and we will see how that goes for him. Meanwhile, Fuentes is the closer in Denver and probably doesn’t deserve a roster space on your team until he proves himself. Watch out for...Byung Hyun Kim.
30. Mike Wood, Kansas City Royals: Who really knows what is going on in KC? I don’t and probably neither does any other sportswriter in the world. The Royals are a bad team and they seemingly change closers every fortnight. Last time it was Burgos and the time before it was Affeldt. Wood was brought over from the Oakland organization in the Beltran deal as a starter. If the Royals really wanted to make a starter a closer, why not Andy Sisco? Watch out for...Andy Sisco or Mike MacDougal.