StrategyJuly 17, 2009

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Closer Complex: Trades Could Open the Door

By R.J. White

The July 31 trade deadline approaches, and teams will be looking to add pieces that should help with a run at the playoffs and the World Series title. One type of trade that critically affects fantasy leagues is when a team deals their closer to another team, where he’ll be a setup man for the incumbent ninth-inning guy. That closer’s old team now has a vacancy at the all-important closer spot, and if you’ve preemptively grabbed the tabbed replacement, your team should see a boost in saves almost immediately. Who are some good speculative adds?

Jon Rauch, Diamondbacks

Arizona has been shopping players lately. They’ve already dealt Tony Pena, and current closer Chad Qualls could be next. Other GMs will love Qualls’ consistently elite K/BB ratio and will probably be willing to trade a good prospect for the guy. If that happens, Rauch is the most reasonable closing option for the D-Backs. With 18 saves in 2008, the big guy has experience in the role. Walks were a bit of a problem for Rauch early in the year, but he hasn’t allowed a free pass since June 25th.

Jim Johnson, Orioles

Johnson has followed up a great rookie season with more solid numbers, posting a 3.00 ERA and 1.26 WHIP while generally keeping the ball in the yard (three HRs in 2009). The groundball pitcher with the good fastball will get a shot at closing if the Orioles can find a good trading partner for George Sherrill, someone who would make a quality lefty setup guy for a contender.

Chris Perez, Indians

Kerry Wood hasn’t been good this year, so the Indians might want to see how Perez fares in the ninth-inning role. With Wood’s penchant for injury, as well as the clause in his contract that guarantees his 2011 option if he finishes a certain number of games, he should find his way onto the DL sooner or later. If that happens, Perez should get his shot.

R.J. White is a fantasy blogger at the sports site FanHouse. Check out his work both here and there, and feel free to talk to him in the forums, where he posts under the name daullaz.
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