StrategyJuly 31, 2009

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Closer Complex: As The Dust Settles

By Matthew Robertson

I must apologize at the tardiness of the this article, but I wanted to see if anything involving closers happened after the deadline. Wow, a pretty wild trading season with many trades. Was I the only one picturing a ton of fantasy players just sitting by their computers and waiting to pounce on the next player or players to get a fantasy-worthy role? Well, I guess I could be included in that group also. But when it was all over, and deals can still be made as long as they’ve been completed but not yet approved by the commissioner’s office, only one closer was dealt and it was also the closer most likely to be dealt.

Yesterday, Baltimore Orioles closer George Sherrill was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers to setup for Jonathan Broxton. What does this mean? Well, it means that Sherrill only has value in holds and NL-only leagues and that the Orioles now have a new closer. As I mentioned in last week’s article, the most likely successor to Sherrill was setup man Jim Johnson and that remains the case. Johnson is armed with a mid-90s fastball that should appeal to many fantasy owners but I ask that you keep in mind that Johnson has never closed before and doesn’t have a ton of upside. I still think the real contender here for the future is Chris Ray, who was just activated off the DL and had a very successful minor league rehab assignment. When Ray is ready, I think he still gets the ball in the ninth. I’m not sure when that will be but I doubt it will be in the next two weeks, which should give the Orioles time to see what the have in Johnson in the closer role. Another reliever some people are looking at is Danys Baez, who does have closer experience but has pitched poorly of late and is a big-time candidate to be a waiver-wire trade due to his expense. A few prospects to pay attention for the future are Kam Mickolio (just called back up), Jim Hoey (still injured), and converted starter Radhames Liz.

Quick Notes: Justin Masterson should find himself in the rotation rather than the bullpen in Cleveland. Sean Burnett automatically becomes the backup closer in Washington since Joe Beimel was dealt. John Grabow will serve as a strict lefty reliever but Evan Meek and Donald Veal will see more time in Pittsburgh until they develop trust for Joel Hanrahan. There could be other middle-relief pitchers that were dealt but have yet to be announced, though there are likely none of note.

Matthew Robertson is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Matthew in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Havok1517.
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