StrategySeptember 25, 2009

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Closer Complex: Counting Down the Days

By Matthew Robertson

Braves vs. Phillies

This Brad Lidge thing is getting out of hand. He’s now blown 11 saves this season, he’s 0-8, and he’s sporting a 7.48 ERA. It seems like every save opportunity Lidge gets, he’ll let the initial runner on, strikeout the next two batters, and then allow the man on base to score. So, if you need strikeouts, that’s great, if you need the save and don’t want to destroy your ERA, that’s bad. Still, I think the Phillies playoff performance will depend a lot on the performance of Lidge and I have to think Philadelphia sees that, which will keep them bringing him to water in hopes that he drinks. Those using Lidge and needing saves might want to bench him.

So, it appears Bobby Jenks will be sidelined for the rest of the season. Well, mathematically the White Sox are still in the race for the AL Central so I expect them to continue to try and win games with their best reliever or relievers. As I’ve said before, predicting what Ozzie Guillen is going to do is often a crapshoot. He often times says one thing and does another or does one thing and then the next day the complete opposite happens. Still, if the White Sox go with experience, profile, and conventionalism you have to place your bets on the right-hander Octavio Dotel. He has had a very good year and has closed successfully in the past. The best current reliever on the White Sox this year has been Matt Thornton but the lefty might be best used in situational matchups. Scott Linebrink and Tony Pena also might be potential suitors for the role but they’re likely down the depth chart at this point. Jenks might be gone after this season as well so this could be an early audition as to who might be the White Sox closer next year so this situation surely bares attention. Both Dotel and Thornton are high-K relievers — my gut tells me Dotel gets first crack, but my head says that Ozzie is going to attempt to put the best pitcher out there, which is Matt Thornton. We could be looking at a two man committee. Stay tuned.

Finally, as I predicted, the best minor-league future closer, in my opinion, Henry Rodriguez of the Oakland Athletics, was called up last week. Now, keep in mind that my determination is strictly based on future potential and, with a consistent triple-digit fastball, why not? Rodriguez struggled some after his jump from Double-A to Triple-A but the talent is there in spades. He was recently added to the Yahoo database and is eligible to be picked up in most dynasty and keeper leagues.

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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