StrategyJune 15, 2012

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Bottom of the 9th: Safe!

By R.J. White

This edition of Bottom of the 9th will feature a stunning number of “Safe” closers, because while guys like Matt Capps and Frank Francisco seemingly don’t have the numbers to back up their closing gig, they aren’t having troubles locking down saves right now. While we know no closer is truly “Safe,” and that everyone could have their prestigious job yanked from them after just one incredibly bad week, we should feel comfortable with 27 of the 30 closing jobs in baseball. Let’s list those first before delving into the other three.


ARI J.J. Putz
ATL Craig Kimbrel
BAL Jim Johnson
BOS Alfredo Aceves
CHW Addison Reed
CIN Aroldis Chapman
CLE Chris Perez
COL Rafael Betancourt
DET Jose Valverde
HOU Brett Myers
KC Jonathan Broxton
LAA Ernesto Frieri & Scott Downs
LAD Kenley Jansen
MIA Heath Bell
MIL John Axford
MIN Matt Capps
NYM Frank Francisco
NYY Rafael Soriano
PHI Jonathan Papelbon
PIT Joel Hanrahan
SD Huston Street
SF Santiago Casilla
STL Jason Motte
TB Fernando Rodney
TEX Joe Nathan
TOR Casey Janssen
WAS Tyler Clippard

Now Closing

CHC Shawn Camp
First, you have to win games to have any chance at accruing saves, and that’s simple fact has been quite a problem for a Cubs team that loses two out of every three. The Cubs have locked down just one save this month, and that has come from Camp, who picked up a save Tuesday against the Tigers. Of course, the Cubs brought him in for the ninth inning last Friday with a 7-6 lead, and he coughed up two runs in 1.1 innings of work to take a loss and a blown save. With the club turning right back to him this week, it appears he’s the closer, but James Russell and Carlos Marmol lurk in the shadows.

OAK Ryan Cook
The A’s were getting predictable results from Brian Fuentes in the ninth inning, so they declared a closer-by-committee this past week. It appears it’s a committee in name only, as Cook had two saves in the Rockies series this week, the only two for the team over the last seven days. Grant Balfour is likely the second option behind Cook, but fantasy owners should grab the new closer wherever available, as he’s looked nearly unhittable this season with nine hits allowed in his 28 innings of work. Twenty-five of his 26 outings this year have been scoreless.

SEA Tom Wilhelmsen
Brandon League looked very close to regaining his ninth inning spot before surrendering two earned runs on four hits in an inning of work Sunday. It’s a setback, but M’s management has already said they want him back closing games, so Wilhelmsen could be yanked from the job (whether he continues to pitch well or not) at any minute. League could very well be shipped out of town by the trade deadline, so Wilhelmsen presumably still holds some long-term fantasy value, unless the Mariners switch things up when it’s time to fill the closer role permanently and go with someone else. If League’s been dropped in your league, I’d grab him and anticipate him being named the closer again by the end of next week.

R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and has previously written for FanHouse and Razzball. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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