Here is the up to date one. He posted the old link
Team: Anaheim Angels
Closer: Francisco Rodriguez
Stability: Very High
Next in line: Scot Shields, Brendan Donnelly, Kevin Gregg
Notes: 1/17: When a man whiffs 123 in 84 IP, it's time to give him the closer's job. K-Rod logged 12 saves last year, so there's little question about his ability to handle the job mentally. Of all of his devastating stats, perhaps most interesting is that his slugging percentage allowed (.226) was lower than most pitchers' BAA (batting average allowed). The Angels’ top set-up men include three right-handers: Shields, who led the crew with 100+ IP and K in each of the past two years; Donnelly, who should be healthy by spring after surgery in November on the nose injury that derailed the early part of his 2004; and Gregg, who faded in 2004 after a hot start.
Team: Atlanta Braves
Closer: Danny Kolb
Next in line: Chris Reitsma, Kevin Gryboski, Tom Martin, John Smoltz
Notes: 1/17: The Braves finally granted Smoltz his wish to return to the rotation by trading for Kolb, who goes from relative anonymity to one of the higher-profile mounds in the league. He strikes out few, just 21 in 57.3 IP, but walked only 15 and converted 39 of 44 save chances for Milwaukee. After giving up just six earned runs in the first half, Kolb blew up in August and September with 5.25 and 6.75 ERAs, respectively. With Jose Capellan traded to Milwaukee and Juan Cruz moved to Oakland for Tim Hudson, Atlanta's set-up cupboard is somewhat bare beyond Reitsma, but he's one of the more coveted set-up men, a fireballer with closing experience who's ready if needed.
Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
Closer: Jose Valverde
Stability: Very Low
Next in line: Greg Aquino, Brian Bruney, Mike Koplove, Jason Bulger
Notes: 1/17: Valverde and Aquino will compete for the closing job this spring for a team that won all of 51 games last year. Valverde saved eight games in May and June before shoulder problems and surgery in September to repair a small labrum tear ended his year. His leg up on Aquino is his career 12.26 K/9IP. His 17 BB in 29.7 IP in 2004, the need to prove his health, and not much of a track record all engender legitimate doubts for his effectiveness over the long haul. Aquino strikes batters out about half as often, but was 16 of 19 in save chances after taking over the job in late July, holding batters to a .194 BAA in his rookie season. Behind them, Bruney, a nominal closer-of-the-future, issues walks and strikeouts as frequently as Valverde and could factor into the saves distribution during the year. Koplove had a chance to save last year, but is best suited as a pedestrian set-up man. Bulger is unlikely to make the Opening Day roster, but came on strong with his 98 mph fastball in the Arizona Fall League.
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Closer: B.J. Ryan
Next in line: Jorge Julio, Steve Kline, John Parrish, Steve Reed
Notes: 1/22: Fantasy owners will no longer have to suffer Julio's horrid ratios to earn the Orioles' saves. Ryan rode 122 K in 87 IP (12.62 K/9IP) to a brief shot in late September to close, and will open the new season atop this bullpen's depth chart. The lefty's strikeout rates would seem to guarantee a successful campaign, but he actually blew four saves in spot chances throughout the year compared to three converted, so nothing's given. If he can't cut it, Julio would step back in, despite his high walk rate. Beyond them, the Orioles have a comparative wealth of lefties with newly signed Kline, who's recovering from a torn finger tendon after a stellar year, and Parrish, who walked 55 in 78 IP as the main lefty for the O's in 2004. Reed, the team's only significant righty if Julio is traded, has recently posted admirable ratios in Colorado of all places.
Team: Boston Red Sox
Closer: Keith Foulke
Stability: Very High
Next in line: Mike Timlin, Alan Embree, Matt Mantei
Notes: 1/20: Foulke hasn't had an ERA of more than 3.00 since 1998, and registered his usual 4.00+ K:BB ratio in 2004. There's little doubt he's one of the more effective, stable closers in the game, but with just 32 saves last year was a major disappointment to owners who were appropriately expecting 40+. Manager Terry Francona used Foulke every which way, including in tie games and for multiple innings. Righty Timlin and lefty Embree are aging, slipping, and coming off of career-high usage numbers. Meanwhile Mantei, a former closer in Arizona, is expected back from bone spur surgery in time for spring training.
Team: Chicago White Sox
Closer: Shingo Takatsu
Next in line: Damaso Marte, Luis Vizcaino, Dustan Hermanson
Notes: 1/20: The White Sox have done much to bolster their bullpen, one that began last year about as volatile as they come (thank you very much, Billy Koch) but ended up solidified by the spellbinding low balls of Takatsu. He blew just one of 20 save chances, and went from April 20 to June 30 without giving up an earned run. He walks a few more than you'd like, but still posted a sub-1.00 WHIP given a stingy .182 BAA. Lefty Marte had an up-and-down season, but ended up with rather viable ratios and should pick up another handful of saves in 2005. The presences of Vizcaino and Hermanson may threaten that. Vizcaino was terrible in 2003 and has never taken to closing, but was among the best set-up men in 2002 and last year. Hermanson rescued his career in 2004 when given the chance to close in San Francisco, finishing the year racking up 17 saves in 20 chances.
Team: Chicago Cubs
Closer: Ryan Dempster
Stability: Very Low
Next in line: LaTroy Hawkins, Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Remlinger, Joe Borowski
Notes: 1/22: The Cubs would prefer to use Hawkins in his time-tested eighth-inning role, so they wish they had a better ninth-inning option than him. So far they just don't. His stat line is rather handsome, especially his control numbers, but nine blown saves, particularly those during the pennant race, proved (once again) he's best suited for set-up. Dempster returned from Tommy John surgery to pitch 20 innings in 2004 and is purportedly the top closing choice, but is untested and walks far too many. Farnsworth has the stuff to close, but is easily too wild and lacking upstairs to be trusted. It's unlikely Remlinger would venture beyond the confines of left-handed set-up, but he might vulture some saves. Borowski closed in 2004 before rotator cuff problems effectively ended his season, but would re-enter the mix with a return to health. The team is also considering bringing in Robb Nen, who is coming off of multiple arm surgeries, hasn't pitched in years and wouldn't be able to until well into this year if at all.
Team: Cincinnati Reds
Closer: Danny Graves
Next in line: Joe Valentine, Ryan Wagner, Kent Mercker, David Weathers
Notes: 1/20: Take a look at Graves' two halves: 33 saves and a 2.72 ERA before the break; 8 saves, a DL stint, 7.23 ERA, and .349 BAA after. Still, seven of those nine blown saves came in the first half. Graves has never been an elite performer outside of logging saves, and in particular, does not strike out batters at the same rate as the classic closer. Wagner would have to regroup to push Graves. Even in his strong 2003 campaign, he walked too many batters, and in 2004 he became awfully hittable, ruining his year. Valentine is similarly a walk machine, but features a standout fastball. He converted four saves when Graves was hurt last year.
Team: Cleveland Indians
Closer: Bob Wickman
Next in line: Bobby Howry, Arthur Rhodes, Rafael Betancourt, David Riske, Kazuhito Tadano, Fernando Cabrera
Notes: 1/20: Cleveland blew 19 of 32 save chances in early 2004—read that again—before Wickman assumed the mantle. He missed all of 2003 and half of 2004 to Tommy John surgery and is unlikely to manage a full year of closing in 2005, but is the man to start the season. He's definitely hittable, but has good control numbers and strikes out about a batter per inning with a biting sinker. Howry closed for Chicago in 1999 and is the most likely to spell Wickman. Rhodes was acquired from Pittsburgh and gives the team a proven lefty, but one coming off a disastrous season. Previous to Wickman's return, both Riske and Betancourt had their chances to close, and Betancourt actually did well, but Riske was horrible and the team clearly prefers them both as set-up men. Tadano and Cabrera have the stuff to close in the future but are just names to remember in keeper leagues for the time being.
Team: Colorado Rockies
Closer: Chin-Hui Tsao
Stability: Very Low
Next in line: Scott Dohmann, Brian Fuentes, Ryan Speier
Notes: 1/20: With 2004 closer Shawn Chacon likely moved back into the rotation, Tsao is the probable ninth-inning man come April. With just 52.7 major league innings to his name and one save converted in two chances last September, Tsao's tough to project. The move to the bullpen seemed to be the answer for him, since he posted a 11:1 K:BB in 9.3 IP from the pen last year. Dohmann emerged in his rookie year with a 9.59 K/9IP and will play a prominent set-up role. The lefty Fuentes closed at the end of 2003, but back problems prevented him from capitalizing on his momentum in 2004. When he's on, he can strike out a ton. Speier won the 2004 Minor League Rolaids Relief Man award, logging 38 saves for Double-AA Tulsa with a 1.99 ERA, 0.932 WHIP and 73:26 K:BB in 63.3 IP.
Team: Detroit Tigers
Closer: Troy Percival
Next in line: Ugueth Urbina, Jamie Walker, Franklin German
Notes: 1/20: Detroit did the right thing by signing Percival and declaring him their closer regardless of Urbina's status. Percival’s back seizes up on him at times, limiting his velocity and strikeouts, but he still has the guile for 30+ saves. Although his overall numbers are fine, consider he went 18-for-19 in save chances with a 1.67 ERA, 0.926 WHIP, and 19:6 K:BB in 27 IP after the break, which roughly coincides with his return from elbow problems. Last year's closer, Urbina, has been at home in Venezuela since the kidnapping of his mother in September but does intend to be at spring training. 2004 wasn't his best year, however, with a 4.50 ERA and 32 walks in 54 IP, and who knows where his mind will be to start 2005.
Team: Florida Marlins
Closer: Guillermo Mota
Next in line: Tim Spooneybarger, Antonio Alfonseca
Notes: 1/20: Mota's not as much of a lock as it might seem. He set-up Eric Gagne during his record-setting consecutive saves streak and finished 2003 with 99 K in 105 IP and a 1.97 ERA. In 2004, however, he posted a 52:27 K:IP in 63 IP in L.A., but after the trade to Florida he hung a 4.81 ERA on the Marlins, converting just three saves in seven chances when Armando Benitez was hurt. Toss out his 2003, and Mota has a pedestrian 3.94 ERA. He'll be pushed by Spooneybarger, who had Tommy John surgery in September 2003. If healthy he'll join the set-up mix alongside Antonio Alfonseca, who revived his career with pitching coach Leo Mazzone in Atlanta last year. He failed his initial physical for the Marlins with a herniated disc, and so enters the season as a question mark with some vulture save potential.
Team: Houston Astros
Closer: Brad Lidge
Stability: Very High
Next in line: Chad Qualls, Dan Wheeler, Chad Harville
Notes: 1/20: Houston moved Billy Wagner after 2003 and fell back on Octavio Dotel, who was then also moved while the team fell back on Lidge, leaving them still with an excellent closer, but, finally, a weak set-up crew. Lidge's 2004 included converting 29 saves against four blown and an astounding 14.93 K/9IP (157 K in 94.7 IP). With such a high strikeout rate and a heck of a team providing leads, he'll be among the better choices for saves in 2005. Qualls overcame his usual control issues in 33 IP and leads the set-up crew now that Dan Miceli has bolted for Japan. Lidge may have more multi-inning saves than fantasy owners would like.
Team: Kansas City Royals
Closer: Jeremy Affeldt
Next in line: Nate Field, Justin Huisman, Mike MacDougal, D.J. Carrasco, Jaime Cerda
Notes: 1/20: Affeldt was converted to relief in 2004 due to ineffectiveness and chronic blistering. Coming out of the pen, he at least improved, even if he wasn't lights out: 13-for-17 save chances, 4.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP 28:13 K:BB in 30 IP as closer. A midseason torn oblique took one-and-a-half months to heal, but he enters the season healthy, with the closers job. As unreliable as he's been, the bullpen was pure turmoil without him. Field was the most consistent fill-in and should be healthy come spring after a torn oblique of his own. Huisman also showed promise but may begin the season at Triple-A. MacDougal started 2004 as the closer but erred his way to the minors. If he can get his confidence and electric stuff under control, he'd be a nightmare, but the odds are slimming.
Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Closer: Eric Gagne
Stability: Very High
Next in line: Yhency Brazoban, Giovanni Carrara, Duaner Sanchez,
Notes: 1/20: Gagne's consecutive saves streak ended at 84 last summer, but he remains The Man. Just after the streak ended, he endured a period of inconsistency partly related to the trade of Guillermo Mota. Once Brazoban stepped up (2.48 ERA, 1.22 WHIP), Gagne was back to one-inning appearances and resumed the high efficiency and productiveness that made him so feared. He's pitched exactly 82.3 innings in each of the past three years, averaging 50.7 saves and never posting worse than 114 K or a 2.19 ERA. One should realistically expect such performance to dip, but that would still leave him the top closer in the game. If Brazoban is lost as trade bait, it would mean some instability for Gagne, but Carrara has shown great ratios in L.A.
Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Closer: Mike Adams
Next in line: Justin Lehr, Jose Capellan, Ricky Bottalico
Notes: 1/22: Milwaukee lopped the top off its bullpen this off-season by trading closer Danny Kolb to Atlanta and primary set-up man Luis Vizcaino to the White Sox. Adams is a little better than just who was left over, however. He posted a fantastic 1.85 ERA before the break with .176 BAA, 0.823 WHIP, and 16:5 K:BB in 24.3 IP, but trailed off to have a 4.71 ERA, .299 BAA, and 1.53 WHIP in the second half. He closed in the minors, but has no experience in the role in the big leagues and needs to readjust now that hitters have adjusted to him. Capellan can hit 100 mph on the radar gun and blazed through the minors last year, starting in Single-A and ending up in Atlanta. With a strong spring, he could be the closer, but he's awfully green to expect it. Similarly, Lehr struggled upon promotion to the majors with Oakland. The veteran Bottalico should provide some experience and stability. He could even close, so this is a bullpen to watch.
Team: Minnesota Twins
Closer: Joe Nathan
Stability: Very High
Next in line: Juan Rincon, J.C. Romero, Jesse Crain
Notes: 1/20: Nathan was better than anyone could have expected in 2004, successfully closing 44 of 47 opportunities with a 1.62 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, .187 BAA and 89:23 K:BB in 72.3 IP. When you consider that 5 of his 13 ER came in two games against the Yankees and Rangers in August, the year becomes even more impressive. Rincon ranked among the best set-up men last season, saving two games and recording 108 strikeouts in 82 IP. He'll hold down the eighth inning again with help from streaky lefty J.C. Romero and young buck Jesse Crain, who jumped through the minors but must improve on his command to fulfill his closer-of-the-future label.
Team: New York Yankees
Closer: Mariano Rivera
Stability: Very High
Next in line: Tom Gordon, Felix Rodriguez, Mike Stanton
Notes: 1/20: The 2004 season was just about Rivera's best season, and just about this worst, in light of the blown saves in Games 4 and 5 of the ALCS that were the gateway to Boston's unprecedented comeback from a 3-0 deficit. Otherwise, Rivera was dominant, approaching Bobby Thigpen's single-season saves record of 57 with a career-best 53 saves, to go with yet another sub-2.00 ERA (1.95) and his steadily great but never ridiculous peripherals. Anaheim was the only team outside of the AL East that registered an ER against Rivera, while his ERA was below 3.40 everywhere but at Fenway (7.36). His ERA was above 4.00 against Boston, Baltimore and Anaheim, which does show the ability of a top offense to get to him, but just four blown saves in the regular season shows he was as on his game as ever. Tom Gordon could easily repeat his four saves backing up Rivera and is one of the best set-up men in the game, notching 90+ K in each of the past two seasons. The additions of aging Felix Rodriguez from the right side and Mike Stanton from the left solidify one of the most stable and statistically fruitful closing situations in baseball.
Team: New York Mets
Closer: Braden Looper
Next in line: Mike DeJean, Orber Moreno, Tyler Yates, Bartolome Fortunado, Felix Heredia
Notes: 1/20: Looper had a career year in 2004, posting personal bests of 29 saves (blowing just four), a 2.70 ERA, and just 16 walks in 83.1 IP. A lack of solid set-up led to 17 of 71 appearances lasting more than an inning and a rather high workload. The team was expected to make Scott Strickland its top set-up man but let him go in December, leading to speculation that his injury recovery had not progressed. Instead, they'll turn to DeJean, who was horrible in Baltimore be found his effectiveness at Shea, and a host of others with spotty records.
Team: Oakland A's
Closer: Octavio Dotel
Stability: Very High
Next in line: Chad Bradford, Kiko Calero, Juan Cruz, Justin Duchscherer, Jairo Garcia, Huston Street
Notes: 1/20: For all the talk of Dotel's declining strikeout rates, the wiry closer fireballed his way to a career best 12.87 K/9IP last year despite back and elbow problems. Of concern, however, were nine blown saves (six of which were in Oakland), courtesy of 13 taters and a 3.69 ERA, which was persistent: he had an ERA of 3.38 or higher in five of the six months of the season, including 4.00+ in June, July and August. Bradford's strikeout rate plunged due to back problems in 2004, but he should be given the eighth-inning calls to start the year if healthy. Calero, who came over in the Mark Mulder trade, overcame injuries to post a 47:10 K:BB in 45.3 IP and shows great set-up and closing potential. Cruz was acquired in the Tim Hudson trade and could either join the rotation or bring his high strikeout and walk rates to relief. Duchscherer doesn't strike out enough batters for fantasy consideration, but like Cruz, can fill a variety of roles effectively. Finally, as if the team didn't already have an embarrassment of electric youngsters, Garcia flew through the minors in 2004 but has yet to succeed in the majors due to walk proliferation. Street's story is similar, minus the free passes.
Team: Philadelphia Phillies
Closer: Billy Wagner
Stability: Very High
Next in line: Tim Worrell, Rheal Cormier, Ryan Madson
Notes: 1/20: Wagner excels at posting seasons of 60–75 IP, 10+ K/9IP, sub-3.00 ERA and 35–45 saves, but in 2003 worked 86 innings, which may explain losing time in 2004 to groin and rotator cuff issues. The slight fireballer compares to Mariano Rivera for his longevity, ratios, and build, and strikes batters out better, but is far more injury prone. Worrell earned 38 saves as the Giants closer in 2003 and had 19 filling in for Wagner last year. His ERA ballooned in 2004, based on lofting 10 home-run balls, but he's otherwise rather steady. Cormier is solid in getting the game to the top two guys, and Madson will continue to shuffle everywhere between spot save chances, long relief, and spot starts.
Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Closer: Jose Mesa
Next in line: Mike Gonzalez, Salomon Torres
Notes: 1/20: Mesa has made a career of excelling, stinking, and then resurrecting himself seemingly at random. His 2003 6.52 ERA for the Phillies turned into a 3.25 ERA with 43 saves (in 48 chances) last year for the Bucs, who'll begin 2005 with Mesa the closer. He was relatively consistent throughout the year, but for five gopher balls in the second half that limited his effectiveness. He's likely to finish the season not the Bucs' closer either via trade if he's doing well, or an ouster in favor of Gonzalez if he fails. Gonzalez honed his control in 2004 to finish with a 55:6 K:BB in 43.3 IP and shows prototypical closer numbers (sub-2.00 ERA, sub-1.00 WHIP, roughly .200 BAA) to go with his 95 mph fastball. Torres can also close but is more valuable as a do-everything utility pitcher.
Team: San Diego Padres
Closer: Trevor Hoffman
Next in line: Akinori Otsuka, Scott Linebrink
Notes: 1/20: Despite shoulder surgery prior to the 2003 season, Hoffman just keeps plugging away. At 37, he's a decline risk—in 2004 he struck out fewer than a batter per inning for the first time since 1995—but with set-up men like Otsuka and Linebrink, he won't pitch outside the ninth. In fact, in 2004 he pitched 54.7 innings in 55 appearances. The Padres don't lose much in the step down to the eighth with Otsuka, who debuted in America with 34 holds, a 1.75 ERA, .199 BAA, and 87:26 K:BB in 77.3 IP. He was credited with five blown saves (which can be viewed as blown holds, since he was not taking over the ninth for Hoffman) and gave up six taters, but did record two saves and seven wins. Linebrink also emerged in 2004, handling the seventh in one of the majors' most formidable batteries, and was fantasy worth himself: 2.14 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 83:26 K:BB in 84 IP with nary a bad stretch all season long.
Team: Seattle Mariners
Closer: Eddie Guardado
Next in line: J.J. Putz, George Sherrill, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Julio Mateo
Notes: 1/20: Guardado's 2004 was excellent while it lasted. A torn rotator cuff ended his season in July after he posted 18 saves, a 2.78 ERA, and 45:14 K:BB in 45.3 IP. His 2005 seemed lost, but the shoulder didn't require surgery. His knee did, however—it may have been the cause of the shoulder problem. He heads to spring training with an expected clean bill of health. With a better team behind him, he's a fair shot to return to elite closing status, but might come at a bit of a discount due to his health. After he went down, Putz assumed the closing mantle with great alacrity, going a perfect 9-for-9 with elite control. With Seattle's erstwhile stud relievers are in disarray, he'll likely be the top set-up guy, followed by Sherrill, another midseason call-up and probably the team's top lefty.
Team: San Francisco Giants
Closer: Armando Benitez
Stability: Very High
Next in line: Jim Brower, Matt Herges
Notes: 1/20: Here's one position the Giants no longer have to worry about. Despite a 8.01 K/9IP that was the lowest of his career and constituted a fifth straight year of decline there, Benitez had his best year as a closer in 2004, converting 47 of 51 chances, with a career-best 1.29 ERA and .818 WHIP. He's always been tough to hit, so it's up to him and his walk rate whether he'll regress. Brower will likely be the first choice in the eighth. He's earned a decent number of wins and saves in that role over the past few years but walks too many and strikes out not enough for much fantasy consideration. Herges closed for the first half of 2004 and just couldn't nail the job down, alternating stretches of great effectiveness with meltdowns.
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Closer: Jason Isringhausen
Next in line: Julian Tavarez, Ray King, Cal Eldred
Notes: 1/20: Izzy’s 47 saves in 54 chances last year were 13 more than he'd ever had before, but everything else is steady: sub-3.00 ERA, roughly .200 BAA, and about a strikeout per inning ever since he started taking the mound in the ninth. He had offseason surgery on the labrum in his hip (an injury that caused mechanics issues and a nerve problem in his shoulder), but is expected to be ready to go in spring training. Hopefully Tavarez's late-season emergence as the most effective righty set-up man wasn't due to the pine tar he was keeping on his cap (which led to an eight-game suspension). King was among the best lefty set-up guys in the game, offering a stingy .150 BAA to southpaws.
Team: Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Closer: Danys Baez
Next in line: Jesus Colome, Lance Carter, Travis Harper, Seth McClung, Chad Orvella
Notes: 1/20: Baez doesn't get much love but he's a solid mid-tier closer, with an average set of ratios and saves—it'd be hard to amp that number up on the Devil Rays. He does a nice job of limiting hits (.237 BAA) but walks a touch too many (52:29 K:BB in 68 IP). He might be trade bait as the Rays try to fill their holes, in which case Colome would step up. He finally harnessed some control over his 100 mph fastball to register a 40:18 K:BB in 41.3 IP in 2004 and is someone to watch over a full 70+ IP this year. Carter, who was deposed as closer by Baez, barely strikes anyone out and can be skipped in the fantasy world. Harper fares better but has little chance to pick up any stray saves. McClung, a top prospect and closer-of-the-future designee, has returned from 2003 Tommy John surgery and could be headed either to set-up or the rotation. Orvella recorded 117 K in 74 minor league innings last year on the way from Single-A to Triple-A. Whether he makes the roster or stays in Triple-A for opening day, this kid's on his way.
Team: Texas Rangers
Closer: Francisco Cordero
Stability: Very High
Next in line: Frank Francisco, Carlos Almanzar
Notes: 1/20: Cordero finished 2003 with 10 blown saves in 25 chances, but erased any doubt about his ability in 2004 by registering 49 saves with just five blown, a 2.14 ERA, 79:32 K:BB in 71.7 IP, just one homer, and a fine record in a hitter's park. Other than the bonehead move of tossing a folding chair into the stands, Francisco emerged in his rookie season as solid set-up man with a surprisingly better BAA at home than away. If he can keep the walks and thus his ratios down, he'll be a great source for strikeouts. Almanzar had a solid 2004 but is a bit more pedestrian, with strong ratios, but few strikeouts.
Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Closer: Justin Speier
Stability: Very Low
Next in line: Jason Frasor, Kerry Ligtenberg, Miguel Batista
Notes: 1/22: With Batista back in the rotation, Speier appears the early favorite for saves in Toronto, but this figures to be a rather fluid situation throughout the year. Speier posted a 52:25 K:BB in 69 IP in 2004 and converted seven saves in 11 chances early on, but has never exhibited the dominance to move from set-up man to permanent closer. Frasor was the first pitcher on the team to provide some stability in the role, through the middle of the season, but lost the job with a difficult period through late August and early September. It'd be a surprise if he didn't get a few chances again this year. Koch started 2004 as the White Sox closer, but by the end of the year, after a trade, couldn't even set up for Florida. Speier and Frasor are better candidates, but Koch's now ancient history of success dictates he'll probably get his chances. Ligtenberg will figure into the committee early on as well, but hasn't shown the ability to hold onto the job, although he battled a hip injury in 2004. Batista finished 2004 as the closer and would have stayed there if the team could have signed a replacement for him in the rotation.
Team: Washington Nationals
Closer: Chad Cordero
Next in line: Luis Ayala, Antonio Osuna
Notes: 1/20: With the expected explosion of Rocky Biddle, Cordero grabbed the reins in 2004 and held the job pretty well, although his August was challenging. He had a K:BB ratio of better than 2:1 in only June and September, so it's up to his ability to limit walks if he can retain the job or improve at it. There's not much in the pen behind him other than Ayala and maybe Osuna. In two years in the majors, Ayala has shown great control, not many strikeouts, sub-3.00 ERAs and the ability to snag a few saves.