by Will Overton
If you have ever played in a deep league (14 teams or more), or in a single league only format than you are more than aware that saves come at a premium. I received a harsh reminder last night when I was doing my experts AL only draft and found myself forced to overspend on Brandon League when he was the last real closer available. In a league like that there are really only a couple teams that walk away feeling good about their save stat situation.
In standard leagues the mantra has always been, “don’t pay for saves” the theory behind the charge is that there will always be saves available on the waiver wire. In deep leagues that isn’t true, those saves that come available are usually already on someone’s roster, someone who was thinking and planning ahead.
Once the saves run dry in your league you have to start thinking about who left has the best chance of getting you some saves at some point during the season. It’s not always easy to predict, but there are things to look for when targeting a guy. Here are some of the middle relievers/setup men that I like to help with saves who you can get late in your draft.
Before anyone complains, I am not going to be listing Kenley Jansen, most people know about him and he’s being taken even in standard leagues right now. That said, here is the best of the rest:
Vinnie Pestano – Cleveland Indians: It’s still unclear as to whether or not Chris Perez is going to be ready for opening day, but he is getting close. Don’t dismiss the value of Pestano based on that though. This injury is just one of the concerns with Chris Perez. Last season Perez took a pretty drastic turn south in his strikeout numbers without improving his walk totals at all. Perez also started to slip in the second half, culminating in a horrible month of September.
Meanwhile Pestano struck out 84 in 62 innings while only walking 24. Perez may have the job right now, but Pestano is the guy with the most poetential. He does struggle against lefties which he will have to overcome before he can overtake the job, but if Perez struggles or gets hurt again, Pestano is next in line. I can easily see one of those two things happening.
Rex Brothers – Colorado Rockies: Rafael Betancourt has been a great setup man for years now, but this is his first crack at a full time closer gig. Betancourt held his own and held it well for the last two months of last season, but it’s a small sample size and he is still a big wild card. Brothers is a bit raw as a pitcher and can struggle with control. But the upside is huge shown by his 59 K’s in 40.2 innings last season and a 2.88 ERA. The stuff is great and he’s capable of 90 K’s or better over a full season, so even if he doesn’t close he can help your team in NL only leagues and deep leagues. I actually like Betancourt, but he’s an unknown and with a guy like Brothers waiting he has to be worth taking a shot on.
Fautino De Los Santos – Oakland Athletics: Someday I really believe that De Los Santos will be the A’s closer, there’s a chance it could happen this season. The 25 year old’s strikeout numbers are ridiculous, but like Brothers he is raw and he has control issues. Grant Balfour was just named the closer, but it’s a role he has never been able to succeed in before and I am not convinced he’ll succeed this time either. Brian Fuentes is supposedly the guy who is next in line, but he’s not exactly a world beater and has never been able to hold a job for long. If De Los Santos gets off to a hot start this season and Oakland is falling out of the race early, the job could be his sooner than later.
Glen Perkins – Minnesota Twins: Outside of Grant Balfour, Matt Capps might be the current closer I trust the least in all of baseball. Capps saved 15 games last season and blew another nine chances. A lot of people claim the Twins don’t have anyone else, but I think Glen Perkins is more than capable. Last season Perkins posted a 2.48 ERA and struck out 65 batters in 61.2 innings. On top of the strikeouts Perkins also does a very good job of keeping the ball in the park with a lot of ground balls and not many balls flying over the fence.
The only worry I have is that managers can sometimes be reluctant to move one of their better lefties to the closer role and taking him away from situational matchups. But Perkins has the tools to be more than a specialist and Capps might just be bad enough to give him a chance to prove it.
David Carpenter – Houston Astros: The Astros named Brett Myers their closer in a surprise move, so apparently they aren’t convinced Carpenter was ready for the job. But that doesn’t mean he won’t get it eventually. The Astros are a young team in full on rebuilding mode, Myers isn’t the closer of the future and he’s really just keeping the job warm while they figure out if Carpenter can handle it. If Carpenter comes out strong in the first half of the season I can see him taking the closer job by mid-season either through Myers failings or a trade.
For those of you out there in a deep league or AL/NL only league which closers in waiting are you targeting for the later rounds of your drafts? Where is the upside in your opinions?
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