The Closer Report: Clarity In Washington, Confusion In LA and More

It’s the end of April, yet some closing situations are as cloudy as ever.  Let’s take a look at some of the intriguing news from the past week:

Washington Nationals
Since Drew Storen was placed on the DL to open the season fantasy owners have been waiting for some clarity on their closing situation.  Over the first few weeks we had to endure a timeshare, with both Henry Rodriguez and Brad Lidge seeing save opportunities.  This week, we can finally move forward with a clearer picture.

With Lidge, who was generally viewed as the less upside option (for obvious reasons), being placed on the DL with an abdominal strain the job now solely belongs to Rodriguez.  In 9.0 innings thus for in 2012 Rodriguez has posted a 2.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 12 K and 5 saves (he recently blew his first save).  Yes, there is some concern with his control (6 BB), but a fastball averaging 98.4 mph goes a long way in overcoming that issue.

That’s not to say that there isn’t risk and that the control could come back to haunt him.  We’ve all seen it before (like Carlos Marmol), but as the lone closer in Washington he is a must own option.  His hold on the job will obviously only last until Storen is ready, but as a low-end CL2/high-end CL3 he has real value.

Los Angeles Angels
According to Mike DiGiovanna (via Twitter), “Scott Downs will close for #Angels with Jordan Walden moving to 7th and 8th inning role at least on temporary basis.”  It may seem like a rash decision by the team, as he’s blown just one save in 2012, but he did blow 10 in 2011 and the Angels are struggling enough as it is.

Downs has some experience closing games from his time with the Blue Jays, picking up as many as 9 saves in a year (2009).  Over the past five years his worst ERA was 3.09, with three seasons of 2.17 or better.  He may not have the same type of strikeout stuff that Walden does (6.90 K/9 for his career), but he has pinpoint control (been at 2.57 or better each year since 2009).

Downs may not be the long-term solution (they will likely go back to Walden or import a new option), but if he’s successful the Angels aren’t going to be quick to make a change.  If you are looking for saves he is well worth grabbing.

Chicago White Sox
The White Sox can claim all they want that they are going to stick with Hector Santiago as their closer.  Sooner or later, the plug is going to be pulled.  His recent implosion (3 ER on 5 H and 0 BB over 0.1 innings against the A’s) may not be the final nail in the coffin, but it will probably only take one more outing like that.

That becomes especially true when the White Sox have two alternatives who are pitching lights out:

  • Matt Thornton – 11.0 IP, 0.82 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 10 K
  • Addison Reed – 8.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 11 K

Both offer better numbers then Santiago (8.53 ERA, 1.89 WHIP) and, it is important to note that the White Sox used Thornton to close out yesterday’s game.  That should tell us all we really need to know.  While I would definitely stash Reed (with Thornton being left-handed it wouldn’t be surprising to see Reed get opportunities as well), Thornton appears to be the better player for the moment.

Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers used Kenley Jansen as their closer on Sunday, despite Javy Guerra reportedly being available.  Eric Stephen (via Twitter) offered the following explanation for the decision:

“Don Mattingly said he went with Kenley Jansen in the 9th because he was the freshest arm”

Time will tell, but we all know that a change could be on the horizon.  At this point Jansen is likely owned in all formats anyways, but if he’s not he needs to be.

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One comment

  1. jmax says:

    I read today LAA is interested in Farnsworth, Hanrahan and one other who’s name slips my mind

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