Let’s continue our tour around the league with a look at the closing situations in the AL East. Who has a strong hold on their job? Who is in risk of being replaced? Who is next in line? Let’s answer all those questions and more:
Closer – Jim Johnson
Next in line – Pedro Strop
Third Option – Kevin Gregg
Did anyone expect Jim Johnson to be as good as he has thus far? Through 23.0 innings he’s posted a 0.78 ERA, 0.74 WHIP and 17 saves. However, there are a lot of reasons to be nervous about his production moving forward:
- Lack of strikeout stuff (5.48 K/9)
- Significant luck (100% strand rate, .169 BABIP)
Yes, he brings great control (1.57 BB/9) and a great groundball rate (66.7%). However, you will want to be cautious with him moving forward. Strop has looked good when he’s been needed as the Orioles closer and is well worth stashing just in case. Obviously, Johnson has earned himself plenty of rope, but if the luck changes and with the Orioles staying in contention, a change could be in order.
Boston Red Sox
Closer – Alfredo Aceves
Next in line – Matt Albers
Third Option – Franklin Morales
On the DL – Andrew Bailey
Does it really matter who the closer is and who is next in line for the Red Sox? This situation is all about Andrew Bailey and when he can finally return to the mound. The truth of the matter is that Aceves has not been spectacular, but at least he’s righted the ship for the time being. He has managed to nail down 14 saves in 17 opportunities, also helping with a 9.79 K/9.
He should have plenty of rope, as the rest of the bullpen does nothing to excite us either. The truth of the matter is that the best alternative is probably Daniel Bard, though the Red Sox show no inclination to shift him out of the rotation (especially since they have a huge need there as well).
New York Yankees
Closer – Rafael Soriano
Next in line – Boone Logan
Third Option – Corey Wade
On the DL – Mariano Rivera, David Robertson
It looked like this was going to be Robertson’s job when Rivera was lost for the season, but at this point the Yankees have little reason to pull Soriano from the role. He hasn’t allowed a run in his past seven outings, allowing 6 base runners over 6.0 innings (along with 6 K). With Robertson having proven that he cannot only excel in a setup role but be one of the elite relief pitchers in the game, why ruin a good thing?
I would expect Soriano to work as the closer, with Robertson coming off the DL to pitch the eighth. Don’t dump Robertson, obviously, but just keep in mind that he’s going to work in middle relief.
Tampa Bay Rays
Closer – Fernando Rodney
Next in line – Joel Peralta
Third Option – Jake McGee
On the DL – Kyle Farnsworth
Fernando Rodney hasn’t posted an ERA under 4.24 since 2006, so can we really expect him to continue pitching at this kind of pace? The difference is the elite control (1.40 BB/9) to go along with a lot of luck (.212 BABIP). It’s simply impossible to think that this type of production continues, and the Rays aren’t going to be afraid to make a change.
Jake McGee has been considered a potential of the future for the Rays, so I wouldn’t write him off. However, with Farnsworth closing in on his return to the mound and the success he had in 2011, he would be the likely replacement once Rodney falters. If someone in your league cut Farnsworth, he would be worth stashing just in case.
Toronto Blue Jays
Closer – Casey Janssen
Next in line – Jason Frasor
Third Option – Francisco Cordero
On the DL – Sergio Santos
Janssen has pitched well overall, despite a recent blown save, with a 3.48 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. However, the Blue Jays closing situation is all about Santos and when he can return to the mound. Continue to view Janssen as a temporary source of saves, but the job will go right back to Santos.