Closer’s Report: National League

Last week we checked out the American League closers (click here to view), so this week we turn to the National League (all stats given are through Monday):

Arizona Diamondbacks – Chad Qualls – He’s allowed 5 earned runs in his last 5.2 innings, to go along with 9 hits, 0 walks and 1 strikeout.  Those are dicey numbers, but with 23 Ks and 4 BBs over 22.2 innings, it appears it is just a blip on the radar.  Continue to use him with confidence right now, but I’d monitor to make sure this cold spell doesn’t last much longer.

Atlanta Braves – Mike Gonzalez or Rafael Soriano – It appeared that Mike Gonzalez had finally stepped up and taken control of the closers situation, but last night he was throwing the eighth with Soriano in the ninth.  Bobby Cox continues to flip-flop both of them, so they both will continue to have value for the time being.

Chicago Cubs – Kevin Gregg – I know he’s struggled and I know everyone wants to see Carlos Marmol take over the job, but he hasn’t been so dominant either.  While he has a 3.67 ERA, he has walked 27 batters over 27 innings.  That’s unacceptable from any relief pitcher, but especially from your closer and we all know Lou Pinella has no patience for pitchers who hand out numerous free passes.  Despite his 4.62 ERA and 1.50 WHIP, it would appear Gregg is going to hold down the job for the near future, at least.

Cincinnati Reds – Francisco Cordero – He has one of the most secure jobs in baseball, with David Weathers the closest thing the Reds have to a potential alternative.  He’s been great this season as it is, making him one of the better NL closers available.

Colorado Rockies – Huston Street – Will he be a Rockie by August?  That appears to be the only reason he would lose his role at this point.  While he has only 9 saves, that’s because the Rockies simply haven’t been all that good this season.  Manny Corpas would be the next in line, so stash him away if you are desperate for saves and are looking to take a flyer.

Florida Marlins – Matt Lindstrom – I get the feeling that he is one blown save away from being removed from the role at this point.  He’s struggled of late, giving up runs in two of his last four outings and is currently sporting a 6.17 ERA and 1.84 WHIP.  I know he has only two blown saves, but it just appears he’s skating on thin ice.  Leo Nunez would be the next in line to get a chance and he is definitely worth grabbing immediately just in case.

Houston Astros – LaTroy Hawkins – He continues to be a placeholder for the injured Jose Valverde, who could return as soon as this weekend.  Don’t get any ideas of Hawkins overtaking him and stealing the job; it just isn’t going to happen.  Hawkins has done well, but if you are in need of saves his value is going to nearly disappear shortly.

Los Angeles Dodgers – Jonathan Broxton – What superlatives can we use to describe Broxton’s success that haven’t already been said?  If the 47 strikeouts over 29 innings or his 13 saves aren’t enough, how about the 6 wins?  He may be the best closer in baseball this season, which certainly says a lot.

Milwaukee Brewers – Trevor Hoffman – Did anyone tell Hoffman that he was supposed to be too old to succeed at 41-years old?  After missing the early part of the season due to injury he has been among the best closers in baseball since returning.  He has 15 saves, 15 K, 0.00 ERA and 0.47 WHIP in 17 innings.  The most impressive number?  His one walk.  Obviously, we can’t expect this type of production all year long, but he has proven that he is still more than usable in all formats.

New York Mets – Francisco Rodriguez – The talk of his demise was certainly premature as K-Rod has excelled in New York this season.  He’s a perfect 15-for-15 in save opportunities and remains one of the elite closers in baseball.

Philadelphia Phillies – Ryan Madson – Brad Lidge was given the confidence from his manager, but now finds himself on the DL allowing Madson an opportunity.  He has been tremendous this season and is clearly worth grabbing if you are in need of some saves.  Will he remain the closer once Lidge returns?  It’s too early to tell, but after Lidge has blown six saves already, if Madson is lights out it will be an interesting controversy.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Matt Capps – Ignore the ERA (5.30), he hasn’t blown a save in nearly a month now.  He also has saves in four straight appearances allowing two hits and a walk in 3.1 innings.  He doesn’t strike out many, but is still a usable option in all formats.  Unless he is traded, it would appear that his job as a closer is safe, making him a little bit more appealing.

San Diego Padres – Heath Bell – He’s leading the league in saves with 17 and hasn’t gotten there solely on opportunity.  He’s pitched exceptionally well, with a 1.42 ERA and 0.99 WHIP.  Throw in the 31 Ks and you have yourself a solid closer in any format. 

San Francisco Giants – Brian Wilson – He has recorded a save in each of his last six outings and hasn’t allowed an earned run since May 21.  The Giants have shown no indication that they would remove Wilson from the closer’s role over the past season plus, even if he hits a little bit of a rough patch or pitches to a higher than average WHIP.  His numbers tell you that he is not an elite option, but his job security and the Giants propensity to play close games makes him a very appealing #2 option.

St. Louis Cardinals – Ryan Franklin – Now that he has his hands on this job there doesn’t appear to be any taking it away from him.  He’s posted an impressive 1.23 ERA and 0.77 WHIP thus far, after Jason Motte and Chris Perez were unable to maintain the job in the early going.  If he does start to struggle, Motte will likely get the first opportunity, but right now there has been no sign of that happening. 

Washington Nationals – Mike MacDougal – Yeah, he’s keeping the role warm, but does anyone really expect him to excel in the role?  Joel Hanrahan will probably get another shot, sooner or later, but the bottom line is that the back of the bullpen has been a complete disaster this season.  Whoever is holding the job may just be a temporary fix, so don’t consider any of them a very strong option.

What do you think of the National League closers?  Who is the most likely to lose his job?  Which set-up man are you eyeing?

To read the previous article, click here.

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc

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