Closer Report: American League

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

Baltimore Orioles – George Sherrill – Trade rumors aside, he has been a solid option in all formats.  The problem is that the Orioles have little chance of doing anything in 2009, so they may consider moving their closer to a team looking for help in the bullpen.  Jim Johnson or Danys Baez would likely be among the potential replacements, so keep an eye on this situation just in case.

Boston Red Sox – Jonathan Papelbon – Exactly what needs to be said here?  Like him or not, he’s one of the elite and there’s no chance of that changing.  They have one of the deepest bullpens around, but don’t look for many save chances for his understudies.

Chicago White Sox – Bobby Jenks – He’s been solid, picking up 4 saves and 1 win over his previous five outings.  The ERA (3.68) and WHIP (1.23) are solid and his job is absolutely 100% at this point, having collected 115 saves since 2006, his first season as the full-time closer.

Cleveland Indians – Kerry Wood – He has been alright in his first season in Cleveland, having blown two of his ten chances.  The lack of opportunity hurts, but his job is safe, as long as he’s healthy.  That alone makes him a solid #2 option in mixed formats, considering the state of numerous other bullpens around the league.

Detroit Tigers – Fernando Rodney – Owners continue to hope that Joel Zumaya will ultimately get this job, and the fact that he has avoided the DL is adding to that.  He’s walked at least one batter in each of his last six appearances, however, and that’s not going to get it done.  Rodney has struggled of late, giving up 6 earned runs in his last four outings, though he hasn’t been credited with a blown save.  His job appears safe for the time being.

Kansas City Royals – Joakim Soria – Injuries have hindered his performance, but don’t mistake the fact that he is among the best closers in the game.  He’s been limited to just 12.2 innings, picking up 7 saves to go along with a 2.13 ERA and 1.26 WHIP.  Now that he’s back in the line-up, look for the saves to slowly accumulate.

Los Angeles Angels – Brian Fuentes – How much do you think they regret allowing Francisco Rodriguez to bolt to New York?  Granted, Fuentes does have 17 saves, but he’s done so with a 4.64 ERA and 1.45 WHIP.  He’s also blown 3 saves and picked up 2 losses.  He has been far from the elite, but there is no reason to worry about his job.

Minnesota Twins – Joe Nathan – He’s one of those closers that you just stick in your line-up and don’t think twice about it.  He’s carrying a 1.78 ERA and 0.91 WHIP along with 15 saves and 29 K over 25.1 innings.  How much more can you ask?

New York Yankees – Mariano Rivera – Talk about his age all you want, when push comes to shove, how many other closers would you like to own in fantasy formats?  He’s blown just 1 save and has done so with an ERA of 3.38 and WHIP of 1.12.  If for some reason the Yankees did need a replacement, their best option is likely Joba Chamberlain, but that’s a different issue all together.

Oakland Athletics – Andrew Bailey – He has just 5 saves while blowing 3, but also has 4 wins, 47 K in 39.1 innings, 2.52 ERA and 1.02 WHIP.  He clearly has value.  Brad Ziegler continues to wait in the wings to regain his job, but there’s no guarantee that time will come.  His WHIP is an ugly 1.59, which certainly is a big negative in him returning to the role.  In June he has posted a slightly more manageable 1.35, but even that is not overly impressive.

Seattle Mariners – David Aardsma – Brandon Morrow has been shifted back to the rotation, meaning the job appears to be Aardsma’s without competition.  He had been great anyways, with a 1.78 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, so it is not like his job was in jeopardy to begin with.  He’s worth using in all formats at this point.

Tampa Bay Rays – J.P. Howell – Or is it?  He picked up the last save chance, on 6/14, striking out the side against the Nationals, but is that really enough to claim the job as his own?  They continue to go by committee, with Randy Choate, Dan Wheeler and others potentially seeing an opportunity to claim saves.  This is not the team to turn to if you are looking for a consistent source of saves, but if you are desperate, considering he has not allowed an earned run since 5/23 with at least one strikeout in fourteen of his last fifteen outings, Howell is worth owning.

Texas Rangers – C.J. Wilson – He’s been solid, taking advantage of Frank Francisco’s arm woes, but his hold on the job will be a short one.  Francisco is said to be ready to return in the near future, and having given up just 1 earned run in 19 appearances, the job is his when healthy.  Wilson is worth stashing, as he will likely get the occasional save, he already has 6 on the season, but he is not going to be the full-time closer.

Toronto Blue Jays – Scott Downs – He continues to hold off B.J. Ryan, and he’s done so in lights out fashion.  He hasn’t given up a run over his last six outings, and overall has a 2.05 ERA and 0.91 WHIP.  Not impressive enough?  How about a 27 to 4 strikeout to walk ratio?  Ryan has been impressive in his own right, working 6.2 consecutive scoreless innings, allowing just 2 hits and 1 walk.  He seems to have himself back on track after a rough start and if Downs falters he easily could step back into the role.  That makes him worth stashing in deeper formats if you are in need of some saves.

What do you think?  Which American League closer is most likely to lose his job next?

To read the previous article, click here.

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.


  1. Sawyer says:

    Love the closer updates. Is this going to be a regular feature? Hope the National League version comes out soon.

    I grabbed Grant Balfour in the draft, but even with the door wide-open it appears that he’s just not going to take advantage this year…

  2. Rotoprofessor says:

    Sawyer, it is a new regular feature on the site. I’m going back-and-forth week by week as to which league, so the National League will get updated next week.

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