Last time 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 Saturday):
Arizona Diamondbacks – Chad Qualls – No, he’s not an elite option, but he’s a solid one that can be used in all formats. He rang off three straight saves from 7/4-7/7 without allowing a base runner, always something nice to see. He offers some strikeouts (32 over 36.1 innings) and a solid WHIP (currently at 1.18) thanks to walking just 5 batters this season. The ability to not allow the free pass certainly goes a long way in helping his value.
Atlanta Braves – Rafael Soriano – While there hasn’t been any kind of official announcement, the way the bullpen has been used lately speaks volumes. Soriano has notched a save in each of his last six outings while Mike Gonzalez hasn’t gotten a save since 6/28 (seven outings). Is it possible that Gonzalez gets an opportunity with a tough lefty or two coming up? Sure, but at this point Soriano appears to be the man in the bullpen and with a 1.48 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 58 K over 42.2 innings, he’s a solid play in all formats.
Chicago Cubs – Kevin Gregg – I still believe that his job is safe, as Carlos Marmol considers to struggle with his control. He’s sporting a BB/9 of 9.00, and there’s just no way Lou Pinella puts that much faith in him. We saw the tolerance he had for walks with Rich Hill last season, so just imagine what would happen if his closer was handing out free passes like they were going out of style. Gregg, meanwhile, has been pitching great. He has five saves and a win over his last seven outings, a span of 7.1 shutout innings. Continue using him as a #2 option in all formats.
Cincinnati Reds – Francisco Cordero – I feel like I say it every update, but he is one of the safest closers in the league. He’s also been great recently, allowing 0 hits and 5 walks over his last six outings (six innings). He’s 1-0 with 4 saves over that span. There’s no other way to say it, except that he’s a must use in all formats.
Colorado Rockies – Huston Street – Forget about all that preseason talk that he was just a short-term solution in Colorado and he would be traded by the deadline. Despite giving up a run his last time out, it was the first he had allowed since 6/18. In the nine appearances he made between allowing runs, he went 8.1 innings allowing 3 hits and 2 walks, striking out 8. Even in allowing a run on 7/9, he did so on just one hit and registered the save. For the year he’s got 22 saves to go with a 2.82 ERA and 1.02 WHIP.
Florida Marlins – Leo Nunez/Dan Meyer – With Matt Lindstrom on the DL, no one has particularly stepped up to claim hold on of the job. Nunez hasn’t even had much of an opportunity, pitching just three times in July. Meyer has also pitched just three times, but hasn’t allowed a run in his last 13 outings. Neither of these two are really worth using outside of the deepest formats, and at this point it appears Lindstrom should slip right back into the role once healthy.
Houston Astros – Jose Valverde – Injuries have limited him this season, but there’s no doubt that he is a solid #2 closer in all formats when healthy. The biggest problem has been opportunities, given his 3.66 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Jonathan Broxton – Where has that dominant option gone? He’s allowed 5 earned runs over his last two innings of work! Now comes word that he is suffering from a problem with his right big toe, which could explain his sudden drop-off. There’s no word on if he’s going to miss any time, so owners had better keep their fingers crossed at this point. Ramon Troncoso, who has four saves this season, figures to get the opportunity to fill-in if Broxton was to miss any time. If you are desperate for saves, I’d stash him immediately.
Milwaukee Brewers – Trevor Hoffman – So, he’s not immortal, giving up runs in three of his last seven appearances. We all knew he wasn’t going to be perfect all year long, right? No, he’s not the pitcher he once was and he’s not an elite closer, but usable he certainly is. There’s no fear in him losing his job, either, which certainly helps.
New York Mets – Francisco Rodriguez – He was amazing early on, but has been far from perfect recently, allowing runs in three of his last four outings before Saturday night’s save. The fact that the Mets are terrible, limiting his opportunities, certainly doesn’t help matters much at all. He’s still a #1 option, but he’s certainly not pitching like a Top 5 closer right now.
Philadelphia Phillies – Brad Lidge – The controversy may be over, but it’s not like he is pitching overly well. He’s allowed a run in two out of his last three outings. In July he is 0-1 with 4 saves to go along with a 3.86 ERA, the first month he’s under 6.75 (at least so far). He’s still a #2 option, since he should continue to get plenty of save opportunities, but he’s clearly not the elite closer he was last season.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Matt Capps – His job is safe, as long as he’s on the Pirates, but the rumors of a fire sale continue to grow, with Capps one of the items on the market. If he goes somewhere that he’ll be able to close, then he’ll keep his value, but time will tell on that. On second thought, should this guy be closing for anyone? After last night’s debacle, he’s sporting a 6.21 ERA and 1.69 WHIP. John Grabow maybe? We’ll just have to wait and see, but at this point he’s worth stashing because it would not be shocking to see him starting to get a few chances.
San Diego Padres – Heath Bell – What can you say besides the fact that he is a must start option in all formats? Pitching for the Padres, who would have thought that he’d have 23 saves prior to the All-Star Break? Then again, considering their offense is all but nonexistent, if they are going to win, it’s going to be close. Look for him to continue to excel as he has early on and easily could be a 40 save closer by year’s end. I don’t buy into the rumors that he could be dealt, why would they?
San Francisco Giants – Brian Wilson – He’s had some bad moments, but we all knew that Wilson was not going to be the most consistent of options. He’s always shown the potential to blow-up from time to time, but he’s pitching for a very talented team and more times then not, he’s going to get the job done. The Giants have shown patience with him, so there is no reason to believe that he’s going to get booted any time soon. He has 45 K over 39.1 innings to go along with a 3.66 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. You certainly could do a lot worse then that as your second closer.
St. Louis Cardinals – Ryan Franklin – I still believe that he’s going to take some sort of downturn, but he clearly hasn’t gotten the memo yet. He hasn’t allowed an earned run since 5/20. This is the same pitcher with a career ERA of 4.09, who only once has been below 3.57, yet this season he’s sporting a sparkling 0.82. The HR/FB rate, which for his career is at 10.4%, is at just 6.1% this season. His HR/9, which for his career is at 1.31, is at 0.55. I don’t think he’s going to be able to maintain it, so selling high for one of the true elite sounds good to me.
Washington Nationals – Mike MacDougal – He allowed three runs over an inning on 7/9, which he followed up by lasting just 0.1 inning, giving up 1 hit and 2 walks the very next day (though, he did not allow an earned run). He is now sporting a 4.64 ERA and 2.06 WHIP. So much for the settled closer’s role in Washington, huh? He’s a marginal option, at best, for as long as he holds the job, but who knows how long that ride is going to last. I’d certainly be looking at other options, if there is anyone available to you.
What do you think? Which National League closer is most likely to lose his job next?
To read the previous article, click here.
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