Updated Odds for Every Closer Battle in Spring Training
Positions battles are a very common part of spring training and year in and year out, there are more battles at one position than any other.
The closer's role is normally highly contested on a number of different teams. Some franchises have grown tired of the struggles of their old closers, while others have a new arm that they want to give a look at in the position.
This spring is no different and there are a number of battles going on between pitchers for the right to be the player that gets to try to lock down the win at the end of the game.
The following odds are for who will be each team's full-time closer by the end of the first month of the season.
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Contenders: Jose Veras, Rhiner Cruz, Josh Fields and Jarred Cosart
While the Houston Astros may not have many situations where they need a closer to finish the game for them in 2013, it is still important that they find someone for the role. The team could have an eye on choosing a player that could hold down the position for a few years.
Jose Veras seems to have a decent grip on the closer's role and it would be a surprise if he loses out on the spot. He is the only one of the group that has been able to have success at the big league level.
Jose Veras: 85%
Rhiner Cruz: 10%
Josh Fields: 4%
Jarred Cosart: 1%
Los Angeles Angels
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Contenders: Ryan Madson and Ernesto Frieri
At this point, it does not seem as if there will be much of a battle between Ryan Madson and Ernesto Frieri during spring training. Madson is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and is not expected to be ready until mid-April (h/t Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com).
Frieri, the Los Angeles Angels closer in 2012, will have the role right out of the gate. If he pitches well in the first few weeks of the year, manager Mike Scioscia will have a decision to make. As of now, the closer's role is likely Madson's when he returns.
Ryan Madson: 75%
Ernesto Frieri: 25%
New York Mets
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Contenders: Frank Francisco, Bobby Parnell
Frank Francisco struggled mightily in the closer's role for the New York Mets in 2012, but he still has a chance to retain his job. Francisco will likely not be ready for Opening Day, which does hurt his chances of holding down the position (h/t Adam Rubin of ESPN).
Even if Francisco was healthy, he may not have won the closer's job thanks to the recent performance of Bobby Parnell. It is very possible that Parnell is the Mets' choice at closer for the entire season.
Bobby Parnell: 60%
Frank Francisco: 40%
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Contenders: Carlos Marmol and Kyuji Fujikawa
Heading into spring training, Carlos Marmol was the favorite to win the Chicago Cubs' closing job. However, his lead in that race may be slipping.
Marmol has struggled thus far, and a few more bad performances could cost him his job. Kyuji Fujikawa has adjusted well, albeit in a small sample size and could end up winning the job.
Carlos Marmol: 70%
Kyuji Fujikawa: 30%
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Contenders: Bruce Rondon, Phil Coke and Joaquin Benoit
Bruce Rondon's ability to dial up the heat makes him an intriguing choice for the closer's role in Detroit. However, he does have some issues with his command that could prevent him from earning the spot. In fact, the Tigers decided to skip one of his appearances so that he could work on his mechanics in a side session (h/t Chris Iott of MLive).
Phil Coke does not have great numbers out of the bullpen throughout his career and would be an interesting choice for the Tigers. He has pitched well closing out games in the postseason, but he may not be cut out for the closer's role.
Joaquin Benoit has never pitched as a closer, but he has shown that he can be dominant as a late inning reliever. He has a 2.71 ERA and a 10.4 K/9 rate over the past three seasons.
Bruce Rondon: 35%
Phil Coke: 20%
Joaquin Benoit: 25%
Toronto Blue Jays
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Contenders: Sergio Santos and Casey Janssen
The battle for the Toronto Blue Jays' closer role is an interesting one. It features two relievers that are coming back from injuries.
Both Sergio Santos and Casey Janssen are capable of holding down the job, but Santos has the edge at the moment. After he was acquired by the Blue Jays, Santos was expected to be the team's closer in 2012, but an injury ended his season early.
Now, he should take the closer's role back from Janssen as long as he can stay healthy.
Sergio Santos: 65%
Casey Janssen: 35%