Bullpen Coach: Top 50 Relief Pitcher Rankings

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Bullpen Coach: Top 50 Relief Pitcher Rankings
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For the original article check out Baseball Professor .

Fantasy owners got some good news on Friday. Cleveland Indians closer Kerry Wood has been activated from the 15-day disabled list. Prior to the activation Wood made two polar opposite appearances for Double-A Akron. In the first game, Wood let up six runs in two-thirds of an inning. However, in his second and final appearance he pitched a scoreless inning. More importantly, Wood said he feels fine.  Look for him to regain the closers job almost immediately from Chris Perez who did not impress as Wood’s replacement.

In other injury related news, Brad Lidge appears poised to regain the closers role. After a poor first appearance after being activated from the DL, Lidge has thrown two consecutive scoreless innings. Lidge also claims that he is fully healthy and that he feels his slider is better this year. Look for him to get the next save opportunity with Jose Contreras sliding over to the set-up role. 

Surging

Matt Capps, Washington Nationals

We’re more than a month into the season and Capps is still leading the league with 11 saves. He has yet to blow a save and his ERA of 1.10 is less that half of his weight. Capps is also sporting the highest K rate of his career. However, he is also posting the highest walk rate of his career. If you could sell Capps as a top 10 closer I would certainly pull the trigger. Yes Washington is winning games but Tyler Clippard is pitching even better behind Capps. Also the Nationals second first round pick from last year, closer Drew Storen , looms in the minors and should be up not too long after Stephen Strasburg .

Kevin Gregg, Toronto Blue Jays

Like Capps, Gregg has yet to blow a save. He has eight on the season and his ERA and WHIP are both under one. He’s also enjoying a K/9 of 11.57, easily the highest of his career. But much like Capps, Gregg is an obvious sell high candidate. He always does well in the closer role initially, i.e. in Florida and in Chicago, but ends up losing the job. Not surprisingly, Gregg has a lower career ERA in April and May than in any other months. Add in the fact that Toronto has two other relief pitchers with closing experience (Jason Frasor and Scott Downs ) and I don’t expect Gregg to continue surging.

Alfredo Simon, Baltimore Orioles

What to make of Alfredo Simon. Baltimore’s current closer is three for three in save opportunities and has yet to allow a run on the season. However, he’s only pitched five innings and has already walked four batters. I have Simon in this space because he is currently saving games but I don’t expect him to hang onto this role for long. He once saved 19 games in the minors, but his ERA that year was 5.03. Having been in the minors for parts of nine seasons, Simon’s career minor league ERA is 4.44. With Michael Gonzalez roughly three to four weeks away from returning and Koji Uehara back from injury and a threat to close, Simon has a very short leash.

Falling

Trevor Hoffman, Milwaukee Brewers

Hoffman has as many blown saves, four, as he has saves. His ERA of 11.70 is even higher than his age. If not for being one of the best closers of all-time, Hoffman probably would have lost his job already. But luckily for him, manager Ken Macha appreciates the veterans on his team, i.e. playing Craig Counsell over Alcides Escobar . Milwaukee does have other closing options in Carlos Villanueva and Todd Coffey but Hoffman is more likely to go on DL than be supplanted as closer. Hoffman is still going to accumulate saves for your team, but at what cost?

Octavio Dotel, Pittsburgh Pirates

Dotel’s ERA and WHIP stand at 8.74 and 1.85 and opposing batters are hitting .313 against him. If you somehow felt comfortable with Dotel as your closer at the beginning of the season, there is no way you can have that same feeling now. With another rough outing, Dotel could be in danger of losing his job. The guy I would grab now is Evan Meek . Meek recorded a save on April 29, and his ERA now sits at 0.53 with 17 strikeouts in 17 innings.

Franklin Morales, Colorado Rockies

After losing the temporary closing job, Morales falls out of my top 50 rankings. Manager Jim Tracy recently confirmed that Morales will be replaced by Manuel Corpas as the Rockies’ fill-in closer until Huston Street returns. Morales did more harm than good so now you don’t have to feel bad about cutting him. Keep an eye on him in the future however, as his value will likely reside as a starting pitcher. Remember, he was once a top prospect of the Rockies.

On the Mend

Huston Street, Colorado Rockies

Street is expected to pitch in an extending spring camp game on May 7th. According to Jim Tracy, Street would then be sent on a Minor League assignment if he does not have a setback. Expect him to be activated in mid to late-May.

Michael Gonzalez, Baltimore Orioles

Gonzalez is steadily rehabbing and just recently began throwing from 60 feet on flat ground. As of right now, surgery is not needed for Gonzalez and he aims to be back by early June.

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