It’s time to continue our journey around the league, looking at each team’s closer situation. The National League West is home to one of, if not the, worst bullpens in the league, but also a few of the elite closers. Let’s take a look at all the updated situations:
Closer: Juan Gutierrez
Waiting in the Wings: Aaron Heilman
Closer of the Future: ?
This situation has been such a debacle all year, there really aren’t many positive things to say about the bullpen as a whole. While Gutierrez may not currently be the hands down closer, there is just no one option that you can say is a good one. Gutierrez is sporting a 6.09 ERA. Heilman, who is the star of the group, has a 3.73 ERA, but six blown saves. Outside of Heilman and D.J. Carrasco (though he spent the majority of his season in Pittsburgh), no Diamondback relief pitcher has an ERA below 4.00. It’s just ugly and a situation that fantasy owners should try to avoid at all costs. Is there a long-term solution in the minor leagues? If there is, he probably isn’t close (or is currently working as a starting pitcher), because with how bad as the current relievers have been he’d be up by now. Time will tell.
Closer: Huston Street
Waiting in the Wings: Matt Belisle
Closer of the Future: Franklin Morales
Street has battled injuries this year, but don’t let his 4.32 ERA deceive you. He has a horrifically unlucky strand rate of 59.2%, leading to his inflated ERA. He also doesn’t have the strikeout numbers we’ve become accustomed to, with a 7.3 K/9 vs. a 9.1 mark for his career. I wouldn’t be concerned about his long-term ability, as he should continue to be one of the better closers in baseball. Should he struggle in 2011, Morales, who got a brief opportunity to close early in the year, could get the opportunity. Of course, if he struggles with his control (as he has this season), he won’t be long for the role. Manny Corpas would’ve been regarded as the closer of the future, but Tommy John surgery will keep him out for most, if not all, of the 2011 season and who knows how long it will take for him to regain his stuff.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Closer: Hong-Chih Kuo
Waiting in the Wings: Jonathan Broxton
Closer of the Future: Jonathan Broxton
For as impressive as Kuo has been this season, does anyone really believe that Broxton is not only the best closer they have on the roster, but the best they’ve got for the foreseeable future? He’s still striking players out at a tremendous rate (11.3 K/9), and has actually just suffered from some poor luck (.367 BABIP). He’s not giving up home runs (0.33 HR/9) and has solid control (3.1 BB/9). In other words, if he had not had the poor luck, he’d still look like an elite closer. There really is nothing to be concerned about at this point.
San Diego Padres
Closer: Heath Bell
Waiting in the Wings: Luke Gregerson
Closer of the Future: Luke Gregerson
I’m sure the rumors will surface once again this offseason of the Padres shopping Bell. Given the number of impressive arms they have in their bullpen, there really is no reason for them not to, is there? He is currently sporting a 1.78 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, with five wins and 37 saves. There certainly will be someone out there willing to pay a premium in order to acquire him. There are actually a few options for who could take over, but I’m going with Gregerson for now. He’s been nearly unhittable, with a 2.55 ERA and 0.75 WHIP, striking out 74 over 63.2 innings. He’s had great control (1.8 BB/9) and keeps the ball in the ballpark (0.7 HR/9). In Petco Park, that’s really all you can ask for. He could be worth stashing if you are looking to stash a closer for 2011.
San Francisco Giants
Closer: Brian Wilson
Waiting in the Wings: Jeremy Affeldt
Closer of the Future: Brian Wilson
Wilson has emerged as one of the best closers in the game and, at 28-years old, is in no danger of losing his job any time soon. This year he has already saved 37 games, giving him 116 since 2008. The funny thing is, he’s had poor luck with a .365 BABIP and good luck with an 84.9% strand rate. Those things cancel each other out, more or less, meaning that there is no reason to think that Wilson is going to slow down any time soon. With his ability to pile up the strikeouts (on pace to set a career high, currently at 11.7 K/9), he’s not going anywhere.
What are your thoughts on these situations?
Make sure to check out our look at the other divisions in baseball:
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