As fantasy baseball drafts quickly approach, I thought it would be helpful to provide a quick reference cheat sheet for closers.
Remember, don't take a closer too early, as there is value to be had late in drafts.
The addition of Rafael Soriano to the Yankee bullpen has some wondering if Mariano Rivera's days in pinstripes are numbered. After all, the Hall of Fame closer is 41 years old and could be running out of gas.
The Tampa Bay Rays have yet to announce a replacement for Rafael Soriano; however, we anticipate that newly acquired Kyle Farnsworth will be given that role on opening day. Farnsworth is somewhat of a head case and may be a risky choice. Buyer beware.
The Blue Jays may also begin the year with a new closer, as Frank Francisco was acquired via trade from the Rangers.
For those looking for a value pick this season, Kevin Gregg is a decent closer who will pitch for an improved Baltimore team in 2011.
The Orioles lack the starting pitching required to compete for the AL East crown; however, their offense should keep the team in games while giving Gregg a number of save opportunities.
There has been some speculation that Mike Maddux and Ron Washington want to move Neftali Feliz to the starting rotation. The trade of Frank Francisco to the Blue Jays limits the team's depth in the pen, leading us to believe that Feliz will be the closer this season.
Although the A's acquired veteran closer Brian Fuentes this off-season, the club will likely continue to use Andrew Bailey as their closer. Bailey had a superb 2010 season in which he posted 25 saves and a 1.47 ERA.
Fernando Rodney will likely be the Angels closer this season, despite a poor 2010 campaign where he had an ERA of 4.24 and a pedestrian strikeout per nine of only 7.0. To excel at closing, it is helpful to be able to strike out a batter when a tough out is needed.
The top closer in the AL Central is on arguably the worst team. Joakim Soria has a career ERA of 2.01 and delivered three straight 30-plus save seasons for the lowly Royals. Draft him with confidence this season as he has been the model of consistency throughout his young career.
Matt Capps is currently listed as the closer on the Twins official website; however, we have a gut feeling that Joe Nathan will regain his role as the closer this season. Nathan was solid as the team's closer prior to his injury last season.
Our sleeper closer for the AL Central is the 6-foot-6 Matt Thornton. He has excellent stuff, and will get numerous opportunities for an improved White Sox club. We are picking the White Sox to win the Central and believe Thornton will log 30 saves this season.
This article was originally published on www.kramericasports.com, the home of free fantasy news, rankings and advice.