Sneaky Closer Candidates for 2011

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Sneaky Closer Candidates for 2011
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Hey, we all know most of the obvious choices at closer.  However, every spring there are normally a few closers that surprise fantasy baseball managers by getting the job over the predicted candidate.

For years I’ve been pointing these guys out to you and here are a few that will shake the world!  Ok, maybe not that big, but certainly help your fantasy team by drafting a closer in the latest of rounds.

After having some conversations with MLB.com and Fantasy 411 analyst Cory Schwartz, we agree that Joel Peralta is a closer in the making.  I already had Peralta marked as the setup man for the Rays, but I also have no confidence in Farnsworth being the everyday closer for the Rays in 2011.

Schwartz pointed out that last year Peralta added a splitter and that I should examine some of his splits from 2009 and and 2010.  I did and wow, you can see the difference.  In 2009, Joel Peralta was hammered by lefties with a BAA of .348 and righties got to him at a clip of .216.  After adding in the splitter to his arsenal in 2010, his BAA versus lefties dropped to to .212 and righties .145.

Clearly this shows that adding an effective splitter to an alright effective fastball and slider makes Peralta a perfect candidate to be a closer.  He needed that one pitch, particularly one to get lefties out.  He got it.  

The Astros have similar issues that the Rays have.  Sure they have a guy they call their closer, but they can’t be happy that the guy is Brandon Lyon.  Therefore, the Astros could break camp with a new closer.  With Alberto Arias still out from surgery and no time table for return, the possible closer for the Astros could be Wilton Lopez.

Lopez had a great 2010 season, posting a 2.96 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in 67 innings.  Wilton is a hard throwing fastball, slider, changeup pitcher.  Lopez has continued to develop his changeup and has increased the usage of his fastball as opposed to depending on his slider as his out pitch.  With a 9-10 M.P.H. difference in his fastball and changeup, Wilton Lopez is built in the mold of a Trevor Hoffman.

Whether or not he can mentally handle the job is yet to be seen, but there is no question he has the stuff for the job. Let’s not forget about his BB/9 rate of 0.67 compared to a solid K/9 rate of 6.72.

This one is likely not a surprise, but if Jason Motte isn’t the closer by at the very least May 1, I might give up on the Cardinals completely.  Here you have a pitcher, who has been groomed as a closer since birth.  The Cardinals even traded Chris Perez because of the confidence they had in Motte and they have little interest in re-signing Ryan Franklin beyond 2011.  That makes Motte the closer in my eyes.

If you look at his 2010 numbers, this won’t shock you.  In 53 innings, he struck out 54 batters, while posting a 2.24 ERA and a much improved WHIP of 1.13. It was only his second complete season in the majors, but Jason Motte fully matured and anyone who watched him last year and see the potential he has to get 35-40 saves in 2010 as opposed to Ryan Franklin, who can implode at anytime.

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