Here are some early returns for some tight closer battles during 2011 Spring Training.
Craig Kimbrel vs. Jonny Venters
So far, at least stat-wise, the job is going to Venters; he’s thrown four perfect innings, while striking out three.
Kimbrel has also struck out three in 2.1 innings, but has an ERA at 15.43 on four ER thanks to a bad outing.
In my opinion, it’s Kimbrel’s job to lose, not Venters' to win.
Kevin Gregg vs. Koji Uehara
So far, so good for 3G Kevin Gregg. With two perfect innings in the book, he’s looking at another good start, while Uehara struggles with ER in one inning of work.
Jake McGee vs. Joel Peralta vs. Kyle Farnsworth
In one of the most anticipated jobs still open, no one has let up.
All three pitchers have thrown scoreless innings and all have three strikeouts. Farnsworth and Peralta have pitched two innings, while McGee has thrown three.
McGee has the lone notched save for the Rays.
Jon Rauch vs. Frank Francisco vs. Octavio Dotel
As expected, Dotel has been lit up Brad Lidge-style by giving up five runs in his first two innings of work. While it’s likely nothing, this is Dotel.
Jon Rauch has looked sharp so far, with two relatively easy innings.
Francisco has made one appearance and promptly loaded the based before getting out of it without any runs.
Joe Nathan vs. Matt Capps
Both Minnesota closers have pitched two scoreless innings and have a strikeout. Nothing much to report.
The fact that Nathan is already pitching is great news for fantasy owners.
Jonathan Broxton vs. Kenley Jansen
This is Broxton’s job, no doubt, but it is important to watch how it progresses and how well Jansen pitches.
Both have pitched a couple of scoreless innings, so there’s not much to tell.
Ryan Franklin vs. Jason Motte
Both of the Cardinal closers have been touched up.
Franklin has given up one run in four innings, while Motte has given up five runs in three innings.
So far, it’s not looking good for Motte, but there is still plenty of time.
Leo Nunez vs. Clay Hensley
This is another job that really isn’t up for grabs.
Nunez has two scoreless innings, while Hensley has given up a run in two innings.