2011 Fantasy Baseball Closer's Corner, Week 9: What's Wrong with Joakim Soria?

Nick KappelAnalyst IIIMay 31, 2011

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 10:  Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws a ninth inning pitch while playing the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on April 10, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Kansas City won the game 9-5. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Kansas City Royals closer Joakim Soria blew his third consecutive save opportunity on Monday, his fifth in 12 chances. His ERA has ballooned to 6.55, and Royals manager Ned Yost announced after Sunday’s game that Soria would be relieved from his ninth-inning duties. Aaron Crow will take his place, and is a must-add in all formats.

Soria was thought to be one of the most reliable closers in the game two months ago, but a decline in strikeouts (7.77 K/9 this season, 9.75 career), increase in walks (4.09 BB/9, 2.60 career) and drop in average fastball velocity (90.5 mph, 91.9 last year) have left the Royals and fantasy managers alike with a pitcher that can’t get anyone out.

Soria’s BABIP (.338), LOB rate (64.8) and xFIP (4.06) suggest he’s experienced some poor luck and hint at the likelihood of him returning to his usual self, but he shouldn’t be used in fantasy leagues right now. Save a spot for him on your bench, but don’t cut ties with him just yet.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have had a different pitcher record each of their last four saves. Kenley Jansen is on the DL with shoulder inflammation, and is therefore out of the picture. Mike MacDougal (available in 99 percent of Yahoo! leagues) and Javy Guerra (availability 98 percent) each have one save in the last two weeks, but neither have been appointed the closer’s role. Matt Guerrier (availability 89 percent) is the man everyone thinks is the closer, but he hasn’t recorded a save since May 17.

Guerrier still appears to be the best man for the job, but this situation is likely to remain fluid; keep an eye on the Dodgers’ box score each night.

Oakland Athletics pitcher Andrew Bailey was finally activated from the disabled list Sunday, and will work in a few non-save situations before recapturing his ninth-inning duties. He is not yet able to pitch on back-to-back days. Brian Fuentes will continue to close games in the immediate future, but Bailey is the guy you want for the rest of the season.

Similar to L.A., the ninth-inning gig in Toronto is up for grabs. Each of the last three saves have been nailed down by a different pitcher, Jon Rauch recording the last on Friday. Last week manager John Farrell said Rauch, Frank Francisco or Octavio Dotel could be used in save situations, leaving fantasy managers in a tough spot.

Rauch has been the best pitcher this season (six saves, 3.92 ERA), but the chair-thrower—despite his 6.59 ERA (3.60 xFIP)—remains the best option in my humble opinion.

Here’s a full closer/setup man list. The most fluid situations worthy of a close eye are highlighted in bold.

  • Arizona Diamondbacks: J.J. Putz (David Hernandez/Juan Gutierrez)
  • Atlanta Braves: Craig Kimbrel (Jonny Venters)
  • Baltimore Orioles: Kevin Gregg (Koji Uehara)
  • Boston Red Sox: Jonathan Papelbon (Daniel Bard)
  • Chicago Cubs: Carlos Marmol (Sean Marshall)
  • Chicago White Sox: Sergio Santos (Matt Thornton)
  • Cincinnati Reds: Francisco Cordero (Nick Masset)
  • Cleveland Indians: Chris Perez (Rafael Perez)
  • Colorado Rockies: Huston Street (Matt Lindstrom)
  • Detroit Tigers: Jose Valverde (Joaquin Benoit)
  • Florida Marlins: Leo Nunez (Burke Badenhop)
  • Houston Astros: Mark Melancon (Wilton Lopez)
  • Kansas City Royals: Aaron Crow (Joakim Soria)
  • Los Angeles Angels: Jordan Walden (Fernando Rodney)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: Matt Guerrier/Mike MacDougal/Javy Guerra
  • Milwaukee Brewers: John Axford(Kameron Loe)
  • Minnesota Twins: Matt Capps
  • New York Mets: Francisco Rodriguez (Jason Isringhausen)
  • New York Yankees: Mariano Rivera (Joba Chamberlain)
  • Oakland Athletics: Brian Fuentes (Andrew Bailey)
  • Philadelphia Phillies: Ryan Madson (Brad Lidge—DL/Jose Contreras)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates: Joel Hanrahan (Evan Meek)
  • San Diego Padres: Heath Bell (Mike Adams)
  • San Francisco Giants: Brian Wilson (Javier Lopez/Sergio Romo/Ramon Ramirez)
  • Seattle Mariners: Brandon League (Jamey Wright)
  • St. Louis Cardinals: Fernando Salas (Eduardo Sanchez)
  • Tampa Bay Rays: Kyle Farnsworth (Joel Peralta)
  • Texas Rangers: Neftali Feliz (Darren Oliver)
  • Toronto Blue Jays: Jon Rauch/Frank Francisco/Octavio Dotel
  • Washington Nationals: Drew Storen (Sean Burnett)



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