Closer's Corner, June 21: Brian Fuentes, Huston Street, Alfredo Simon and More

Nick Kappel@@NickKappelAnalyst IIIJune 22, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 12:  Brian Fuentes #20 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches in the ninth inning on his way to picking up the save against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 12, 2010 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.  The Angels won 4-2.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

If you read this article posted back in March, you know why it’s important to keep an eye on your league’s waiver wire as save opportunities get shuffled around major league bullpens.

• Just last week, Diamondbacks closer Chad Qualls (who saved 24 games in 2009) was relieved of his duties after converting just 12 of his 16 save opportunities with an 8.46 ERA in 22 1/3 innings thus far.

Teammate Aaron Heilman earned the four-out save Saturday night against Detroit, but not before allowing two hits and a run to score. The 31-year-old, who has 11 saves in his eight-year career, has allowed a run in three of his last five appearances.

While Heilman is now the favorite to close games in the desert, he’ll be on a short leash. All closers have value, but this one comes with an elevated risk.

Angels’ closer Brian Fuentes allowed three runs on four hits and a walk in a non-save situation Saturday against the Cubs. Through 17 1/3 innings this season, Fuentes has allowed five homers and owns an embarrassing 6.23 ERA.

Despite this, Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia issued a vote of confidence to the struggling closer. From the Orange County Register :

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“I don’t think you’re going to look at a reliever’s ERA and grade him out on how he’s doing – especially in a short relief role like Brian’s,” Scioscia said. “A couple bad outings and it’s going to take a long time to get that ERA back where it needs to be.”

Fernando Rodney is the guy to own should Scioscia change his mind, as he converted all five of his save opportunities in place of the injured Fuentes earlier this season. Rodney’s peripherals , however, suggest he’s been the receiver of some good luck.

Fantasy managers should keep a close eye on this situation, but Fuentes remains the best long-term option for saves.

• As of Friday night, Manuel Corpas owned a sparkling 2.37 ERA and had converted nine of 11 save opportunities for Colorado this season. After allowing eight runs in two appearances this weekend against Milwaukee, however, his ERA has ballooned to 4.19. Despite this, Rockies’ manager Jim Tracy said he wouldn’t rush Huston Street back into the closer’s role upon his expected return from the DL on Tuesday.

Still, it’s expected that Corpas will relinquish the ninth-inning duties after Street turns in a few good outings. Street, who turns 27 in August, has recorded 129 saves and a 2.91 ERA since his major league debut in 2005, and is the guy to own looking forward.

Orioles’ reliever David Hernandez converted on his first two save opportunities in Alfredo Simon ’s absence, but failed to record his third after allowing two runs on four hits and a walk with a 2-1 lead Friday night against the Padres.

Simon (who is 7-for-8 in save opportunities this year) closed Saturday night and appears to be the favorite in Baltimore from here on out. While Simon (just like Heilman ) has value, he comes with a great deal of risk.

First of all, he pitches for baseball’s worst team and therefore won’t be provided with many save opportunities. Second, his 13/9 K/BB ratio in 15 innings thus far suggests his 3.60 ERA isn’t exactly legit. While Simon does feature a mid-90’s fastball/mid-80’s splitter combo which has produced a ground ball rate of 61.7 percent, he doesn't have the typical swing-and-miss stuff you'd expect from a closer. The 29-year-old is the guy to own, but his long-term value is quite cloudy.

Here’s the updated Closer’s Corner as of Monday. The second column lists the current closer, while the third column features a backup option worth owning.

BaltimoreN. Feliz D. Hernandez
BostonJ. PapelbonD. Bard
New York (AL)M. Rivera 
Tampa BayR. Soriano 
TorontoK. Gregg 
Chicago (AL)B. JenksJ.Putz/M. Thornton
ClevelandK. WoodC. Perez
DetroitJ. Valverde  
Kansas CityJ. Soria  
MinnesotaJ. Rauch  
Los AngelesB. FuentesF. Rodney
OaklandA. Bailey 
SeattleD. Aardsma B. League
TexasN. Feliz  
AtlantaB. Wagner 
FloridaL. Nunez 
New York (NL )F. Rodriguez 
PhiladelphiaB. LidgeJ. Contreras
WashingtonM. Capps  
Chicago (NL )C. Marmol  
CincinnatiF. Cordero 
HoustonM. Lindstrom B. Lyon
MilwaukeeJ. Axford T. Hoffman
PittsburghO. Dotel E. Meek
St. LouisR. Franklin 
ArizonaA. Heilman C. Qualls
ColoradoM. Corpas H. Street
DodgersJ. Broxton  
PadresH. Bell 
GiantsB. Wilson 


Be sure to check back next Monday for another Closer’s Corner update!


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