Can you save money on closers?

One of the best players to grace the Craig Davis Rotisserie League’s ownership roll once schooled me on closers.

“You can find saves all season long if you just pay attention,” he said.

This owner, who is still active in CDRL, was wise. Six N.L. teams now close with guys they weren’t expecting to use in that roll back when Spring Training started. Let’s look at how things have shaken out so far this year, team by team:

ARIZONA: J.J. Putz is secure. David Hernandez is the setup guy, but the Diamondbacks like the looks of Bryan Shaw.

ATLANTA: Craig Kimbrel is secure, as is setup guy Jonny Venters.

CHICAGO CUBS: New manager Dale Sveum didn’t take long to get tired of Carlos Marmol (Flash, $26). I’m sure it had nothing to do with his ERA of 5.6 and his WHIP of 2.17 (yikes). The Cubs are looking at Rafael Dolis (Crusoes) and James Russell (Kings), but Russell is the only lefty in the Cubs’ pen.

CINCINNATI: Sean Marshall remains the man (after the Spring departure of Ryan Madson), but how long can they ignore a guy with an ERA of 0 and a WHIP of 0.68? Aroldis Chapman (Kings) is lights out.

COLORADO: Rafael Betancourt hasn’t done anything to lose the job yet.

HOUSTON: Brett Myers is closing for now. He’ll do fine, but it’s hard to imagine the Astros not trading him to a contender that needs bullpen help. Brandon Lyon (McBrides) could take over (3.24 ERA, 1.56 WHIP) and has experience, or the job could go to Wilton Lopez (Crusoes) has a 2.25 ERA and a WHIP of 0.68.

LOS ANGELES: Javy Guerra maintains the job, but expect Kenley Jansen to pick up his share of saves too.

MIAMI: The Marlins spent a lot of money on Heath Bell (Kings, $29), but Bell’s ERA (over 11) and WHIP (almost 3) has not only fluffed up the Kings’ stats, but cost him his job, at least temporarily. Edward Mujica (Mojo) could get some saves, but they’ve announced Steve Cishek (Crusoes) will get a brunt of the work. Cishek went 3 innings the other night so probably won’t start filling the role until the start of the week. Expect Bell to work out his problems.

MILWAUKEE: John Axford (Crusoes) has been shaky a couple of times, but he’s not going anywhere.

NEW YORK METS: Frank Francisco (Keynesians, $23) has six saves, but an ERA north of 6. For now, he seems safe.

PHILADELPHIA: Jonathan Papelbon (Hose) is strong.

PITTSBURGH: Joel Hanrahan (Keynesians) is doing the job just fine.

SAN DIEGO: Huston Street (McBrides, $23) is on the DL with a strained shoulder. No telling what that means, structurally. People in the know say Andrew Cashner (Suspects) will be the man, but in today’s game, Cashner came in for the eighth inning. Luke Gregerson (Deadbirds), anyone? UPDATE ON MAY 9: Looks like the new closer
in San Diego is … not Andrew Cashner, not Luke Gregerson but Dale Thayer. The Suspects snapped him up at $10 in the free agent market.

SAN FRANCISCO: Bye bye, Beard. Brian Wilson (Deadbirds, $27). Hello, Santiago (Casilla, JRock). Sergio Romo (Mojo) might get a look, but Casilla has been mostly OK.

ST. LOUIS: Jason Motte won the job at the end of last season and has kept it.

WASHINGTON: Drew Storen (Suspects, $20) isn’t expected back from elbow surgery until July. Brad Lidge (Kings) had surgery for the dreaded sports hernia. Henry Rodriguez (Bears) is unhittable, but walks a ton. He seems like he’ll pick up a lot of saves until Storen is back.

So what’s the bottom line? Do your homework. Read as much as you can before the auction … and after. Pay attention. Some guys will forever be setup guys. Don’t think that the eighth inning guy will automatically move up if something happens to the closer.

And be willing to take a chance now and again. It might pay off in cheap saves.

Gary Robinson posted at 2012-5-6 Category: Baseball

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