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April 22, 2014

Closer Report

Week Four

by Mauricio Rubio

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New York Mets
We’re all guilty of trying to hold on for too long at some point in our lives. Maybe it was a relationship that should have ended but instead lingered—even though we knew the process and personnel would yield obvious and painful results.

Enter the Mets and Jose Valverde, who finally lost his job after a particularly bad series of meltdowns that led Terry Collins to go in a different direction. I picked up Valverde in a few leagues, so I know the pain some of you are feeling. If we’re being honest, however, we all knew this was coming.

Valverde’s pitch usage was noticeably different from his heyday as a valuable reliever with annoying histrionics. The splitter stopped splitting, the fastball remained straight and true, and opposing hitters just destroyed him over the past two years.

Who knows what Kyle Farnsworth will bring to the table for the Mets. I know that I was willing to bid $30 worth of FAAB on him, and I think he has a decent chance at sticking around for a while. Recently, a Twitter user asked me if I would take the over or under on Farnsworth closing for a month.

I took the over, but my confidence in that bet is shaky at best.

Minor Concern

Craig Kimbrel
I’m not panicking about Kimbrel here. He said that his shoulder felt great after he was pulled with a four-run lead to work with. I still think Kimbrel is a good bet to be on the league leaderboards for saves. But that was a concerning moment of mortality from the game’s absolute best closer. Kimbrel’s type tends to burn quick. I’m not rushing out there to buy Vance Worley or anything, but it is something to note.

Blowin’ it

Houston Astros
Chad Qualls blew a fairly easy save opportunity in spectacular fashion against the A’s in which he allowed three runs to cross. The Astros are still in committee mode, but it’s clear that Qualls is the weak link in the chain. I expect Josh Fields and Matt Albers to earn the saves until Jesse Crain, the worst kept secret on the closer market, comes back. Fields is owned in 3.8 percent of ESPN leagues and 10 perecnt of Yahoo Leagues. His main competition, Albers, is widely available as well, as he’s owned in 1.0 percent of Yahoo Leagues and 0.2 percent of ESPN Leagues.

Much like the Astros, however, I’m still just waiting for Crain to come back.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
We’ve been down this road before with Ernesto Frieri. He lost the job last year after a particularly brutal stretch that started when he gave up five earned runs in one-third of an inning against Minnesota. Frieri has always played dangerously with the gopher ball and he’s offered more of the same this year. Frieri might hold on to the job by a simple function of “meh” candidates behind him. I’m still concerned here.

Toronto Blue Jays
Sergio Santos has the stuff to close, but the command issues should make Casey Janssen (about 77 percent of you in both ESPN and Yahoo!) breathe a little bit easier. Santos is boasting a 13-to-8 K:BB ratio in 6 1/3 innings of work this year. Which is unfortunate for those who took the gamble on Santos.

In Flux

Seattle Mariners
Fernando Rodney is currently rocking a 1.69 ERA. That’s good! He’s allowed nine men to reach in 5 1/3 innings of work. That’s bad. But hey, he also has nine strikeouts, that’s good! He’s also thrown two wild pitches. That’s actually kind of bad, but as with all things on this list, small sample sizes abound. I don’t think Rodney’s job is in danger as he’s actually only blown one save. The WHIP looks bad right now and he’s getting hit, which is a danger sign. Still, I’m not quite in a rush to go aggressive on Danny Farquhar yet.

I’m ready to blow some serious FAAB on Lord Farquhar though.

Chicago White Sox
Going through all of your pitchers in the span of two innings trying to lock down a win is usually the result of something going horribly wrong. Robin Ventura employed this strategy on Wednesday night as a parade of relievers couldn’t nail down a 3-1 lead late.

The game went into extras and Leury Garcia ended up getting the loss. We’re not concerned with that though; instead let’s look at one of the more brutal consequences of the game. Daniel Webb went for three innings and threw 59 pitches in that span. Fifty-nine. He hasn’t been used since, leaving the White Sox without a talented arm for the past four days. I’ve said that Webb is a guy to keep tabs on, but his audition will have to wait. Lindstrom is still the incumbent and the heavy Webb usage makes it likely that he’s got a longer leash in the role now. Couple that with a small five-inning scoreless streak for Lindstrom, and I think he’s going to be the guy for a while.

New York Yankees
David Robertson is slated to be activated today, and I would bet on him to resume closing for the Yankees as soon as he is. Shawn Kelley is a good bet to go back into the eighth-inning role and barring injury to Robertson or an implosion, he’ll stay there.

Locking it down
Francisco Rodriguez has a 15-to-2 K:BB ratio in 10 innings of work and hasn’t given up an earned run yet for the Brewers. Jim Henderson owners lament in unison. Koji Uehara has an 11-to-1 K:BB ratio in seven innings and is showing no ill effects from a shoulder concern that sidelined him for a bit. Greg Holland already has six saves for the Kansas City Royals. After a disastarous outing against the Dodgers, Joe Nathan has looked much better.

#FreeCodyAllen Watch
John Axford; still shaky, still the closer.

Mauricio Rubio is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Mauricio's other articles. You can contact Mauricio by clicking here

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