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Fantasy Baseball Closers

Fantasy baseball closers are ever-changing, and require constant vigilance.  You'll need to be lightning quick to pounce on the latest closers.  Changes can occur due to injury, ineffectiveness, or even salary.  RotoAuthority.com will constantly monitor and update this post so that you always know who has the closing gig for every team.  The first pitcher listed is the current closer; the second/third are the next in line for saves.

If you have closer info or corrections, leave them in the comments with a link and I'll update the post.

Updated 1-29-08 at 1:06pm CST

American League

Baltimore Orioles - Greg Aquino, Chad Bradford, Jamie Walker.  Aquino is a 30 year-old journeyman with control issues.  Baltimore will mark his first American League experience, and it won't be pretty (not that the Orioles will afford him many opportunities).  The Orioles dabbled in it last year but were reluctant to use pricey setup men Bradford and Walker in the ninth.  If the O's acquire George Sherrill, as has been rumored, he becomes the odds-on favorite for saves.

Boston Red Sox - Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima.  What would happen if Papelbon went down?  If Okajima's left-handedness took him out of the picture I could see the Sox turning to Manny Delcarmen or even Clay Buchholz.  I would expect them to play the hot hand given the lack of a clear candidate.

Chicago White Sox - Bobby Jenks, Octavio Dotel, Scott Linebrink.  There is a pretty clear pecking order here.

Cleveland Indians - Joe Borowski, Rafael Betancourt.  Given that Borowski is an inferior pitcher, it makes sense to keep an eye on Betancourt.  Masahide Kobayashi or Rafael Perez could be deeper sleepers to close here. 

Detroit Tigers - Todd Jones, Fernando Rodney.  Jones is always shaky, and Rodney dealt with shoulder and forearm issues in a lost '07.  Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski does not like the idea of Rodney closing again, anyway.  What then - Zach MinerJason Grilli?  One reader emailed suggesting Francisco Cruceta could be a sleeper.  Joel Zumaya is due back midseason and could jump to the front of the line if he returns to form.

Kansas City Royals - Joakim Soria, Brett Tomko, Yasuhiko Yabuta.  Soria did struggle at times in '07 but posted nice fantasy numbers.  If the 23 year-old slips it could be the veteran Tomko or the Japanese import Yabuta. Ron Mahay is another possibility, but most managers prefer right-handed closers.

Minnesota Twins - Joe Nathan, Matt Guerrier.  You'd think Pat Neshek would get the gig in the event of a Nathan trade, but manager Ron Gardenhire doesn't want to do thatJuan Rincon could be in the mix if he returns to form.

New York Yankees - Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain.  Sure, veterans Kyle Farnsworth and LaTroy Hawkins are on the roster.  But if Joba is in the pen and Rivera is unavailable, will Joe Girardi really choose the inferior vets over him?

Los Angeles Angels - Francisco Rodriguez, Scot Shields, Justin Speier.  Shields is slipping, and I could see Speier getting save opps if K-Rod went down. But Shields still might get first crack.

Oakland Athletics - Huston Street, Alan Embree, Joey Devine.  Street and Embree could both be traded, creating a free-for-all.  Devine could have a shot, as could Kiko Calero or Santiago Casilla.  This could get ugly.

Seattle Mariners - J.J. Putz, George Sherrill, Sean Green.  If Putz gets hurt and Sherrill traded, this situation gets messy.  An Erik Bedard acquisition could push Brandon Morrow back to the pen, but I have a tough time seeing him get save opps.

Tampa Bay Rays - Troy Percival, Al Reyes.  Pretty straightforward situation here.

Texas Rangers - C.J. Wilson, Joaquin Benoit, Kaz Fukumori, Eddie Guardado.  Wilson is the front-runner, but the Rangers don't seem to love him in the role.  This could go in a lot of different directions if Wilson's control problems flare up. 

Toronto Blue Jays - B.J. Ryan (if healthy), Jeremy Accardo, Casey Janssen, Scott Downs.  Accardo proved capable while Ryan missed the '07 season.  Ryan isn't quite expected to be ready for Opening Day, so Accardo is the guy to have for early April.  Ryan could be a bargain if he returns to elite form though. 

National League

Arizona Diamondbacks - Brandon Lyon, Tony Pena, Chad Qualls.  The D'Backs could also add Keith Foulke to the mix.  For now, it's known that Lyon and Pena will vie for the job.  Lyon has the lead because of experience, but Pena or Qualls could step in if saves are needed on a third consecutive day.  The D'Backs are trying to be careful with Lyons' elbow.  Keep in mind through all of this that Pena is the most skilled, and skills often win out.

Atlanta Braves - Rafael Soriano, Mike Gonzalez (if healthy), Peter Moylan.  Soriano has a lock on the job, and Gonzalez may not be back until June.  If Soriano goes down, Moylan seems the most likely option.

Chicago Cubs - Kerry Wood, Carlos Marmol, Bob Howry.  I think the Cubs want Wood to be their closer, almost as much on an emotional level as on a skill level.  Marmol is supremely talented, but I'm not sure if that will beat about Howry's experience just yet.  Howry is still solid.

Cincinnati Reds - Francisco Cordero, David Weathers.  Nothing tricky here.

Colorado Rockies - Manny Corpas, Brian Fuentes.  Fuentes is not said to be a threat to Corpas' gig.  However maybe his leash will be slightly shorter than usual given Fuentes' experience closing.

Florida Marlins - Kevin Gregg, Taylor Tankersley, Matt Lindstrom.  Gregg is definitely the man right now but as the Marlins' most expensive player he could be traded.  If so, I wonder if the Marlins would do their patented veteran import and somehow get Rocky Biddle 30 saves.

Houston Astros - Jose Valverde, Oscar Villarreal, Geoff Geary.  Valverde should be solid but it will probably get ugly if he is injured.

Los Angeles Dodgers - Takashi Saito, Jonathan Broxton.   Broxton converted just two of eight save opportunities in '07, many of which were blown in the eighth inning.  He may not be the lock that his peripheral stats indicate.  Saito always seems shaky even while he's elite.

Milwaukee Brewers - Eric Gagne, David Riske, Salomon Torres.  It's not too tough to imagine Gagne hitting the DL, so Riske and Torres should come into play.  I think Riske is the better option, and his new deal has bonuses for games finished.

New York Mets - Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman, Duaner Sanchez (if healthy).  Heilman seems the most likely backup for Wagner right now but I don't think the Mets would be jazzed with the idea.

Philadelphia Phillies - Brad Lidge, Tom Gordon.  Lidge is pretty healthy, and unless he's just godawful I think he'll have a long leash given the alternatives.

Pittsburgh Pirates - Matt Capps, Damaso Marte.  A Marte trade and a Capps injury would create a blown save extravaganza in Pittsburgh.

San Diego Padres - Trevor Hoffman, Heath Bell.  Definitely an erratic '07 for Hoffman, but he's fairly secure unless he's awful for two straight months.

San Francisco Giants - Brian Wilson, Brad Hennessey, Tyler Walker.  None of these choices are inspiring, but Wilson has the upside.  This could be a fluid situation.

St. Louis Cardinals - Jason Isringhausen, Ryan Franklin.  The arrangement remains unchanged from last year.

Washington Nationals - Chad Cordero, Jon Rauch.  It seems that the Nats might trade one but not both of these guys.  Maybe Luis Ayala would be third in line?

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Comments

Obviously it depends how he looks in Spring Training, but I think Duaner Sanchez will be third in line for saves.

I like Ohlendorf a lot. Once Joba is in the rotation I think he could be the primary setup man. And in the beginning of the season he'll be lower on the depth chart, pitching down in the score more often, giving him a good chance to pick up wins with the Yankee offense.

I get a strong feeling that the Giants really want Wilson to grab the job. If his control is ok, he should hold it.

Overall, these are the most settled pens in the NL I can remember in awhile.

Darkhorses: Meloan, Bayliss. Other than that, I think you pretty much nailed it. Maybe Brocail in Houston.

Re. Texas Rangers

Otsuka is not with the team anymore, he was DFA'd. And although the Rangers have made comments about bringing in competition for the closer job, my interpretation is that they do not want to hand the job to Wilson without having some 'competition' in ST. Wilson nailed down 12 of 14 save opps and his struggles in Sept can probably be attributed to being overworked throughout the season. I think Wilson is a pretty good bet to handle all save opportunities for Texas this year.

Re. Seattle

Isn't Brandon Morrow still in the pen? Wouldn't he be scheduled for a setup role with the possibility of picking up saves if Putz goes down and Sherrill is traded?

broxton was actually 2-3 in save opportunities when saito was unavailable. those other blown saves occurred in the 8th inning in his usual set up role.

Tim, I honestly don't think Cox would use Moylan as the closer if Soriano went down before Gonzo came back... He is as inexperienced as anyone else in the bullpen but what makes Moylan different is that he can go 2 innings (thanks to his low impact side-arm delivery). Cox (and most managers for that matter) like to have a guy who could potentially pitch the 7th and 8th inning if needed, and Moylan is best suited to do that... My darkhorse closer candidate for the Braves is Manny Acosta - he resembles Soriano in alot of ways (build, demeanor, pitch selection)... Of course thats only if Soriano goes down or is ridiculously ineffective in the first couple months of the season. If I had to rank the pecking order I'd say Soriano 1, Acosta 2, Moylan 3, and if the $hit really hits the fan then Tyler Yates...

tricer, Morrow is supposed to be a candidate to be a 5th starter. He's starting in winter ball, where he went 3-2 with a 2.72 ERA, 31 SO, 8 BB in 7 starts. In a recent Seattle PI article, John McLaren was quoted as saying, "We want him to start." Though I don't know if a Bedard aquisition changes things.

Turnbow is at least in the picture, right? Also, Duchscherer is a candidate assuming he doesn't start.

Tim, heard you today on XM 175 with Chuck Wilson. Nice job! Now we can all say, "Ah, I knew him when...".

Chris Ray could factor in with the O's depending on when he comes back from his TJ surgery. Then again, he might just end up sitting out the entire year if the team is out of it (likely) come July.

Tim - will there be a link to the list somewhere on the site or will it be a recurring post? Thanks

I'll put this on the sidebar but maybe also on the front page periodically.

I'm pretty sure Alyson Footer had the backend of the Astros bullpen as Valverde, Villareal, Brocail.

you may consider putting Jared Burton third in line for the Reds...

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