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Closer Report: Red Sox

A closer report on the Red Sox isn't tricky - Jonathan Papelbon is the first stopper off the board in most leagues (he, Mariano Rivera, and Jonathan Broxton start moving in the 6th round).  Papelbon is quite valuable in fantasy leagues, and the 6th round is appropriate if you're not the type to take chances on closers.

If you're searching for a chink in the armor after a 1.85 ERA season, check out Papelbon's 3.2 BB/9.  It was his worst walk rate since his rookie year, and it pushed his WHIP all the way up to 1.15.  He tinkered with his delivery early in the season, so that might've caused the extra walks in the first half.  Regardless, we're nit-picking.

In the seemingly unlikely event Papelbon misses time with an injury, who's next in line?  Hideki Okajima and Ramon Ramirez were used in the highest-leverage situations last year.  Ramirez's peripherals were shaky, however.  Hard-throwing sophomore Daniel Bard could be the guy, assuming he's in the midst of a strong season.

Dark horses?  Scott Atchison dominated out of the Hanshin Tigers' bullpen last year.  Boof Bonser had interesting peripherals in '08 out of the Twins' pen, but that was before shoulder surgery.

You shouldn't worry about Papelbon's backup unless you're really digging for saves in a deep AL-only league.  Bard is the current favorite, but keep an eye on Atchison.

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