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Closer’s Corner, June 21: Brian Fuentes, Huston Street, Alfredo Simon & More

Mon, Jun 21, 2010

Closer's Corner

Image courtesy of: Dennis Adair

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:

“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 stuff nor the poker stars bulldog mentality 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.

TEAM CLOSER NEXT 
Baltimore N. Feliz D. Hernandez
Boston J. Papelbon D. Bard
New York (AL) M. Rivera  
Tampa Bay R. Soriano  
Toronto K. Gregg  
Chicago (AL) B. Jenks J.Putz/M. Thornton
Cleveland K. Wood C. Perez
Detroit J. Valverde  
Kansas City J. Soria  
Minnesota J. Rauch  
Los Angeles B. Fuentes F. Rodney
Oakland A. Bailey  
Seattle D. Aardsma B. League
Texas N. Feliz  
Atlanta B. Wagner  
Florida L. Nunez  
New York (NL) F. Rodriguez  
Philadelphia B. Lidge J. Contreras
Washington M. Capps  
Chicago (NL) C. Marmol  
Cincinnati F. Cordero  
Houston M. Lindstrom B. Lyon
Milwaukee J. Axford T. Hoffman
Pittsburgh O. Dotel E. Meek
St. Louis R. Franklin  
Arizona A. Heilman C. Qualls
Colorado M. Corpas H. Street
Dodgers J. Broxton  
Padres H. Bell  
Giants B. Wilson  

 

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

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