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2011 Closer’s Corner: Papelbon, Cordero, Rivera, Soria & Wilson Are The Only Reliable Options

Mon, Jan 3, 2011

Closer's Corner

Over the last three years, only five closers have recorded at least 30 saves each season (Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Cordero, Mariano Rivera, Joakim Soria and Brian Wilson). This fact alone illustrates the high turnover rate at this unstable position.

With nearly half of baseball’s 30 teams likely to start 2011 with a new closer, it’s important for fantasy managers to brush up on the bullpens in transition.

Every week during the 2011 season, I’ll update the Closer’s Corner as ninth-inning roles change hands. In the meantime, I’ll post updates as free agents continue to sign and spring training battles become more clear.

Here’s how the closer situations look as of March 29. The first name listed is the favorite to close on Opening Day 2011, while the name in parenthesis is the player to own should injury or ineffectiveness occur.  


  • 3/29/11: Brad Lidge will start the season on the DL with a partially torn rotator cuff. He won’t throw a baseball for at least three to six weeks, and hopes to be back on the mound by the All-Star Break. Manager Charlie Manuel said Tuesday that Jose Contreras – not Ryan Madson – would be the closer if he had to choose.
  • 3/29/11: David Aardsma threw a 20-pitch session on Tuesday, and reported no problems with his surgically-repair hip. He hopes to be closing games for the Mariners by mid-April. Brandon League will serve as the Mariners’ closer until then.
  • 3/29/11: Koji Uehara (elbow) has retired all six batters he’s faced since returning from injury, and is hopeful to join the Orioles on Opening Day. It appears as though Kevin Gregg is the safer bet to close games right now, but manager Buck Showalter expressed confidence in Uehara earlier this spring. This will likely be a fluid situation throughout the season.
  • 3/28/11: Manager Bruce Bochy said on Monday there’s less than 50-50 chance that Brian Wilson (oblique) will be ready for Opening Day. Sergio Romo is expected to close games while Wilson is out.
  • 3/28/11: J.J. Putz (back) is expected to be ready for the start of the season. He will be the Diamondbacks closer.
  • 3/27/11: Andrew Bailey will be sidelined for the first few weeks of the season with a strained forearm. Brian Fuentes will likely close games for the A’s in his absence.
  • 3/27/11: Frank Francisco (pectoral) threw from 90 feet on Sunday. He’s expected to start the season on the DL, but shouldn’t be out long. Jon Rauch will close games for the Blue Jays in his absence.
  • 3/24/11: The Rangers have named Neftali Feliz their closer for the 2011 season.
  • 2/22/11: Jake McGee has set his eye on the Rays’ closer job. He’ll compete with Joel Peralta and Kyle Farnsworth this spring until one of them separates himself from the group. The Rays could also use the dreaded closer-by-committee. J.P. Howell is expected to be sidelined with a shoulder injury until mid-May, but could fill the role when he returns if nobody else has stepped up.


  • Arizona Diamondbacks – J.J. Putz (David Hernandez/Juan Gutierrez)
  • Atlanta Braves – Craig Kimbrel (Jonny Venters)
  • Baltimore Orioles – Kevin Gregg (Koji Uehara)
  • Boston Red Sox – Jonathan Papelbon (Daniel Bard)
  • Chicago Cubs – Carlos Marmol (Sean Marshall)
  • Chicago White Sox – Matt Thornton (Jesse Crain/Chris Sale)
  • Cincinnati Reds – Francisco Cordero (Aroldis Chapman)
  • Cleveland Indians – Chris Perez (Rafael Perez/Jensen Lewis)
  • Colorado Rockies – Huston Street (Matt Lindstrom)
  • Detroit Tigers – Jose Valverde (Joaquin Benoit/Ryan Perry)
  • Florida Marlins – Leo Nunez (Clay Hensley)
  • Houston Astros – Brandon Lyon (Wilton Lopez)
  • Kansas City Royals – Joakim Soria (Robinson Tejada)
  • Los Angeles Angels – Fernando Rodney (Scott Downs)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers – Jonathan Broxton (Hong-Chih Kuo)
  • Milwaukee Brewers – John Axford (Takashi Saito)
  • Minnesota Twins – Joe Nathan (Matt Capps)
  • New York Mets – Francisco Rodriguez (Bobby Parnell)
  • New York Yankees – Mariano Rivera (Rafael Soriano)
  • Oakland Athletics – Andrew Bailey-DL (Brian Fuentes/Grant Balfour)
  • Philadelphia Phillies – Brad Lidge-DL (Jose Contreras)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – Joel Hanrahan (Evan Meek)
  • San Diego Padres – Heath Bell (Luke Gregerson)
  • San Francisco Giants – Brian Wilson-DL likely (Sergio Romo)
  • Seattle Mariners – David Aardsma-DL (Brandon League)
  • St. Louis Cardinals – Ryan Franklin (Jason Motte)
  • Tampa Bay Rays -  Jake McGee/Joel Peralta/Kyle Farnsworth
  • Texas Rangers – Neftali Feliz (Darren O’Day)
  • Toronto Blue Jays – Frank Francisco-DL (Jon Rauch)
  • Washington Nationals – Drew Storen (Tyler Clippard)

Be sure to check back for more updates as the season approaches!

Image courtesy of: Amanda Rykoff

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