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Upon Closer Inspection PDF Print E-mail
Chance Favors the Prepared Mind
Written by Todd Zola   
Tuesday, 19 February 2013 04:20

Several weeks ago, I used some bandwidth to express some concern about the closer pool for this year’s drafts and auctions. At the time, I had not really delved into the inventory, it was more an off-the-cuff observation, suggesting there were not many reliable options and the landscape was going to be crazy. But lately, I have been writing profiles for both the Platinum subscription and ESPN and I’m not as concerned anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like there are 30 Mo Rivera clones populating the Majors. It’s just that upon closer inspection (see what I did there?), things aren’t as bad as I thought. It turns out that there are the normal tiers, with perhaps a few less at the top. There are a lot of guys that inherited the job in-season last year possessing everything necessary to be a reliable closer except a track record of success. Their peripherals are closer-worthy. They’ve just been on the job for less than a year.

Here’s how I see the tiers (in no particular order within the tier) with some quips.

TIER ONE

  • Craig Kimbrel – difference maker in ratios and K’s
  • Jason Motte – love the way he hung in there until he was given a chance and ran with it
  • Jonathan Papelbon – steady as always
  • TIER TWO

  • Mariano Rivera – if he proves healthy, others may bounce him to the top tier, but he doesn’t get enough strikeouts to be put in with those guys
  • Joe Nathan – proved healthy yet some are still worried
  • Rafael Soriano – may lose the occasional save when there is a three-run lead and they let Storen or Clippard finish it off or he’d be borderline top tier
  • Fernando Rodney – regression to ERA and HR/9 is coming, but improved control is for real
  • Sergio Romo – will lose some saves to ensure he’s healthy down the stretch, but his ratios are elite
  • J.J. Putz – injury risk so back him up with David Hernandez and sleep like a baby
  • Tom Wilhelmsen – most likely to be top tier next season
  • Huston Street  - yeah, he gets hurt, but when he’s not, he’s great
  • Greg Holland – probably is more tier 2 ½, great K rate, will be top tier if he can reduce the walks
  • TIER THREE

  • Addison Reed – would join Holland in tier 2 ½, control a slight concern
  • Jim Johnson – peripherals shaky but entrenched, so he gets points for that
  • Casey Janssen – skills belong in tier two, I’m worried the Jays will bring someone in because they can
  • Jason Grilli – control and durability a concern
  • Joel Hanrahan – is 2011’s improved control the outlier?
  • Chris Perez – quieted critics with more K’s
  • Grant Balfour – I’ll take him with the injury discount, he’s the best the A’s have for the job
  • Rafael Betancourt – getting up in age and Rockies closers have abbreviated shelf life
  • John Axford – same as Hanrahan, what’s his true control level?
  • Steve Cishek – needs to increase K/9 or decrease BB/9 to move up
  • Glen Perkins – I know good closers on poor teams get saves, but have you seen the Twins' likely opening day rotation?
  • Bobby Parnell – not worried about Frank Francisco
  • Brandon League – to channel The Rock, it doesn’t matter what we think, it only matters what Donnie Baseball thinks and he thinks League is his closer
  • TIER FOUR

  • Bruce Rondon – even if he does the job in season, will Detroit trust him down the stretch and into the playoffs?
  • Kyuji Fujikawa – will have job sooner than later
  • Jonathan Broxton – I don’t know if it will be Aroldis Chapman who takes over, but someone will
  • Ernesto Frieri  - love the K’s but walks too many
  • TIER HOUSTON

  • Jose Veras – yeah, whatever
  • Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 February 2013 09:50
     

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    Comments  

     
    # OaktownSteve 2013-02-20 18:54
    I like Janssen a lot. Good first strike, good K rate and K/BB, groundball pitcher, converted 22 of 25 last year. Jays project to be good. Right now he's the 22nd off the board in NFBC ADP. Santos is a strong closer in waiting but doesn't have a super long track record as a closer himself. If I were to pick a guy with a chance to sneak into the bottom of the top I would maybe say Putz. His 2011 season definitely would be top tier worthy and I have a feeling he'll be healthier this year and get back close to those numbers.
     

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