Fantasy Baseball Closer Preview: Soria Injury Shows Closer Risk
Fantasy Baseball: Joakim Soria is going to undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss the season. Ryan Madson has a sore elbow and may not be ready for Opening Day. (Update, March 24: Madson is out for the year.) Drew Storen has elbow inflammation and also may not be ready for the opener. Carlos Marmol had an MRI on his neck earlier this week but is said to be OK. Brian Wilson, J.J. Putz, Andrew Bailey, Joe Nathan, Huston Street and Frank Francisco went into the preseason as injury risks. Then there are the inevitable quick job changes. Last April, several closers lost their jobs for good, including Ryan Franklin, Fernando Rodney and Matt Thornton. Draft closers early at your peril.
Craig Kimbrel, Braves
Mariano Rivera, Yankees
Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies
Don’t draft closers early, but don’t let these guys fall too far, either. Kimbrel had a rookie season for the ages, with 46 saves, 38 straight scoreless appearances and 127 K in just 77 IP. After fifteen season as Yankee closer, Rivera is as great as ever, except maybe for a slight lag in K. Papelbon rebounded last year after a subpar 2010. His career marks are 2.33 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 10.7 K/9 and 37 saves per 162 games.
John Axford, Brewers
Drew Storen, Nationals
Heath Bell, Marlins
Jose Valverde, Tigers
Brian Wilson, Giants
J.J. Putz, Diamondbacks
Ryan Madson, Reds
As of March 23, Storen is said to be not seriously hurt, but keep an eye on him. Bell’s K/9 went from 11.06 in 2010 to 7.32. Now he leaves Petco, where he has a career 2.39 ERA. Valverde’s K/9 has dropped for five straight seasons but still had an 8.6 last year. After going 49-for-49 in save opportunities in 2011, he now has 51 straight saves overall. Madson gets moved down a couple of spots to the bottom of the tier due to his uncertain status now, but bear in mind that Wilson missed most of August and September last year with elbow inflammation and Putz missed a month in the middle of last season, also with elbow inflammation.
Joel Hanrahan, Pirates
Jordan Walden, Angels
Andrew Bailey, Red Sox
Rafael Betancourt, Rockies
Carlos Marmol, Cubs
Jason Motte, Cardinals
Huston Street, Padres
Joe Nathan, Rangers
Rookie Walden did well overall, but did blow 10 saves. Betancourt, who turns 37 in April, has 27 career saves – and 33 blown saves. Motte didn’t get his first save until August 28, but had five saves in the postseason. Street has a 4.11 lifetime ERA at Coors and now he gets to play in Petco. But if he does well, that might increase the odds of him getting traded during the season and losing his closer gig. Nathan had a 3.04 ERA at home and 7.50 on the road, and now he leaves pitcher-friendly Minnesota for Texas.
Brandon League, Mariners
Sergio Santos, Blue Jays
Kyle Farnsworth, Rays
Jim Johnson, Orioles
Frank Francisco, Mets
Chris Perez, Indians
Grant Balfour, Oakland
Brett Myers, Astros
Sean Marshall, Reds*
Kenley Jansen, Dodgers
Javy Guerra, Dodgers
Greg Holland, Royals
Jonathan Broxton, Royals
The first eight closers on this list all have closer jobs as of now, but nobody has a long track record of success. As of March 23, the situations with the Dodgers and Royals are uncertain, with Jansen and Holland generally seen as the better pitchers long-term, but Guerra and Broxton more likely to win the gigs in the short run due to prior closing experience.
*Update, March 24 – With Madson out for the year, Marshall is the leading candidate for saves in the Reds’ pen.
Photo by Keith Allison.
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