There are few positions that see the massive turnover in fantasy sports as much as closers do in baseball. For every top-tiered closer, there are two or three that emerge from the fantasy free agent pool each season to post respectable save numbers.
Some may argue that closers can help your team ERA and WHIP … but remember that these are percentages and that closers only produce in very small sample sizes compared to most starting pitchers. This limits their overall assistance.
So, in a nutshell, if you’re wondering how to draft closers, it is best in most cases to stack up on positional players and even starting pitchers before addressing the closer position. Let someone else pay a high price for Jonathan Broxton or Jonathan Papelbon.
But if you do insist on taking closers early and often, than be sure to consider the potential bust candidates as players better left for someone else’s squad.
Few closers have been as long-lasting and consistent as Mariano Rivera has been in pinstripes. Few also realize that he’s past the 40-year-old mark and that the Yankees have a growing stable of young arms that could be penciled in for closer duties.
Also consider that while Rivera notched 44 saves in 2009, he also doubled his walks allowed and saw an increase in ERA despite pitching in four less innings than 2008.
While this may seem like nit-picking, it also could be the first warning signs that Rivera’s stock will soon start to decline. There are plenty of younger options at the closer position that you can get much cheaper on draft day.
Heath Bell replaced Trevor Hoffman in San Diego without a hitch, notching an NL-best 42 saves and earning the accolades of fantasy baseball managers everywhere.
Heading into this season, it is amazing to me how quickly people want to anoint Bell the next great thing at the position, even though he’s already 33 years old and plays for a team that can struggle to put together wins.
This isn’t to say that Bell won’t produce saves in 2010, but if you’re expecting him to replicate his 42-save breakout campaign from 2009, than you aren’t being realistic. I expect him to notch closer to 30 saves … and he’s going too high in most drafts for my blood.
There is no denying that Carlos Marmol has nasty stuff. He has averaged 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings the past three seasons. Few have even semi-reached that output. Batters have only managed a .181 batting average against Marmol during his career. Both of these stats might suggest he’s an elite closing candidate.
However, a solid closer also needs to show some consistency and discipline, something Marmol struggles with. He walked 7.9 batters per nine innings last season. In 74 innings pitched, Marmol walked 65 batters … nearly double the next highest closer on the list.
People are mesmerized with his mound presence and paying for his strikeout potential, but while Marmol could mature into the next K-Rod, he could just as easily find himself fitting the Brad Lidge mold.
I’ll take someone less flashy but more consistent.