No, That’s Not Richard Grieco
Photo Credit: Keith Allison
That old bag from the “Where’s The Beef?” commercials knows where it is. Legend has it, the real cause of her death came from reading a single sentence of “Beef: The Series.” It was simply too much beef for one elderly woman to handle. A “beef overdose” if you will.
Seeing as how this is the first “Beef: The Series” of our 2013 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit, it’s only right that we kick things off with a Battle Royale. The LA Angels closing job could go in a couple of different directions. There’s a great chance that the guy who starts out as the closer could wind up third or fourth on the team in saves by season’s end. It’s that wide open.
More after the jump:
Grappler: Ryan Madson
Strengths: Elite RP during last two years in PHI, is on a one-year deal that he can parlay into a big payday, and is expected to assume closer’s role once healthy.
Weaknesses: Coming off Tommy John Surgery and may not be ready by Opening Day.
Signature Move: Flying Elbow (as in his elbow actually flies off his body)
Grappler: Ernesto Frieri
Strengths: Saved 23 games for LA last year and averaged 94.2 mph on fastball last year. Also generated ample swings-and-misses in 2012 (13.36 K/9 and 14.4 SwStr%).
Weaknesses: Prior to 2012, he never averaged 93 mph on his heater.
Monikers: “Ernesto P. Worrell”
Grappler: Scott Downs
Strengths: Saved nine games last year, limits the long ball, and has always been a reliable RP (career 3.55 ERA).
Weaknesses: Left-handed and a soft-thrower, so not a prototypical closer.
Signature Move: “The Downs Syndrome”
Grappler: Sean Burnett
Strengths: Veteran with ample back-end-of-the-bullpen experience and owned a 9.05 K/9 last year.
Weaknesses: Soft-thrower and left-handed, so not a typical “blow you away” closer.
Monikers: “The Back-End Bully”
Signature Move: He rapes you.
Grappler: Kevin Jepsen
Strengths: Throws in the mid-90s and can induce ground balls.
Weaknesses: Underwhelming strikeout numbers for a reliever (7.66 K/9 last year).
Signature Move: “Meet the Jepsen”
Blow-By-Blow Analysis (Pause)
So we have the incumbent, two soft-tossing lefties, a once-dominant RP coming off Tommy John Surgery, and a hard-throwing righty that can’t be overlooked. Burnett and Downs are the first two tossed from the ring. They’re pretty much the equivalent of Barry Horowitz, jobbing to the other three RPs like a couple of suckas.
The remaining righties all have closer potential, but Kevin Jepsen finds himself on the outside looking in. He could still find his way into some saves if injuries or sucky play befall Frieri or Madson, but he’s had opportunities to earn the closing job before and has come up short. That leaves the incumbent and the guy everyone thinks was signed to be the closer. There’s no question that if Madson returns to his 2010-2011 form, he’ll be one of the best RPs in fantasy. Frieri has a shorter track record, but his doesn’t include recent elbow surgery. Plus, Frieri has the most recent closing experience.
Frieri wins this one. Ryan Madson would be a nice comeback story, but he’ll only be a year removed from Tommy John Surgery by the time Opening Day rolls around. Joe Nathan, who had a longer track record than Madson, took a full two years before looking close to the player he resembled pre-TJ surgery. I’m sure Madson will be given the opportunity to close games when he’s ready, but that doesn’t mean he’ll succeed and hold onto the gig. As much as I loved Madson’s ability from 2010-2011, we can’t just assume that he’ll come back and be that pitcher ever again. He’s got a lot of rust to work off and strength to regain, and even though the success rate for pitcher’s who come back from TJ Surgery has increased dramatically over the years, it’s still a long rehabilitation that some people never fully bounce back from.
Frieri was very good last year, and while we have to see him duplicate his 2012 strikeout rates before we can really trust him as a reliable fantasy option, “Ernesto P. Worrell” is still the best bet to lead the Angels in saves this season. Know what I mean?