Did Ryan Madson fix his broken wing? Will Frank Francisco learn to fly again? Will the book of love open up and let Bruce Rondon in? So many burning questions; and it's only February. I'm looking at 20+ Closers that could go down in flames. I anticipate a lot of heartache during the hot summer. But have no fear, Mister Middle Reliever is here. Well… actually you should have mucho fear. There isn't much good news on the Closer front. If you'd rather draft a Sean Doolittle than do little to get saves, this is for you. Hit it (and bring extra undies):
Question Mark Rundown
"Oh my (insert broken body part here)!"
"You know what coach, I kinda suck!"
"But I've never done that before!"
"The 8th inning guy is better than me!"
"Don't trade me, don't trade me, shit!"
Yikes! So who is left?
Craig Kimbrel – expensive
Jonathan Papelbon – expensive
Jason Motte – expensive
Greg Holland – expensive in tough leagues
This is a bad landscape for those of us who like to acquire saves on the cheap (although if you play in smaller, less active leagues, this could be a blessing in disguise). When it comes to saves, I have short arms and deep pockets. I usually avoid any RP that costs more than $14-$12, which usually ends up being a J.J. Putz-type. This will not change. MDS does not adapt. He does not bend. And he definitely does not evolve. He is the center of his own universe, so magically things will work out. You may want to spend the big bucks for a Papelbon/Motte/Holland bullpen, but I don't. I'm going to gamble. I hope to get a few closers at a discount and draft two or three middle relievers. Not only do MRs give you a solid chance at acquiring future saves, but three MRs can give you strong ratios at SP quantity.
Just to clarify: I don't fear any closer just because "he's never done that before". I think Wilhelmsen, Grilli, Reed, Janssen and Veras will have no troubles. But if they do struggle early on, they may be afforded shorter leashes, which is a small concern.
Middle Relievers to Target Now: in quasi-particular order
Joaquin Benoit: will be the Tigers closer, forget Bruce Rondon.
Bobby Parnell: Franky Two-Times.
Ernesto Frieri: Ryan Madson is not healthy.
Kyuji Fujikawa: Carlos Marmol is awful.
David Hernandez: great numbers, Putz is injury prone.
Santiago Casilla: Sergio Romo will hurt his elbow.
Ryan Cook & Sean Doolittle: Doolittle is great, Balfour is hurt.
Drew Storen & Tyler Clippard: Soriano is prone to injury.
Luke Gregerson or Dale Thayer: Huston Street will get hurt.
Vinnie Pestano: better than Perez (one year left on contract)
Kenley Jansen: he's better than Brandon League.
David Robertson: great in '12, Mo is no spring chicken.
Joel Peralta: great numbers, in case Rodney gets no respect.
Andrew Bailey & Koji Uehara: Joel Hanrahan isn't very good.
Vinnie Pestano + David Hernandez + Santiago Casilla
12 W, 229 K, 1.11 WHIP, 2.63 ERA (201.2 IP)
6 W, 207 K, 1.11 WHIP, 3.16 ERA (211 IP)