Digging Deeper into Closers: AL Central Bullpen Report

David Paul - RotoBaller

Welcome to the RotoBaller.com Preseason Bullpen Report. This edition features the American League Central. RotoBaller answers your closers questions here, and you can ask us anything else at our Ask Us Anything section of RotoBaller.com.

Addison Reed on June 26, 2012Chicago White Sox

Presumed Closer: Addison Reed

% Chance to start the season as closer: 95%
% Chance to be the closer at All-Star break: 80%

Reed’s first year as the White Sox closer was rockier than expected. He finished the year with 29 saves in 33 chances, but registered a horrid 4.75 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. His second half was particularly bad-- a 5.63 ERA, 1.54 WHIP and 5 HR allowed in only 24 IP. Reed was a strikeout pitcher in the minors, averaging more than 11.50 K/9 in all his minor league stops, only to see that ratio drop below 9.0 K/9 once he arrived in the big leagues. With a fastball that averaged 94.5 mph in 2012, he still has a live arm, and with some experience pitching at the highest level, he could conceivable bring that strikeout rate back to its historical level.

Others to know: The White Sox will contend for the AL Central title and Reed will have a shorter leash because of that. Veteran Jesse Crain is lurking in the background if Reed struggles. Crain had a great 2012 season and has terrific strikeout potential. Keep an eye on him in case Reed falters.

Cleveland Indians

Presumed Closer: Chris Perez

% Chance to start the season as closer: 35%
% Chance to be the closer at All-Star break: 30%

On March 1, Chris Perez was diagnosed with a strain in his throwing shoulder, which is never good news. He’s not projected to be ready to go until late March and that could be pushed further if he suffers a setback. Before this news, Perez was a risky pick anyway, so now he's an extraordinarily risky pick. If Perez is unable to go on Opening Day, the Indians have Vinnie Pestano waiting to assume the closer role. If Perez is healthy, look for the Indians to give him every opportunity to close. After all, Perez is set to earn $7.3M in 2013, so the Indians will want to showcase him and probably look to move him before the deadline. If Perez is still hurting, enjoy Pestano who teased us in 2012 with a 9.77 K/9, 2.57 ERA and 1.10 WHIP.

Others to know: Injury and trade rumors abound for Chris Perez. There’s a chance you can get Perez on the cheap if fantasy owners are scared off, or you may want to snag Vinnie Pestano in one of the final rounds of your draft. Either way, there is a good chance that you can get a guy on the cheap here.

Detroit Tigers

Presumed Closer: Bruce Rondon?

% Chance to start the season as closer: 25%
% Chance to be the closer at All-Star break: 25%

Who knows? Bruce Rondon is the latest player trending on Jim Leyland’s Twitter feed. He throws hard and strikes guys out, but he's had control problems throughout his professional career. Don’t spend too much on any Tigers closer, and certainly not on Rondon.

Others to know: Brayan Villarreal, Joaquin Benoit, Al Alburquerque, Phil Coke, Octavio Dotel. The Tigers could also trade for any of the names they've been linked to in the last few weeks, like Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. In short, there are lots of good options who will compete with Rondon for the job. Benoit is the guy we think will ultimately end up with the job, but keep an eye on the Rotoballer newsfeed for updated information on the Tigers closing situation.

GregHollandKansas City Royals

Presumed Closer: Greg Holland

% Chance to start the season as closer: 100%
% Chance to be the closer at All-Star break: 95%

After finishing the second half with a 2.17 ERA and 13.25 K/9, Greg Holland is looking like a top-10 closer entering 2013. Two consecutive seasons with a low ERA and a K/9 above 11.00 make Holland a solid pick. But be concerned about all the baserunners he allows-- a high walk rate and a .346 BABIP led to a 1.37 WHIP in 2012. The BABIP should decline, but walks could remain a problem. His 91 K last year put him in the upper echelon of all closers, though, and you can consider Holland fairly valued after about the eleventh round or so.

Others to know: Aaron Crow would be the go-to if Holland is injured, but this scenario only comes to pass if Holland really stinks up the joint. Draft Holland with confidence.

Minnesota Twins

Presumed Closer: Glen Perkins

% Chance to start the season as closer: 100%
% Chance to be the closer at All-Star break: 90%

Glen Perkins emerged as the Twins' closer in 2012 with 16 saves, and he should be a safe bet to keep the job going forward in 2013. One notable statistic here is that Perkins's fastball speed has steadily risen over the last three seasons from 92.0 mph all the way up to 95.2 mph in its recent vintage. In the second half of 2012, he was nearly unhittable with a 1.93 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP, which he achieved by halving the walk rate he had established prior to the All-Star break. The Twins won’t win many games, but saves rarely correlate nicely with a teams' win totals. Draft Perkins for his skills, not his supporting cast.

Others to know: Jared Burton or Alex Burnett would be the second choice if Perkins can’t close; right now Perkins is the guy, and he should hold the job barring injury or meltdown.

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