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Digging Deeper into Closers: NL West Bullpen Report

By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "Brandon League") [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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

NL West Bullpen Report:

San Francisco Giants:

Presumed Closer: Sergio Romo
% Chance to start the season as closer: 100%
% Chance to be the closer at All-Star break: 80%

Once the full-time switch to Romo as the closer happened, he shut the door very effectively, especially in September when he racked up 5 saves, while giving up only two runs and striking out 14. Romo will open the season as the Giants' closer, and he has a good chance to succeed at a high level. San Francisco's middling offense and high-end pitching means Romo will find himself in a lot of pressure-packed low-scoring games.

Others to know: Santiago Casilla struggled as the Giants closer after racking up 21 saves from April to June. He struggled in June and July with 5 blown saves and 12 ER in 15 IP. If Romo struggles, Casilla would be next in line to save. Jeremy Affeldt is one of the best set-up guys in the game, but he figures to work in more situational roles, and we don't really expect him to be called upon, except in an emergency.

Brandon League 2010Los Angeles Dodgers:

Presumed Closer: Brandon League
% Chance to start the season as closer: 100%
% Chance to be the closer at All-Star break: 80%

Ned Colleti signed League in the offseason to be the Dodgers' closer. He's a proven-- but not quite elite-- closer. If this were just based on skills, there's a better than 50% chance that he'd lose the job to Jansen by the All-Star Break. But his contract can reach up to $33.5M with options and incentives, so the Dodgers have good reason to keep in the ninth as long as he's performing acceptably.

Others to know: Kenly Jansen has some nasty stuff. He struck out 99 batters in 65 IP in 2012. His 7 blown saves were concerning, but he pitched well last year, especially considering it was his first crack at closing. Many thought he should have been the closer going into this year. If League struggles for a while, Jansen will likely get another whirl.

Arizona Diamondbacks:

Presumed Closer: J.J. Putz
% Chance to start the season as closer: 100%
% Chance to be the closer at All-Star break: 85%

Putz has 77 saves over the past two seasons and 183 in his career. The D-Backs have no worries about him pitching in the ninth-innings spot. Their primary worry is his health, but since joining the Mets in 2009, Putz has thrown at least 54 IP in each of the past three seasons, which is a sign that his injury history is just that: history. Putz is one of the most reliable closers in the MLB, and you can rely on him as a #1 fantasy RP.

Others to know: David Hernandez is a name many fantasy owners have been waiting to take over closing duties for the past two seasons. Filling in for J.J. Putz in July of 2011, Hernandez pitched 11 near-perfect innings, racking up 7 saves and proving that he has what it takes to pitch in the ninth. Also on the roster is Heath Bell. It’s not known who is next in line to close after Putz, but Heath Bell was just awful last year in Miami, despite the sustained success he had in San Diego from 2009 to 2011, during which time he racked up 132 saves.

San Diego Padres

Presumed Closer: Huston Street
% Chance to start the season as closer: 100%
% Chance to be the closer at All-Star break: 51%

What can we say about Huston Street? First off, his save opportunities will be few and far between. The Padres are not going to surprise anyone this season and will win only 65-75 games. Last year, Padres' closers combined for 43 saves, almost 60% of their wins, so you should expect that number to go down. If Street can stay healthy for a full season, I would project a maximum of around 30-35 saves. That is a BIG IF though, because we are all aware of Street's intimate history with the DL.

Others to know: Luke Gregerson filled in when Street was banged up, and he did a relatively nice job. Again, the opportunities will be sparse, so Gregerson is at best a roster fill-in should Street find himself injured once again.

Colorado Rockies

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

In 2012, Betancourt was in his first full season as the closer and he closed out 31 games for a team that was completely banged up. He did blow 7 saves, but overall Betancourt was a very solid RP option and he should be going forward, as well.

Others to know: If something should happen to Betancourt, look for Wilton Lopez to take over closing
duties, with Matt Belisle as the emergency option. Lopez has been fantastic and he proved he can pitch in the ninth if something happens to Betancourt.