Dealing with closers can be very frustrating at times, especially if you're the owner of a closer that is about to lose his job. What can be more frustrating is to trying to predict which closer is next to go, whether it is because of injury or pure ineffectiveness, but hey-- that's why we're here to assist you in making the correct closer choices. Regarding the difficulty of managing your relief pitching, I think I will steal a Zach Galifianakis quote from the Due Date film:
Ethan Tremblay: My father always had a saying: "When a day starts like this, it's all uphill from here."
Peter Highman: Uphill? No, it's all downhill from here.
Ethan Tremblay: But nobody wants to be down, everybody wants to be up. It's all uphill from here.
Peter Highman: But it's easier to go downhill. So your dad had no idea what the freak he was talking about.
So, for all you owners with closer troubles, keep that chin up, because it's all uphill from here.
Tom Wilhelmsen: The Mariners’ closer has been struggling since the end of May and could be in danger of losing his grip on the ninth inning job. Wilhelmsen has blown two saves in June and is 16-for-20 in save chances on the season. The strange part about Tom’s struggles is that his fastball velocity is normal, but for some reason he is not throwing that devastating curveball as much this season. Another oddity is that the elite strikeout rate did not carry over from last year, and that in itself is a major concern. If this slump continues, the most likely candidate to replace Wilhelmsen would be setup man Carter Capps. I believe he is the obvious handcuff and future closer, but I see other sites mentioning the likes of Yoervis Medina, Oliver Perez (really?) and Charlie "Insert Inappropriate Pun" Furbush. I suppose Medina would be the guy to scoop up if Capps is already owned in your league, but he has serious control issues. Oliver Perez is, well, Oliver Perez, and he and Charlie Furbush are both lefties, so I would avoid both of them.
Update: in a shocking turn of events, Oliver Perez got the save last night (6/14) for the Mariners. He is the short-term add, and the current favorite for saves until Wilhelmsen can get his job back. Capps may still be the favorite since he's the righty, but Perez got the first chance and delivered.
Jose Valverde: I really dislike this guy and his antics, and I have a strong feeling that someone else will be closing for Detroit by the All-Star break. The Tigers do not trust Joaquin Benoit to throw on back-to-back days, so I am doubtful that he would be the choice. There were rumblings at the start of the season that Rick Porcello could be a possibility at closer, and it seems as though those rumors are beginning to resurface. That said, I don't believe that the Valverde's replacement lives in the Tigers' current bullpen, so I think they would either look outside the organization or promote from within. One potential candidate, if healthy, would be Brian Wilson. If they decide to stay inside the organization, the three minor league options would be: Al Alburquerque, Brayan Villarreal and Bruce Rondon. I know many fantasy teams have tons of players on the DL but if for some reason you have some room, I would stash Rondon. He's been lights-out for the Mud Hens, sporting a microscopic era of .074 with 10 saves and 29 K in 24 IP.
Jim “Harry and the” Henderson: In his first opportunity since returning from the disabled list, Jim Henderson promptly blew his second save of the season. Jim has been rock-solid since being anointed the closer, and probably has a little bit of a leash, but if he continues to struggle then a change could occur. We know that they are planning to give Francisco Rodriguez a chance to reach 300 saves, but I do not think K-Rod is the answer for the long haul. If there are any patient John Axford owners left, continue to stash, and for Henderson owners, do yourself a favor and handcuff with Axford. And oh, I have a feeling: the Ax Man will be back-- with a vengeance-- to secure the job the rest of the way. Sure, it’s a risk, but it may be a risk worth taking if you’re hurting for numbers in the column marked "S".
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