If you look at the A group, with the exception of Broxton, you will see a lot of old faces. With disregarding the ageless one, Mariano Rivera, I am sure most would have never expected to see the likes of Wagner, Jenks, and Lidge receiving an A for their relief efforts this year on any list. Fortunately for their teams, these closers performed at very high levels over the past week and jumped up to the top of the list. So whose place did they take?
Jonathan Broxton (Dodgers): Broxton remains electric, over the last seven days the Dodgers closer struckout seven in four IP while allowing just three runners to reach base. He added two more saves to bump his season total up to 15. With the exceptional week, Broxton was able to lower his ERA to 0.99 and now has a 42:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio on the year. He has given up just three-earned in 27.1 IP.
Bobby Jenks (White Sox): Well look who it is, after falling under the D or F grades for most of the year Mr. Jenks was able to finally put together a solid week. Jenks made good on both of his SVO and added five strikeouts in four IP. The Sox closer allowed just three hits and no walks, but still has an ERA of 5.14 on the season.
Billy Wagner (Braves): For the second week in a row the Braves closer has received an A, and deservingly so. Wagner gave up just one hit and struckout four. He did walk two but was able to work out of the minimal damage with ease. Wagner now has ten saves in 12 chances on the year, and 36 K’s in just over 23 IP.
Brad Lidge (Phillies): I thought the Phillies had no shot of getting anything positive from Lidge this year in the closer’s role, but I was wrong (at least last week anyway). Lidge went 2-for-2 in SVO and fanned five batters while allowing just three batters to touch first. With all of that good news I just mentioned, I am still skeptical and fantasy owners should be as well.
Mariano Rivera (Yankees): Just another uneventful week for Mo: Two IP, two saves, and two K’s. He did however walk one batter and hit another, I didn’t get to see the HBP so I am going to guess that it was just one pitch that got away. Rivera has only blown one save this year (13-for-14) and his ERA is just 1.59 but his strikeout numbers are unimpressive with 15 K’s in 19.1 IP. With that said, I am sure Rivera would prefer to work a three-pitch save and have all batters make contact, than a 15-pitch inning and strikeout the side.
Francisco Rodriguez (Mets): The Mets closer has a 38:12 strikeout-to-walk ratio on the season (not great) and added eight strikeouts to that total while walking two last week in 5.1 IP. K-Rod did blow a save last week, which usually wouldn’t allow a closer to receive a B, but he gave up just one run. He is still a great option.
Chad Qualls (Diamondbacks): Kind of the opposite of K-Rod, Qualls didn’t blow a save but he only recorded one strikeout. Qualls went 2-for-2 in SVO, but walked three batters in three IP. The D’Backs closer is 1-2 with a 6.53 ERA on the season with four blown saves.
Heath Bell (Padres): While Bell gave up more hits and walks (five) than IP (three), he also struckout five during the week. Bell added two more saves to his total (16) on the year while lowering his season ERA to 1.38. He is tied for second in the Majors in saves.
Matt Lindstrom (Astros): Lindstrom was one of the few closers to receive four SVO last week, which is surprising because he plays for Houston. The closer went 3-for-4 in save chances while giving up two-earned runs and five hits. Lindstrom is having a decent year with two wins, a 3.08 ERA and 14 saves.
Brian Wilson (Giants): Wilson was another to receive four SVO and he also blew a save. Unlike his norm, Wilson gave up more hits and walks (four) than he recorded strikeouts (three). On the season Wilson has 36 strikeouts and 33 walks/hits.
John Axford (Brewers): The new Brewers closer looks like he is going to fill in for Trevor Hoffman pretty well. Although he finished the week with a 5.40 ERA with giving up eight hits, Axford has the look and the stuff (96+ mph fastball) to fill the closer’s role for at least this year.
Brian Fuentes (Angels): I think I am going to start a petition to get Mike Scioscia to remove Fuentes from the closer spot. I mean every week he makes me give him a bad grade because of his inadequacies on the mound. Fuentes did go 2-for-2 in save chances but again finished the week with a ridiculous ERA (9.00) and now has a 5.52 ERA on the year. Put him in the pen and give yourself an excellent left-handed specialist.
Carlos Marmol (Cubs): Unlike Fuentes, Marmol does not belong down here and probably won’t be here for long. If it wasn’t for the Brewers last-second heroics, Marmol probably would have been on his way to another good grade. However, the Brewers were able to get a hold of Marmol for two runs in the bottom of the 9th and give him the loss. Marmol finished the week with one save (one blown) and a 9.00 ERA.
Matt Capps (Nationals): The Major League saves leader was not very good last week, in fact he was atrocious. Capps finished with a 8.10 ERA, and that’s probably his best stat of the week. He surrendered seven hits, six runs (three earned), and two homeruns. Capps is now 0-3 on the year, but even with the horrible week he leads the league with 19 saves and has a respectable 3.49 ERA.
David Aardsma (Mariners): After Aardsma’s breakout season last year many expected him to follow it up with a good, not great, year. He has been anything but! Aardsma didn’t blow a save last week but gave up three runs in just 2.2 IP to raise his season ERA to 5.21. Aardsma’s struggles are due in part to Seattle’s terrible offense and the other is due to Aardsma’s power numbers being down (just 18 K’s in 19 IP). Either way, I think we can start to say: last year was a fluke!