The only way to measure a closer’s true success is by looking at their performance come year’s end. Since we don’t have the luxury of looking into the future, we measure a closer’s success on a weekly basis. For this reason, we may have players such as Billy Wagner at the top and as we saw last week, players even as great as Mariano Rivera at the bottom. No reliever is safe in this report, and an A grade will only be given to the week’s most outstanding performers.
Jonathan Broxton (Dodgers): The Dodgers hard-throwing closer was able to record all three save chances while striking out six in 4.2 IP. After somewhat of a slow start, Broxton leads the league over the last month with 12 saves and has a 1.84 ERA over that span. For the season he is fourth in the National League with 13 saves.
Billy Wagner (Braves): The Braves are in first place in the NL East and have won eight straight, in turn closer Billy Wagner had a huge week. Wagner struck seven out while going 3-for-3 in SVO. He now has nine saves on the year with a stellar 1.69 ERA.
Joakim Soria (Royals): Soria pitched in four games this past week and went 3-for-3 in SVO while striking out three. He allowed just one runner to reach base and now has a 2.61 ERA with 28 strikeouts in just over 20 IP.
Octavio Dotel (Pirates): Next to Broxton, believe it or not, Dotel has been the second best closer over the last month as far as stats are concerned. A 0.75 ERA and 18 K’s in 10 IP can back the previous statement. Last week he added two saves and four strikeouts while giving up just one hit.
Andrew Bailey (Athletics): Bailey was just one of five closers to pick up three saves last week, but he gave up a run and struckout just two. While the A’s closer does not have overwhelming strikeout numbers (12 in 21 IP) he does have a 1.29 ERA and 1.00 WHIP on the season.
Jon Rauch (Twins): Rauch went a perfect 3-for-3 but it was still an ugly week for the closer. He gave up seven hits, a homerun, and managed to strikeout just one. However, he only allowed two earned runs and did make good on each of his chances.
Francisco Rodriguez (Mets): As previously stated K-Rod is back to his old ways. He struck five out in just three IP and saved both of his chances. Rodriguez is 10-of-12 on the year in SVO and has struckout 30 with a 2.08 ERA.
Mariano Rivera (Yankees): After having such a strong season last year, Mo has gone under-the-radar a bit it seems. He has been bit by the injury bug this year but still has 11 saves (in 12 chances) and just a 1.56 ERA. Last week the “King of Closers” recorded two saves and struckout two.
Kerry Wood (Indians): Last week I said we could stick a fork in him and apparently I was a bit premature…maybe. While Wood did go a perfect 2-for-2 in save chances, he finished the week with a 4.50 ERA with giving up two runs (one earned). This will be a wait-and-see kind of thing with Wood, but I would rather be doing that with Wood on another owner’s team.
Heath Bell (Padres): This was a tough call on where to put Bell this week. He blew one save while recording another and struck five out. In the blown save Bell gave up a couple hits and a run, so it wasn’t a horrifying outing, which is why I gave him the benefit of the doubt.
Rafael Soriano (Rays): If Soriano could pick his strikeout total (17 in 21.1 IP) up a bit he could have a stranglehold on the #1 closer’s rank. He has yet to blow a save STILL (15-of-15) and is first in the AL. Last week he did his thing again and added two saves, but just one K.
Matt Capps (Nationals): Capps still leads the Majors with 17 saves but he hit a rough patch last week. The Nats closer blew a save (received the loss), gave up three runs (one earned) and eight base-runners reached base while he was on the mound. Still, he has just a 2.88 ERA and Washington has to be thrilled to getting this kind of production from Capps.
David Aardsma (Mariners): Well early this season I warned that, although Aarsdma should be considered elite he had yet to get shelled in an important situation. That was before he allowed a run and since then he has given up eight while raising his ERA to 4.41. Last week he gave up three runs in just 1.2 IP. It should be noted however, that those three runs came on one walk-off homerun by Howie Kendrick.
Matt Lindstrom (Astros): Lindstrom had his work week of the season by far, he blew two saves and received one loss. Of course, this can be expected if you walk five and give up eight hits. He finished the week with a 12.00 ERA.
Kevin Gregg (Blue Jays): Gregg really only sits here because of his Tuesday night meltdown against the Rays─ that should give you a hint as to how bad it was. Gregg walked SIX last week in just 3.2 IP and gave up four earned. Somehow he managed to still pick up two saves in three chances.
Chad Qualls (Diamondbacks): There aren’t many things going right these days for the D’Backs as they have lost nine straight and already sit 11.5 games back of the division lead. Qualls added to the frustration with giving up a homerun and four earned last week in just two IP.