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AL Closer Report: July 2

The Hot

Kerry Wood, Cleveland
Well, well, look who’s hot. Just when we were about to write him off, Wood is back from the dead. The former Cub went 3-for-3 in saves this past week and he struck out six batters with just one walk and one hit allowed. If Wood can continue to show improved fastball command, then he could be worth a flyer.

Brian Fuentes, Los Angeles
With Fernando Rodney around, Fuentes can never get too comfortable. However, he earned some breathing room after a stellar week in which he appeared in four games without allowing a hit or a run and he saved three games. Fuentes posted a 4.66 ERA in June but he suffered from a .344 BABIP. Rodney, meanwhile, has allowed nine hits – with just one strikeout – in his last six innings pitched.

Alfredo Simon, Baltimore
Simon is one of those first-year closers that you just don’t want to put too much faith in. He’s a solid second or third option on your roster, though, and he’s coming off of a great week in which he saved three games in as many tries. Simon also recorded a win. He struck out four batters in 4.0 innings and gave up two hits and a walk.

Mariano Rivera, New York
Yawn. Next…

The Not

Jon Rauch, Minnesota
Rauch definitely did not have a terrible month, but he failed to record a save and actually blew a save on July 1 against Tampa Bay by allowing one earned run. Since June 19, Rauch has appeared in four games and has blown two saves without recording a successful conversion. His troubles, though, have not been related to the base on ball… Rauch has walked just one batter in the past 21 games.

Keep An Eye On…

Chris Perez, Cleveland
If Wood can continue to pitch well over the first three weeks of July, he could end up being a pretty inexpensive addition to the bullpen of a playoff-bound team. The beneficiary of such a deal would be Perez, who has been throwing well. The third-year pitcher struck out seven batters in 4.0 innings this past week. His ERA has also dipped each of the past three months from 4.05 in April to 3.09 to 2.13 in June.