AL Closer Report: May 28

Strong Performers

Neftali Feliz | Texas Rangers
The Comments: Feliz has had his ups and downs but he’s done very well in the role, as witnessed by his league-leading (with Rafael Soriano) 13 saves. He’s shown excellent control for his age but he may eventually get himself into trouble with a ground-ball rate at just 22%. Over the past seven days, Feliz has notched two saves in as many tries.

Joakim Soria | Kansas City Royals
The Comments: Soria’s strikeout (11.84 K/9) and walk (2.84 BB/9) rates remain good but he’s still getting burned by the long ball (23.5% HR/FB). He saved two games this past week.

Rafael Soriano | Tampa Bay Rays
The Comments: Soriano shares the league lead in saves with Neftali Feliz. Soriano, though, is doing it with a fair amount of luck involved. His xFIP is 4.28 and he’s benefiting from a 90% LOB rate, as well as a .222 BABIP-allowed.

Steady Performers

Andrew Bailey | Oakland Athletics
The Comments: The ERA (0.96) and xFIP (4.18) certainly seem to suggest Bailey has not been quite as good as it might seem. His strikeout rate is also 4.50 K/9 off of his rookie mark, which is a massive drop. Even so, he’s holding his own in the closer’s role and saved three games this past week. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in five games.

Jose Valverde | Detroit Tigers
The Comments: It’s amazing what a .144 BABIP-allowed and 96% LOB rate will do for your ERA (0.46). Valverde has 11 saves but his K/BB rate is just 1.56. He’s received just one save opportunity since May 12.

Mariano Rivera | New York Yankees
The Comments: Rivera’s xFIP of 4.33 is significantly higher than it’s been over the past nine seasons. As well, his strikeout rate is about 2.00 K/9 off his career mark. He did save three games this past week but did it without a strikeout. The reliever has fanned just one batter in his past six appearances.

Jonathan Papelbon | Boston Red Sox
The Comments: Papelbon appeared in just one game this past week and recorded the save. The right-hander appears to have recovered from an early-season issue with his control.

David Aardsma | Seattle Mariners
The Comments: Aardsma continues to show improved control this season while maintaining a solid strikeout rate (10.13 K/9). He saved two games this past week and did not allow a hit or a walk.

Brian Fuentes | Los Angeles Angels
The Comments: The home run rate is ugly at 3.09 HR/9 and his ground-ball rate is a crazy-low 21.2%. He’s gone three games without having a ball hit on the ground – for either a hit or an out. Fuentes appeared in just one game this past week and recorded the save.

Jon Rauch | Minnesota Twins
The Comments: Rauch has hit a bit of a rough patch. The veteran right-hander pitched two innings this past week and gave up five hits, one walk and three runs. He blew his only save opportunity. Even so, he remains a good bet in the closer’s role.

Fallen on Hard Times

??? | Baltimore Orioles
The Comments: With both Mike Gonzalez and Alfredo Simon suffering from injuries, the Orioles bullpen is in a bit of a mess right now. Oakland scored five runs against the O’s in the eighth inning of last night’s game, which pretty much underlines the issues in the bullpen. Cla Meredith was charged with the blown save. Will Ohman could also see a save opp or two.

Kevin Gregg | Toronto Blue Jays
The Comments: Gregg’s overall numbers have taken a hit recently; his strikeout and walk rates are basically mirroring his ’09 season with Chicago. The big difference continues to be the improved ground-ball rate and the related ability to keep the ball in the yard. He did not record a save this past week and Gregg has given up four runs in his last two appearances. During that span, he walked four and did not strike out a batter.

Bobby Jenks | Chicago White Sox
The Comments: The .450 BABIP-allowed and 5.82 BB/9 rate continue to play havoc with Jenks’ numbers. He gave up three runs in his last appearance against Cleveland but it was a non-save opportunity.

Kerry Wood | Cleveland Indians
The Comments: It’s been a rocky return from the DL for Wood but he finally recorded his first save of the year this past week against Cincinnati. His control may be improving, as he hasn’t walked a batter in three appearances. He could move up to the “Steady Performer” category with a respectable week.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


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