Keeper Conundrums: Relief Pitchers

All this week, I’ve been looking at potential keepers at each position that you may be on the fence about. Now, a look at some relief pitchers.

David Aardsma
Everyone expected Aardsma to regress this year, and his ADP reflected it. While he did do some regressing, he still has quite a bit in front of him. He gave up less fly balls this year, yet his BABIP dropped even lower. He still saved owners 31 games, but he didn’t even come close to touching last year’s value.
Crude 2011 Projection: 3.60 ERA, 5 saves, 8.5 K/9, 4.3 BB/9
Verdict: Cut. The reduced number of saves is because I think he’ll be traded by the Mariners shortly after the offseason begins.

Matt Capps
The Nationals made a great decision this offseason, bringing Matt Capps in to be their closer. They ended up getting a solid prospect for him, and the Twins will be relying on him during this postseason. With Joe Nathan coming back, will the Twins send Capps packing, or will they keep him as insurance?
Crude 2011 Projection: 2.85 ERA, 10 saves, 7.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9
Verdict: Cut. While he’s a good pitcher, he’s not guarenteed to get saves next year. Play a wait and see approach with all of the Twins’ relievers.

Jonathan Broxton
Broxton was completely dominant during the first half of the year. He didn’t give up an earned run in April, and had a FIP of 0.19 during that month. 0.19! Something happened in the second half, though, and Broxton began to walk too many batters. The Dodgers lost all confidence in him, and he lost his job as the closer.
Crude 2011 Projection: 2.75 ERA, 30 saves, 11.3 K/9, 3.5 BB/9
Verdict: Keep. I don’t think he’ll slip in drafts, and he should be an elite player next season.

Daniel Bard
Bard didn’t pitch quite as well as expected, but he still did pretty well for himself. His value will all come down to Papelbon. Will he stay or will he go?
Crude 2011 Projection: 2.60 ERA, 27 saves, 9.0 K/9, 3.2 BB/9
Verdict: Keep. I think Papelbon gets traded, but the Red Sox bring in a veteran or two to keep Bard on his toes.

Drew Storen
As soon as he was drafted, Storen was labeled the Nationals “closer of the future.” The Nationals had him put his work in for the minor league affiliates, and then gave him some chances once Matt Capps was traded. With a full season in the organization under his belt, will the Nationals turn over the ball to Storen in the ninth inning?
Crude 2011 Projection: 3.33 ERA, 20 saves, 9.0 K/9, 3.5 BB/9
Verdict: Keep. Like Bard, I think he becomes the closer but loses some opps to a veteran presence.

If you have a relief pitcher you’re on the fence about, leave it in the comments. If I see a player showing up in the comments multiple times, I may do a writeup on them for next week.

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Zach is the creator and co-author of RotoGraphs' Roto Riteup series, and RotoGraphs' second-longest tenured writer. You can follow him on twitter.

20 Responses to “Keeper Conundrums: Relief Pitchers”

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  1. Zach says:

    Koji Uehara or Mike Gonzalez?

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  2. Marc says:

    How do you explain Broxton’s severe drop off in the second half?

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  3. The A Team says:

    Keeping Padres themed with today’s questions, what’s your best guess on the Pads closing situation in 2011? Does Bell stay on? If not, is it the durable Gregorson or the untouchable but fragile Adams?

    Personally I would pick Adams while betting that the Pads will want Gregorson’s multi-inning abilities available earlier in games.

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  4. harpago17 says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    What about Carlos Marmol at $15 in an 8-team NL only? Seems like it’s pretty close to what his market value will be, but with inflation is it worthwhile to “lock up” a closer of his caliber? I’ve also got Drew Storen and Evan Meek at $1 a piece.

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  5. Jon Broxton says:

    What happened to me was Joe Torre abused me. My ERA for the rest of the year was above 7 following an inning in which I threw nearly 50 pitches vs. NYY in June. I keep telling people I am fine physically, but my velocity is down and I have less movement these days. While my new skipper has given his vote of confidence, I think that was more to appease fans since i will be making a neat $7 Mil next season. My pal Kuo isn’t going anywhere, and as long as he is healthy, I will constantly have to be looking over my shoulder and wondering if I will get the save opps, especially against lefties…

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  6. Double J says:

    Craig Kimbrel at $10 assuming he’s closing going in?

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    • Sean says:

      Why would you ever assume Kimbrel is closing going in? I’d expect Kimbrel to be fifth in line entering the season, behind a possible return from Wagner, Venters, Saito, or a veteran signing.

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  7. Just Jim says:

    Andrew Bailey? I love his stuff, but 2 straight years of injuries scare me.

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  8. matthew says:

    How about Sergio Santos/Sale/Putz and Kuo

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  9. Owen says:

    Soria in the sixth round of a 14 team league. I only get to keep 2 players from round 6-20 and one of those guys was Tulo. It’s Soria or Rasmus.

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  10. teejay1324 says:

    Is Venters the odds on favorite to close if Wagner retires? If so, think he might be worth keeping in a 12 team, 10 player keeper league?

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  11. matthew says:

    10 players 12 teams… way to shallow to keep venters…

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  12. BA says:

    Neftali Feliz? He’s the #1 conundrum. I have him as a 20th rounder (from 2009) and i’d keep him if i knew he was going to continue as closer in 2011. not interested in keeping a mediocre starter making a home in arlington.

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