NL Closer Report: July 2

The Hot

Octavio Dotel, Pittsburgh
It’s been a very frustrating season for Dotel owners. His performance has been up and down all year. Despite that fact, he remains a great reliever to have on your roster if he’s your second or third closer and you can afford to bench him during his cold spells. Dotel is currently on a hot streak right now and he saved three games this past week. He struck out five batters in 4.0 innings and did not allow an earned run.

John Axford, Milwaukee
It’s always hard to trust a rookie closer, but Axford – like Dotel – is a perfect second or third closer. The hard-throwing Canadian was a perfect 3-for-3 in saves this past week, although he gave up one earned run, three hits and two walks. He struck out six batters and now has a strikeout rate of 11.45 K/9 on the year (22.0 innings).

Billy Wagner, Atlanta
Wagner appeared in just two games this past week but he recorded a pair of saves and gave up just one hit and no walks. The veteran closer struck out six of the seven batters that he faced. Now that is dominating. Wagner did not give up a run in the month of June (11.1 innings) and he struck out 17.

The Not

Carlos Marmol, Chicago
Marmol had a rough week despite going 1-for-1 in saves and striking out seven batters in 3.2 innings. The big right-hander walked four batters and gave up five hits, which led to three runs. The walk rate of 6.38 BB/9 is definitely worrisome but the overall ERA, save total and strikeout rate are all sound. His ERA has risen each month, though, so the high pitch totals (as a result of the strikeout and walk totals) could be catching up to him.

Brian Wilson, San Francisco
Wilson had a respectable week but he had to pitch out of trouble. The right-handed closer allowed five hits and three walks in 2.1 innings this past week. He posted a 1.98 ERA in June but his xFIP was 3.88 and he gave up a lot of hits (15 in 13.2 innings).

Keep An Eye On…

Aaron Heilman, Arizona
With the firings of Manager A.J. Hinch and General Manager Josh Byrnes, there is a lot of change going on in Arizona. Heilman should continue to get some saves, but don’t invest too heavily in him with all the uncertainty. With that said, he did have a respectable week. He saved two games but also blew a save and took the loss despite not allowing an earned run. Heilman, 31, could potentially rack up some saves in Arizona but he’s not going to pile up strikeouts and his ERA will likely be average. Still, it’s hard to find new sources of saves this time of year.




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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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