NL Closer Report: June 11

Thirteen of the 16 teams in the National League have closers with 10 or more saves so far this season. Washington’s Matt Capps continues to lead the Majors in saves, although he’s been less effective recently.

Strong Performers

Jonathan Broxton | Los Angeles Dodgers
The Comments: Broxton is the most valuable reliever is 5X5 fantasy baseball right now and it’s not hard to understand why. The right-hander has a strikeout rate of 13.34 K/9, an 0.95 ERA and a WHIP of 0.92. This past week, he recorded three saves in as many tries.

Heath Bell | San Diego Padres
The Comments: Bell is currently second in the Majors in saves with 17. He also has an outstanding ERA at 1.33, although he’s giving up his fair share of hits. His strikeout rate remains strong at 11.67 K/9. He recorded three saves this past week.

Brian Wilson | San Francisco Giants
The Comments: Wilson is 15-for-17 in save opportunities this season and he has a strikeout rate of 12.62 K/9. Despite the good numbers, he’s still only sixth or seventh in overall fantasy value amongst NL closers… which tells you a whole lot about the quality of the closers in the league.

Francisco Rodriguez | New York Mets
The Comments: Rodriguez has been on a K-tear as of late with 12 strikeouts in his last six appearances. The right-hander saved two games in as many tries this past week.

Carlos Marmol | Chicago Cubs
The Comments: Mr. K had a reserved week; the Cubs’ closer struck out just one batter in three appearances. Even so, he gave up just one hit and one (intentional) walk. All the balls put in play against Marmol this past week – save for one – were ground balls. He went 1-for-2 in save opportunities.

Billy Wagner | Atlanta Braves
The Comments: Wagner has recovered from a slow start to the season to be the second most valuable fantasy closer in the Majors. The veteran has a 4-0 record, 10 saves and a strikeout rate of 14.05 K/9. Oh, and no one can hit him (5.18 H/9), either. He went 1-for-1 in save opportunities this past week and recorded strikeouts on five of his nine outs.

Ryan Franklin | St. Louis Cardinals
The Comments: So much for ’09 being a fluke. The veteran right-hander has proven that he can be a legitimate closer in the NL. Franklin has 10 saves in 11 tries, although he hasn’t had an opportunity since May 20. He’s given up just two hits (and no walks) during that span, totaling 8.0 innings and five appearances.

Steady Performers

Chad Qualls | Arizona Diamondbacks
The Comments: Here are some ugly stats: 7.77 ERA, 14.73 H/9 and 4 BS. Here are some positive signs: .458 BABIP-allowed, 55 GB% and 3.56 xFIP. In other words, it’s been a rough year but Qualls isn’t as bad as he seems to be; look for a smart GM to try and acquire him to shore up the seventh/eighth innings for a playoff-bound team.

Octavio Dotel | Pittsburgh Pirates
The Comments: The most impressive stat that Dotel has is the strikeout rate at 12.73 K/9. His walk rate is high, as is the hit rate. His xFIP is 4.14 and he’s giving up a ton of fly balls, as witnessed by the 26% ground-ball rate. Dotel appeared in two games this past week but did not have a save opportunity.

Leo Nunez | Florida Marlins
The Comments: Nunez continues to flash an impressive WHIP at 0.93. The King Fish also has a nice xFIP at 2.88. He made just one appearance this past week and recorded the save.

Matt Capps | Washington Nationals
The Comments: As mentioned above, Capps hasn’t been as strong recently. This past week, he went 3-for-4 in save opportunities and gave up six hits in 3.2 innings of work. His hit rate is quite high right now at 11.05 H/9 and his BABIP-allowed sits at .361.

Francisco Cordero | Cincinnati Reds
The Comments: Cordero continues to suffer from a high WHIP at 1.50 and ERA at 3.90, which significantly diminishes the value in his 17 saves. He made four appearances this past week and went 1-for-2 in saves opportunities while also giving up five hits and two walks in 4.0 innings.

John Axford | Milwaukee Brewers
The Comments: Axford, 27, has been a real find for the Brewers. The Canadian hurler has a strikeout rate of 10.29 K/9 and a ground-ball rate of 47%. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and he’s also shown good command of two breaking balls (slider and curve). He’s gone 4-for-4 in save opportunities since replacing Trevor Hoffman.

Matt Lindstrom | Houston Astros
The Comments: Lindstrom continues to see a lot of balls find holes, as he has a BABIP-allowed of .372 and a hit rate of 10.94 H/9. The right-hander was pretty good this past week with three saves in as many tries.

Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras | Philadelphia Phillies
The Comments: Lidge, back from injury, went 2-for-2 in save opportunities and appeared in three games without allowing a run. Contreras currently sports a K/BB rate of 5.00 and he’s a perfect 3-for-3 as the club’s closer. This past week, he appeared in three games but did not have a save opportunity.

Manny Corpas | Colorado Rockies
The Comments: With Huston Street currently on a minor-league rehab assignment, Corpas’ window of opportunity could be a small one. The young hurler appeared in four games this past week and went 2-for-3 in save opportunities. Impressively, he hasn’t walked a batter in 14 appearances.



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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


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