Tough luck closers

This play makes absolutely no sense. (Icon/SMI)

If I were asked to choose any closer to protect a lead for me in the ninth Mariano Rivera might be the first person I’d pick. And if not him then Neftali Feliz would also be a candidate. And although he hasn’t been dominant for as long, Craig Kimbrel has been certifiably nasty as the Braves closer this year. Brian Wilson has not been usual self this season but coming into it he was one of the top closer taken off draft boards. The common theme tying all of these closers last night is that they each uncharacteristically blew their chance at a save. Three of these four closers’ teams ended up winning the game regardless, but I’d be surprised if there is another night where so many top closers fail to close. I guess now that I keep track of such things I’ll actually find out.

Bartolo Colon—Tossed eight scoreless innings of three-hit ball with seven strikeouts. I’m speechless.

Zach Britton—Impressive in his own right, holding the Yanks scoreless over seven innings to drop his ERA to 2.14. Sure he’s getting a little lucky but all he needs is Little Bit O’Luck. Keep throwin’ the kid out there.

Cole Hamels—Threw a gem, allowing one run in eight innings with eight Ks. He’s never been an ace I’ve trusted, but I can’t claim any reason for it.

Jose Bautista—Went 1-for-2 with two walks and the one hit was a single. Are you kidding me!? Only a single!!!

Elliot Johnson—No home run last night but went 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs. Go ahead, be the early bird and get that worm.

Justin Turner—Went 2-for-4 with two doubles as he started at… wait for it… third.

Pedro Alvarez—Got one hit and it was a home run, his second of the season. Now’s a great time to sell Alvarez while his value will be at its peak. That’s a joke—you might as well hang onto him if you are one of his unfortunate owners.

Charlie Morton—Threw salt in the Reds’ wounds and shut them out for a full nine-innings. I have nothing to say about Charlie Morton, I just wanted to make a subtle Morton Salt Co. reference and figured this was my chance.

Hanley Ramirez—Hit a home run and stole a base, which I know Jeff Gross calls a Happy Meal. I’ve also heard it called a Slam & legs at Razzball. I guess I’ll have to think of my own term for the feat.

Greg Dobbs—Continues to hit as the Marlins third baseman with a 2-for-5 performance. He’s an empty batting average but if you lost your third baseman to injury, he’s another option to consider.

Alexi Ogando—Another impressive performance, this time going seven innings and giving up two earned. After the start his ERA rose to 2.13. Just because he wasn’t closing, why did I not think to draft this guy anywhere?!?

Eric Hosmer—Saved the game in the ninth with a solo homer but little do box-score gazers know he flied out to end the 10th with the bases loaded. Watch the game!

Jake Peavy—Was flat out dominant in his second start of the season, allowing just three singles in nine shutout frames with eight strikeouts. I was not really paying attention to Peavy before this, so this was quite the surprise. If you own him you probably know more than I do, so go with your gut.

Justin Masterson—Was the tough luck loser as the other guy on the mound Peavy was on. Actually Masterson and Peavy were the only guys on the mound in the White Sox-Indians game. That is, unless A-Rod crossed it.

Yadier Molina—Got another three hits! I told you yesterday, ride the Hot Yadi.

Homestretch: The 1967 AL Pennant Race, Part 3
A tight race shows no signs of letting up.

Matt Holliday/Lance Berkman—Both were taken out for precautionary reasons; Holliday for his hamstring and Berkman for his wrist. Both should be fine.

Trevor Plouffe—The walking dessert went 2-for-4 with three RBI. He figures to keep the job for the season and I own him in a couple leagues.

Chris Denorfia—Enjoyed a two-hit night from the leadoff position. I still recommend buying into him.

Yovani Gallardo—Pitched six innings, allowed eight baserunners and two runs, and struck out a season-high nine. This was far from a dominant performance against the Padres offense. If you are low in the standings Gallardo is the type of pitcher to buy cheaply who could put out a dominant second half. I’m not saying I think that is what will happen—I’ll try to think of a pitcher I like more to target—but if you need to climb in the standings these are the risky trades you should start thinking about.

Jered Weaver—Allowed three runs on seven hits in six innings while striking out four. He’s lost his last four starts and looks to be merely a very good pitcher as opposed to one of the most dominant in the league.

Jason Vargas—Threw seven shoutout innings with nine Ks to increase his consecutive great start count to three. He isn’t owned in any of my leagues and he’s got the Twins next so I wouldn’t mind owning him for that start and then possibly more.

Saves: Ryan Madson allowed a leadoff double but then struck out three batters to get save seven, Kyle Farnsworth allowed one run but picked up save number nine, Francisco Rodriguez of course allowed two runners on base but stranded them to pick up save 13, Jonathan Papelbon struck out two to notch his eighth save on his chastity belt, Carlos Marmol did his thing striking out two to earn save nine, Mark Lowe did what Feliz couldn’t and got his first save, Matt Capps got three consecutive outs for his seventh save, John Axford scarily let two runners on base but ended up striking out three for his 10th save, and Brandon League finally closed a game out, walking one and striking out no one for his 10th save.

Blown Saves: Mariano Rivera blew his third save of the season, Craig Kimbrel blew his fourth save on four singles. He’s overall done well as the closer but Jonny Venters has been that good that there must be some thought of a change, Brian Wilson blew only his second save despite his ERA by letting inherited runners and one of his own score—at least he also got the win—and Neftali Feliz blew his first after allowing the Hosmer home run. He started the next inning by allowing two singles so he simply was not on his game or was getting unlucky.

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Jeffrey Gross
Jeffrey Gross

I don’t like Madson as a closer if Roy Halladay is going to pitch the 9th inning of 20% of the phillies games….

Paul Singman
Paul Singman

I’m sure people will take what they can get when it comes to saves, but that is an interesting factor I’ve never thought about before. As a guy who owned Franklin and Broxton in leagues this year, I’d just be ecstatic over that fact that Madson isn’t blowing any.

Jeffrey Gross
Jeffrey Gross

Very true. I like closers on bad teams though because I feel like they get more opportunities—how often do the pirates outscore you by more than 3? Every chance is an opp.