AL Closer Report: July 10

The Hot

Joakim Soria, Kansas City
Mr. Soria had a fine week by recording four saves in as many tries. He was touched up for a run and walked two batters but he struck out six. His numbers have been very consistent over the past two years so we pretty know what to expect for Soria; he’s a top-tier closer when KC gets him enough save opportunities. This season, he’s entering the break with 25 saves.

Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay
Like Soria, Soriano recorded four saves over the past seven days. He also gave up four hits and two walks with three Ks. It’s early July and the veteran has almost surpassed his career high in saves (27), which was set last year. Interestingly, his strikeout rate is down significantly over last season (12.13 to 7.99 K/9) but his walk rate is much improved (3.21 to 1.93 BB/9). With that said, he’s also benefited from some luck as his 1.65 ERA is much shinier than his xFIP (4.01).

The Not

Neftali Feliz, Texas
Feliz, like Francisco Cordero in the NL, is one of the hardest worked relievers in the Majors and both started to slip this past week. Feliz posted a 15.42 ERA in three games, although he was 2-for-2 in saves. He gave up three hits and two walks in 2.2 innings of work. Feliz has ridden his fastball for much of the season, as both his curveball and changeup have pretty much been neutral pitches for him in terms of value.

Alfredo Simon, Baltimore
Simon gave up just one hit in 4.0 innings this past week but he walked three and gave up two runs, including a homer. He went 2-for-3 in save opportunities. Simon is an OK second closer and a pretty good third option but you don’t want to rely on him too heavily because he is inconsistent.

Keep an Eye On…

Joaquin Benoit, Tampa Bay
Rafael Soriano hasn’t shown many cracks in his armor this season, but the veteran also has a history of injury problems. With that in mind, Benoit is a great pitcher to keep an eye on in mixed leagues and he might even be worth picking up now in deep AL-only leagues. The former Ranger had a great week by striking out six batters in 3.0 innings; he also did not give up a walk or a hit. On the year, he has an xFIP of 1.85 and a strikeout rate of 13.32 K/9.

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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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