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AL Closer Report: July 16

It was an All-Star shortened week, but let’s have a look and see who was hot over the past seven days.

The Hot

Alfredo Simon, Baltimore
Simon was the only AL closer to record more than one save this past week. He notched two stops without allowing a run or a free pass, which is no small feat for a guy with a walk rate of 4.68 BB/9 on the season. Simon currently features a 3.24 ERA but his xFIP of 4.51 suggests that you should be cautious with him moving forward. He’s really a one-pitch pitcher right now (fastball) as both his slider and splitter have negative pitch-type values.

Jose Valverde, Detroit
Valverde was successful in his only save opportunity of the week and he did not give up a run over two appearances. He also recorded three strikeouts. He continues to be helped by an incredibly lucky BABIP-allowed of just .169. His ground ball rate (improved by about 40% over his career norm) of 62.4% has helped him keep the ball in the park despite seeing a big drop in strikeout rate (10.72 career to 8.31 K/9 in 2010). It appears that he’s relying on his splitter much more than he has in the past.

The Not

Joba Chamberlain, New York
There weren’t really any closers that had terrible weeks in the AL, so it’s a good time to focus on Chamberlain since he’s the heir apparent to the closer’s role in New York. He blew a save and took the loss against Seattle on July 10. His season has not been nearly as bad as his 5.79 ERA would suggest. Chamberlain has a hit rate of 10.13 H/9 but his xFIP is just 3.38 and his BABIP-allowed sits at .380. On the plus side, both his walk rate (3.38 BB/9) and strikeout rate (9.64 K/9) have improved over 2009.

Andrew Bailey, Oakland
Again, it wasn’t a bad week for closers overall, so Bailey’s loss gets him on the list. The right-hander also saved a game this past week but he gave up three hits, two walks and a run in two appearances against the Angels. Bailey is still throwing well overall and has given up just two earned runs in his past 12 appearances. He’s also 6-for-6 in save opportunities since mid-June.

Keep An Eye On…

Chris Perez, Cleveland
With trade rumors swirling around Kerry Wood, Perez could find himself back in the closer’s role before you know it. He did himself no favors this past week, though, as he walked five batters in 1.1 innings of work. The walks came during a three-day span. He walked three batters in one-third of an inning of July 9 and two batters in 1.0 inning of July 11. Luckily, he did not allow a hit or a run during that rough patch. Since June 1, Perez had walked just three batters in 14 appearances prior to July 9. He also hasn’t given up a hit in five appearances dating back to late June.