NL Closer Report: July 10

The Hot

Billy Wagner, Atlanta
It was a great week for Wagner, who saved four games in as many tries and gave up just one hit in 4.0 innings. He didn’t walk anyone and he struck out five batters. The greats truly do get better with age. Wagner has a strikeout rate of 13.62 K/9 and hitters are batting just .163 against him.

Huston Street, Colorado
It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to discuss Street. He’s finally healthy and hasn’t missed a beat. The veteran closer saved two games last week and also picked up a win. He allowed one run on three hits over 5.0 innings of work and struck out four batters. Keep an eye on his slider (out-pitch), though. It hasn’t been as sharp.

The Not

Francisco Cordero, Cincinnati
Cordero has been near the top of the saves leader board all season but he’s rarely dominated. He went 2-for-3 in saves this past week and got beat up a bit. The former Ranger gave up two runs in 2.2 innings of work, thanks to two hits and four walks. Cordero has walked batters in four straight games and we’re seeing significantly-increased fly-ball rates, which suggests he’s tired and elevating his pitches.

Francisco Rodriguez, New York
It was a bad week to be named “Francisco.” Rodriguez battled his control this past week and walked four batters in 2.1 innings. He also allowed four hits and gave up three runs – although almost all the damage was done in one game against Washington. The veteran closer went 1-for-2 in save opportunities and has given up eight hits over his last 4.0 innings (five appearances). Overall, though, he’s still showing much better control this season with a rate of 3.56 (5.03 in ’09).

Keep an Eye On…

Chris Ray, San Francisco
It’s really been an ugly year for Ray, who is trying to recover after some pretty serious injuries. The good news is that his fastball has good velocity and his slider is showing some of its past potential. The downside is that his strikeout rate is just 4.86 K/9 and he has an xFIP of 5.41. The move to the NL could really help and he’s had success early on. This past week he allowed just one hit (and no walks) in 4.2 innings of work. Ray also recorded four Ks. If he keeps this up, he could be in line for some saves when Brian Wilson needs a rest – or he could end up being flipped to a team in need of a cheap closer.

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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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