NL Closer Report: June 25

We’re trying a new closers format this week; we’re touching on fewer pitchers, but going into more detail on the ones that we discuss. First up are the National League closers.

Consider This…

Billy Wagner, Atlanta
Next to Jonathan Broxton in Los Angeles, Wagner has arguably been the second-best fantasy closer in the NL, despite beginning the year with just two saves prior to May 5. Wagner is a perfect 7-for-7 in saves in the month of June and has 11 strikeouts in 9.1 innings. Oh, and he hasn’t allowed an earned run. That is all very exciting stuff and has increased Wagner’s value significantly, which is why this might be a great time to trade him. The soon-to-be-39-year-old pitcher threw just 15.2 innings in ’09 so there are some questions as to his stamina. A lot of his closer value is also tied up in the 5-0 record that he has, which has basically been a matter of luck and is really not sustainable.

Key Targets

John Axford, Milwaukee
It’s probably a little too late to think about obtaining Axford in a lot of leagues, but he’s still available in more than half of Yahoo leagues; maybe you’ll get lucky and find him sitting on the free agent list. The right-hander has gone 6-for-6 in saves and has struck out 22 batters in 19.0 innings. The club has also been playing well lately (four game winning streak) and faces some easier opponents over the next week in Seattle and Houston.

Brad Lidge, Philadelphia
I know, I know… you’ve probably been burned by Lidge in the past. But look at his 2010 numbers. Now healthy, the veteran pitcher has a strikeout rate of 13.09 K/9 and a walk rate of just 2.45 BB/9 (down from a career mark of 4.03 BB/9). His strikeout pitch, the slider, is still not up to its usual plus level, but it’s been OK and he’s showing improved fastball command. Lidge is not the safest bet, but you have to take some risks to win it all… and Philly should get him a good number of leads to protect over the second half of the season.

Dump ‘Em Now

Matt Capps, Washington
It was nice while it lasted but Washington is slowly falling out of the race in the NL East. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a closer (a bad team can end up in a lot of close ball games heading into the ninth), but Capps could be headed out of town at the trade deadline (Drew Storen is the closer of the near future). He’s not a bad closer by any means (3.57 FIP, MLB-leading save total) but the former Pirate could end up as a set-up man if he does change uniforms. Capps definitely has real-life trade value thanks to his solid numbers, modest salary and 1+ years remaining before free agency. Don’t just jettison him on waivers; look to deal him for something of value to fill a hole on your roster.

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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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“Jackson walked eight batters on 149 pitches, the most pitches ever for a no-hitter in MLB history[2]. He got out of a bases loaded jam earlier in the game and there were already pitchers in the bullpen. The Rays became the first team since the 2001 Padres to be no-hit twice in a season, and the first team in history to be no-hit three times in the span of a calendar year.” AP GAME STORY

Ridiculous I say… I noticed Edwin Jackson messing with his right shoulder in the 9th, me thinks now is a good time to trade him!

buck turgidson
buck turgidson

He was laboring in the 9th for sure. Good for him.