We are halfway through the fantasy season and it’s another week, another closepocalypse. Didn’t Smokey predict this back in March?! Andrew Bailey’s job was outsourced, Jose Valverde was sent packing, Heath Bell is absolutely stuffed and the Mariners closer by committee is as uncertain as a child’s bottom. That’s a straight up Ulysses quote my literate homies. SAGNOF! While in the real baseball world it has become quite obvious that saves are overrated, in our fake baseball world closers are one of those necessary evils. Kind of like root canals and prostate exams. Fortunately, I get both taken care of at the same place. One-stop shopping. Thanks ObamaCare! While closers can be a pain in the fanny perpendicular, I’m not one to punt a category. Even one as frustrating as the save. Who invented this dastardly stat? Apparently the dean of baseball beat writer’s, Jerome Holtzman is to blame. He invented the save in 1959. There wasn’t much to do in the late 50’s except “like Ike” and cower in the bomb shelter with a tin of beans and a deck of nudie cards. According to Razzball historian Paulie Allnuts, the very next year the term “Sagnoff” was first uttered by one Winston Greystone Albright II after drafting Moe Drabowsky with his first pick in the inaugural drunken fantasy draft at The White Horse Tavern in New York’s West Village. An ‘ol fashioned donnybrook soon ensued, but not a mustache was harmed according to reports. Thanks Paulie. This week let’s run down some candidates for saves that just could mean the difference between fantasy glory and fantasy defeat. Time to jam it or cram it. Dr. Pfister, I’m ready for my… Do you really need to wear the dive watch?
Jam or Cram: Joaquin Benoit, RP, Detroit Tigers
Availability: 51% Yahoo, 57% ESPN
Current Stats: 30 IP, 1 W, 4 SV, 6 ER, 35 K, 1.80 ERA. 1.00 WHIP
Career Saves: 17
The Gist: After Jose Valverde was designated for assignment to Syria, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Benoit is his top option to close out games from here on out. Leyland then ripped the filter off a Camel Crush and said, “If I want minty fresh I’ll rub some Icy Hot on my taint.”
Key Stat: Benoit has averaged 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings over the last four seasons.
X-File: The Tigers have been rumored to be in on Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon is rumored to be brushing up on his Bob Seger. Turn the page.
Jam or Cram: Benoit is the man. For now. Although his walk rate is up slightly this year (7.8%), Benoit has struck out over 30% of the batters he’s faced. Benoit has a chance to be this year’s Sergio Romo. Or is it Tony Romo? Damn. I say JAM.
Jam it or Cram it: Koji Uehara, RP, Boston Red Sox
Availability: 65% Yahoo, 81% ESPN
Current Stats: 30 IP, 0 W, 1 SV, 7 ER, 42 K, 2.10 ERA, 0.87 WHIP
Career Saves: 15
The Gist: The Red Sox haven’t moved all-in on Koji yet, but he’s getting the first shot at the closer’s role after Andrew Bailey blew 3 of his last 5 save chances. And why not, Uehara has a 42:7 K:BB ratio over 30 innings this season. Just don’t get in the way of a Koji high five.
Key Stat: The 38-year-old Uehara has only worked back-to-back games 6 times this season and is on pace for a career high 67 appearances.
X-File: Junichi Tazawa and Andrew Miller may still be in the mix. The left-handed Miller has the second-highest strikeout ratio in the major leagues with 15.0 strikeouts per nine. Miller has struck out 32 of his last 53 outs. He also houses a small family from Ecuador in his beard. What a humanitarian.
Jam or Cram: The last time the Red Sox scrambled for a closer, Grey suggested grabbing the Koji, I said get the Tazawa. It was like Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. Tazawa won out and most of Japan was destroyed. Grey hasn’t spoken to me since. At least we’ll always have that time Jackie Bradley Jr. got three walks in a game. Sigh. JAM.
Jam it or Cram it: Oliver Perez, RP, Seattle Mariners
Availability: Yahoo 93%, ESPN 94%
Current Stats: 25.2 IP, 1 W, 1 SV, 3 ER, 36 K, 1.05 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
Career Saves: 1. Yes, Perez recorded his first save this year.
The Gist: While Tom Wilhelmsen may still be an option, it looks like the dreaded closer by committee in Seattle. Carter Capps, Charlie Furbush and Yoervis Medina all have a shot. However, the former Met starter, Perez, seems to have the best chance. In a related note Capps, Furbush and Medina is also a Seattle ballet company that does interpretive dance performances set to Alice in Chains music. As of this writing 33 suicides have been confirmed.
Key Stat: Perez gave up just one home run last year. This year he’s given up only two.
The X-File: With a 12.34 strikeout per 9 rate, Perez just might take this job.
Jam or Cram: Manager Eric Wedge says he’s not going to name a closer and hopes Wilhelmsen will take over in a week or two. For now, it looks like a lefty/righty combo of Medina and Perez. That’s not good news. Here they come to snuff the Rooster. CRAM.
Jam it or Cram it: Jesse Crain, RP, Chicago White Sox
Availability: 83% Yahoo, 96% ESPN
Current Stats: 32.2 IP, 1 W, 0 SV, 18 HLD, 2 ER, 43 K, 0.55 ERA, 0.98 WHIP
The Gist: Crain is the wild-card/bold prediction in this week’s jam or cram. As the White Sox fall further out of contention, the gentleman callers will be knocking at general manager Rick Hahn’s screen door. Rumored suitors include the Red Sox, the Tigers and the Reds. While Crain has never been a closer, teams may be willing to roll the dice as the trade deadline approaches.
Key Stats: Crain’s 0.57 earned-run average leads the American League. He has allowed only two runs in 32.2 innings to go along with 43 strikeouts, which puts him on pace to blow past his career high. Want more? Crain recently set a franchise record of 28 straight scoreless appearances and has not surrendered a run since April 12. I have not surrendered to the runs since…oops…damn you Taco Bell.
X-File: With a contract of 3 years, $12 million you can bank on Crain finding a new home at the trade deadline. I hear Detroit is beautiful this time of year.
Jam or Cram: We all know by now not to go kwazy spending on a closer. If you forget that, just check the SAGNOF tramp stamp on Tehol’s back. However, teams in contention don’t have the luxury of knowing Tehol like we do and will spend big to get Crain. Bold prediction? He’ll be on a contender by the end of July and could rack up 15-20 saves. JAM.
Other possible closers in waiting:
Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh Pirates: If the Bucs fall out of it, teams will be asking. Melancon has closing experience and currently leads the league with 22 holds. Not much else to say, but I suddenly have a desire to watch The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.
Scott Downs, Los Angeles Angels: Another lefty reliever that might get dealt at the deadline is Downs. He’s 37 and earning $5 million in the last year of his contract. Downs won’t rack up the K’s, but has one of the best groundball rates you’ll find. Are you down with the sickness?
*Bonus Tracks* We can’t just talk closers this week. SAGNOF! Here’s some hitters to watch.
Peter Bourjos, OF, Los Angeles Angels: 7 runs, 3 steals and a .444 average last week. He’s one hot schmotato. If that’s not true then Bigfoot and Elvis didn’t build this crop circle in my backyard. Jam
Pedro Ciriaco, INF, San Diego Padres: Was slam and leggin’ it last week. That was nice. Cram
Leonys Martin OF, Texas Rangers: Stole 4 bases and hit .435 last week. Why let someone else pick him up, don’t you know World War Z is upon us? Jam
Now give me some Electric Boogaloo action! Questions, comments and Razzball madness encouraged below. Follow The Guru on Twitter @TheGuruGS for daily jammer/crammers and fantasy roster 411′s until game time every day.