Before going through the closer upheaval rigmarole, I thought it important to set some context on blown saves. From 2009-2011 (three seasons), of pitchers with at least 10 saves, 11 relievers blew 16 or more saves. Only three of those pitchers (Matt Capps, Carlos Marmol and Jim Johnson) are still closers. Leo Nunez and Brian Wilson aren’t closing for, mostly, non-baseball-related reasons. While the other half (Kevin Gregg, Francisco Cordero, Francisco Rodriguez, Chad Qualls, Brad Lidge and Kerry Wood) deservedly do not have full time closing duties. However, for these pitchers to lose their Rolaids relief roles, they had to blow, on average, 5 – 7 saves a season. That’s a lot when you think about it. And even when some of these gentlemen blew that many saves, about half were still given the ball with the game on the line.

Expanding the pool, 26 pitchers recorded at least 10 saves from 2009-2011 and blew 10 – 14 opportunities. Of the 26, roughly 15 (Bell, Papelbon, League, Soria, Hanrahan, Madson, Rivera, Francisco, Betancourt, Street, Perez, Farnsworth, Feliz, Putz and Walden) are/would be full time closers today. Of the remaining 11, two are current closers (Broxton and Rodney) and the rest have largely been middle relievers or flamed out (Ryan Franklin and Bobby Jenks). Consequently, it seems that blowing 3 – 5 saves in a season isn’t at all detrimental (in recent history at least) to maintaining a hold on the closer position.

This is by no means scientific (neither is the usage of bullpens) as many factors contribute to relief upheaval. I do think it puts in perspective how often a closer needs to fail before he’s removed from the position though. For instance, just last year Walden (10), Marmol (10), Capps (9) and Kimbrell (8) led closers in blown saves. After them, Soria blew seven leads and Farnsworth, Cordero, Feliz, Santos and Nunez blew six. Of those, only Cordero (and potentially Nunez) could not get a job closing because of ability in 2012.

Check the bottom of the column for the BS meter, which will track blown saves for relevant relievers all season long.

Chicago White Sox: Poor Robin Ventura waited until the 14th inning to get his “best” reliever into the game. The White Sox had a two-run lead when Hector Santiago took the mound. He struck out the first guy he faced, but then surrendered a single to Eric Skarsgård Sogard who was followed by the mighty Cespedes who homered to left. Seth Smith and Kurt Suzuki singled back-to-back and Kila Ka’aihue brought home the winning run. At least Santiago was around the plate (15 of his 21 pitches were strikes)? Santiago is getting killed by the long ball (30% HR/FB rate), while posting a nasty K:BB rate (9.00). In addition, every single runner Santiago has allowed on base has scored. If Rolaids spells relief, that spells regression. Meanwhile Jesse Crain was unavailable because of an oblique injury, which isn’t supposed to be serious. I have faith in Santiago’s stuff, but not Ventura’s patience. I’d put my money on Addison Reed at this point, unless Crain is healthy.

Chicago Cubs: While Carlos Marmol has been horrendous (with as many walks as K’s this year), the rest of the Chicago Cubs bullpen has been even worse. There’s no silver lining to Marmol’s stats as his FIP and xFIP are right in line with his wretched ERA. That said, it is just 5.2 IPs and the Cubs are going to keep throwing him out there to extract value and because they have no choice. At the end of Tuesday’s game, Dale Sveum said, “He’s been pitching good. To me, that’s just a case of a 2-2 slider that one of the strongest guys in baseball hit for a home run. Did he do anything wrong or whatever? No, it was just another guy on the other side of the fence making a lot of money who does that quite often.” Marmol is and will continue to be the closer. So, basically, there’s no reason to handcuff or speculate here.

Washington Nationals: Brad Lidge has two blown saves, a 5.14 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP. Meanwhile, Henry Rodriguez has been near perfect (0.84 WHIP). However, Rodriguez has been working around a pretty ridiculous walk rate (six batters in 8.1 IPs) and has a .059 BABIP. At a certain point, the fairy tale will end. In addition, Davey Johnson keeps saying he’s going to throw Lidge out there in the ninth, vertigo and all. I’d rather own Rodriguez, he’s just better, but there’s no reason to drop Lidge yet.

Cleveland Indians: Chris Perez is awful, that is what is known as a baseball fact. Another baseball fact? Perez is the anointed closer. He has seven saves and as long as he keeps his blown saves down there’s no reason for the Indians to do anything. He’ll likely have to blow a few saves in a row or somehow get to 5-6 blown saves before the All Star Break to be in danger of losing the job. Meanwhile Vinnie Pestano is straight dirty and own-able just based on his nastiness (11 K:BB rate). However, it’s unlikely Pestano finishes with double digit saves, barring a Perez injury. If you desperately need saves, you might have to look elsewhere (Houston [Wilton Lopez], Oakland [Fautino de los Santos, Brian Fuentes]).

Baltimore Orioles: Orioles fans can breathe a sigh of relief as it appears Buck Showalter realized Pedro Strop is the second best reliever on the squad. If you own Jim Johnson and are a hand-cuffer, Strop is your man. Strop has paired impressive K-rates with high walk rates throughout his career but also gets a good bit of ground balls (a double play can mitigate a walk pretty quickly). He’s capable of a 3.85 ERA with 65+ K’s this year. Strop is, at the moment, just a handcuff as he’ll only get save chances when Johnson has the flu. Although, apparently, Johnson is still at the hospital having tests on what might be a bacterial issue, so Strop could have a few days as closer.

Boston Red Sox: While his return to the bullpen was momentary (for the time being), Daniel Bard reminded folks of how dominant he can be as a reliever (he entered the game with one out and a runner on third and didn’t allow the runner to score). Meanwhile, Alfredo Aceves is 3/5 in save opportunities and sports an astronomical 18.00 ERA and 2.75 WHIP. Andrew Bailey is on the 60-day DL and out until July. Aceves has some rope here given the rest of the bullpen is really bad. However, a couple of poor starts from Bard and an implosion or two from Aceves could get Bard in the closer seat. If you’re speculating here, grab Bard. He’s the only arm I’d be happy owning in the situation and, apparently, he was available in relief Wednesday night.

St. Louis Cardinals: From 2009-2011, Jason Motte had eight blown saves with just 11 conversions. Of course, for the majority of that time, he wasn’t actually a closer. Still, it does demonstrate the short amount of time Motte has actually been holding the role (heck, he hasn’t even been pitching that long, as he’s a converted catcher). Motte suffered his first blown save on Monday and sports an ugly 4.05 ERA. He is walking a few too many batters, but has a great K-rate and is really suffering from allowing all his HRs early in the season. There’s likely little to be worried about here even though Marc Rzepczynski started the ninth against the Chicago Cubs (he was facing a lefty) Tuesday. Rzepczynski promptly gave up a tying HR any way.

Toronto Blue Jays: With Sergio Santos on the DL, Francisco Cordero assumes a role he’s familiar with. From 2009-2011, Cordero recorded 116 saves and only blew 17. That’s the third best differential during that time frame (behind Heath Bell and Mariano Rivera). Of course, that was in the National League and Cordero has been anything but automatic this season. Cordero had a 1.91 K:BB rate last year and is sporting a 2.00 K:BB rate this year. He is being hit hard in the early going (20.8% LD rate, .360 BABIP) and will experience some bumps in the unforgiving AL East. Even if Cordero somehow turns into a lights out reliever (something he hasn’t been since 2007), Santos will get the job back once he’s healthy. The Blue Jays brought Santos in because he has the stuff to compete in the division. He’s their future at closer and they need to make it work now when the stakes aren’t very high. Cordero is a fine short-term speculation, but he’ll go back to trying to get holds when Santos is healthy. Santos will be out for about a month, even though an MRI showed no structural damage.

New York Mets: Frank Francisco has put up one ugly superficial stat line so far: 7.36 ERA, 1.77 WHIP. He has been walk happy so far (issuing 4 free passes in 7.1 IPs), but has, at least, maintained a solid K-rate. In addition, his strand rate (46.2%) and BABIP (.375) have done him no favors. Still, when healthy, Francisco is a solid reliever. He’ll rebound to put up a 3.30 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 60 K line at the end of the year. The only reason to own Jon Rauch is for potential Francisco injuries.

Kansas City Royals: Unlike Grey, I’ve been on the Jonathan Broxton bandwagon for awhile now, believing the Royals would want to do all they could to turn Broxton into a trade-able commodity. So far, Broxton has a 2.50 K:BB rate and is averaging 95.7 MPH on his fastball, a similar rate to 2010, which saw him post a 4.01 ERA, 3.01 FIP and 3.20 xFIP. Broxton’s current ratios will mirror his end of the year line. He’ll probably even strike out 60+.

Pitcher BS Pitcher BS
Scott Downs 2 Jose Valverde 1
Matt Belisle 2 Vinnie Pestano 1
Javier Lopez 2 Jonathan Broxton 1
Rex Brothers 2 David Hernandez 1
Brad Lidge 2 Jose Mijares 1
Carlos Marmol 2 Antonio Bastardo 1
Heath Bell 2 Jason Motte 1
Sergio Santos 2 Joe Nathan 1
Alfredo Aceves 2 Jon Rauch 1
Hector Santiago 2 Chris Perez 1
Matt Lindstrom 1 Casey Janssen 1
Mitchell Boggs 1 Ramon Ramirez 1
Brad Ziegler 1 Edward Mujica 1
Wilton Lopez 1 J.J. Putz 1
Darren Oliver 1 Brian Fuentes 1
Brandon League 1 Francisco Rodriguez 1
Andrew Cashner 1 Hisanori Takahashi 1
Pedro Strop 1 Glen Perkins 1
Mariano Rivera 1 Joel Peralta 1
Javy Guerra 1 Greg Holland 1
Kenley Jansen 1 Kerry Wood 1
Mark Melancon 1


85 Comments
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3FingersBrown
3FingersBrown
10 years ago

@Albert, Alright article but take it easy on Motte… “an ugly 4.05 ERA” you realize he’s pitched 6 2/3 innings right? The only runs allowed outside of the blown save this week came on a HR allowed to Braun with a 9-2 lead. Have you watched him at all? He’s been pretty dan good.

And forget what he did a few years ago. You get a little bit more leash when you’re dominant throughout a championship October run.

Albert Lang
Reply to  3FingersBrown
10 years ago

@3FingersBrown, You do realize I wrote “There’s likely little to be worried about here.” I also included his great K-rate.

A 4.05 ERA is ugly from a reliever…and he wasnt called on in the ninth with a save opportunity. Matheny was playing match-ups, but still. That’s why this snippet was included.

All we have is a small amount of innings. Throughout the article I wrote about small sample sizes. I figure, at that point, it was implied. In addition, I said that he gave up all of his HRs already.

I havent watched him pitch. I havent seen a need to as there’s little to be worried about with him…

3FingersBrown
3FingersBrown
Reply to  Albert
10 years ago

@Albert, Alright, fair enough. Just don’t gimme any more reason to worry about my fantasy team. I’ve got serious Pujols agita over here and I’m cranky…

Albert Lang
Reply to  3FingersBrown
10 years ago

@3FingersBrown, I’m cranky too, and that was an undeserved snarky response.

No need to worry about Motte – i had intended that paragraph to be a calming one. Should have been more clear.

As for Pujols. I’m losing my HR only league by 2 HRs, and I have Pujols. We have huge monthly pay-outs. This is killing me!

Saves Category Punter
Saves Category Punter
10 years ago

Yayyy, more info regarding closers. Just what this site needs. You people baffle me.

Albert Lang
Reply to  Saves Category Punter
10 years ago

@Saves Category Punter, You dont have to read you know…

Also, last I checked, a good amount of people read and commented on the article. I understand where you might not find it useful, but that doesnt mean others dont find it useful…

SuchAHosmer
SuchAHosmer
10 years ago

I’m not changing my name but I should accept a trade offer of Cargo for Hosmer and Peavy in a 5×5 keeper league right?

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  SuchAHosmer
10 years ago

@SuchAHosmer, I’ll take CarGo easily.

Hats for Bats
Hats for Bats
10 years ago

Do I drop Bryce Harper and grab Mike Trout? who’s more likely to get the early call up?

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  Hats for Bats
10 years ago

@Hats for Bats, Trout is more likely to get the call and be worth stashing. In a non keeper 12 teamer I wouldn’t stash either

TheNewGuy
TheNewGuy
10 years ago

Ugh thats ugly Luigi (above). My points similar to that though, are Walden and Bell in danger at all after blowing saves today? Bell looked a mess, had terrible command, worth a look at the next in line (who is?) there? Then after the game I noticed the Rays had turned things around, checked the box and yup Walden (who I have) couldnt even convert just his 2nd friggin save… can’t see lefty specialist Downs being a dominant replacement though.

The blown save rate just seems out of control this year…and yet on the whole offense has been down…madness

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  TheNewGuy
10 years ago

@TheNewGuy, the Angels stuck with Walden after 10 blown saves last year so he has a bit of rope.

I think Cishek is a better speculative add than anyone in the Angels pen. Still Bell has a relatively long leash

LuigiBall
LuigiBall
10 years ago

Final pitching line for one of my teams today>>>> 37.80 ERA & 6.60 Whip. {3 closers} Bell,Walden & Marshall…SIGH! I wish I could shoot them!!!!!

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  LuigiBall
10 years ago

@LuigiBall, feel your pain, marshall and walden are decent. Bell,yore probably better off shooting

Tony
10 years ago

drop Lind or Gamel? looking to pick up hammels (BAL).

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  Tony
10 years ago

@Tony, depends on depth, needs. But I prefer both hitters to the pitcher

Nonstoptalk
Nonstoptalk
10 years ago

Worth dropping Reimold for Goldschmidt who just hit waivers? Just as a utility/bench bat.

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  Nonstoptalk
10 years ago

@Nonstoptalk, unless you play with a CI, I’d keep Reimold

stumanji
stumanji
10 years ago

Crawford out for at least 3 months, maybe longer if he gets surgery.

At this point would you deal him for BJ Upton? Aim higher, lower, hold?

12 team roto, 6 keepers.

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  stumanji
10 years ago

@stumanji, Oh, I’d take BJ in a heartbeat at this point

HotRod
HotRod
10 years ago

Strasburg & Kendrys for PooHoles… Winner?

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  HotRod
10 years ago

@HotRod, Pujols, easy

Thurman
Thurman
10 years ago

12 team h2h

would you rather have prince + joe Nathan or Bautista ?

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  Thurman
10 years ago

@Thurman, Begrudgingly Bautista. Wouldn’t fault you for taking the duo though.

JoeC
JoeC
10 years ago

It was Josh Reddick who singled off Santiago before the Cespedes home run. Eric Sogard was the guy who Santiago struck out for his one and only out recorded.

A small correction, but slightly less-embarrassing from Santiago’s perspective, since Reddick is at least an average hitter.

Also, it seemed like Santiago’s problem was that his screwball wasn’t screwing. Instead of floating one on the outside of the plate to Cespedes, I think a better strategy is to run it inside on him. But he was floating them, so it probably would’ve ended up with an even bigger moon shot by Cespedes.

Still, Santiago’s fastball is electric and I think he’ll be fine if he can better command his screwball.

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  JoeC
10 years ago

@JoeC, carpoola, thanks for setting me straight. I saw Sogard, then tried to guess his first name , then tried to spell Skaaarsagaaaard and his line in the play-by-play got blurred.

It is of concern if he can’t get his screwball to screw, without that his platoon splits might be untenable.

I agree with all that you’ve said…

Cutch in Locks
Cutch in Locks
10 years ago

Rank these closers in order of performance right now, please: Putz, Marshall, Broxton, Casilla, HanKRod (who seems like he’s in that role).

Also, who’s most likely from that bunch to have lost their job by July?

Thanks!

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  Cutch in Locks
10 years ago

@Cutch in Locks, isn’t it better to rank them going forward? I’ll actually keep your order. Like HankRod more than Cassila from a skils perspective, but Cassila more established.

Only fear with Broxton is a trade. Don’t see the others moving or losing their current roles.

Cutch in Locks
Cutch in Locks
Reply to  albert
10 years ago

@albert, makes sense. Thanks!

Who do you like most of Jansen, Pestano, Brothers, Cashner, Holland, Robertson? Keeper league so ongoing value (even into 13) matters a lot. Tough to know with this sort of thing, obviously.

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  Cutch in Locks
10 years ago

@Cutch in Locks, Jansen, Pestano, Robertson, Brothers, hollabd Cashner if future matters that much.

Jared
Jared
10 years ago

12 Team H2H- Giancarlo/Worley or J Upton?

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  Jared
10 years ago

@Jared, I’ll take Upton

stumanji
stumanji
Reply to  Jared
10 years ago

@Jared, Upton all day.

Jared
Jared
Reply to  stumanji
10 years ago

@stumanji, He came back with Upton/Hosmer for my Pujols/Cliff Lee

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  Jared
10 years ago

@Jared, I’d pass on that one. Close but, I prefer your side

Joan Chen
Joan Chen
10 years ago

Who is the likely handcuff for Bell? Mujica?

Joan Chen
Joan Chen
Reply to  Joan Chen
10 years ago

@Joan Chen, An interesting Twitter fact:

Heath Bell’s 47-pitch blown save was most in a 9th-inning BS in 10 yrs – since a 47-pitch Danys Baez debacle on 9/8/02.

Gavin
Gavin
10 years ago

Chances Steve Cishek gets a crack at the ninth? Bell has been awful and he just blew another one today.

Gavin
Gavin
Reply to  Gavin
10 years ago

@Gavin, or maybe he has a ridiculous leash because of what they paid for him?

Mark
Mark
Reply to  Albert Lang
10 years ago

@Albert Lang, was just on my way hear to say I smell a disgraceful list stint. The X-factor here is we’re talking about Ozzie Guillen, im starting to wonder (and hope since I just grabbed Cishek) if this situation isn’t more fluid that we thought.

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  Mark
10 years ago

@Mark, disgraceful stint, I like it. I actually think Ozzie helps Bell. Guillen stuck with Jenks through his horribleness and once he anointed Santos, he didn’t waiver. Guillen typically has his relievers back.

Mark
Mark
Reply to  albert
10 years ago

@albert, Grey’s term, not mine lol. That’s true about Jenks, but he also dropped Thornton like a bad habit after what really amounted to lousy defense, then went on to have one of the more saber-friendly pens in recent memory last year. He stuck with Santos but used him somewhat unconventionally, and even still went to Sale and Thornton on occasion when he preffered the matchups.

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  Mark
10 years ago

@Mark, good points. I do think Ozzie respects the established closer and loves to take negative press on his own shoulders. We’ll see, who woulda thought Cishek would be relevant though?

K!cks
K!cks
10 years ago

And another blown save for Bell, after walking 3, including walking in the tying run. Bah!! Bell and Santiago are destroying my decent ratios every week!

MattTruss223
MattTruss223
10 years ago

And Bell takes the lead!

dingbat
dingbat
10 years ago

And now Marshall blows a save in spectacular fashion. Before today, he had FIP/xFIP values below 1.00, so I’m confident he’ll keep dominating if given the chance, but how patient is Dusty Baker going to be with him when Chapman’s pitching as well as he is?

dingbat
dingbat
Reply to  Albert Lang
10 years ago

@Albert Lang, God, it’s annoying. I’ve got Santiago too, so between the two of them I’m looking at a 21/4 K/BB rate and 5 HRs out of 15 fly balls allowed!

xxxthetoadxxx
xxxthetoadxxx
10 years ago

Would you trade Cozart, Aramis, and Morales for Beltran and Aviles?

xxxthetoadxxx
xxxthetoadxxx
Reply to  xxxthetoadxxx
10 years ago

@xxxthetoadxxx, Would fill Aramis’ slot with LaHair.

xxxthetoadxxx
xxxthetoadxxx
Reply to  Albert Lang
10 years ago

@Albert Lang, Cozart is KILLING me though. 3 RBI’s? 0-5 today?

xxxthetoadxxx
xxxthetoadxxx
Reply to  Albert Lang
10 years ago

@Albert Lang, Aviles had more RBI’s yesterday than Cozart does on the YEAR.

mike
mike
10 years ago

First off, what you guys do is being noticed thanks! Yeah or nae, (me) McCutchen, Bonifacio, Hanrahan, for (him) Albert Pujols, Ubaldo Jimenez. I”m thinking hell yeah, no worries about Pujols right? time to grab him? I do need some power

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  mike
10 years ago

@mike, you are losing a ton of steals and its not a home run, but you win the deal, so yeah I’d take it

OaktownSteve
OaktownSteve
10 years ago

Broxton gets his first save opportunity in what feels like a month. Not a clean inning. Save nevertheless.

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  OaktownSteve
10 years ago

@OaktownSteve, yeah..saves come in bunches look at Baltimore’s closers! I expect the Royals to play better and Brox to get a decent amount of saves

Goose
Goose
10 years ago

Said this in Grey’s post below, re: What-the-Hector Santiago:

“He’s got an impressive 10/1 K/BB ratio. His K/9 is above 14. His BABIP is a gnarly/unsustainable .438. His strand rate is 93.8% and his xFIP is 2.80 (lower than Papelbon, Betancourt, Balfour…) He’s just giving up way, way too many homers (5.68/9!!!) — but it’s also possible that this is a statistical oddity. His HR/FB is 33%! — which has to come down… right?”

I hope he holds onto the role bc I own him and not the other arms in that ‘pen!

Ralph
Ralph
Reply to  Albert Lang
10 years ago

@Albert Lang, The numbers will have to come down somewhat, but FIP and xFIP are only predictive for major league caliber pitchers. If I went out there, my BABIP and HR/FB would be through the roof. I think there’s a real chance that Santiago is not a major league quality pitcher, especially without his screwball (apparently he’s having some trouble with the grip on major league baseballs). If all he has is a fastball and a changeup, that’s not going to do it.

wctip
wctip
10 years ago

Reyes or David Price? This is a 10 team keeper league

My current SP’s are: Sale, Ubaldo, Minor, Marcum, Morrow (Hudson on the DL)
My alternative options at SS are Bonifacio

If I make the trade I plan on dropping Ubaldo and picking up Cozart as a backup SS.

Any thoughts?

wctip
wctip
Reply to  Albert Lang
10 years ago

@Albert Lang, I can only keep Reyes next year since we have a keeper limit. I would like to get an ace for my team because we have a starts limit of 150 and I always max out early on starts

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  wctip
10 years ago

@wctip, how long can Price be kept? I guess if you get multiple years from Price it makes it close. I wouldn’t drop Ubaldo though

wctip
wctip
Reply to  albert
10 years ago

@albert, the rest of this year and then for 3 more years. I get Reyes for this year and next year. I am trying to trade Ubaldo. I thought about making the offer either
Ubaldo and Reyes for Price and (Rios or Willingham)
or
Ubaldo and Reyes for Price and Papelbon

Due to the starts limit, RP’s are more valuable and I currently have Broxton, Cassilla, Henry Rodriguez, Strop, and Robbie Ross

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  wctip
10 years ago

@wctip, I love getting Paps/Price if you van pull that off.

ChrisV
10 years ago

I can’t believe Dale Sveum played 30 games with the 1998 New York Yankees while sporting a -3 OPS+. It’s almost like he shouldn’t be allowed to have a ring.

ChrisV
Reply to  Albert Lang
10 years ago

@Albert Lang, No, I didn’t have that specific knowledge, but I had to look him up to remember who he played for and saw he bombed in the Bronx for one season.

Albert Lang
albert
Reply to  ChrisV82
10 years ago

@ChrisV82, good to know anyway! Made he laid down some slick sac bunts?

EK
EK
10 years ago

Pls rank for 5×5 roto (need help most with ERA & WHIP):

Lilly
Holland
Morrow
Drabek
Niese

Kane
Kane
10 years ago

Drop Gamel or De Aza for Belt now that Huff may be out of the picture? Or hold? Thanks!