Fantasy Baseball Closing Time - Opening Week Edition

By Mark Hock

Closers have the least job security in baseball. Given the volatility in relief pitching, that’s no surprise. One day you’re the hero, and the next you’re the goat. While it’s early in the season, we’re going to take a look at some of the closers who have struggled in the early parts of the season.

Carlos Marmol – A modern day Ricky Vaughn, Marmol is known for his high strikeout totals and his complete lack of control. In three games this season, we’ve seen the wild side come out, as he’s walked 3 batters and allowed 4 hits in just an inning and a third.

The Chicago Cubs are rebuilding this season, and normally Marmol would have a strong grasp on the closer’s role. But how much longer can they really keep throwing him out there, if he’s walking every other batter that comes to the plate?

Heath Bell– The Florida Miami Marlins signed Heath in the offseason to a three year deal worth $27 million. So regardless of how he performs, he’s pretty much guaranteed the job. However, Bell showed a significant decrease in strikeouts last season, and unless he shows some improvement in that area I’d sell high on him whenever you get the chance.

Bell is off too a poor start, as he’s 0-1 in 2 games, allowing 4 hits and one home run. He does have one strikeout, but it’s too early to tell if he’s capable of striking out at least a batter an inning like he did during his prime with the San Diego Padres.

Jonathan Broxton – After Joakim Soria went down with the injury, Broxton was announced as the Kansas City Royals closer. He’s gotten off to a poor start, but fortunately his potential replacement Greg Holland hasn’t been much better.

Broxton hasn’t been very good so far with the Royals, although he did save a game in his 2 innings of work. On a positive note, he’s struck out 3 hitters in two innings, and has an incredibly high 25% swinging strike rate. That’s going to come down eventually, but it’s an early sign that points to Broxton’s return as an elite reliever. He’s worth a gamble, and if he can continue saving games while putting up high strikeout numbers he could be one of the better fantasy closers in the game.

Joe Nathan – I’ve been very hesitant about drafting him as he’s an older relief pitcher just one season removed from Tommy John surgery. Last year wasn’t very strong  for Nathan as he had a 4.84 ERA (4.28 FIP) with the Minnesota Twins, .

This year he’s gotten off too a rough start, as he’s 0-1 with a save. He’s become an extreme flyball pitcher, and that doesn’t work very well when he’s pitching in Texas. I don’t think Nathan will last the full season as the Rangers closer, and I’d keep Mike Adams on my watch list because he could very well be the closer by the end of the season.

Alfredo Aceves and Mark Melancon – Aceves was named the closer right before the season started, and he’s off to an interesting start. In his first appearance he hit a batter to load the bases, and gave up an RBI single to end the game. Since he inherited the runner, he wasn’t credited with allowing a run. In his second game, Aceves gave up 3 hits, one of which was a 3 run home run. Oh, and no big deal, but he still hasn’t recorded an out. Minor details. I mean, who wants their pitchers to get guys out anyways?

So with Aceves off to a fantastic start, maybe Melancon could have stolen the closer’s role. Unfortunately, Melancon might actually have pitched worse than Aceves. He did manage to get 3 batters out over 2 games, but in the process he allowed 5 hits and 4 earned runs.

Aceves will probably keep the closer’s gig for now, but at this rate it’s a legitimate question as to who will stop the bleeding in the bullpen.

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