Closer Circle of Trust: August
by Brian Dorsey
|Joe Nathan||Mark Melancon||Jason Isringhausen||Brandon League|
|Ryan Madson||Drew Storen||Fernando Salas||Carlos Marmol||Heath Bell|
|Javy Guerra||Craig Kimbrel||Mariano Rivera||Sergio Santos||Brian Wilson||Jordan Walden|
|Kyle Farnsworth||Houston Street||Andrew Bailey||Jonathan Papelbon||Jose Valerde||Kevin Gregg|
|Neftali Feliz||Joel Hanrahan||John Axford||Francisco Cordero||Joakim Soria|
|John Rauch||Leo Nunez||Chris Perez||JJ Putz|
Notes: The trade deadline put some of us on edge because having relief pitchers changing teams is a bit like musical chairs. We were all waiting to see who would be without a seat when the music finally stopped. Now that it’s silent and the dust has finally settled, we can assess the winners and losers of the closer carousel.
Who Lucked Out: Heath Bell, Neftali Feliz, Ryan Madson, Fernando Salas, and Jason Isringhausen. In the preseason I thought Bell would get traded for sure. Instead his setup man, Mike Adams, got dealt to Texas, which might leave Bell with less save opportunities, but at least he’s still closing… Feliz’s abilities were being questioned throughout July, and the Rangers were taking a serious look at Bell. Instead they got Adams and Koji Uehara, both incredible relievers and both sleeper closers on their former teams, but neither should threaten Feliz’s position (not this year, at least)… Madson would’ve been back in the setup role had the Phillies traded for Bell, but now he only has to fend off Antonio Bastardo and often injured Brad Lidge… The Cardinals didn’t add anything that could be considered a threat to Salas’ seat… Isringhausen quite possibly is the biggest winner in the bunch. The Mets shipped K-Rod out to the land of cheese, opening the door for Izzy to get his mits on a bushel of saves, as long as he doesn’t blow it.
Who Got Burned: K-Rod, John Axford, Adams, and Uehara. First, the situation in Milwaukee: Axford is still the closer, and a damn good one at that (you’ll notice I moved him up into the “trusted” category), but anytime a team adds a reliever of K-Rod’s caliber to be your setup man, you best be looking over your shoulder, and you better not falter… Adams was going to be the closer of the future in San Diego, but the Padres figured it was easier to keep Bell and move Adams. Don’t expect Adams to close out games until the 2013 season when he’s a free agent… Uehara was in a similar situation to Adams, except he probably could’ve taken the closing job from blundering Kevin Gregg even with Gregg still in town.
New to Trusted: Bell, Axford, Joel Hanrahan, and Craig Kimbrel.
New to Solid: Brandon League, Javy Guerra, and Fernando Salas.
New to Danger, Danger Will Robinson: Madson, John Rauch, Gregg, Isringhausen, and Joe Nathan.