Last night was a good night for closers. Not only did a few of the rising stars of the closer world make appearances, but many of the old school closers were out in full force. This will be my first mention of Jonathan Papelbon and Marino Rivera in the Closer Daily Dish. Rivera saves his first game in eighth days, beating the Minnesota Twins 7-6. Rivera started the season with a blown save and many felt as I do that is age was beginning to show. Not so. Since that first outing, Rivera has been, well…. RIVERA. four shutout innings, four strikeouts, and three saves. I’d still remain cautious with Rivera because his age is a concern, but have confidence that the greatest closer of all time is still a top-tier closer.
His old rival Jonathan Papelbon is continuing to have great success with his new team, the Phillies. One of my top ranked closers in the pre-season, Papelbon notched his fourth save in as many chances last night over the Padres. So far in 2012, Paps has been outstanding. He has given up one run in six innings of work and has struck out five. While he has been his hard (1.33 WHIP), he has stranded most of those runners. Papelbon’s success is not a surprise. Moving to the National League was a great move for Papelbon. Not only is he getting the chance to face hitters who don’t know him as well, but he’s not facing lineups with DHs, but instead bench hitters.
Grant Balfour, the unsung hero of the Oakland Athletics notched his fourth save of the season over the hapless Angels. Balfour has been dominant in 2012, posting a 1.00 ERA and grabbing five strikeouts in nine innings of work. WHile Balfour has a history of inconsistency with his control, so far we have yet to see much of it. The Athletics do have Fauntino De Los Santos waiting gin the wings if Balfour fails, along with Brian Fuentes. From a fantasy standpoint, I’d get rid of Balfour by June. He could very well get traded to a team like the Red Sox who need bullpen depth and that would allow the Athletics to use De Los Santos at closer.
One of my favorite closers in 2012 is Sean Marshall, the hard throwing lefty in Cincinnati. He recorded his second save of the season over the Cardinals 6-3. Marshall struck out the side and now has seven Ks in 4.1 innings of work. While he has been limited this season so far, Marshall has proven he is a commodity at closer. Trying to acquire Marshall in your fantasy leagues at this point would be smart because he may be undervalued and would be great long-term addition to your bullpen. I do believe that he will achieve 40+ saves.