It’s been a great month of June for several red-hot closers, but with the start of summer could spell trouble for many of those closers. Let’s start in Texas, where the summer heat effects the ball more so than any other stadium in baseball.
Joe Nathan has been on fire over the past five weeks. He hasn’t surrendered a run since May 13th, and during that run he has notched eight saves and lowered his ERA from 3.29 to 1.57. He has also pushed his K/9 over 10.0 to 10.67. He is on a roll and has been looking like the Joe Nathan we use to know and not the one coming off of Tommy John surgery at age 37. The question now becomes, what will happen next for Nathan. Will he continue to pitch red-hot for the Rangers or will his scoreless streak end with a bang? Historically, Nathan struggles in August and September, but that could be a reflection of the team and not the closer. We can twist the numbers all we want too, but the reality is Nathan has 14 blown saves of his 33 career blown saves in August/September. What does that mean? Depends how you look at it. All of that damage was done with Minnesota. We have yet to see Nathan handle the hot Texas summer. Of course, his career at Rangers ballpark is 14/16, but most of that is this season. I’d consider making a move with Nathan before the end of the month. His age and ballpark worry me, though he could be lights out all year. That is a very tough decision for any fantasy manager.
Moving to Philadelphia and Paps. Jonathan “Paps” Papelbon has been hot since the start of the season and his numbers would be even better if the Phillies were playing well. So far this season, Papelbon is 17/17 in saves and has posted a 2.28 ERA with a 1-2 record. Papelbon has yet to surrender a single run in a save situation and has only been scored upon in non-save situations that Charlie Manual throws him out there to get work or in a tie score. Nobody should be shocked by this. Paps is one of the more consistent closers and moving from Boston to Philadelphia was a huge move for the closer for the fresh start he needed. I wouldn’t consider trading him. He is the real deal and will finish the season with 38-42 saves.
Finally we travel to Kansas City, where Jonathan Broxton has been changing the world one save at a time. Broxton nailed down his 18th save of the season last night. The once left for dead closer has had a resurgent 2012 and through the first two and a hlaf months has proven he is back. In 28.2 innings of work so far, Broxton has not only stayed 100% healthy, but he’s posted a 1.57 ERA and only blown three saves in 21 chances. In June alone he is 7/8 in save opportunities with a 1-0 record. My fantasy concerns for Broxton are real. The chances of him remaining with the Royals are about 40/60. I don’t see the Royals holding onto to Broxton with guys like Holland waiting for a shot to close. PLus, Soria will return next season. Broxton will likely return to the National League, but has just as much of a chance to stay in the AL. The only question that remains, will he still be a closer after getting traded? If I was a betting man, and I am, he won’t be a closer in August. Instead, a glorified setup man. Trade him before then if you can.