Closers with awesome changeups just aren't fair. One of these tricksters, the much-revered
Hoffman's change is effective because it makes his low-90s fastball look like it's a triple-digit heater. And he needs the harder breaking stuff to record outs -- largely because he's not a ground ball pitcher. His recent outing featured three fly ball outs, and of the last 12 batters he's faced, nine have been retired via the flyout. His BABIP so far this season is an absurdly low .120, and as that spikes toward his career BABIP of .278 (the exact same figure as Mariano Rivera's career BABIP -- although Rivera's career GB/FB is 1.84, and Hoffman's is 0.75) there will be a slight regression. Hoffman has yet to walk a batter, and he isn't necessarily missing bats at a ridiculous clip (7.36 K/9), either. In short, Hoffman will probably have a solid season because he's experienced and has learned to keep hitters off balance, but he's not a Top Five closer, and shouldn't be treated as such in trades.
After getting several solid performances from
Capps blew a 1-0 lead, allowing three runs in the ninth on Friday. He insists nothing is wrong with his elbow, but performance -- specifically relating to his control -- suggests that something might be wrong. His 1.13 K/BB ratio is the worst among relievers with at least four saves, and again I must point out that this number usually correlates directly to a closer's success.
Fernando Rodney has pitched four innings without giving up a hit, although none of those four appearances were save opportunities. He'll never be out of the woods, mainly because Jim Leyland doesn't care how well fantasy owners sleep at night, and he's prone to blowouts. According to the Houston Chronicle, Jose Valverde's replacement --- veteran reliever
Street's K/BB stands at 6.00, fourth among closers. Rivera is first at an unbelievable 22.00 K/BB, Scott Downs is second at 11.00 K/BB, and Chad Qualls is third with 9.50 K/BB. While Taylor Buchholz is due back in the Rockies bullpen in mid-June, and could threaten for the closing job, I think Street's job is safe for the time being. Buchholz reportedly had a good 37-pitch bullpen session on Monday. Brad Ziegler has still not pitched in any save situations since April 25, and is not engineered to be a closer. His recent bout with the flu didn't cost him more than a few save opportunities, as the Athletics have struggled, but Ziegler, technically still the team's closer, is still not assured to start racking up saves anytime soon.
David Aardsma took over ninth-inning duties for Brandon Morrow this week and has yet to blow a save in his limited opportunities so far. His job won't be safe for quite a while, but he'll be able to snag a few saves for your squad. Joel Hanrahan is purportedly the closer in D.C., but I consider Washington a team without a closer at this point. Does a ship have a captain after it's been sunk? Or is he just a dead captain? It's probably safe to assume that most teams wouldn't be that interested in
The interim Royals closer blew a save Sunday without giving up a hit or a walk in two innings, but got a cheap win when his teammates scored three in the bottom of the eighth. Despite a super-stingy BAA of .117, Cruz is throwing his fastball less and his changeup more than his previous two seasons -- and correspondingly, his peripherals have plummeted so far in '09 (6.27 K/9, 1.30 K/BB). Don't read too much into Mike Gonzalez's third blown save, as the Braves' co-closer still has the second-highest K/9 (Jonathan Broxton is at 14.40 K/9) among firemen. Sure,