Since all is relatively quiet this week on the closers front, I'll examine three buy-low candidates and three sell-high guys who are bound to break out/regress in the second half of the season.
1. Joakim Soria, KCAfter yielding singles to Miguel Tejada and Lance Berkman to start the ninth on Tuesday, Soria struck out Ivan Rodriguez and Kaz Matsui before fielding a weak Jason Michaels grounder and closing the door. Soria seems healthy, and with the Royals coming off a bad stretch, they'll depend heavily on him to preserve tenuous leads. I spoke very highly of Soria in my first column this year, so it should come as no surprise that despite eight saves, I'm recommending you make a deal for the 25-year-old hurler.
2. Huston Street, COLKyle Stack deconstructed Street this week and makes several excellent points, so I'll defer to his analysis: "He's mowing down batters with a 10.2 K/9 rate. ... Street's fastball velocity has reached over 91 mph on average, up a full mile on the gun from last season." Of course, there's more to Kyle's column than a few nerdy numbers. He astutely points out that Street now sets up on the right side of the rubber. So far, the change has worked; his walk rate is down, and he's throwing first-pitch strikes at a 65.6 percent clip -- the highest rate of his career.
3. David Aardsma, SEA"The Aardsmark" (can somebody please credit me with giving him this awesome handle? I searched the Web and found no hits) has been positively nasty since taking over ninth-inning duties. Aardsma -- or "Crazy Eyes," as he was nicknamed in 2007 -- struck out seven of the last 11 batters he's faced. His K/BB rate is over 2.00, his FIP is at 2.79, and his strand rate is up to 87.8% -- even though his GB/FB rate is obnoxiously low at 0.36. He's throwing his fastball more (88.7% compared to a career rate of 76.7%) and opposing hitters' contact rate is at 71.2 -- down from his career rate of 77.1. If you can somehow pry him away at cost from somebody who's fearful of his .254 BABIP, I'd go for it, because every other indicator says that he's coming into his own. If you want to know more, Dave Cameron of fangraphs.com lends a bit of insight into Aardsma's success in a June 23 piece.
1. Trevor Hoffman, MILAfter a torrid start, he's allowed six hits and two walks (while striking out just two) in his last 4.2 innings. He's on the wrong side of 40, can't maintain any of his current metrics, and will end up falling well short of the expectations owners probably lumped on him after his first month back.
2. Ryan Franklin, STLThere's just no way in Hades he keeps this charade up. I've already analyzed it to death and voiced my disdain for Franklin, so I'll just throw a few metrics out there and you can piece it together: 6.67 K/9, 0.67 HR/9, .200 BAA, .232 BABIP, 99.1 LOB%, 6.5% HR/FB, and 3.21 FIP. Yeah -- unsustainable.
3. Bobby Jenks, CHWI know, blasphemy, right? He's not quite as reliable as you might think. Despite his 17 saves so far, he's got a 4.42 FIP and has a history of shoulder, ankle and hip problems dating back to 2006. He doesn't yield many infield flyouts, at least for my liking, and his zone contact rate is 83.7%, the lowest it's been since 2005. There's a slew of metrics that show Jenks will likely maintain decent numbers if he stays healthy, but I'm firm on trading him straight up for Soria -- or even an apparent overachiever like Heath Bell.
Stats as of June 23, 2009
Brad Lidge, PHI 13-for-19 (68%), 26 IP, 28 Ks, 7.27 ERA, 1.81 WHIP Next in line: Ryan MadsonThird in line: J.C. Romero/Chad Durbin
Frank Francisco, TEX12-for-12 (100%), 20.2 IP, 22 Ks, 0.44 ERA, 0.77 WHIP Next in line: C.J. Wilson/Eddie GuardadoThird in line: Darren O'Day
Chad Qualls, ARI 13-for-16 (81%), 26.2 IP, 26 Ks, 4.39 ERA, 1.35 WHIPNext in line: Tony PeñaThird in line: Juan Gutierrez/Tom Gordon (DL)
Fernando Rodney, DET 14-for-14 (100%), 29 IP, 22 Ks, 4.03 ERA, 1.31 WHIP Next in line: Brandon Lyon/ Joel ZumayaThird in line: Ryan Perry
Matt Capps, PIT16-for-18 (89%), 23.2 IP, 17 Ks, 4.94 ERA, 1.56 WHIP Next in line: John GrabowThird in line: Sean Burnett/Jesse Chavez
Kerry Wood, CLE 9-for-13 (69%), 25.1 IP, 29 Ks, 5.68 ERA, 1.62 WHIP Next in line: Matt HergesThird in line: Jensen Lewis
Brad Lidge (sprained right knee) is slated to return this week, replacing Ryan Madson as the Phillies' closer. Chad Qualls still isn't right. Prospective setup man Tom Gordon threw a 35-pitch bullpen session recently, his first time off the mound since going on the DL in May with a hamstring injury. Gordon might not be the answer to the D-Backs' bullpen woes, but a well-traveled reliever among the young guns can't hurt. Fernando Rodney hasn't been the poster boy for reliability, but he's doing one thing right: his first-strike rate is at an impressive 72.5 -- up from his anagrammatic (not a word) 57.2 career rate. Taking this and a few other factors into consideration, it appears Rodney is pitching to contact -- a smart move in Comerica Park. There's probably something wrong with Kerry Wood, even if it is just homesickness for Chicago. He pretty much did everything he could to get traded back to the Cubbies, giving up 3 ER in 1.1 innings over two appearances in the Windy City and racking up a loss and two more blown saves. He nearly blew another one Tuesday, but worked out of a big jam against the lowly Pirates.
Matt Lindstrom, FLA: Sprained right elbowLindstrom was placed on the 15-day DL, but the timetable for his return was set at well over a month. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the best-case scenario is about six weeks without him, so fantasy owners should look to Leo Nunez, who's day-to-day with a right ankle sprain, or lefty Dan Meyer, who has pitched well and picked up the save on Wednesday night. Kiko Calero is also on the DL (June 18 ? right shoulder inflammation). My guess is Fredi will use both in a situational system a la BobbyCox's technique with Mike González/Rafael Soriano.
Scott Downs, TOR: Sprained left big toeNo timetable for his return from the DL, but it's encouraging he threw off flat ground on June 19. So far, Jason Frasor has pitched alright in his stead.
Troy Percival, TB: Right shoulder tendonitisReturn uncertain
Rafael Soriano, ATL6-for-7 (86%), 33.2 IP, 46 Ks, 1.34 ERA, 0.98 WHIP Mike González, ATL 8-for-11 (73%), 34 IP, 44 Ks, 2.12 ERA, 1.21 WHIP Next in line: Peter Moylan
Andrew Bailey, OAK8-for-12 (67%), 44.1 IP, 50 Ks, 2.23 ERA, 1.04 WHIP Next in line: Brad ZieglerThird in line: Michael Wuertz
Mike MacDougal, WAS2-for-2 (100%), 10.2 IP, 6 Ks, 0.84 ERA, 1.31 WHIP (NL Stats only) Next in line: Joe BeimelThird in line: Julian Tavarez
J.P. Howell, TB 4-for-9 (44%), 4 HLDs, 34.2 IP, 42 Ks, 1.82 ERA, 1.10 WHIP Next in line: Dan Wheeler/Randy ChoateThird in line: Grant Balfour/ Joe Nelson
Jason Frasor, TOR2-for-4 (50%), 3 HLDs, 25.2 IP, 20 Ks, 2.10 ERA, 0.94 WHIP Next in line: B.J. RyanThird in line: Jesse Carlson/Brandon League
Leo Nunez, FLA2-for-5 (88%), 13 HLDs, 32.2 IP, 29 Ks, 4.13 ERA, 1.26 WHIP Dan Meyer, FLA 1-for-1 (100%), 10 HLDs, 31 IP, 30 Ks, 2.03 ERA, 0.81 WHIP Next in line: Brian Sanches/Chris LerouxThird in line: Tim Wood/Kiki Calero (DL)
Mariano Rivera, NYY15-for-16 (94%), 27.2 IP, 33 Ks, 3.25 ERA, 1.08 WHIP Next in line: Brian BruneyThird in line: Phil Coke
Jonathan Papelbon, BOS16-for-17 (94%), 30 IP, 32 Ks, 1.80 ERA, 1.40 WHIP Next in line: Takashi SaitoThird in line: Hideki Okajima/Daniel Bard
Francisco Rodríguez, NYM19-for-21 (90%), 34.2 IP, 36 Ks, 1.04 ERA, 1.04 WHIP Next in line: Bobby ParnellThird in line: Brian Stokes
Jonathan Broxton, LAD 18-for-20 (90%), 35.2 IP, 57 Ks, 2.27 ERA, 0.81 WHIP Next in line: Cory WadeThird in line: Ramon Troncoso
Joe Nathan, MIN 16-for-18 (89%), 27.2 IP, 32 Ks, 1.63 ERA, 0.83 WHIP Next in line: Jose MijaresThird in line: Matt Guerrier/Jesse Crain
Heath Bell, SD20-for-21 (95%), 31.1 IP, 35 Ks, 1.44 ERA, 0.99 WHIP Next in line: Cla Meredith/Greg BurkeThird in line: Edward Mujica
Trevor Hoffman, MIL16-for-17 (94%), 20.2 IP, 17 Ks, 1.31 ERA, 0.77 WHIP Next in line: Carlos VillanuevaThird in line: Seth McClung/Todd Coffey
Joakim Soria, KC 8-for-9 (89%), 15.2 IP, 18 Ks, 1.72 ERA, 1.15 WHIP Next in line: Juan CruzThird in line: Kyle Farnsworth
Francisco Cordero, CIN17-for-18 (94%), 30 IP, 28 Ks, 2.10 ERA, 1.20 WHIP Next in line: David WeathersThird in line: Nick Masset
Bobby Jenks, CWS17-for-19 (89%), 25 IP, 23 Ks, 3.60 ERA, 1.16 WHIP Next in line: Matt ThorntonThird in line: Octavio Dotel
Brian Wilson, SF19-for-22 (86%), 33.2 IP, 36 Ks, 2.94 ERA, 1.16 WHIP Next in line: Jeremy AffeldtThird in line: Justin Miller/Merkin Valdez
Huston Street, COL16-for-17 (94%), 31 IP, 35 Ks, 3.19 ERA, 1.13 WHIP Next in line: Joel PeraltaThird in line: Matt Daley/Manny Corpas
David Aardsma, SEA14-for-15 (93%), 33.1 IP, 41 Ks, 1.62 ERA, 1.17 WHIP Next in line: Mark LoweThird in line: Miguel Batista
Brian Fuentes, LAA20-for-23 (87%), 24.1 IP, 28 Ks, 4.07 ERA, 1.36 WHIP Next in line: Jason Bulger/Justin SpeierThird in line: Kelvim Escobar
Ryan Franklin, STL17-for-18 (94%), 27 IP, 20 Ks, 1.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP Next in line: Jason MotteThird in line: Kyle McClellan/Chris Pérez
José Valverde, HOU5-for-7 (71%), 13.1 IP, 18 Ks, 3.38 ERA, 0.98 WHIP Next in line: LaTroy HawkinsThird in line: Chris Sampson
George Sherrill, BAL15-for-17 (88%), 28.2 IP, 25 Ks, 2.20 ERA, 1.08 WHIP Next in line: Jim Johnson Third in line: Danys Báez
Kevin Gregg, CHC11-for-14 (79%), 32.1 IP, 32 Ks, 4.18 ERA, 1.42 WHIP Next in line: Carlos MármolThird in line: Angel Guzman