Relievers

Fewer than half the closers on this list are likely to hold the job all year
March 20, 2006

[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

      W SV K WHIP ERA  
1. AL Mariano Rivera, Yankees 7 43 80 0.87 1.38  
2. AL Francisco Rodriguez, Angels 2 45 91 1.14 2.67  
3. NL Billy Wagner, Mets 4 38 87 0.84 1.51  
4. NL Chad Cordero, Nationals 2 47 61 0.97 1.82 Though not overpowering, he was majors' save leader in first full season asa closer.
5. AL Joe Nathan, Twins 7 43 94 0.97 2.70  
6. AL Huston Street, A's 5 23 72 1.01 1.72  
7. NL Brad Lidge, Astros 4 42 103 1.15 2.29 Averaged 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings last season, highest rate inmajors; has 260 K's over last two seasons.
8. NL Trevor Hoffman, Padres 1 43 54 1.11 2.97  
9. AL B.J. Ryan, Blue Jays 1 36 100 1.14 2.43  
10. AL Francisco Cordero, Rangers 3 37 79 1.32 3.39  
11. AL Bob Wickman, Indians 0 45 41 1.26 2.47  
12. NL Armando Benitez, Giants 2 19 23 1.37 4.50  
13. NL Derrick Turnbow, Brewers 7 39 64 1.08 1.74  
14. NL Eric Gagne, Dodgers 1 8 22 0.98 2.70  
15. NL Tom Gordon, Phillies 5 2 69 1.09 2.57 Back to closing after serving as Yanks' setup man for two years, he's hadmore than 12 saves twice in his 16-year career.
16. NL Jason Isringhausen, Cardinals 1 39 51 1.19 2.14  
17. AL Keith Foulke, Red Sox 5 15 34 1.55 5.91  
18. AL Bobby Jenks, White Sox 1 6 50 1.25 2.75 Four saves in five postseason opportunities, but he's just 25 and hasthrown only 391/3 regular-season innings.
19. NL Ryan Dempster, Cubs 5 33 89 1.43 3.13  
20. AL Todd Jones, Tigers 1 40 62 1.03 2.10  
21. NL Jose Valverde, Diamondbacks 3 15 75 1.07 2.44  
22. AL Eddie Guardado, Mariners 2 36 48 1.19 2.72  
23. NL Brian Fuentes, Rockies 2 31 91 1.25 2.91  
24. NL Mike Gonzalez, Pirates 1 3 58 1.32 2.70  
25. AL Chris Ray, Orioles 1 0 43 1.28 2.66  
26. NL David Weathers, Reds 7 15 61 1.29 3.94 Part of a closer-by-committee that includes Todd Coffey, Kent Mercker andRyan Wagner, he should get a majority of the saves.
27. NL Chris Reitsma, Braves 3 15 42 1.27 3.93  
28. AL Mike MacDougal, Royals 5 21 72 1.32 3.33  
29. NL Joe Borowski, Marlins 1 0 27 1.08 4.47  
30. NL Dan Miceli, Devil Rays 1 0 19 1.75 5.89  


SPOTLIGHT

Huston Street

After learning hehad been voted the AL Rookie of the Year last fall, Street got this reactionfrom his father, James, a decorated athlete himself as quarterback of the 1969national champion Texas Longhorns: "Now, what are you going to do to getbetter?" Considering Huston is only 22 and will begin this season as theA's closer--he took over for the injured Octavio Dotel last May and finished5-1 with a 1.72 ERA and 23 saves in 27 opportunities--he should only getbetter. Now he's developing another pitch. Already tough to hit with his wickedsidearm delivery, Street has been working on a changeup, which could bedevastating for batters when mixed with his darting fastball and sharp slider."He could have three solid out pitches," says one scout, "whichmakes him pretty much unhittable."

DEEP SLEEPERS

TRAVIS BOWYER,Marlins The former Twins farmhand was 23 for 23 in save chances in Triple A in'05, but he'll have to beat out journeyman Joe Borowski for the closer's job orwork as a setup man.

CHAD ORVELLA,Devil Rays The first change in closers this season could have Orvella takingover for well-traveled Dan Miceli. Orvella had a 1.22 ERA in 111 minor leagueinnings over the last three seasons.

ANDREW SISCO,Royals Keep an eye on this 6'10" southpaw, a Rule 5 pickup from the Cubs inlate 2004. The 23-year-old had 76 strikeouts in 751/3 innings as a rookie lastyear.

TWO PHOTOSJASON WISE (STREET); MIKE CARLSON/ICON SMI (ORVELLA)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)