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Oh the noble closer. The anchor to any bullpen, this man puts the weight on his shoulders in the ninth inning and makes it his duty to secure a victory for his team. Depending on what format your league is, the closer could be a valuable commodity on draft day or just a filler in your RP slot. Whatever the case, it is important to know who can get you those important saves and who will just blow up your team ERA.
Joey Devine-Oakland A’s
The Oakland closer situation was quite rocky last season with injuries to Huston Street and a carousel of relievers filling the role. Brad Ziegler eventually got the bulk of the work, but Joey Devine can’t be ignored. Devine was simply outstanding last season when he allowed only three earned runs in 45.1 IP (zero runs in August and September). If Oakland can’t fully commit to Ziegler then Devine is the obvious choice to share the closing duties.
George Sherrill-Baltimore Orioles
Ordinarily a guy who had 31 saves and made the All-Star team last season would be a no-brainer for the top closer list. However, Chris Ray looks to return to action after missing all of last season after having surgery on his right elbow. Ray was an excellent closer before his injury, but Baltimore may not want to rush him back/overwork his surgically repaired elbow. This clearly indicates some time in the ninth inning for Sherrill who has already proved in the past that he can handle the pressure.
Dan Wheeler/Grant Balfour-Tampa Bay Rays
It is no secret that Troy Percival is on the back nine. He may have had 28 saves last season, but he also had several DL stints and a less than stellar 4.53 ERA. Those are not numbers you want from a guy who is in charge of securing a win for your team. So, when Percival blows up again or gets injured (which ever comes first), Wheeler, who took over most of the closing duties in Percival’s absences, and Balfour (1.54 ERA, 12.70 K/9) would split closing duties.
Next Week: First Basemen
Past Rankings: Starting Pitchers, Catchers