"Closer by Committee." These three words drive fantasy owners up the wall. You drafted a closer in the 14th round for only one reason: to earn saves. Now, that guy is haunting you as you look up and see him giving up bombs in the 9th inning. Soon enough, your closer will be demoted and he'll begin to pitch the 8th. Holds are worthy in real life baseball, but in fantasy, they're like a slap in the face. When a manager has a deep bullpen, he will most likely decide to go with a closer by committee, which may include two or even three different closers. There is no true way of knowing which committee member will see the most save opportunities. Some big league managers choose their guy depending on matchup, while others base it on attitude and gut. You don't want to waste a roster spot on a guy who is a "closer" for only two games per month, but you still want to take a chance early and hope that you find lightning in a bottle. Here are the closer predicaments around the league and my thoughts on what actions you should take.
Guy who screwed you over: Jason Motte - will likely require Tommy John surgery
Best Choice: Edward Mujica. This one is the trickiest 9th inning dilemma to navigate, in my opinion. Mitchell Boggs had his chance, but he has walked 7 batters and given up 9 runs in 7 and a third innings. Rosenthal is the young, sexy option who strikes out plenty of guys, but I don't think that Mike Matheny is ready to make a 22 year old starter his closer. Mujica may seem like a sneaky option, but in reality, he is not. Mujica has been an effective reliever for years. He has seen success in San Diego, Miami, and also in St. Louis. I believe that all three of these guys will see save opportunities going forward, but eventually Mujica will come out on top as the Cards closer.
Guy who screwed you over, slightly: Greg Holland - 3 saves/4 opportunities, but an ERA of 9.00
Best Choice: Stick with Greg Holland, but monitor the situation. The reality is that Kelvin Herrera is a more dominant pitcher. He throws close to 100 mph. However, Herrera gave up 4 home runs in the 8th inning against the Braves on Tuesday. I think that this outing basically took him out of the running to become the Royals closer - for now. Holland has had some control issues (6 walks in 4 innings). Control is usually a mechanical mishap and can be adjusted rather quickly. I think at some point, Herrera will overtake Holland as the closer in KC, but for now, stick with the Dutchman.
Guy who screwed you over, big time: John Axford - no saves/1 opportunity, 4 home runs allowed
Best Choice: Jim Henderson. It looks like John Axford's short run has come to an end and I wish I knew what happened to the guy. In 2011, he closed out 46 games in 46 chances and had a sub-two ERA. But, last season and early in 2013, Ax-man has completely fallen apart. If you have him, I suggest that you hold back your tears and say your goodbyes. In 2012, Henderson struck out 45 batters in just over 30 innings. If this continues, the Brew Crew have found a nice closer.
Guy who screwed you over: Carlos Marmol - 1 save/2 opportunities, 0 control
Best Choice: Nobody. That's right. I said nobody. First of all, do not even consider the wild Marmol a viable option whatsoever. The dude is terrible. Secondly, Fujikawa, who looked like he could potentially be a solid fill-in, strained his pitching arm and may be out for a while. Lastly, what kind of freaking 9th inning combination is James Russell and Shawn Camp? Closer by committee is a frustrating enough situation when the committee consists of some quality pitchers. When the committee includes two mediocre arms, I am not recognizing it at all. I hate the Cubs closer situation more than Lance Berkman hates Wrigley Field
Guy who screwed you over: Jim Leyland - cannot make up his mind
Options: Joaquin Benoit (2 holds, 4 games finished), Phil Coke (1 save/2 opportunities), Drew Smyly (1 save/2 opportunities), Al Alburquerque (3 holds, 2 games finished), Jose Valverde (minors), Bruce Rondon (minors)
Best Choice: Joaquin Benoit. I believe that fantasy owners have overthought this one a bit. Benoit can get out both lefties and righties, which makes him more valuable than Coke, a lefty specialist. Alburquerque is another wild one on the mound and everybody knows that Jim Leyland hates surprises. I like Smyly as a starter, but do not view him as a closer. Rondon never panned out this spring and Jose Valverde is going to need some time if he is ready to make a comeback as Detroit's closer. Leyland has hinted towards favoring Benoit, who has still not appeared in a save situation, but nothing has been made official. Thanks Jim!