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Fantasy Baseball: Early AL Closer Watch.

We've seen a lot of trade rumors and trade analysis as of late and there really hasn't been any mention of the many teams with closer situations. We will check back in after a few months and see if anything has changed, but this is how things are looking as of now.

AL East

  • Yankees- I think we all know this answer. Mo' should be one of the top closers in the game again. One day, he may fall apart, but for a player of his caliber, he may retire before than happens. Next in line: Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Mark Melancon.
  • Red Sox- Jonathan Papelbon. In 2009, Papelbon posted a 1.85 ERA, which would lead you to believe he had a successful season. If you look at the peripheral stats, you'd see that Papelbon had an FIP of 3.05 and while he kept his K/9 above 10, he posted a BB/9 over 3 for the first time since his rookie season where he threw only 34 big league innings. I wouldn't be surprised to see Papelbon traded with the closer in waiting in Daniel Bard likely getting more work in the later innings. Next in line: Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen.
  • Orioles- Mike Gonzalez. The Orioles signed Gonzalez to be their closer and I can't really see anyone challenging him for the job this year. Next in line: Jim Johnson, Kam Mikolio.
  • Blue Jays- Jason Frasor. While there is nothing concrete in Toronto, I think Frasor will be the guy in 2010. Frasor saved 11 games in 2009 and ended the season with an FIP of 2.99 and a K/BB of 3.50. I think if the season were to begin today, Frasor would be the man, but he could lose it fairly easily. Next in line: Scott Downs, Jeremy Accardo.
  • Rays- Rafael Soriano. The Rays either didn't seem confident or have other plans for J.P Howell in 2010. After trading prospect Jesse Chavez to Atlanta, the Rays are set at closer with Soriano. If he were to get hurt (which he does somewhat often) I would think Wheeler is the next on the list with Howell being the late inning lefty. Next in line: Dan Wheeler, J.P. Howell and Grant Balfour.

AL Central

  • Twins- Joe Nathan. See Mariano Rivera. Next in line: Jon Rauch, Pat Neshek, Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares.
  • Tigers- Joel Zumaya. Currently the Tigers depth chart lists Zumaya as the closer. He's always been thought of as the closer of the future, but the Tigers have never really given him an extended look due to durability concerns. If made a closer, Zumaya could be a top level closer but he'll have to get his walks under control for that to happen. Next in line: Ryan Perry, Daniel Schlereth, Casey Fien, Phil Coke.
  • White Sox- Bobby Jenks. As we speak, Jenks seems to be the closer and is listed as such on the depth chart. Matt Thornton is the better pitcher, but experience could be key here. I still think Thornton ends up with the job at some point. Next in line: Matt Thornton, J.J. Putz.
  • Indians- Kerry Wood. Wood struggled in and there are a few more guys in waiting that could make this one of the more interesting (aka: avoidable) closer situations in 2010. Next in line: Chris Perez, Rafael Perez.
  • Royals- Joakim Soria. One of the more talented relievers in the game. He was hampered by injuries a bit in 2009 and still saved 30 games with a 2.21 ERA. I don't see him going anywhere. Next in line: Juan Cruz, Kyle Farnsworth.

AL West

  • Angels- Brian Fuentes. Didn't have the greatest season, but the Angels paid him to close, so I don't see him doing anything else. Next in line: Fernando Rodney, Kevin Jepsen.
  • Rangers- Frank Francisco. Francisco spent time on and off the DL in 2009 and the Rangers bolstered their bullpen by adding Chris Ray and Darren Oliver, making the closer role available to C.J. Wilson, Chris Ray, Francisco or fireballer Neftali Feliz. If the Rangers decide not to prepare Feliz to start, he could very easily become an elite closer. Next in line: Chris Ray, C.J. Wilson, Neftali Feliz.
  • Mariners- David Aardsma. The Mariners seem to be pushing for a playoff berth in 2010 by trading away Brandon Morrow for Brandon League and prospect Johermyn Chavez. League brings a big time GB% (which fits in with Seattle's league leading defense.) While I do think Aardsma will be the closer and will be successful, I wouldn't totally rule out a trade of one of the young, power arms in Seattle's pen. Next in line: Mark Lowe, Brandon League, Shawn Kelley, Joshua Fields.
  • Athletics- Andrew Bailey. The reigning AL Rookie of the Year is likely to be the closer for the A's in 2010, but that's what we thought about Brad Zeigler in 2009. I still see Bailey as the closer, however. Next in line: Brad Ziegler, Joey Devine, Michael Wuertz, John Meloan.