Today, I am going to take a look at several closer sleepers in the American League that you can get in the very last rounds of your mixed league drafts, or on the waiver wire. Every one knows that there is plenty of volatility in the closer role, and some owners aren't up for risking an early pick on a closer, so we are here to help. I will profile four relievers who could end up closing with a little bit of luck in 2013.
Andrew Bailey, BOS
I am recommending Bailey here for all the reasons I cited in Bret's article on closers to avoid this season. I am avoiding Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan due to his negative trend in walk and home run rates in 2012, along with the move to the more hitter-friendly Fenway Park. Bailey had his own issues last season, but I will chalk that up to small sample size. I can see him taking over the closer role should Hanrahan implode like I think he will.
Carter Capps, SEA
Capps is a real deep sleeper in Seattle's pen, and is probably more of a waiver wire pickup, but for those of you in keeper leagues, he is one to grab late in drafts. Capps saved 19 games in AA last season, dominating with a mid-90's fastball, striking out 71 an walking just 12 in 49 innings of work. With the big club, Capps struck out 28 and walked 11 in 25 innings of work. Capps will be part of a very strong Mariners bullpen along with Tom Wilhelmsen, Lucas Luetge and Stephen Pryor, another closer sleeper in 2013. But, Capps has shown to have a bit more control than Pryor, so he could take the job should Wilhelmsen struggle.
Joakim Soria, TEX
Soria is coming off Tommy John surgery, so he probably won't see the mound till May at the earliest, which makes him an excellent choice in keeper leagues, as Rangers closer Joe Nathan is no young buck. The Rangers signed Soria for two years, with Nathan a free agent at the end of the 2013 season, Soria seems to have the upper-hand on the closer role in 2014 should he return to the reliever he was prior to the 2012 season. He has a solid career K/9 rate of 9.73, and exhibits excellent control, walking just under 2.50 batters per nine innings. Should Nathan struggle in the second half of the 2013 season, Soria could take over the role once he gets some innings under his belt.
Sean Doolittle. OAK
Doolittle breezed through three levels of the minors last season, striking out 48 and walking just 7 batters in 25.0 innings of work. HIs dominance landed him in Oakland, where he made 44 appearances, striking out 60 and walking just 11 while tossing 47.1 innings. He throws first pitch strikes to almost 67% of the batters he faced, and induced swinging strikes 12.5% of pitches thrown. If nothing else, he will provide fantasy owners with a solid ERA and a low WHIP with plenty of strikeouts in 2013.