Not every closer in the majors is a Heath Bell, Mariano Rivera or Brian Wilson. If you don’t have an elite closer on your fantasy baseball team, there’s a good chance you need some help in the save department.
Here are five closer battles to keep an eye on. If one of these guys starts to struggle, picking up the other guy will give your team a temporary boost in saves.
- St. Louis Cardinals: Fernando Salas vs. Eduardo Sanchez – Salas doesn’t have the nasty pitches that Sanchez has, but Salas has much better control. Salas has accumulated 11 saves and has a 1.88 ERA. He’s been very reliable for the Redbirds this season. But, so has Sanchez, who has five saves and a 1.95 ERA. Look for Tony La Russa to ride the hot hand for the rest of the season, with Salas and Sanchez splitting save opportunities.
- Chicago White Sox: Sergio Santos vs. Matt Thornton – Santos has been outstanding this season, with 11 saves and a 2.10 ERA. But, should he start to struggle, the White Sox will probably go back to Matt Thornton, who started the year as the closer. His ERA of 4.98 is on the way down and he’s had several solid outings lately.
- Kansas City Royals: Aaron Crow vs. Joakim Soria – Soria appears to have regained his closer role, but Crow showed he was more than capable in the late innings. If Soria can’t lower his 5.14 ERA, the Royals could go to Crow, who has a 1.47 ERA.
- Philadelphia Phillies: Ryan Madson vs. Jose Contreras – Madson has had a great season filling in for the injured Brad Lidge. He’s recorded 14 saves and has an ERA of 2.25. But, should he start to struggle, the Phillies have another solid save option in Contreras. Contreras, who was injured for most of May, has five saves and a microscopic 1.46 ERA. It’s Madson’s job to lose right now though.
- Toronto Blue Jays – Frank Francisco vs. Jon Rauch – Rauch has seven saves, Francisco has five. The difference comes in ERA. Francisco’s ERA is a whopping 6.06 right now, while Rauch’s is a much more manageable 3.65. Until Francisco can get his ERA down, Rauch should be the guy getting most of the high-pressure save opportunities.