AL Closer Report: April 30

After a few weeks of steady movement, the closer roles in the American League are holding steady.

Strong Performers

David Aardsma | Seattle Mariners
The Comments: Aardsma is still ‘The Man’ in terms of overall save total with eight. He blew his first save of the year this past week, but the right-hander was successful in two other attempts. All his runs allowed on the season have come in the one game against the White Sox. Everyone has an off-day now and then; Aardsma is still a top AL – and mixed league – closer option.

Kevin Gregg | Toronto Blue Jays
The Comments: Gregg finally allowed his first walk of the season and it came at a really bad time (it led to a Toronto loss). He was, though, a perfect 2-for-2 in save opportunities over a four-game stretch this past week. He struck out seven batters in 4.2 innings of work. The cutter continues to do wonders for him.

Jon Rauch | Minnesota Twins
The Comments: No signs of cracks in the foundation just yet. Rauch has seven saves in nine appearances on the year. This past week, he made two appearances and went 1-for-2 in saves. That blown save was his first of the season and he ended up recording the win.

Joakim Soria | Kansas City Royals
The Comments: Soria appeared in three games this week but he had just one save opportunity, which he converted. In 3.2 innings, he struck out six batters. Soria is a strong closer option, but Kansas City needs to get the lead to him.

Steady Performers

Mariano Rivera | New York Yankees
The Comments: It was a quiet week for Rivera. He appeared in just one game and it wasn’t even a save opportunity. The Yankees club is going to keep on winning so the save opportunities will come. Rivera has already shown this season that he’s still not slowing down.

Jonathan Papelbon | Boston Red Sox
The Comments: On the flip side of Rivera we have Papelbon. The Red Sox closer was a busy man this week with four saves in as many appearances. The right-hander had a bit of a hiccup against the Orioles (3 H, 1 R), but he still got the job done. Overall, the strikeout rate remains low and the walk rate is high; the .195 BABIP-against is really helping him right now, so be wary of his recent success.

Andrew Bailey | Oakland Athletics
The Comments: The save opportunity can be an elusive beast and Bailey has yet to tame it this season. Despite not allowing a run in eight appearances so far this season, the sophomore closer has just two saves in as many opportunities. He came out throwing strikes this past week; of his 25 pitches thrown, 19 were strikes (76%).

Rafael Soriano | Tampa Bay Rays
The Comments: The second-year closer has seen a huge drop in his strikeout rate so far this season (7.88 compared to 12.13 K/9 in ’09) but he’s still a perfect 5-for-5 in saves. He was a perfect 1-for-1 this week in two appearances. With the Rays club playing well, Soriano should be provided plenty of opportunities.

Jose Valverde | Detroit Tigers
The Comments: First the good news: Valverde has seven saves and a 0.82 ERA. Now the bad news: His BABIP-allowed is .133, his FIP is 4.74, and his strikeout rate is 4.09 K/9. If you want to take a positive spin to the numbers, then you’d point out that Valverde is succeeding despite modest numbers. The pessimist will simply say that’s his been lucky and that his luck is bound to change. This past week, Valverde appeared in four games and saved two in as many attempts. Although his strikeout rate is down, the Tigers closer has had a lot of success with his splitter and his ground-ball rate is currently 73.3%, which bodes well for his success (although it doesn’t help his fantasy owners in the K-department).

Bobby Jenks | Chicago White Sox
The Comments: Jenks’ strikeout rate of 14.00 K/9 is no doubt welcomed by his owners. The 6.00 BB/9 rate, though, is not so nice. Overall, Jenks has four saves on the year and has yet to blow a save. This past week, he was 1-for-1 in opportunities and appeared in three games. He was roughed up in his non-save appearances with four runs allowed in 2.0 innings.

Brian Fuentes | Los Angeles Angels
The Comments: Fuentes was solid this past week. He saved two games in as many tries and did not allow a run in three appearances. He even struck out four batters in three innings.

Fallen on Hard Times

Jim Johnson | Baltimore Orioles
The Comments: The 6.23 ERA jumps out at you, but his xFIP is 3.21. Johnson has also done a nice job of limiting the walks (2.08 BB/9) and the homers (none). He appeared in three games this past week and did not have a save opportunity. Johnson was also roughed up by Boston for two runs in 2.0 innings on April 25. The hard-throwing Alfredo Simon was recently recalled and recorded a save in his first game. He could cut into Johnson’s save opportunities.

Neftali Feliz | Texas Rangers
The Comments: Feliz was human this past week and his ERA jumped to 5.91, although his xFIP is much better at 3.62. The youngster was used heavily and appeared in four games despite having just two save opportunities (He went 1-for-2). During that span of games, Feliz allowed 10 hits and six runs in 4.0 innings.

Chris Perez | Cleveland Indians
The Comments: Well, the xFIP is ugly at 6.95 and the walk rate is atrocious at 8.10. His K/BB rate is 0.50. It’s kind of a miracle that Perez is 4-for-5 in save opportunities. The Indians might have to look at another option soon unless Perez can throw more strikes.

We hoped you liked reading AL Closer Report: April 30 by Marc Hulet!

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Detroit Michael
Detroit Michael

Jose Valverde’s xFIP is 4.06 because all those grounders he allows are not expected to become home runs. Obviously his 0.82 ERA is not sustainable, but 4.06 xFIP in a small number of innings isn’t horrible. I’m not sure why you cite FIP for him but use xFIP for everyone else.