Thrift Shopping: Closer Options in SEA, HOU, NY

“In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg

With 2 months remaining in the season, those who are chasing saves should be paying attention to what is happening with the bullpens in Seattle, Houston and the New York Mets. I will look at the candidates below and give my prediction as the season moves forward.

Mariners Bullpen

Tom Wilhelmsen (88.4% ESPN, 73% Yahoo)

2013 Stats: 47 G, 0 W, 24 S, 47.1 IP, 35 K’s, 26 BB, 4.37 ERA, 1.27 WHIP

Last 14 Days: 4 G, 0 W, 2 S, 3 IP, 3 K’s, 2 BB, 12.00 ERA, 2.67 WHIP

  • Wilhelmsen was on watch as a closer with weak peripherals to last a full season at the position. The lack of ability to strike batters out put him at risk, much like the player he replaced, Brandon League. This is the second time he has been removed as the “closer” and I am not sure he will get it back this season. The Mariners bullpen is 29th in team ERA and Wilhelmsen has been a part of the struggles. As of this morning, he has been sent to AAA.

OrDanny Farquhar (12.7% ESPN, 19% Yahoo)

2013 Stats: 24 G, 0 W, 2 S, 35.1 IP, 53 K’s, 14 BB, 5.09 ERA, 1.25 WHIP

Last 14 Days: 6 G, 0 W, 2 S, 11 IP, 17 K’s, 3 BB, 0.00 ERA, .46 WHIP

Fa-who? Doesn't matter if he can get you saves.

Fa-who? Doesn’t matter if he can get you saves.

  • On the surface the stat lines for the year between Farquhar and Wilhelmsen look similar. But if you dig deeper and look at the huge difference between K/9 rates and K/BB, Farquhar has far superior numbers. After going between four organizations in 2012 it seems that Farquhar has settled in with the Mariners.
  • In fact, his numbers in the minors completely back up his recent hot stretch in Seattle:
  • AAA Stats: 15 G, 0 W, 6 S, 20 IP, 32 K’s, 4 BB, 2.25 ERA, 1.05 WHIP
  • Although Farquhar is small in stature, his fastball can top out at 95 mph and his cutter at 91 mph. He has added a 79 mph curveball and has been throwing strikes. I watched his first save against Baltimore as he retired Adam Jones in the 8th, then struck out Chris Davis and Matt Wieters in the 9th.

In Seattle, I see Farquhar getting saves in the short term but if he struggles, watch Yoervis Medina who had 4 strikeouts in 2 innings against Baltimore yesterday. But if the interim manager stays with the present pecking order of Medina in setup and Farquhar as the closer, I see him getting 9 saves through the end of the year. And I will go out on a limb here and say he keeps the job until the end of the season.

Astros Bullpen

Jose Cisnero (13.9% ESPN, 12% Yahoo)

2013 Stats: 27 G, 2 W, 0 S, 42.2 IP, 41 K’s, 19 BB, 3.59 ERA, 1.55 WHIP

Last 14 Days: 5 G, 0 W, 0 S, 3.2 IP, 1 K, 2 BB, 9.82 ERA, 2.73

  • At first glance, I thought Cisnero would get the first save chance. Then I thought about Josh Fields but most owners added Cisnero for saves. The numbers suggest he would struggle in the role especially with his propensity to put players on base. With a WHIP of 1.55 and even higher in the last 2 weeks, it is hard to believe that Cisnero and his big fastball will be the closer for the remainder of 2013.

Or: Josh Fields (1.8% ESPN, 2% Yahoo)

2013 Stats: 23 G, 1 W, 1 S, 20 IP, 22 K’s, 9 BB, 5.85 ERA, 1.4 WHIP

Last 14 Days: 5 G, 0 W, 1 S, 3.2 IP, 9 K, 1 BB, 2.45 ERA, 1.64 WHIP

  • Last night against the Red Sox Fields was given the chance to close out the 2-0 win and retired the last 4 batters he faced. He was in the same circumstance against the Twins but Porter called upon Lo as he put a runner on and was struggling with his command. Fields was a top closer coming out of Georgia University but the same command issues caused him to struggle in the minor leagues. It is all about locating his fastball and curve. He can touch 95 with the fastball and his curveball averages at 79 mph.

Or: Chia-Jen Lo (1% ESPN, 0% Yahoo)

Minor League Stats: 17 G, 0 W, 6 S, 16.2 IP, 20 K’s, 2 BB, 3.24 ERA, 1.02 WHIP

  • Lo has only had 2 appearances in his short time with the Astros but his second one was in a high leverage situation against the Twins. He was brought in with a runner at second base and one out to replace Josh Fields with a one run lead. Lo did bounce a pitch that allowed the runner to move to third base but he quickly regained his composure. In what could have been called strike three to Herrmann, he was awarded first on a walk and still Lo hung tough. He did blow the save on a soft base hit to center but his fastball seemed to jump on Mauer and Morneau during their at bats.

I understand the bullpen in Houston is not appealing for fantasy purposes, but the team is playing tough and Veras was still able to convert 19 of his 22 save opportunities. I believe this comes down between Fields and Lo, but if Lo can stay healthy, he will get 6 saves before the season ends. Fields saved last night’s game but I only see 2 more as his command issues may open the door for Lo.

Mets Bullpen

David Aardsma (0.4% ESPN, 1% Yahoo)

2013 Stats: 24 G, 2 W, 0 S, 24.1 IP, 22 K’s, 10 BB, 3.7 ERA, 1.23 WHIP

Last 14 Days: 6 G, 1 W, 0 S, 5 IP, 2 K’s, 4 BB, 9.00 ERA, 1.8 WHIP

  • I understand that Aardsma is a great story to fight back to the majors and I know he has 69 career saves, but is the depth of the Mets bullpen this bad that he received the first available save opportunity while Parnell was unavailable due to his neck injury? Word should be coming today in regards to Parnell landing on the DL. Aardsma may get the next chance as well, and as a person I am pulling for him, but I am not confident in the conversion based on his last two weeks and the poor walk rate.

Or: LaTroy Hawkins (1.3% ESPN, 2% Yahoo)

2013 Stats: 49 G, 3 W, 0 S, 48.1 IP, 37 K’s, 9 BB, 2.98 ERA, 1.28 WHIP

Last 14 Days: 7 G, 0 W, 0 S, 6 IP, 2 K’s, 0 BB, 1.5 ERA, .50 WHIP

  • It is hard to believe I am endorsing Hawkins, but looking at the Mets bullpen, he is the best they have after Parnell. “Perpetual” Pedro Feliciano cannot handle too many consecutive appearances, so my guess is that Collins will turn to LaTroy for the next save opportunity if Parnell is out. Unlike Aardsma, Hawkins has not been putting runners on base and he has 88 saves in his career so it should not be too daunting for him to step in.

In the event that Parnell is placed on the DL in the next day or two, I could see Hawkins converting 3 or 4 saves depending on the length of Parnell’s absence. It may be a bumpy ride, but if you need saves, Hawkins is the better option for fantasy and the Mets.

Greg Jewett is a staff writer for RotoAnalysis. Follow him on Twitter @GJewett9 and his work all season long on! 


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