Major League managers have a lot less patience with their closers than they used to. And, there’s already been a few closers casualties already this year with Ryan Franklin getting booted in St. Louis and Joe Nathan getting the thumb in Minnesota.
But, by the time you got this information, it might have been too late to pick replacement closers Mitchell Boggs (Cardinals) and Matt Capps (Twins) off of your free agent list. That’s why today we are getting you ahead of the curve so you can pick up these guys before everybody else knows about them.
Matt Thornton Headed for Middle Relief
In Chicago, you have to wonder how much longer Ozzie Guillen is going to go with Matt Thornton as his closer. Thornton, who had only 17 career saves prior to this season, has been consistent in 2011–consistently bad. Thornton has had 4 save opportunities and has managed to blow all 4. This has led to a 0-2 record, 7.94 ERA, 2.82 WHIP, and a batting average against of .387!
The replacements appear to be a lefty-righty committe of Chris Sale and Sergio Santos. We profiled Chris Sale earlier this season so needles to say, we are very high on the 6’6″ rookie. Sale has not got off to a great start despite having won 2 games. He has blown 1 of his 2 save opportunities early in the year, but in 2010, Sale sailed through the end of the season with a 1.93 ERA and a .185 batting average against in 21 games.
The more likely immediate closer, who is probably available in nearly all leagues is set up man Sergio Santos. The right-hander is in his sophomore season with the Pale Hose. He was an impressive 2.96 last year, but this year, Santos has not allowed a run in 9 2/3 innings with a 1.03 WHIP and a .152 batting average against.
Unless Thornton straightens out quickly, Santos is likely the go-to guy with Sale waiting in the wings and picking up some saves when a southpaw is required in the 9th.
Brewers Axford May Get Axe
A change in the Brewers closer role is not imminent, but it is possible. John Axford has blown 2 of his 5 save opportunities and sports a 8.53 ERA with a 2.21 WHIP.
The difference in Milwaukee, however, is that there is not an obvious heir apparent to Axford. Takashi Saito was brought in to be his set up man, but Saito, who saved 38 in 2007, is on the disabled list and he is 41-years-old.