Closer Report: The Next In Line
The Future Closers
BY ROB SHAW
Al Alburquerque, RP, Tigers
With 40 strikeouts in just 24 innings, Alburquerque is striking out batters at a historic pace. He is a bit wild with 16 walks, but it’s a battle for the opposition to even put a bat on the ball. I don’t think he’ll be closing by year’s end, but somewhere down the line someone is bound to give this 24-year old a shot at shutting the door.
Antonio Bastardo, RP, Phillies
This 25-year old southpaw is equally effective against right-handers and left-handers. He has not surrendered a run in his last 11 appearances; in fact, he has allowed just one hit over that period. If Ryan Madson were to falter, I think Bastardo would pick up the saves for the Phillies.
Brian Sanches, RP, Marlins
While Marlins closer Leo Nunoz has hit a wall, Brian Sanches is cruising with a 1.93 ERA. The 32-year old veteran may not be the most attractive long-term option in Miami, but he has been the most effective over the last two seasons. In 2010, Sanchez offered a 2,26 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP. He can get wild at times and he has yet to pick up a save throughout his entire career, but if judging on results this season, Sanchez is the best relief option for the Marlins.
Daniel Bard, RP, Red Sox
Though he only boasts five career saves, there is a lot to like about Daniel Bard. He strikes out more than a batter per inning, he has immaculate control, and the opposition can’t touch him. He may be the very reason why the Red Sox have not locked up current closer Jonathan Papelbon to a long-term extension. If Papelbon struggles, don’t be surprised to see the Red Sox turn to Bard a year earlier than expected.
David Hernandez, RP, Diamondbacks
Many baseball fans thought the Diamondbacks were crazy for trading away a slugging corner infielder in return for a couple of live arms that neither started or closed games. However, at this moment the D-Backs front office looks brilliant as David Hernandez, a failed starter with the Orioles, is dominating in middle relief in the desert.
A scoreless inning on Thursday night resulted in his third win of the season, while lowering his ERA to 2.73. Hernandez still has some work to do on his control, but he throws in the high 90s racking up plenty of strikeouts while limiting the amount of hits he surrenders. Should the injury-prone JJ Putz miss some time due to injury, Hernandez will add to his total of two saves this season.