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Franklin, Nathan Out as Closers

It’s only three weeks into the 2011 MLB season and already managers are losing patience with their closers.  Tony LaRussa has announced a closer change in St. Louis and Ron Gardenhire has done the same in Minnesota.

Boggs New Closer in St. Louis

Mitchell Boggs

Mitchell Boggs, St. Louis Cardinals

Ryan Franklin has somehow done a very good job the past three seasons in St. Louis with anything but overwhelming stuff.  Frankling amassed 82 saves in those three seasons despite a lifetime ERA of 4.07.  His only impressive season from an ERA standpoint was 2009 when he had a 1.92 ERA.

Franklin this year was simply awful.  In 5 save opportunities, he saved only 1 game and he was on the wrong side of an 0-2 record.  Franklin’s ERA is at 9.45 and batters have only swung and missed 4 times all year.  Franklin has never been an overpowering closer, instead relying on his off speed stuff.  But, this year, nothing seemed to be working so LaRussa really had no choice.

Mitchell Boggs got the first save opportunity and immediately converted it for the Cardinals.  While LaRussa did not say that Boggs was his man, he is definitely the hot hand in the Cards pen.  He has tossed 6 scoreless outings and has a WHIP of 0.57.  Boggs relies on ground balls to get his outs.

The move to Boggs is somewhat of a surprise to most fantasy baseball managers who would have thought that the likely second in line as closer was Jason Motte.  Motte is more of a prototypical closer flame thrower.  Motte has averaged 9 K’s/9 over his career that includes a 3.21 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. 

Miguel Batista is another reliever in the mix, at least when it comes to experience.  Batista saved 31 for the Blue Jays back in 2005.  Trever Miller is tough on lefties (.221 career) and could pick up a few situational saves with lefties at the plate in the ninth.

LaRussa indicated that Motte lacked closer experience, but so did Boggs!  We look for Boggs to be the near term solution, but expect him to falter in time and Motte will become the main closer for the Cardinals.  Ryan Franklin’s future as a closer is likely done.

Matt Capps in as Twins Closer

Matt Capps

Matt Capps, Minnesota Twins

Joe Nathan was once one of the most durable and reliable closers in the game.  No more.  After sitting out the entire 2010 season with Tommy John surgery, Nathan’s giddy-up on his fastball has faltered this year.  He’s topped out at only 91 versus regularly throwing 94+ in the past.

Nathan has converted 3 of 5 save chances this year, but his ERA stands at 11.37 with a 2.21 WHIP and a .308 batting average against.

The save situation in Minnesota is crystal clear, however.  Matt Capps, acquired from the Nationals last year, converted 16 of 18 save opportunities for the Twins in 2010.  He also had a combined 42 saves between both teams.

Capps has a 7.6/9 K ratio, a lifetime ERA of 3.40 and a WHIP of 1.18 over his career.  Thus far in 2011, Capps has converted 2 of 3 save opportunities.

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