Closer notes: Broxton, Rodney look shaky
April, 1, 2011
By Eric Karabell | ESPN Insider
Opening Day of a baseball season is always awesome, but for quite a few closers on Thursday, it certainly was not. There were six games played, and in each one of them there was either a save or a closer directly figuring into the decision (and not in a good way). It was a strange day, and fantasy value might have fluctuated some. Since I'm seeing plenty of feedback about closers that owners are already concerned about, let's take a look at how specific players' fantasy values might have been affected.
Stock risingCraig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves: Sure, it was only one game -- I won't belabor that point too much -- but one must find it interesting that lefty Jonny Venters was called on for the eighth inning to face a trio of right-handed batters (Ian Desmond, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman). Then the right-handed Kimbrel was put in to face lefties Adam LaRoche and Rick Ankiel (plus right-handed Michael Morse) in the ninth. That's a statement. If I knew Kimbrel would be the unquestioned closer, which isn't official yet, he'd be among my top-10 closers, or at least close to it. Yes, he can be that good. Venters can be great as well, but his stock will obviously fall if he doesn't get save chances.
Hong-Chih Kuo, Los Angeles Dodgers: I've seen various opinions on how Jonathan Broxton looked Thursday, but I watched live and thought it was still the second half of 2010. OK, it wasn't that bad, but Pat Burrell, took him deep for a home run and rookie Brandon Belt, in a night of terrific at-bats, worked him for the final at-bat before lining out to third base. Kuo did issue a walk in his one inning setting up Broxton, and like the closer Kuo consistently threw first-pitch balls rather than strikes, but let's just say I didn't get a "warm and fuzzy" feeling about Broxton after watching him.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireJonathan Broxton wasn't exactly dominant in nailing down the save Thursday.