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Article:Team by Team Fantasy Closer Report--National League

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The "Chance of losing job" scale is from 1 to 5, with one being nearly impossible to five being just keeping the seat warm

NL East

New York MetsBilly Wagner — Once one of the most feared closers in the game, Wagner becomes a little more ordinary every year. He still strikes out more than a batter an inning, but his ERA continues to rise, and his 34 saves last year were his lowest in a full season since the late 90s. The Mets will win a lot of games this year, so the opportunities should be there, but Wagner has slipped out of the top ten at his position.
Chance of losing job: 2
Next in line: Aaron Heilman

Philadelphia PhilliesBrad Lidge — Another guy who used to strike fear into hitters, Lidge has been a train wreck the past couple years. Since he gave up that home run in the playoffs to Albert Pujols, Lidge has lost his dominance, and he was even removed from the closer’s role last year. He will probably have a pretty long leash in Phlly, but if those fans get on him, we will see how strong he really is.
Chance of losing job: 3
Next in line: Tom Gordon

Atlanta BravesRafael Soriano — A set up man most of his career, Soriano became the closer due to injury to end the season in Atlanta and did not disappoint. He allowed only 4 HITS the entire month of September and struck out 19 guys in just 13 IP. The Braves gave him a two-year extension, so it looks like it will be Soriano as the stopper in Atlanta.
Chance of losing job: 2
Next in line: Mike Gonzalez

Washington NationalsChad Cordero — He isn’t the most impressive closer in the majors, but you could do far worse. Cordero is fairly consistent (consistently average, that is), but he did have 22 of his 37 saves after the All-Star break. He doesn’t play for a particularly strong team, so don’t expect too much out of him and you won’t be disappointed.
Chance of losing job: 2
Next in line: Jon Rauch

Florida MarlinsKevin Gregg — I believe Gregg became the Marlins’ closer on some sort of reality show, or else part of a promotion night at the stadium. He was an average, at best, set up man in Anaheim before closing 32 out of 36 games for the Marlins in ’07. Your guess is as good as mine if he will be effective again this year, or if the Marlins will win enough games for it to matter.
Chance of losing job: 4
Next in line: Matt Lindstrom

NL Central

Chicago Cubs—Unsettled — You wouldn’t think a team with World Series aspirations would have an unsettled situation at the back of their bullpen, but leave it up to a team going for 100 years of championship drought to do it. It looks like Kerry Wood will get the first try to close games. When will the Cubs learn? Does Wood have pictures of Cubs ownership in compromising situations? That is the only possible explanations why he is still around. The guy they should give the job to is Carlos Marmol. A young, hard thrower, who struck out 96 guys in just 69 innings last year. I’m guessing by May this will be Marmol’s job, but who knows, you don't go through 100 years without winning a World Series by making good decisions.

St. Louis CardinalsJason Isringhausen — Izzy is basically held together by super glue at this point in his career. The hip is his biggest problem, but he still posted 30+ saves for the seventh time in eight years. He is on the high side of 35 now, however, so a decline in numbers is on the horizon. Will it be this year? Definitely could be.
Chance of losing job: 2
Next in line: Ryan Franklin

Milwaukee BrewersEric Gagne — Boy, I can’t say I understand the Brewers letting Francisco Cordero go to the Cincinnati Reds with an $11.5 million contract and signed Eric Gagne to a $10 million contract. I think it is safe to say the best years for Gagne are now behind him. He was decent as the closer in Texas, but after he was traded midseason to the Boston Red Sox, the wheels completely came off. Can he stay healthy? Will he be effective? Too many questions surround him for my liking.
Chance of losing job: 3 (only that low because of the contract)
Next in line: Derrick Turnbow

Houston AstrosJose Valverde — After a few inconsistent years in which he was taken in and out of the closer’s job, Valverde put it all together in 2007 and led the majors in saves. He strikes out well better than a batter an inning, however, he walks his fair share too. Beware of that small ballpark in Houston, it could lead to some blown saves for Jose in ’08. The Astros should top out at about 80 wins, so don’t expect Valverde to save nearly 50 games again.
Chance of losing job: 2
Next in line: Geoff Geary

Cincinnati RedsFrancisco Cordero — Cincinnati saw an opportunity to pick up an electric closer when they signed Cordero to a 4 yr/$46 million contract. He dominated in Milwaukee, and although the Reds probably won’t win as many games, anything is possible in the NL Central. Cordero won’t blow too many and he strikes out a ton of guys. A top 7-10 closer for sure, especially given his lack of competition for the job.
Chance of losing job: 1
Next in line: David Weathers

Pittsburgh PiratesMatt Capps — Once he took over for Salomon Torres in 2007 Capps converted on 18 of his 21 chances. Although he is one of the better young closers in baseball (although there aren’t a lot of young closers around), unfortunately, he is on perhaps the worst teams in the league. He doesn’t overwhelm you with his stuff, and his strikeout rate is low for a 9th inning guy. But if you are scraping for saves, Capps is a good option.
Chance of losing job: 2
Next in line: Damaso Marte

NL West

Arizona DiamondbacksBrandon Lyon — This is the second go around for Lyon as the closer of the Diamondbacks. He started out the season 14 of 15 on save chances before an elbow injury ended that run. I believe that Tony Pena is the right guy for the job, and believe by the middle of the season that Lyon will be removed. The Diamondbacks are a good young team that plays a lot of close games, so if Lyon is successful, he could put up some good numbers. Chance of losing job: 4 Next in line: Tony Pena

San Diego PadresTrevor Hoffman — As long as your fantasy league doesn’t include the playoffs, or All-Star Game, or any game on a big stage, Hoffman is still a good fantasy option. He has saved 40+ in eight of the last ten seasons. He is now 40 years old, however, and age has got to catch up with him sooner or later (unless he knows the same people that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens know).The Padres will most likely win 90 games or better again this year, so 38-43 saves seems reasonable for Hoffman.
Chance of losing job: 1
Next in line: Heath Bell

Colorado RockiesManny Corpas — When the Rockies removed Brian Fuentes from the 9th inning, it was supposed to be temporary to let him get his mind in order. Well, Corpas came in and never looked back. He blew just three of his 22 save opportunities, and solidified himself as the stopper for the Rockies again this sason. If the Rockies can duplicate their run to the NL playoffs again this year, Corpas could be a really good bargain for saves for your team.
Chance of losing job: 2
Next in line: Brian Fuentes

Los Angeles DodgersTakashi Saito — In his second season as closer for the Dodgers, Saito continued to impress. He successfully held off Jonathan Broxton from taking over his job on the way to saving 39 games. Saito cut his ERA by over a half a run, and although his strikeout rate was down, it was still well better than one an inning. Saito is now 38 years old, so a downswing in numbers wouldn’t be unbelievable to see, but it appears he will remain a top 10 closer for 2008.
Chance of losing job: 2
Next in line: Jonathan Broxton

San Francisco GiantsBrian Wilson — This will be the second consecutive season that Wilson goes into the spring with the closer’s job being his to lose. He was successful in losing it in 2007, let’s see if he can hold on to it this year. He was fairly impressive when he was called back to the majors, allowing just 16 hits in almost 24 IP. But his 18 K to 7 BB ratio needs to improve. The Giants may very well be the worst team in baseball this year, so please, really be reaching for saves if you are going to select Wilson.
Chance of losing job: 4
Next in line: Brad Hennessey

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