Originally posted on Sons of Roto  |  Last updated 12/24/12
No that’s not the bat boy, that’s Wesley Wright Photo Credit: theevancarroll   While a closer battle for a team like the Astros sounds more like “veal” than “beef,” it’s worth pointing out that there are only so many saves out there. You can’t turn your nose up at closers on ****** teams, especially when they will be available for dirt cheap on draft/auction day.    Fortunately, the Sons of Roto have staged a vicious deathmatch between the four Houston RPs vying for your ownership.    More after the jump:   Grappler: Wesley Wright Strengths: Good fastball-slider combo, generates a lot of grounders (54.9 GB%), and pitched in late innings for Houston last year with good results (9.29 K/9 and 2.92 BB/9). Weaknesses: Left-handed, so late inning matchups could keep team from using him as full-blown closer. Signature Move: “The Wright Stuff” (jams a metal jair up your ass)   Grappler: Fernando Rodriguez Strengths: Averaged 93.9 mph last year on fastball and knows how to make batters miss (10.7 SwStr% and 9.98 K/9). Weaknesses: Tendency to give up the long ball and walks more people than you’d like to see from a late-inning RP (4.35 BB/9 in 2012). Catchphrase: “Think you can beat Fernando? I say Fernand-NO!”   Grappler: Jarred Cosart Strengths: Has a live arm (can dial it up to high-90s), possesses the arrogance of a closer, and Houston GM has said that he could be in the mix for closer’s competition despite being reared as an SP prospect up until this point. Weaknesses: Very possible team lets him continue to develop as starter. Monikers: “Deaf Jarred” (he has the gimmick of an audibly impaired brawler) Catchphrase: “I never hear your cries for mercy!”   Grappler: Jose Cisnero Strengths: Hard throwing righty who owns a 9.64 K/9 in minor-league career. Weaknesses: Walks a lot of batters and has no major-league experience. Catchphrase: “Nothing in life is free... except for my free passes!”   Blow-By-Blow Analysis (Pause) Wright is probably the leading candidate coming into this thing since he pitched late in games for Houston last year, but the fact that he’s a lefty hurts him. There is currently one left-handed closer in all of MLB (Glen Perkins), and that’s not by accident. Teams have always been hesitant to install a leftie in the ninth due to matchup issues that can arise late in the game. Granted, Wright’s ability to generate grounders is a nice asset, but considering that he walked eight righties in just 19.2 innings worth of work against them last year (they also hit .269 against him), it’s pretty safe to say that Wright likely won’t end up closing out many games in 2013. So now that the guy with the most experience is out of the picture, we have quite an interesting trio of candidates left to look at.   Fernando Rodriguez certainly has the strikeout rate you like to see from a closer, but the major knock on him is the fact that he constantly falls behind in the count and issues more walks than you’d like to see. He also hasn’t pitched in a lot of high-leverage situations, being used more in middle relief last year. When you add in the fact that he’s given up a lot of runs when asked to get batters out between the sixth and ninth innings, it makes it hard to envision Rodriguez coming out of this thing as the Astros closer.   So that leaves two guys who have zero major league experience. Both Cosart and Cisnero have upside and can throw hard. Cisnero, although wild at times, has been the better strikeout pitcher in the minors. Scouts have also noted that Cisnero may be a better fit for the bullpen due to his max-effort pitching style and high energy. Cosart, on the other hand, has had a pretty wack minor-league career despite his talent. The strikeouts haven’t been there (7.5 K/9) and even though he’s only 22, you have to wonder if a guy who can’t even dominate Single-A hitters as a starter has the ability to stick as an SP.   Winner This is arguably the most wide open closing battle in baseball heading into the 2013 season, but Cosart escapes the melee with a win. He’s been an inconsistent and frustrating prospect for the Astros, and even though he is still so young, it makes sense for Houston to see what they have in Cosart as a reliever. Cisnero, although an interesting candidate for the closing job, has done well enough as a starter in the minor league level for the Astros to stick with his development. Admittedly, because the Astros need more quality RPs, it’s quite possible both Cisnero and Cosart end up in Houston’s pen this year. However, the fact that Houston’s GM has already told the media that the organization is thinking about Cosart as a ninth-inning option lets you know that the franchise is willing to see where it goes. Again, this battle is wide open and could be that way all season, but if you are drafting today, Cosart is the Astros RP to take.
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