The current front-runner to fill departed J.J. Putz’ closer role is RHP Mark Lowe. He converted one save in five tries in 2008, along with a 5.37 ERA. Riding Lowe’s coattails are Brandon Marrow, Tyler Walker, and David Aardsma. With Morrow transitioning to the starting rotation the battle to find an everyday 9th inning stopper could take some time to settle. Morrow converted 10 of 12 saves in ‘08, averaging 1.17 Ks/9, with an impressive 3.34 ERA.
Frank Francisco took over for CJ Wilson in early August of last season, and will be first in line for saves in Texas. Francisco converted five of 11 save opportunities, with all five of the saves coming consecutively to end the season. Wilson successfully closed 24 of 28, and carried the majority of the season’s load for the Rangers. His ERA North of six was the primary motivation for giving Francisco a shot, along with 27 free-passes in just 46.1 IP.
Prior to the departure of Houston Street the A’s featured the closer by committee pen. Heading into 2009 the plan is to share close duties between Joey Devine and Brad Ziegler. Devine has the stuff to win the job outright, and looks to build off an impressive 2008, .59 ERA in 45.2 IP. Ziegler closed 11/13 successfully, with a 1.06 ERA in 59.2 IP.