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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

2011 fantasy baseball rankings: Relief pitchers

Brian Wilson’s spring training injury is worrisome on two levels.

It could mean the Giants closer will open the season on the disabled list with a strained left oblique, and it could mean fewer chances for us to watch one of the most entertaining characters in baseball.

Wilson hasn’t been ruled out “completely” for opening day, according to Manager Bruce Bochy, and I wouldn’t worry about his injury to the point I would consider dropping him from the top of the closer rankings.

Wilson might start the year on the DL, but his stay there should be brief, and once he returns, you should get the closer who was lights out in 2010.

Wilson has 127 saves the last three seasons, and he has struck out a combined 176 in 147 innings the last two years.

All of which brings us to our rankings of the top closers — the last position in our series (the overall top 100 will follow):

Rank, player: IP-ERA-K-SV-Opp.
1. Brian Wilson, SF: 74.2-1.81-93-48-53
2. Heath Bell, SD: 70-1.93-47-47-50
3. Joakim Soria, KC: 65.2-1.78-71-43-46
4. Neftali Feliz, Tex: 69.1-2.73-71-40-43
5. Mariano Rivera, NYY: 60-1.80-45-33-38
6. Carlos Marmol, ChC: 77.2-2.55-138-38-43
7. Jonathan Papelbon, Bos: 67-3.90-76-37-45
8. John Axford, Mil: 58-2.48-76-24-27
9. Francisco Rodriguez, NYM: 57.1-2.20-67-25-30
10. Chris Perez, Cle: 63-1.71-61-23-27
11. Jonathan Broxton, LAD: 62.1-4.04-73-22-29
12. Huston Street, Col: 47.1-3.61-45-20-25
13. Jose Valverde, Det: 63-3.00-63-26-29
14. Joe Nathan, Min: DID NOT PITCH
15. Francisco Cordero, Cin: 72.2-3.84-59-40-48
16. Matt Thornton, CWS: 60.2-2.67-81-8-10
17. Andrew Bailey, Oak: 49-1.47-42-25-28
18. Brad Lidge, Phi: 45.2-2.96-52-27-32
19. Craig Kimbrel, Atl: 20.2-0.44-40-1-1
20. J.J. Putz, Ari: 54-2.83-65-3-7

Preseason top 100 players (6): Wilson (78), Bell (79), Soria (83), Feliz (91), Rivera (94), Marmol (95).

Short hops
The Padres’ Bell has saved a combined 89 games in 98 chances the last two years. In that span, he has 12 wins and 165 Ks in 139 2/3 innings. ... The Rangers still haven’t announced their plans for Feliz. He is being considered as a starter, but we can only hope he stays as the closer following a first full season in which he saved 40 games in 43 chances. ... In four full big-league seasons, Marmol has 441 Ks in 308 1/3 innings. ... The Tribe’s Perez saved 16 games in 17 opportunities and was 2-0 with a 0.63 ERA after the All-Star break last season. ... Broxton is back as the Dodgers’ closer after losing his job to Hong-Chih Kuo last season. ... Nathan is expected to resume his role as the Twins' closer after missing all of last season following Tommy John surgery. If you draft him, consider taking teammate Matt Capps late. The latter had a combined 42 saves and a 2.47 ERA with Washington and Minnesota in 2010.

NOTE: Statistics are from the 2010 season. ... Players are listed only at the positions at which they are expected to spend the most time in 2011.

THIS WEEK: Outfielders, Wednesday; starting pitchers, today; relief pitchers, today; later today: overall top 100.

LAST WEEK: Shortstops, March 17; third baseman, March 19; designated hitters, March 20.

TWO WEEKS AGO: Catchers, March 7; first baseman, March 8; second baseman, March 9.

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