Closers: Hong-Chih Kuo the guy to own

Updated: September 9, 2010, 3:58 PM ET
By Eric Karabell
It's impossible to predict how many saves a relief pitcher will get in a given time period, whether it's a week, a month, heck, even a season. Who would have guessed Rafael Soriano would be the American League saves leader, with Mariano Rivera 12 behind him? What I look for in September is relief pitchers performing at a high level. Yes, every save counts, but if Hong-Chih Kuo gets five more saves the rest of this month and Fernando Rodney earns six, so what? Based on expectations with the overall picture, I'd still take Kuo.

While I don't pay a ton of attention to a closers' peripheral numbers on draft day, since it tends to drastically alter value, it becomes more critical at this point in the season. It's not just every save that matters, but every run, every baserunner. I once lost a league -- to lucky colleague Tristan H. Cockcroft, incidentally -- because one Tony Womack single off Mike Timlin in a meaningless Oct. 2, 2005, game cost me a point in WHIP. I choose my relievers very carefully in September. Here are some upgrades I'm making: