Jordan Walden slammed onto the scene last season and made waves as the new closer for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. While his start was strong and secured the job for himself, his overall performance wasn't as sweet.
Walden finished with 32 saves in his rookie season, but 10 blown saves to shadow his otherwise solid numbers. He notched 67 Ks in 60 innings and finished with a nice 2.98 ERA.
So what is wrong with Walden? I dunno. Let's see—he's a flamethrower, he pitches for the Angels (and that is a good thing) and he's young.
The biggest problems that Walden had last season were confidence and control. As a rookie, confidence is half the battle, and when you lose confidence in yourself or in a pitch, that is bad for closers.
Walden has a lights-out 98 MPH fastball, but controlling is another issue. His BB/9 was uncomfortably high for a closer at 3.88. In fact, he walked batters in six of his 10 blown saves. None of this is terrible news for Walden. Let's face it—he was a rookie, and he learned.
I fully expect Walden to further mature in the 2012 season. He should accrue more confidence and hopefully throw his changeup more. Right now it doesn't locate the best, but complementing his fastball with a changeup would make Walden absolutely dominating.
With the team the Angels put together, Walden is an instant closer choice as a tier-two closer for any fantasy team. While there is risk with Walden, manager Mike Scioscia is committed to his closer, and he showed that last year.
If I owned Walden, I'd stay committed as well.
The Closer Report 2012 Projections
37 Saves, 5 Wins, 2.70 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 72 Ks
2012 Fantasy Draft Analysis
With an ADP around 157, Walden looks like a great value you pick in the 13th round. However, It would entirely depend on who is available.
As much as I like Walden, I don't like closers about whom we are "unsure." I'd let Walden go in the 13th, and if he is around in the 15th round and you really want a closer, take him there.
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