August 5, 2021

Which Closer Will Be Key to Winning It All? Julio, Williamson, Warden in the Mix

August 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

It has been a few years now since Jorge Julio and Scott Williamson were prominent major league closers, and it is total conjecture whether either can get back to that level in a major way since they have crossed over to their 30s.  But this much is certain:  They are vital to two of the Atlantic League teams that hope to be celebrating a championship come the first couple of days of October.

Julio has anchored Bridgeport’s bullpen all season, and Williamson has been a spark for defending champion Somerset’s late run that has the five-time champion Patriots sitting two games atop the second-half Freedom Division standings.

These two men, who have a combined 154 major league saves, could well decide the championship as closers often do, just as Jim Ed Warden may do it for Southern Maryland, Sean Stidfole at York, Tim Hamulack for Lancaster or Ricardo Gomez at Long Island.

Thursday was a typical night with Julio nailing a league-tying 24th save, Warden, who also has 24 picking up a win, Williamson earning his sixth save in just over two weeks time, Gomez closing out a victory in a non-save situation and Hamulack taking a tough loss when Southern Maryland scored two ninth inning runs against him to sting the Barnstormers, 11-10.  Only Stidfole did not work.

Otanez Joins Ducks in Time to Face Bridgeport

The Long Island Ducks could get a major lift this weekend just in time for their three-game series at Bridgeport with the expected addition of Willis Otanez, who needed a few days off for personal matters after winning the Mexican League batting title with a .393 average.  It is ironic Otanez’s first Atlantic League play this season will come against Bridgeport, since he spent part of six consecutive seasons (2002-07) with the Bluefish. He had a .470 on-base percentage and hit a dozen home runs in Mexico to boost his career total between the major and minor leagues to 326.

Bridgeport added a second Mexican Leaguer itself Friday when it inked infielder Victor Mercedes, fresh from a .336 season with 81 RBI in 101 games.  Mercedes hit .289-1-36 in 201 at-bats with Newark last season.  The Bluefish already have gotten two victories in as many decisions from former major league right-hander Esteban Yan, who had a 12-3 season south of the border.  Yan won 11 times for the Bluefish one year ago, and probably will head their rotation for the playoffs.

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Pitching Defections Costly to York

York certainly isn’t the same team right now as when it was winning first-half honors, but Darrell Henry, the team’s broadcaster and publicist, points out a good portion of the problem is due to the loss of no less than seven pitchers, six of whom retired or left the team for personal reasons.

The seven accounted for 16 wins, with the major loss being when Jesus Sanchez (7-6) went to Taiwan.

(These are excerpts from the Atlantic League Notebook. Subscriptions to the full Notebook are available via or  Bob Wirz also writes a weekly column, the Independent Baseball Insider, as well as a blog, The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as chief spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)

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