It's been awhile since I wrote up a Roto Roundup, but as spring training news begins to filter in, I will do my best to offer my thoughts on the players in the news. Today, I discuss a few closer battles across baseball, one of which is pretty exciting for fantasy owners.
Before I discuss some players in the news, here is a link to some of our consensus rankings:
Carter Capps to close in Miami?
Before former Reds closer Aroldis Chapman was traded to the Yankees, several teams, including the Marlins were rumored to be very interested in Chapman to close. Incumbent closer A.J. Ramos performed well in the closer role last season, saving 32 games, and striking out more than 11 batters per nine innings, but he did have some blow ups and blew six saves along the way as well.
His teammate Carter Capps may have wrested the job away from him last season if he didn't land on the disabled list with an elbow strain. Capps utilizes an unusual hop step delivery which produced dominating results for Capps, as he struck out nearly 17 batters per nine last season, the best among all relievers with 30 or more innings in 2015. In his 31 innings, he struck out 49% of the batters he faced last season. To put that into perspective, Chaoman struck out 41% of the batters he faced last season, so Capps is in another galaxy with his K%.
So, it should come as no surprise that the Marlins are considering Capps in the closer role this season.
The Marlins will use spring training to decide whether hard-throwing Carter Capps is a better fit for the ninth.
"The good thing is both of those guys are outstanding," said new manager Don Mattingly. "You can use them [innings] eight-nine or nine-eight, and you'd be comfortable either way."
As the Marlins officially opened camp on Friday, with pitchers and catchers working out for the first time, Mattingly chose his words carefully in talking about who he wants closing out wins in the ninth.
"A.J.'s done the job," Mattingly said of Ramos, who recorded 32 saves last season after taking over for Steve Cishek. "(Capps) profiles as that guy. It's a good problem for us."
I think Capps wins the closer role out of spring training and I will rank him in my top 5 closers, probably after Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Craig Kimbrel. Capps has the potential to strikeout our more than 100 batters even if he throws around 60 innings this season.
Drew Storen to close in Toronto?
The Blue Jays traded outfielder and leadoff hitter Ben Revere to the Nationals this offseason, and in return they received closer Drew Storen. The acquisition of Storen presents a bit of a problem for the Blue Jays as Roberto Osuna performed well in the role last season. Since the deal went down, I have been of the belief that Storen would get the closers job, but there has been mixed messages from the Blue Jays as well.
ESPN's Jayson Stark spoke to Blue Jays manager John Gibbonsin spring training about a lot of things, including the closer battle. Here is Gibbons response to Stark's question on how he will decide who closes: Osuna or newly acquired Storen:
Storen is pretty much a one-inning guy. And I think you can stretch Osuna out a little bit, say maybe an inning-plus. So if that's the case, I don't know, maybe that gives the edge to Storen as the closer. And maybe you can use Roberto some different ways. We'll see. We know, Osuna, though. And he was really good for us. We've seen Storen, but we don't know him like we know Roberto. So we'll decide this spring. But I don't think you can base it on, 'This guy had a better spring than that guy.' "
It certainly sounds like Gibbons wants Storen to win the job, and we should probably know by mid-March who the closer will be.
Mets projected lineup
The Mets lineup on Opening Day 2016 will look much different than their Opening Day lineup last season. Since then, they have acquired a new second baseman, Neil Walker, to replace Daniel Murphy, they have signed Asdrubal Cabrera to play shortstop, signed outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to play center field, and outfield prospect Michael Conforto established himself as their left fielder after a solid 2015 performance after his call up.
In addition, they have a "new" third baseman. Well, not really new. Their new third baseman is a healthy David Wright. With all of these new faces in their lineup, the Mets are considering where to bat Wright in their lineup this season. Here is more from Kristie Ackert at the New York Daily News:
Collins said that he is looking at David Wright as his No. 2 hitter because of his on-base percentage with new second baseman Neil Walker, a switch-hitter, batting fifth.
"We said, hey look, if we get these guys on en masse, we've got a chance to score some runs," Collins explained. "And we did that. So we started out the year with David hitting second. As you saw throughout baseball, the No. 2 hitter became a big hitter in a lot of lineups."
So the projected lineup is Granderson leading off with Wright and his .379 OBP second, Cespedes third followed by Lucas Duda, Walker, Michael Conforto and Asdrubal Cabrera.
I don't see Wright playing more than 100-110 games this season due to his back condition, and the Mets are planning on giving Wlaker and Cabrera time at third base this spring. In addition, catcher Travis d'Arnaud will see time at first base and left field in the spring, a sign that the team wants to keep his bat in the lineup and keep him healthy in 2016. I can see them playing d'Arnaud at first base against tough lefties, giving first baseman Lucas Duda a breather, or playing left field while Conforto sits vs some tough lefties.
Over the years, Wright's fantasy value has fallen, as he is firmly out of the top 10, sitting around the 15 ranking. Batting him second will reduce the number of RBI chances, but should increase his run total as a result. The Mets lineup is lacking speed on the base paths, so that could become a problem at some point this season.
Michael Lorenzen: Closer?
The Reds are in a rebuild and have traded away most of their top talent, including closer Aroldis Chapman. Heading into spring training, they have to sort out who will close for them in 2016 and beyond. Current depth charts indicate that J.J. Hoover will be their closer out of spring training, but he is not a reliever that strikes fear in batters like Chapman did over the last five seasons.
With the Reds in rebuild, they have the time to sort out who their closer will be in spring training and during the season. With Hoover slated to start the season in the closer role, it will be of interest to all fantasy owners who their set up man will be behind Hoover. One guy under consideration is Michael Lorenzen. Lorenzen struggled as a starter last season and pitched out of the bullpen for a stretch. Manager Bryan Price discussed Lorenzen's role recently, and here is more from Mark Sheldon from MLB.com:
Michael Lorenzen made starts in 21 of his 27 games last season as a rookie for Cincinnati. Although Lorenzen is vying for a rotation spot, manager Bryan Price liked the right-hander's versatility and did not rule out Lorenzen as a reliever.
"The thing that Michael has done is he's been a dominant performer as a starter in Double-A and Triple-A," Price said on Saturday. "You know I don't like pulling the plug on young pitchers. Sometimes I may transition a guy from starter to reliever to fill a need for a particular club, with the long view still as remaining a starting-pitcher prospect.
"However, I think that with Michael's background, with what he showed there in September in the bullpen, he could be a guy who could be a long-term fixture both as a starter or as a setup man/closer option."
Lorenzen closed in college and even saved a few games in the lower minors in 2013, so he has a history in the role. Lorenzen may be nothing more than a speculative closer play out of spring training, but he is one to watch for those of you in keeper or dynasty leagues, or for those of you who like to speculate on saves on draft day.
Not surprisingly, we are already beginning to hear some teams, the Cubs and Mets in particular, planning on limiting some of their starters in spring training. The Cubs announced that ace Jake Arrieta will take it slow in spring training and the Mets announced they would limit their starters in spring training as well. This makes sense, and has become an annual thing for teams that made the playoffs in the previous season to limit the workload of their young starters in the spring.