I want to discuss an unsung fantasy hero in 2017. Chris Devenski gets all the credit as an elite non-closing reliever, but I want to discuss another, lesser-known option that has been just as dominant. He plays for the New York Yankees (as a Red Sox fan, I am obligated to say Yankees Suck! here) and has been crazy good in the bullpen this year. Chad Green is his name.
Stats: 52 innings, 39% K%, 8% BB%, 0.142 batting average against, 0.77 WHIP, 2.25 ERA, 2.23 FIP, 2.85 xFIP, 14.1% SwStr%
Try and poke holes in that. Yes, he’s got 0 saves and only 5 holds, but if you use him for rates, he can be a valuable asset. I love using guys like this in deeper leagues where available starting pitching is trash, especially this year. Would you rather have one of Ubaldo Jimenez, Ariel Miranda, and Jeff Hoffman, or Chad Green? The rates are a big help, especially if your league uses K/9 (Green’s at 12.98). He’s been flying under the radar but it’s time he got some love, both here and on your roster.
On to the updated closer rankings:
- Craig Kimbrel
- Kenley Jansen
- Roberto Osuna (While he has blown a couple saves lately, they were mostly bad luck. His catcher dropped two strike threes. His ERA in his last 8.1 innings is 7.56, but his FIP is 1.58 and his xFIP 2.65 during that same time period. Ignore the ERA blip, he is still elite.)
- Felipe Rivero
- Corey Knebel
- Ken Giles
- Wade Davis
The Good Leads
- Zach Britton
- Raisel Iglesias
- Dellin Betances (With Chapman demoted to a setup role after looking broken for a while now, Betances assumes the closer chair once again. His season-long walk rate is over 6 BB/9, but since late July, he has 17 Ks to only 4 BB in 12 IP (3 BB/9). That’s a good sign that he should succeed in this role.)
- Sean Doolittle (moves way up this week because he doesn’t appear to be in a committee in Washington and has continued to pitch at an elite level.)
- Brad Hand
The Weak Leads
- Greg Holland (A two-tier fall this week for the Rockies closer. It’s really been a slow collapse of his skills in the past few weeks. In August, he has 6.1 innings, a 12.79 ERA, 7.87 FIP, 6.6 xFIP, 7 Ks, 5 BBs, and 2 home runs allowed. If we go back to the beginning of July, his ERA is 6.91, his xFIP is 4.98, and his walk rate is still way too high. I don’t know if he is wearing down, or what is causing this. For the record, his velocity now is not far off what it has been all year. However, he has been 3-4 mph slower all year than what he was in 2014 with the Royals.)
- Fernando Rodney
- Cody Allen
- Edwin Diaz (I dropped him a tier this week because his control issues continue to hold him back. In his last 8.1 innings, he has 10 Ks and 9 BBs with 6 earned runs. That’s terrible. If he keeps this up much longer, he could lose his job again.)
- Kelvin Herrera
- Arodys Vizcaino
- AJ Ramos
- Hector Neris
- Blake Treinen (I moved him up a tier to make room for all of the guys that fell and because he has shown that his awful first half is way behind him.)
The Timeshares (these are just the lowest tier, they aren’t all in true committees)
- Sam Dyson (Although Mark Melancon is back from the DL, it seems Bruce Bochy is avoiding using him as a closer. Dyson has done well in the role, so it looks like he might hang on to it for another week or two, perhaps the rest of the year.)
- Alex Claudio/Jose Leclerc (Claudio still my favorite to get the most saves rest-of-season, even if Leclerc snags a few. Both are good.)
- Matt Belisle/Hildenberger/Rogers (Although Matt Belisle has been strangely good this season, the Twins haven’t given him much room for error. After one bad outing on 8/12, they tried Trevor Hildenberger in the role for one save. Belisle is probably still the leader, but Hildenberger’s 2.88/2.74/2.63 ERA/FIP/xFIP, 23.3% K%-BB%, and 61% GB% make him the best arm in that ‘pen. Taylor Rogers is also in the mix, but he’s got the worst skills of the bunch. Hildenberger is a guy I would stash now. He’s got great potential. Also, I’m not worried about the return of Glen Perkins because he hasn’t been healthy in a long time.)
- Shane Greene
- Alex Colome
- Brad Ziegler
- Seung-Hwan Oh/Lyons (With Rosenthal hurt, this becomes a committee once again. Oh is in the lead, but Lyons has been the better pitcher. We still need more data to see how Matheny will use these guys.)
- Cam Bedrosian/Norris/Parker (LAA is back to being a quagmire. There is no clear front-runner at the moment, but Norris has the most recent save and might be working his way back into the job. He’s probably my pick to take the job next, even if Bedrosian is a better pitcher.)
- Juan Minaya/Bummer/Infante (Still a committee, still not very good. Juan Minaya is the leader, but this whole thing needs to be avoided.)
Here’s the big leverage versus skills graph, updated with the most recent stats.
My apologies to those on mobile, it doesn’t display well on small screens. You should be able to download it though and look at the whole thing. Also, if you are reading this 5+ days after it was posted, the graph will automatically update to the most recent data, so my commentary won’t make sense below.
As you can see, I tried to color code this graph to show four different groups: those that are in danger of losing their closer’s (or setup) job, those that are very safe and locked in, those that we just don’t care about at all, and the rest (“other”).
Anyone with a z-score over 2.0 is an above average or great reliever and anyone with a gmLI over 1.0 is being used in situations that are higher leverage than average. If a pitcher is used a lot in high leverage situations (high gmLI) but has a low z-score, it means he might not be a good enough pitcher to keep the job. Those guys are all in the upper left region. Guys with high gmLI and high z-scores are safe bets to keep their jobs all season, unless they get hurt. They have their manager’s full trust and are pitching very well. Kimbrel, Jansen, and Osuna are the leaders of this pack in the upper right.
The guys in between the groups in gray are ok. They aren’t bad and they aren’t great. They have z-scores over -1 and some are used in high leverage situations, but not all.
If you hover over a data point, it should give you the name of the player and their numbers. The “Highlight Name” search bar lets you find a specific player.
As I do every week, I’m just going to list the current closers that are “In Danger” to give you a heads up that you might want to handcuff them and prepare for them being removed from the job.
Here’s the list: Shane Greene, Taylor Rogers, Aaron Bummer
Just outside the red danger zone: AJ Ramos, Matt Belisle, Kelvin Herrera, Seung Hwan Oh, Sam Dyson
Greene is still a shaky option in my eyes, but, to his credit, he’s got a 9.82 K/9, 3.68 BB/9, 55% GB%, 3.68 ERA, and 3.4 xFIP in August in 7.1 innings. He seems to be improving somewhat. His SwStr% is even up to 12.5%, which is not too bad. I’m not worried about him losing his job in the near future. Rogers and Bummer are in committees and aren’t good, so you can ignore them.
Belisle is on thin ice with Hildenberger right behind him, so a few blown saves could do him in. Herrera and Dyson seem pretty secure right now because their managers trust them and the others around them aren’t doing all that well. Oh is in a committee again, but has done a good job of limiting walks lately. That has led to a 2.24 FIP in August. His awful 18% GB% this month means xFIP doesn’t like him (5.46), so it’s a mixed bag. We just don’t know enough to say who will close for the Cardinals the rest of the season, but Oh is doing just enough to be in the mix but not enough to take control.
Ramos is only in danger of losing his job when Familia comes back, but even then, as we have seen in San Fran, Familia will probably start in the 7th inning and work his way back. So, Ramos should see most of the saves the rest of 2017, before losing the job in 2018.
That’s all for this week. Tschus!