Instead of bullpen situations getting clearer at this point in the fantasy season, closer committees have become even more volatile and confusing at the end of week three. Bud Norris has done everything he can to win the Cardinals job while Alex Colome looks like he is trying his very best to lose his spot in the ninth. Every week I will break down what changed in the fantasy baseball relief pitching landscape as well as update my closer tiers. Let’s take a look at the news and notes in this week’s Closing Remarks: MLB Closer Report.
This Bud’s For You
Remember when the Cardinals signed Greg Holland to a $14 million dollar deal to be their closer? He debuted two weeks ago for St. Louis and a week later the Cardinals closer is near the league lead in saves with five. The problem is, the closer is Bud Norris. Norris is a perfect 5-for-5 in save chances this season with 17 strikeouts in 10 1⁄3 innings. It would be hard to imagine that Norris could pitch well enough to keep the job if Holland were to start pitching to his expected skill level. The thing is, Holland has struggled with his control early on and with Norris pitching like he is the Cardinals will likely take their time moving Holland back into the closers role. It is an interesting situation that bears monitoring but for now Bud Norris should be owned in all leagues with saves until further notice.
Let’s start in Houston shall we? To the outside observer it appears that Chris Devenski is the Astros’ closer. Nothing has been officially announced and the situation is likely to change several times. There is one thing for certain fantasy owners, A.J. Hinch does not trust Ken Giles. On top of his already short leash coming into the season after being removed from the closers role in the playoffs, Giles is said to be dealing with back tightness as well. The Astros finally brought Ken Giles into a game on Friday to protect a 10-run lead in the ninth, not the biggest vote of confidence after avoiding him in the teams previous handful of games. There is not a lot the Giles owner can do right now but wait this situation out and hope for the best. Chris Devenski on the other hand, needs to be owned in all leagues for the time being. It wouldn't hurt to roster Brad Peacock as well considering he was already good enough to own without saves a la Andrew Miller.
On to Baltimore. Buck Showalter did not seem like a fan of Brad Brach in the closers role in spring training.In fact, he came right out and said it on multiple occasions. That seemed not to matter in the early season when Brach was used exclusively in the ninth to pick up Baltimore's first three saves of the season. Then all of a sudden on a night when Brach was fully rested, Showalter decided to use Darren O’Day in the ninth just a game after he was just destroyed for three runs and a blown save. O’Day proceeded to pick up the save Friday and send the Orioles closer situation into confusionville. The bottom line here is that with O’Day not pitching well, the manager not trusting Brach, and all-star Zach Britton due back at the end of May, the Orioles closer situation is currently one to be avoided unless you are desperate.
Did you hear that Aaron Rodgers bought a piece of the Brew Crew? Speaking of Milwaukee, who won the Brewers closer job? Oh, you’re asking me? I thought you knew. I sure don’t. Maybe Aaron Rodgers knows. The incredible Josh Hader has collected a couple of two-inning saves, while Jacob Barnes and Matt Albers have also picked up a save since Corey Knebel went down. It seems unlikely that this situation is going to sort itself out before their stud closer returns in June, so this is another committee to avoid ownership in if you can help it. To clarify, you shouldn’t touch this situation if you are chasing saves, but Josh Hader is worth owning regardless due to his elite strikeout rate and ratios.
Let’s Talk About Job Security
Alex Colome has been awful. He has both a 6.75 K/9 and BB/9 to go with his 7.88 ERA and 6.7% soft contact rate. The issue here is that the Rays have no one to replace him with. Sergio Romo would be an obvious candidate but has amassed a 1.94 WHIP thanks to a 7.94 BB/9. Tampa Bay also has incentive to keep Colome in the role with the hopes of possibly trading him. Who would have thought that a pitcher as bad as Colome had some of the best job security?
Fellow Floridian Brad Ziegler is “closing” for the Marlins at the moment. He has not been great, allowing 13 hits and seven walks in just 8 2⁄3 innings. The situation in Miami is quite similar to the one in Tampa Bay, as the Marlins have little incentive to remove Zielgler from the closers role in hopes of trading him. The Marlins do actually have a better option at their disposal for the closers role in right-hander Kyle Barraclough. Barraclough has struck out 15 batters in 7 2⁄3 innings while allowing four hits and two walks. He would certainly make for a better fantasy option than Zielgler, but the rebuilding Marlins’ do not care and are likely to leave the young flamethrower in his current role.
The Closer Tiers
The Cream of the Crop
Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners
0.00 ERA - 0.44 WHIP - 18 K - 1 H - 3 BB - 9 IP
Edwin Diaz is now in the elite tier, but he may be even better if he can keep the walks down.
The Next Best Thing
Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
Maybe Jansen is not as back as everyone thought? After seemingly turning a corner last week, Jansen was roughed up Tuesday night for another blown save. He did have his velocity back up to 96 mph Saturday night in a non-save situation, but Jansen needs to show a bit of consistency before getting all of the faith back. Fantasy owners obviously shouldn’t panic and there is still a good chance he turns it around this season, but if someone was willing to offer me full price right now for Kenley Jansen right now I would take it.
Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays
Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians
Cody Allen is in mid-season form, tossing eight scoreless innings so far while striking out eight. He has only picked up three saves but they tend to come in bunches, and likely will for the right-hander.
Felipe Vasquez, Pittsburgh Pirates
Brad Hand, San Diego Padres
Brad Hand is an elite closer on a bad team. He has struck out 18 batters in 10 1⁄3 inning while picking up six saves in the early going.
Jeurys Familia, New York Mets
Familia is starting to show his warts this week with two blown saves. He has still had a great start to the season but has been hit hard enough recently to justify a drop in the rankings.
Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals
If Doolittle can stay healthy and prove he can stay that way he would likely be in the top of the next tier. He has been great so far with 19 strikeouts and four saves in 10 innings this season, allowing only three hits. The Nationals are a better team than they have showed so far and it is only a matter of time before the saves start to pile up for Doolittle.
Wade Davis, Colorado Rockies
Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds
If Iglesias were on another team, almost any other team, he would be much higher in the rankings. He is still talented enough to overcome his bad supporting cast and be a solid fantasy closer this season.
Brandon Morrow, Chicago Cubs
Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals
Herrera has pitched well enough to deserve a bump up to the “solid” tier this week. The Royals right-hander has yet to allow an earned run with a 12.71 K/9. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Royals decide to trade their closer at the trade deadline, which would likely destroy his fantasy value, but until then he is pitching lights out and deserves some attention.
The “Meh” Tier
Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies
Brad Boxberger, Arizona Diamondbacks
Boxberger has earned himself a bit of leash after his hot start, but after taking two losses and allowing seven hits over two innings in the last week that leash is beginning to tighten.
Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves
Hunter Strickland, San Francisco Giants
Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics
The Runts of the Litter
Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers
Keynan Middleton, Los Angeles Angels
Joakim Soria, Chicago White Sox
Keone Kela, Texas Rangers
Fernando Rodney, Minnesota Twins
Brad Ziegler, Miami Marlins
Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays
Committees Make Me Sad
Jacob Barnes, Matt Albers, Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers
Ken Giles, Chris Devenski, Brad Peacock, Houston Astros
Greg Holland , Bud Norris, St. Louis Cardinals
Brad Brach,Darren O’Day, Baltimore Orioles
On The Mend
Mark Melancon, San Francisco Giants
Luke Gregerson, St. Louis Cardinals
Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers