Another week down in the fantasy baseball season and the ever changing closer landscape still continues to shift. We have seen a few pitchers solidify shaky ground while others have started to walk on a tight rope. New committees have started to pop-up while old committees have started to dissipate. Every week I will break down what changed in the land of fantasy baseball relief pitching 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.
The Welcoming Commitee
A new week has brought fantasy owners brand new closer committees to worry about in Atlanta and possibly Miami. Arodys Vizcaino has done a great job up to this point and has recorded four of the Braves’ five saves this season to go with a 1.42 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Who would be unhappy with that? Apparently the Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker who decided to toss left-handed A.J. Minter into the ninth to closeout a game vs. the Reds this past week.
It’s tough to see lefty A.J. Minter running away with the job due to the fact that it is just plain tough for a left-handed pitcher to be a closer. He does have end game stuff and was called upon to get the save vs. the Reds when two left-handed batters (Votto and Gennett) led off the inning. I think it may be a situational two-man committee for the time being with Vizcaino still getting saves with Minter coming in when tough lefties come up in the ninth. We will have to wait and see.
Over in the city where the heat is on, all night on the beach, till the break of dawn (if you don’t get this reference, it’s Miami, and you have missed out), the end may be near for Brad Ziegler. Flame throwing Kyle Barraclough was called on to get his first save of the season Saturday night. I don’t want to call this a committee or a change in roles just yet as Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly stated after the gem that Barraclough was not the closer. However, the young righty is worth picking up just in case art this point after this development since he is easily the Marlins’ best reliever at this point.
Will the Real Kenley Please Stand Up?
Velocity is up, velocity is down. Velocity is up, velocity is down. The only thing about Kenley Jansen that is predictable this season is that he is going to be unpredictable. One day after getting his cutter speed back up to his typical 94 mph range last weekend it went back down to 92 mph just as fast the following game. It is hard what to make out what has caused Jansen’s up and down season to this point but one has to put money on it being a mechanical issue at this point. Either way it will be hard to put him in the elite class of closers the way he has performed until he has shown some consistency for a long stretch.
Does Ken Giles have the job back? Who knows. The former closer was called upon to get the final three outs against the heart of the Angels lineup on a night when Chris Devenski pitched the eight inning. It was a scary outing as usual with Mike Trout almost taking Giles deep, but it was a save nonetheless and it seems as if the right-hander may have reclaimed the job. The team will remain listed as a committee for the time being until the situation becomes clear however. Fantasy owners desperate for saves should hold onto their Astros’ for the time being.
The Closer Tiers
The Cream of the Crop
Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox
In one of the red flags of the week, Red Sox manager Alex Cora hinted that hey may opt to use Kimbrel in high leverage situations earlier in the game this season. From a baseball standpoint this makes all the sense in the world, the game is changing and he has to change with it. The “save” is now a silly term used in contract negotiations and fantasy league standings, while holding no real metric to measure a players worth. However, this is certainly not the news that Kimbrel owners want to here. He should still see the large lion share of save opportunities in Boston, but it’s possible he could lose a couple of opportunities along the way.
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners
The Next Best Thing
Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians
Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays
Brad Hand, San Diego Padres
Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
Wade Davis, Colorado Rockies
Felipe Vasquez, Pittsburgh Pirates
Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals
Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds
Brandon Morrow, Chicago Cubs
Jeurys Familia, New York Mets
Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals
The “Meh” Tier
Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics
Hunter Strickland, San Francisco Giants
Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies
Keone Kela, Texas Rangers
Kela is now 6-for-6 in save chances in 2018 and seems to have a steady hold on the closer’s role in Texas. The right-hander has an 11:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio and sports a 3.00 ERA. Make sure he is owned in your league with all of the uncertainty in the closer role on other teams.
Brad Boxberger, Arizona Diamondbacks
Archie Bradley is the superior option to close in Arizona and has already oicked up two saves this season. The only thing that is saving Brad Boxberger at this point is the fact that the Diamondbacks’ love to have Bradley is a hybrid “Andrew Miller” role. Still, this is a situation to keep an eye on.
The Runts of the Litter
Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers
Keynan Middleton, Los Angeles Angels
Middleton blew his first save of the season on Friday. This comes on the back of Cam Bedrsoian coming in a few days earlier to pick up his first save of the season. It is nothing to worry about immediately since Middleton was unavailable to close that day. Still, Fantasy owners are going to want to monitor the situation as Middleton is unlikely to have a very long leash in Los Angeles.
Joakim Soria, Chicago White Sox
Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays
After being a near lock to lose his job Colome has put together a stretch of four scoreless innings, including one save over the past week. He will likely be a poor source of saves regardless of how he performs due to how bad the Rays are, but it was nice to see him pitch better for fantasy owners sake.
Fernando Rodney, Minnesota Twins
Rodney has already managed to blow three saves in five tries this season. The veteran closer continues to get chance after chance, year after year after performing poorly in the end game role. This season may finally be his last chance with Addison Reed waiting in the wings.
Brad Ziegler, Miami Marlins
The end may be near for Brad Ziegler as flame throwing Kyle Barraclough was called on to get the save Saturday night. I don’t want to call this a committee or a change in roles just yet until there is more information, but Barraclough is a pitcher worth picking up just in case as he is easily the Marlins’ best reliever at this point.
Committees Make Me Sad
Jacob Barnes, Matt Albers, Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers
Ken Giles, Chris Devenski, Brad Peacock, Houston Astros
Still not changing this from a committee until we see a few more games.
Brad Brach,Darren O’Day, Baltimore Orioles
Arodys Vizcaino, A.J. Minter, Atlanta Braves
Greg Holland, Bud Norris, St.Louis Cardinals
Just when you think Greg Holland has claimed the closer’s role he decides to get blown apart while trying to save a three-run lead, setting him back yet again. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny even hinted that Holland may need more time, while also praising the hard work of Bud Norris. Holland will get the job, but not until this annoying committee continues to torture fantasy owners a bit more.
On The Mend
Mark Melancon, San Francisco Giants
Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers