clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Brewers Closer: Matt Albers or Jacob Barnes?

Let’s rank Milwaukee’s closer options, shall we?

MLB: Washington Nationals at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Your boy is right on schedule in The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational. Hitters are mashing, while pitchers are gobbling up wins and strikeouts. Sadly, no one is stealing bases or saving games. That’s right, other than Blake Treinen my saves cupboard is bare. And with Realmuto on the shelf and Upton/Rosario slow to start running, I’m reliant on Mallex Smith for steals. It’s not really clicking...yet. But give it time.

Add it all up, and it means I’m doing my homework on this Brewers situation prior to the waiver run this weekend. At least I’ll make a decision that is informed, right?

We’ll begin with the least likely candidate to close and work our way towards the most likely candidate to save games. The absence of Corey Knebel (the injury timeline is roughly six weeks) provides us with at least a month and half of saves...maybe more. In some deeper formats, these Brewers will be hot commodities over the weekend when waivers run. Let’s check out the candidates.

5. Josh Hader, LHP

Manager Craig Counsell prefers Hader in a multi-inning role, it seems. Anything can change, but I do not believe Hader is a legitimate candidate to close out games this year. If anything, I see him more likely to wind up in the starting rotation. So if you’re in the camp of “I drafted him just for the strikeouts,” you should be happy—cause that’s all you’re gonna get.

4. Dan Jennings, LHP

Seriously, who is Dan Jennings? Okay, I looked for you. A 30-year-old dude with a career 7.28 K/9. Put differently, Jennings’ strikeout rate isn’t something we are accustomed to seeing close out games in the ninth inning. He also has a career 10.5% walk rate, which is not good. He does have a strong ground ball rate (career 55.6%) but that’s about all I see. Also of note: Jennings is the only other lefty in this pen aside from Hader. Reserving him for a late-inning role may not be a luxury Counsell can afford, especially if Hader enters into the rotation at some point.

3. Jeremy Jeffress, RHP

On Friday night, starter Brandon Woodruff made it through 3.2 innings. Hader then came on for a pair, followed by Jeffress, who logged 1 13 innings. Both Hader and Jeffress allowed runs. They were also the first choices out of the pen for Counsell, an ominous sign when considering either as a guy to eventually garner save chances. Jeffress had a below average 7.03 K/9 last year and allowed 1.38 HR/9. His BB/9 spiked to 4.68, too—his highest mark since 2012. In short, his strikeout rate fell and his walk rate spiked. Hardly encouraging facts given his usage thus far in 2018. If he does get the primary closing gig, it’s because the Brewers have elected to use their better pitchers earlier. But that didn’t happen on Friday.

2. Jacob Barnes, RHP

I tricked you guys with the picture, didn’t I? You thought I had Barnes as the closer. Welp, you’re wrong. I’m going with the traditional eighth-inning guy getting the most chances at the gig, even though Barnes is a decent candidate to close with his career 53.1% ground ball rate and 25.7% K-rate. The career 9.5% walk rate and last year’s 10.9% BB% are unacceptable, though. Which brings me to my conclusion...

1. Matt Albers, RHP

The veteran has been the eighth-inning man of choice thus far in 2018, and is coming off of a 2017 year that reads like a veteran finally putting all the pieces together. Albers posted a career-best 27.0% strikeout rate and trimmed his career 9.5% walk rate to 7.3% last year. That may sound like nitpicking when I just dogged Barnes for his walk rate, but Albers has been average or better in this regard for over four years now. You have to go back to 2011 to find a time when his walk rate reached double-digits. I don’t think Albers has the strikeout ability that Barnes does, but I think he’s been a better overall pitcher recently and is a sneaky choice to lead this bullpen in saves over the next six weeks. It’s nice that a lot of touts seem to be favoring Barnes, too. How often can we get the eighth-inning guy for a cheaper price in this scenario?

Either way...get those FAAB budgets ready to go. You probably shouldn’t spend more than 10% of your budget on a guy who MIGHT have this closing role or share it...but in competitive formats I think you have to be prepared to shell out a little more than that. Is it foolish to pay 20% or more for a guy who MIGHT be a co-closer? Probably so. But I’d rather be mining waivers for saves in deep leagues than trying to find a valuable hitter (nearly impossible). For instance, my TGFBI squad is slaying it in nearly every category except for you can believe I’m going to be aggressive with Milwaukee’s bullpen options this weekend. Playing for right now is underrated in the fake game. So give me Albers over Barnes, and let’s see how the chips fall. I might even wind up with both. We shall see.


Who will save the most games in Knebel’s absence?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    (88 votes)
  • 35%
    (55 votes)
  • 1%
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    (1 vote)
  • 5%
    (9 votes)
155 votes total Vote Now