Another week in fantasy baseball has brought us criminal charges, long awaited returns, and more meltdowns (I’m looking at you Hector Neris). Corey Knebel is back in Milwaukee while Roberto Osuna is in some serious trouble with the law. Edwin Diaz has started to look human, while Kenley Jansen is starting to settle down. 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.
Law and Order
In case you haven’t heard, Roberto Osuna has been charged with assault and is on an indefinite leave of absence from the Blue Jays. They are calling it “administrative leave,” which is just code for: “He did something bad, but has not been convicted of anything, but we kinda want to distance ourselves from it regardless.” Either way, Osuna is going to be a out a while and could be facing a lengthy suspension from major league baseball after his administrative leave ends.
While Osuna awaits his court date on June 18, fantasy owners face a decision on who to pick up in the Toronto bullpen for saves. Early indications suggest that the guy to own is veteran Tyler Clippard, who has pitched in the ninth inning twice since the news broke, including a save on Wednesday. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons mentioned that Ryan Tepera could get chances to close out the game if there are tough right-handed hitters due up, and went on to mention that both John Axford and Seung-Hwan Oh could be in the mix for saves.
I dislike committees a great deal, but even though Gibbons has yet to pick “his guy” it would be the smart move to pick up Tyler Clippard if you are speculating for saves. He should be picked up in all leagues considering Osuna is likely looking at a lengthy absence.
The End of the Brew Crew Committee
Corey Knebel was activated from the disabled list on Wednesday and was immediately put to work, pitching during the late-innings on both Wednesday and Thursday. Brewers manager Craig Counsell has stated his plan to ease the closer back into the ninth inning over time. Knebel was given the night off on Friday and Josh Hader went on to pick up his 10th save of the season.
Josh Hader is an amazing pitcher, and should be owned in all leagues regardless of his role due to his amazing ratios and strikeout rate. Fantasy owners should still expect Milwaukee's All-Star closer to take the reigns back from Hader sooner rather than later.
The Closer Tiers
The Cream of the Crop
Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox
Velocity is still down, but is slowly starting to slowly rise in recent outings. Either way it has yet to effect his performance so Kimbrel remains the top dog in the closer rankings.
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners
Diaz has shown some warts in recent outings, taking a loss and blown save over the past week. It is hard to be too down on the Seattle closer given his performance to this point, especially since we already knew some regression was due. Diaz’s 15.22 K/9 keeps him in the elite tier.
Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
Jansen’s velocity is starting to creep up and has almost increased to his career average at this point. If you can still buy-low on the Dodgers closer, now could be your last chance at it.
The Next Best Thing
Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals
Doolittle remains one of the very best options in fantasy this season. Injury concerns are always a going to linger which is what keeps him permanently locked below the elite tier. It does not help that the veteran has occasional outings where his velocity seems to disappear. Like always, now would be a great time to sell-high on the Washington closer while he is healthy and dominating.
Wade Davis, Colorado Rockies
Felipe Vasquez, Pittsburgh Pirates
Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds
If Iglesias were on another team, he might be in the elite tier.
Josh Hader, Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers
Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals
Trade concerns will keep his rest-of-season value depressed.
Jeurys Familia, New York Mets
The Mets closer shows flashes of brilliance but sometimes forgets where the strikezone is.
Brandon Morrow, Chicago Cubs
Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians
Allen’s K/9 has dropped dramatically from 2017, from 12.30 to 9.00 this season. Even worse is that his BB/9 has jumped up to 4.80 (from 2.81 in 2017). Those are the not the directions you want to see those numbers to go. The Indians closer still makes for a reliable option in this tier but has a lot of competition, even on his own team (Andrew Miller). I expect Allen to improve going forward, but there is a bit of risk here.
Brad Hand, San Diego Padres
The “Meh” Tier
Hunter Strickland, San Francisco Giants
Brad Boxberger, Arizona Diamondbacks
Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves
There does not seem to be much of a “committee” in Atlanta with Vizcaino absorbing almost every opportunity in the ninth inning. Still, he is still technically sharing closing duties with left-handed A.J. Minter, so he remains in the “meh” tier for now. Minter will still steal an occasional save when some tough lefties are due up in the ninth, but Vizcaino should continue to be fed the ball in most games. * (5/16 Braves’ Snitker mentioned that he may also use Winkler to close out the ninth as well. This looks more like a committe than ever and will be reflected in next weeks rankings)
Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics
Bud Norris, St. Louis Cardinals
Greg Holland is making too much money for this job not to be his at some point. However, Bud Norris has pitched too well to be pushed out just yet. A 2.45 ERA and 11.78 K/9 has earned the veteran a bit of leash. Holland will not be handed this job, he is going to have to take it from Norris.
The Runts of the Litter
Ken Giles, Houston Astros
Who knows with this guy? Giles implodes, then he pitches well, then he implodes, then loses his job, then pitches well again, then gets the job back, he implodes yet again, then he pitches well? It is a headache owning Ken Giles, just ask his fantasy owners. Better yet, ask the Astros’ front office. The fact is that the Houston right-hander has picked up the Astros’ last four save opportunities and has seemingly locked down his job in the ninth inning. It is very tough to trust this guy, and with pitchers like Brad Peacock and Chris Devenski sharing the same bullpen, Giles is just a blown save away from losing his job again. Who knows? For now, he is the guy to own.
Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays
Keone Kela, Texas Rangers
Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers
Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies
Hector, Hector, Hector. What are you doing out there buddy? Have you been hanging out with Fernando Rodney? Neris is now sporting a 5.17 ERA to go with a horrific 1.53 WHIP due to his inability to limit walks and keep the ball in the ballpark. Walks and home runs are the cardinal sins of closers, but he can’t seem to help himself. The only thing saving his job may be the fact that Gabe Kapler and the Phillies simply do not have a replacement sitting in their bullpen right now. If you wanted to speculate for saves, Tommy Hunter would be the man to grab in Philly for fantasy baseball purposes.
Joakim Soria, Chicago White Sox
Nate Jones was given a chance to close at out a game after a couple of shaky outings from Soria. Fortunately for Soria owners, Jones was obliterated, allowing four earned runs to blow a three run lead. White Sox manager Rick Renteria seems to have confidence in Jones though, so even though this is not currently a committee it merits watching as the tide could turn at any minute. Fantasy owners starving for saves in deep leagues should try to pick up Jones if they have a free roster spot.
Brad Brach, Baltimore Orioles
Well, Brach did not earn his way out of the committee, but with Darren O-Day landing on the disabled list with a hyper-extended elbow, the job is his and his alone for now. However, this job is just waiting for Zach Britton’s return, and it would not be a shock to see manager Buck Showalter allow Britton a save chance in his very first game back. The former All-Star will be heading out on a rehab assignment very soon and is eligible to return on May 28.
Fernando Rodney, Minnesota Twins
Brad Ziegler, Miami Marlins
Committees Make Me Sad
Josh Hader, Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers
Tyler Clippard, Ryan Tepera, Seung-Hwan Oh, John Axford, Toronto Blue Jays
On The Mend
Mark Melancon, San Francisco Giants
Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
Keynan Middleton, Los Angeles Angels
Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays