Another week in fantasy baseball has given us an interesting closer candidate in Philly, a season-ending injury in Los Angeles, and more confusion in Atlanta. 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.
New is always better
23-year-old Seranthony Dominguez picked up his first career save Saturday, less than two weeks into his big league career. The Phillies right-hander holds a 7:0 K:BB through 6 2/3 innings and looks like he has the potential to run away with the closer’s job with Hector Neris struggling. Dominguez’s arsenal includes a high-90s fastball and a knockout slider.
Recently promoted on May 7, Dominguez was listed as the Phillies’ No. 11 prospect according to MLB.com. He was originally developed as a starting pitcher, but Dominguez was transitioned to a full-time reliever this season due to control issues. The bullpen certainly looks like a fantastic spot for him, as he has dominated opposing batters so far in 2018.
In 11 appearances between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Dominguez had a 1.62 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, and 7.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio. This guy has looked just as imposing in the majors so far as well.
Edubray Ramos was used to close out a game on May 13, and Tommy Hunter could still be a factor in Philly as well, so the picture is not crystal clear right now. One thing is for sure though, and it is that Hector Neris has most definitely lost the reigns of the closer’s role. There may be several options to choose from, but the man to own in the city of brotherly love is Seranthony Dominguez. He is that good.
Budding Job Security
Bud Norris holds a 2.14 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 12.43 K/9 this season and has done nothing to show does not deserve the closer’s role in St.Louis. Most still thought that he would lose the job regardless to veteran Greg Holland after Holland signed a $14 million collar contract late in the spring. It sure does not look that way anymore.
Holland holds a 10.22 BB/9 this season. Wow. The veteran also holds a 7.30 ERA that is backed up by a 7.33 xFIP. He has been brutal and it is very hard to imagine the competing Cardinals trusting him with the ninth inning anytime soon. I would venture to say that Jordan Hicks has passed up Holland for second in line, for that matter. Either way, Bud Norris has some room to breathe. I would not be surprised if he held onto the role for the entire 2018 campaign.
Keynan Middleton was rushed back from the disabled list, and was promptly used to pitch three times in four days. Long story short, he will now need season-ending Tommy John surgery. Who saw this coming?
Fantasy owners are left with a Mike Scioscia run Angels bullpen with plenty of options for him to confuse us with. The guy to own in Los Angeles is likely Blake Parker, who is the only guy in the Angels bullpen having a decent season. He closed down the stretch in 2017 and did a fine job. Veteran Jim Johnson and 25-year-old Justin Anderson have each picked up a save recently, but both have had their struggles and have had disappointing seasons in 2018. Cam Bedrosian, long heralded as the “closer of the future,” was given the first crack at the ninth inning when Middleton first went down earlier this year. He proceeded to blow his very first opportunity and has proven to be very ineffective all season.
The bottom line here is this: avoid this circus unless you are desperate. Mike Scioscia is unlikely to make up his mind and this situation is going to cause fantasy owners plenty of headaches.
The Closer Tiers
The Cream of the Crop
Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners
Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
Velocity up, velocity down. Kenley does not look like Kenley yet, but he has held opposing batters to a .143/.189/.171 slash line in May. Fantasy owners will take that.
The Next Best Thing
Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals
Wade Davis, Colorado Rockies
Felipe Vasquez, Pittsburgh Pirates
Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds
Josh Hader, Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers
Knebel looks ready to take back the ninth inning after pitching well in late-inning situations since returning from the disabled list. Josh Hader should still be owned universally due to his ratios and strikeout ability, but Knebel is likely to see Milwaukee’s next save opportunity.
Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals
Brad Hand, San Diego Padres
Jeurys Familia, New York Mets
Brandon Morrow, Chicago Cubs
Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians
The “Meh” Tier
Hunter Strickland, San Francisco Giants
Strickland has done a fantastic job as the Giants’ closer this season. It is uncertain if that will matter when highly paid teammate Mark Melancon, who is scheduled to start his rehab assignment, returns to the fold. It’s obvious to anyone with eyeballs that Strickland is the superior pitcher, but business is business and fantasy owners will have to wait patiently to see how this shakes out.
Brad Boxberger, Arizona Diamondbacks
Bud Norris, St. Louis Cardinals
Ken Giles, Houston Astros
Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics
Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves
Braves manager Brian Snitker has now announced that Dan Winkler is in the mix for saves after already stating that left-handed A.J. Minter could vulture opportunities in the ninth. There has yet to be evidence that this development will actually cost Vizcaino his job, as he has pitched fairly well this season. Control issues have plagued him in the past though, and it is clear that his leash about as short as it can get. For now I am going to leave this as Vizcaino’s job, but that could certainly change at any moment.
Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays
The Runts of the Litter
Keone Kela, Texas Rangers
Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers
Brad Brach, Baltimore Orioles
Darren O’Day is due back soon, and so is Zach Britton. The thing is, Mychal Givens may be better than all of them. Avoid this situation for now.
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
A lack of save opportunities has made this situation unclear, but it sure looks like Tyler Clippard is the guy to own.
Hector Neris, Seranthony Dominguez, Tommy Hunter Edubray Ramos, Philadelphia Phillies
If Dominguez gets the job, he will shoot near the top of the rankings soon enough.
Blake Parker, Jim Johnson, Justin Anderson, Cam Bedrosian, Los Angeles Angels
Joakim Soria, Nate Jones, Bruce Rodon Chicago White Sox
On The Mend
Mark Melancon, San Francisco Giants
Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
Keynan Middleton, Los Angeles Angels (out for the season)
Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays