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Closing Remarks: MLB Closer Report for Week 8

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Matt Williams takes a look at how the fantasy baseball closer landscape has changed this week following the Alex Colome trade and the injury to Raisel Iglesias.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Another week in fantasy baseball has given us a trade that shakes up the bullpen in Tampa, an injury to worry about in Cincinnati, and a possible full-time closer in Los Angeles. 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.

UPDATE!! (5/27) Felipe Vasquez leaves game with “forearm discomfort”

Pirates’ closer Felipe Vasquez left Sunday afternoons game against the Cardinals with forearm discomfort. It’s hard to imagine this being a minor injury, given the history of those symptoms in baseball. Vasquez will go for an MRI which should paint a clearer picture, but Vasquez owners may want to plan for his absence. The ninth inning role would likely be filled by either Richard Rodriguez or Edgar Santana if Vasquez would miss significant time.

Who is the Ray to own in Tampa Bay?

Alex Colome, along with Denard Span, was traded to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for prospects last week. This has changed the fantasy value for several players. First of all, Alex Colome can be safely dropped in most formats. The only thing giving the former closer value was that he was getting saves in Tampa. He will most definitely lose all value on the Mariners, setting up for one the best closers in the game in Edwin Diaz. If your league is deep enough to warrant a handcuff then Colome is the guy, but unless your league counts holds he is droppable.

So who closes for Tampa Bay now? Jose Alvarado is the only Rays’ pitcher besides Colome to pick up a save this season, so he looks like the obvious choice. The issue here is that Alvarado is the easily the Rays’ best pitcher and naming him the closer could cause them unnecessary financial problems. A young left-handed closer would take in a massive raise in salary arbitration, and if the Rays are going to be out of contention it may not be a smart move on their part. On top of that, Tampa manager Kevin Cash may wish to keep Alvarado in a setup role so he can use him for situational binds that require the services of a southpaw. Is Alvarado their best option? Yes. Will they use him? Maybe not.

The other options for the ninth inning are right-handers Chaz Roe and Sergio Romo (insert “if they can afford to lose him as a starting pitcher” joke here). Honestly, these two can be ignored for now due to the fact that the Rays are not going to provide enough save chances to justify carrying ether of them of your fantasy roster. They will do more harm than good to your ratios while providing very little in the way of actual saves. While we wait to see how things officially pan out in Tampa Bay, the only pitcher I would stash is Jose Alvarado in the event that he gets named the primary ninth-inning guy.

Sleeping with the Enemy

Raisel Iglesias went on the disabled list with a biceps strain. The Reds closer thinks he may have injured the arm while “sleeping”. That is some hardcore sleeping. Thankfully, the injury is located on his non-throwing arm which should speed up the recovery time. Iglesias complained that even though the biceps strain did not bother his throwing arm, it was preventing him from getting full-extension during his delivery. We all know that changing your mechanics to appease an injury only leads to further injury, so this DL-stint seems like a great idea. There is no official timetable for Iglesias’ return, but the Reds closer is eligible to be activated on May 30.

In the meantime, it seems as if right-hander Jared Hughes will man the ninth inning for the Reds. It’s possible Amir Garrett could see an opportunity as well, but he has already surrendered a home run when called upon to close a game recently, while Hughes was able to pick up a save Thursday. The poor outing by Amir Garrett was isolated, as he has pitched very well so far in 2018, but it looks as though Cincinnati may prefer to keep him in the now infamous “Andrew Miller” role. Jared Hughes is the man to own for saves.

Mr. Jones and Me

Nate Jones looks like he may be the full-time closer in Chicago. It has not been officially announced, but the writing is on the wall. Joakim Soria has squandered chance after chance and is now the forgotten man in an already poor bullpen while Bruce Rondon has pitched to his typical level of mediocrity. This leaves Jones as the primary closer for the White Sox, several years after many predicted he would. The right-hander has picked up three saves since May 17 and seems to have a firm hold the closer’s role for now.

The Closer Tiers

The Cream of the Crop

Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox

Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees

Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners

The Elite

Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers

The Next Best Thing

Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals

Wade Davis, Colorado Rockies

Brad Hand, San Diego Padres

Brandon Morrow, Chicago Cubs

Solid Options

Jeurys Familia, New York Mets

I have been asked this season several times why I have refused to move Familia up in my rankings. My answer is always the same “you just can’t trust him.” The Mets closer now leads the league with four blown saves, with the most recent one a few days ago. Familia still holds a solid 2.41 FIP and 3.39 xFIP which keeps him in the “solid” tier, but he needs to show a little less ”Fernando Rodney” if he wants to move up to the “the next best thing.”

Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals

The only thing keeping Herrera from shooting up the rankings further is the fact that he will most likely be traded to be a setup man on another team. The Royals closer has an impressive 0.96 ERA and 1.98 FIP on the season.

Brad Boxberger, Arizona Diamondbacks

Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics

Treinen gets a well deserved upgrade in the rankings this week. The A’s closer is carrying a 1.08 ERA, 2.02 FIP, and a 11.52 K/9. He has quietly been one of the most reliable closers in baseball this season.

Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers

Knebel was looking solid in his return before walking three batters to blow the save Friday. It may be an isolated incident, but let’s wait to see how he bounces back before throwing him into the next tier where he likely belongs.

Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians

The “Meh” Tier

Ken Giles, Houston Astros

Bud Norris, St. Louis Cardinals

Hunter Strickland, San Francisco Giants

Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves

The Runts of the Litter

Blake Parker, Los Angeles Angels

Mike Scioscia is crazy. It’s always possible that anyone, including Albert Pujols, could get the next save opportunity for the Angels. However, it certainly looks like Blake Parker is the guy to own in Los Angeles and I am betting he will be the guy going forward.

Fernando Rodney, Minnesota Twins

Nate Jones, Chicago White Sox

Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers

No Thanks

Brad Brach, Baltimore Orioles

Zach Britton is beginning his rehab assignment Wednesday in Norfolk. The left-hander is coming back from right Achilles tendon surgery. Britton tossed a two-inning simulated game on Saturday. As soon as he is deemed ready, manager Buck Showalter will likely insert him back into the closer’s role.

Keone Kela, Texas Rangers

Why is this guy a closer? Someone explain this to me. No one will trade for him Miami! You hear me? Let someone else try.

Committees Make Me Sad

Tyler Clippard, Ryan Tepera, Seung-Hwan Oh, John Axford, Toronto Blue Jays

Hector Neris, Seranthony Dominguez, Luis, Garcia, Edubray Ramos, Philadelphia Phillies

Jared Hughes, Amir Garret, Cincinnati Reds

Jose Lavarado, Chaz Roe, Sergio Romo, Tampa Bay Rays

On The Mend

Mark Melancon, San Francisco Giants

Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles

Keynan Middleton, Los Angeles Angels (out for the season)

Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds

Felipe Vasquez, Pittsburgh Pirates ** {left game with forearm discomfort (5/27)}

Criminal

Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays