Another week in fantasy baseball has given us a much needed shakeup in Miami, the return of an overpaid Giant, and the undoing of one of the best closers in the game. 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.
I’d like to order a coffee and a Barraclough
It’s about time. Miami Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly finally made the change, removing Brad Ziegler from the closer’s role after the veteran took back-to-back losses during the past week. Ziegler will be replaced by hard throwing right-hander Kyle Barraclough and fantasy owners couldn’t be happier.
Ziegler, 38-years-old, is carrying a 7.88 ERA which is shadowed by a still terrible 5.46 FIP. The soft throwing veteran collected 10 saves in 2018, while also blowing five of them. Ziegler has sustained his typical ground ball rate that has made him so successful in the past (67.8% this season), but has also been victim to the worst hard contact rate of his career at 46.7%.
The new Miami closer held opponents to a batting average of just .215 in 24 1⁄3 innings while carrying a 1.48 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. The 11.56 K/9 Barraclough provides will best a welcome change of pace from the underwhelming 5.63 strikeouts per nine. The Marlins’ right-hander is not without his faults, struggling with his control during his young career Barraclough has allowed 5.33 BB/9 in 2018 and it will more than likely cause a few problems. A comically low .123 BABIP and 90.5% strand rate suggest some major regression is due in the future as well so don’t be fooled by the sparkling 1.42 ERA (instead pay attention to Barraclough’s 4.03 FIP). If the young righty were to struggle, teammate Drew Steckenrider would be the man to challenge him for the role. Still, this was the right move in Miami and the right man finally has the job.
Sleepless in Seattle
Mariners’ closer Edwin Diaz has been one of the very best this season. That was not the case this past week. The Seattle closer completely imploded Tuesday night, allowing four runs on two hits and a walk, which he followed up on Friday with his third blown save of the season. Over the past seven days, Diaz holds a 13.50 ERA with a 2.40 WHIP with five hits and three walks over 3 1⁄3 innings.
Diaz still sports an impressive 2.93 ERA to go with a sparkling 2.11 FIP this season. He also carries an elite 14.97 K/9 and 19.0% swinging strike rate. He still makes for a top tier closer in fantasy, but he is starting to show his warts and has fallen a tier in the rankings as a result. Fantasy owners may want to consider stashing the recently acquired Alex Colome, who has yet to allow a run since coming over from Tampa Bay just in case there is something more than “regression” bothering Diaz.
Welcome Back, Mark?
Mark Melancon has returned! Who is excited? Not Hunter Strickland owners. The Giants activated right-hander Mark Melancon from the disabled list this past week. It is unclear what Giants manager Bruce Bochy plans to do with the ninth inning role, but a less than stellar May for Strickland (0-2 3.97 ERA) could make things interesting as everything shakes out in San Francisco.
While it’s possible Melancon get a chance to reclaim his job closing games out in the ninth, the Giants have several solid relievers to choose from in Strickland, Melancon, Sam Dyson, and Tony Watson and we could see a dreaded committee crop up if someone does not grab the reigns and hold down the job. For now, Strickland owners should hold onto their guy while those desperate for saves may want to consider picking up Melancon.
The Closer Tiers
The Cream of the Crop
Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Chapman continues to be awesome, picking up three saves this past week with five strikeouts over 4 1⁄3 innings. He is locked into the top tier.
Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
Jansen has posted a 0.68 ERA and 0.68 WHIP over the past 30 days with 15 strikeouts in 13 1⁄3 innings. He allowed eight hits and just one walk over that span with eight saves. Welcome back, Kenley.
Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals
Doolittle picked up four saves over the past week, striking out five over 4 2⁄3 innings. There is a constant worry about an impending DL stint from the injury prone veteran, but he has been of the of best closers in the game this season and fantasy owners who drafted him have reaped the benefits. He moves up into a well deserved spot in the “elite” tier.
The Next Best Thing
Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners
Wade Davis, Colorado Rockies
Brad Hand, San Diego Padres
Brandon Morrow, Chicago Cubs
Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds
Iglesias is back from an injury to his non-throwing arm and already picked up a save Thursday. Anyone who picked up Jared Hughes can safely drop him in all standard formats.
Jeurys Familia, New York Mets
Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals
Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics
Treinen continues to be the most underrated closer in baseball, collecting another two saves this week and allowing just one hit over 3 1⁄3 innings. He should continue to slowly rise up the rankings.
Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers
Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians
Brad Boxberger, Arizona Diamondbacks
The “Meh” Tier
Felipe Vasquez, Pittsburgh Pirates
Is Vasquez injured or not? The man pitches terribly, leaves the game with “forearm tightness”, and then pitches the very next night? In fact Vasquez pitched three days in a row. What are the Pirates thinking? Vasquez holds a 15.43 ERA and 3.86 WHIP over the past week.
Ken Giles, Houston Astros
Don’t trust him, never will.
Bud Norris, St. Louis Cardinals
Hunter Strickland, San Francisco Giants
Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves
The Runts of the Litter
Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers
Fernando Rodney, Minnesota Twins
Kyle Barraclough, Miami Marlins
Keone Kela, Texas Rangers
Ryan Tepera, Toronto Blue Jays
This is still technically a “committee”, but Tepera looks like the guy and I am going to rank him as such.
Brad Brach, Baltimore Orioles
Zach Britton is going to be back soon and Brach will return to a set-up role. Just be sure to hold onto Brach until Britton proves he is healthy, and even then the former all-star may be traded if he proves useful.
Committees Make Me Sad
Hector Neris, Seranthony Dominguez, Luis, Garcia, Edubray Ramos, Philadelphia Phillies
Seranthony is the best reliever in Philadelphia and needs to be named the closer. Do the right thing Kapler, do the right thing. If Dominguez were to be named closer he would shoot up into “The Next Best Thing” tier pretty quickly. Even though he is due for some regression with his current 100% strand rate.
Jose Alvarado, Chaz Roe, Sergio Romo, Tampa Bay Rays
Nate Jones, Chicago White Sox
Blake Parker, Los Angeles Angels
On The Mend
Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
Keynan Middleton, Los Angeles Angels (out for the season)
Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays