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Fantasy Baseball Closer Report: The fall of Craig Kimbrel

Your weekly update on saves. Plus, a deep dive on the downfall of Craig Kimbrel.

USA Today/Pete Rogers Illustrations

346 saves. That's how many saves Craig Kimbrel has recorded. That's how many times the final out of the game took place with him on the mound. One of the most intimidating deliveries in the game. At his best, Kimbrel was unhittable. More than that, he was untouchable. His K-rate of 41.6% from 2010-2018 is mind-blowing. But his stuff is failing and the Kimbrel era could very well be over.

Entering free agency in 2019, Kimbrel was on a Hall of Fame trajectory. He had a 1.91 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 14.7 K/9. After failing to sign until June of 2019, Kimbrel was way behind with no Spring Training plus the first two months of the season gone. He put up a 6.53 ERA over 20.2 innings, but did manage 13 saves.

Entering 2020, most fantasy owners viewed his discount in drafts as a buying opportunity. The former No. 1 closer in baseball with one bad season, really. Surely the active leader in saves can turn it around. But this has not been the case.

Kimbrel has made three appearances this year. In his first game, he entered the ninth with a three-run lead. He walked four, including a wild pitch and a hit by pitch. All of this while recording just one out, before Jeremy Jeffress bailed him out. His second appearance saw him enter with a 6-1 lead. He allowed back-to-back solo home runs. He did get three outs to finish the game out, but damn! Flash forward to last night. Kimbrel is brought in with a three run lead again. He allows a single, gets a strikeout (hey!), then gives up a double. That's it. He's pulled. The two runners he left on base go on to score but the Cubs still manage to hold on.

14 batters faced. Four walks. Five if you include the hit batter. Two home runs allowed. Six total runs allowed. One strikeout. What has happened to Craig Kimbrel?

The Hurt Ones

  • Aroldis Chapman
  • Ken Giles
  • Roberto Osuna
  • Jose Leclerc
  • Keone Kela
  • Wade Davis
  • Scott Oberg

Chapman should be back soon. Osuna looks to be out for the year, possibly facing Tommy John. Leclerc is also done with a teres major strain. Kela should be back soon, and be the Pirates closer upon reactivation. Davis had a major blow-up and then ended up on the IL. The Wade Davis experience, y'all.

The Replacements

  • Ryan Pressly
  • Jairo Diaz

Pressly could be a top 10 closer taking over for the Astros. Diaz should be the Rockies closer for the remainder of the year. Hopefully Colorado agrees.

The Safe Ones

  • Josh Hader
  • Kirby Yates
  • Kenley Jansen
  • Liam Hendricks
  • Taylor Rogers
  • Archie Bradley
  • Alex Colome
  • Joe Jimenez

I'm not too worried about Yates, yet.

The Mostly Safe

  • Brandon Workman
  • Raisel Iglesias
  • Hector Neris
  • Mark Melancon
  • Brandon Kintzler
  • Trevor Gott
  • Daniel Hudson
  • Anthony Bass
  • Cole Sulser

Raisel Iglesias looks back on track. Trevor Gott is the Giants closer. Sure, he'll get Kaplered from time to time, but he's the Giants reliever I'm rostering. Daniel Hudson is the closer for the Nationals. Act accordingly. Cole Sulser is the Orioles closer. The Orioles are actually winning games. 2020, y'all.

The Committee Members

  • Nick Anderson
  • Jose Alvarado
  • Oliver Drake
  • Rowan Wick
  • Jeremy Jeffress
  • Kwang-hyun Kim
  • Giovanny Gallegos
  • Greg Holland
  • Trevor Rosenthal
  • Nick Goody
  • Jonathan Hernandez
  • Edinson Volquez

Nick Anderson save alert! The cream always rises to the top. Rowan Wick is my add of the week with Kimbrel on the fritz. But Jeffress has “closing experience,” so keep that in mind. I guess Holland isn't the closer? Get Rosenthal instead. We will update you next week. The Rangers haven't been winning. Goody is the only one of these three with a save so far. He's my favorite.

The Risky Business

  • Brad Hand
  • Edwin Diaz
  • Hansel Robles
  • Nick Burdi
  • Taylor Williams

Hand got the save last night. He still has James Karinchak waiting in the wings. Do I think Edwin Diaz is still the Mets closer? Hell, I don't even think the Mets know! Robles has been terrible but Joe Maddon has yet to officially remove him from the role. Well, I'm officially removing Robles from my lineup. Bye, bye, Burdi. Taylor Williams looks like the Mariners closer. It's probably still a committee.

The Next In Line

  • Seth Lugo
  • James Karinchak
  • Drew Pomeranz
  • Corey Knebel
  • Sergio Romo