Death. Taxes. Closer Changes. As surely as the spring will arrive and bring the 2014 baseball season, the 2014 baseball season will bring countless changes in the closer role across baseball.
I do not invest heavily in closers in my drafts. You will not find me selecting Craig Kimbrel, even though I have him rated as the #1 closer for 2014. His ADP on Couchmanagers is 53. I would rather spend that pick on Wil Myers, or a slight reach for Starling Marte, or even Felix Hernandez if he fell that far in my league. And sure, Koji Uehara was a great story in 2013, but I do not expect him to repeat his amazing season. And let him be a lesson, he did not open the 2013 as the Red Sox closer. Can you tell me who did?
Throughout the season Paul will profile the various closer battles and their potential fantasy impact. But, as you head into your draft, who should you target with those last few precious dollars? As I do with SP, I am looking for RP with great skill sets. I want someone with a high K/9 and a low BB/9. I want someone who may have a chance to win a few games, maybe even sneak a few saves, maybe be 2nd in line for saves.
To briefly recap, these are possible $1 auction values in AL or NL-only, 10-team, 5×5 roto leagues with the following positions: 2C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, MI, CI, 5 OF, UT, 9 P and a $260 budget.
Assumptions for the relief pitcher end game:
- There are many RP who also qualify as SP. If a player is expected to be in a bullpen role, I am highlighting them here.
- In a league this deep (AL or NL only, roto, so saves will have plenty of value), I fully expect all the #1 closers to be selected and many of the #2 closers. The players profiled may be in long relief roles or just further down the depth chart.
- While many high level minors prospects will get their first taste of the MLB in a late season call-up with some relief appearances, I am not profiling those guys here (Yordano Ventura, Archie Bradley).
Brian Matusz, Darren O’Day, Brandon Workman , Vinnie Pestano, Al Alburquerque, Bruce Rondon, Jesse Crain, Aaron Crow, Jared Burton, Andrew Bailey (just signed by Yankees), Dellin Betances, Matt Thornton, Charlie Furbush, Jake McGee, Robbie Ross, Neal Cotts, Steve Delabar, Joe Smith, Scott Downs.
Charlie Furbush: His career win/loss will not jump off the page (11 wins, 18 loses). His ERA is middle of the road (4.26), but his career K/9 is elite (9.15). Since coming to Seattle in a deal that sent Doug Fister to the Motor City, Furbush has struck out more than 10 batters per 9 innings, including a ridiculous 80 in 65 innings last year. He will help your Ks, especially if you have some lower strikeout potential starters, and may grab a few wins along the way.
Brian Matusz: Once thought to be in line for a rotation slot in Baltimore, Matusz found a home coming out of the pen in 2013. With a K/9 of 8.82 in 2013, Matusz finds himself as the lefty specialist. Baltimore offers a lot of save opportunities, so I think you can expect Matusz to find himself in high pressure spots with a chance for a win or even a save if the situation dictates a lefty close the game.
Steve Delabar: Over 131.2 career innings, Delabar has a K/9 of 12.37; he will get you strikeouts. In 2013 he also gave you 5 wins. While he blew 5 saves, he could find himself in those situations again this year.
Andrew Bailey: Recently signed by the Yankees, Bailey is not a guarantee to return to his old closer role, but with Mariano Rivera gone from the pen, how long a leash will David Robertson have? Bailey could be a savvy pick and will be an interesting arm to monitor this spring.
Recommendation: Grab a closer who is locked into their job, and then look to some of these guys who can help with Ks and ratios, maybe even snag a few wins, and might be second in line for saves. $1 relievers in volatile bullpens may end the season as the closer.
David Hernandez, JJ Putz, Jonny Venters, Jordan Walden, Pedro Strop, Sean Marshall, Jose Arredondo, Alex Torres, Franklin Morales, Brian Wilson, Brandon League, Mike Dunn, Josh Edgin, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams, Jeremy Affeldt, Jose Lopez, Jason Motte, Kevin Siegrist, Jerry Blevins, Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Thornburg, Paco Rodriguez
Jonny Venters: Coming back after missing all of 2013, Venters may take a month or so to return to form. If he does, you are looking at a pitcher with a career K/9 north of 10. Kimbrel is locked in as the closer, but Venters could be in line for some wins. Should Kimbrel need a day off or make a trip to the DL, he could be in line for saves as well.
Tyler Thornburg: Before Matt Garza was signed by Milwaukee it looked like Thornburg might have been able to parlay his success from the end of 2013 into a rotation spot in 2014. Now it appears he is ticketed for the bullpen. While his K/9 was under 7 in the majors in 2013, he has been consistently between 9 and 10 in the minors. Low ERA, low WHIP, solid K potential and the chance to win some games make Thornburg worth a $1.
Kevin Siegrist: To the rich go the spoils, and Siegrist is another young fireballer in the bullpen. In 45 appearances in 2013, Siegrist struck out 50 batters in 39.2 innings (a K/9 of 11.34). Amazingly, he faced 152 batters, so he struck out nearly 1/3 of the batters he faced. He also picked up 3 wins, so he could grab a key win here and there.
Recommendation: Same as the AL, grab a closer (or maybe 2 if the price is right) and then target some of these high K potential RP who could steal some wins and might even end the year as the closer.
Dollar Draft Series