The Closer Carousel: Hire, Fire and Acquire

Sometimes there are closers available but you hesitate or just aren’t sure about picking them up.  Other times there are closers you can trade for that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, but you’re just not sure who to look at.  Then there are closers you own that you may want to trade away for a variety of reason.  In essence the closer game is like playing the stock market.  Pick up those penny stocks and cross your fingers, buy low, sell high, and occasionally take a hit for a bad investment.  If you’ve made some bad investments, I think it’s time to find a new broker.  Fortunately for you I’m here to help.  I’m no broker, but I did stay at a Holliday Inn last night.

 

HIREThese players may be available on waivers in your league.  If you are in need of saves…what are you waiting for?

Sean Doolittle (Available in 27% of CBS and 39% of Yahoo)
Zach Britton (Available in 42% of CBS & 48% of Yahoo)
Hector Rondon (Available in 54% of CBS & 52% of Yahoo)
Jenry Mejia (Available in 42% of CBS & 54% of Yahoo)
Chad Qualls (Available in 67% of CBS and 70% of Yahoo)

Doolittle is probably gone and the window is quickly closing on Britton, Rondon and Mejia.  If they are available in your league this is your last chance as their ownership is going up daily.  Doolittle is the best long term choice and should be able to keep the job for the remainder of the season.  Mejia would be next as long as the Mets stick to the plan and leave him as the closer.  Britton has put up great numbers but being a lefty there is a chance that Darren O’Day could steal of few of his save opportunities depending on the matchup.  Rondon & Qualls don’t receive many save opportunities but when dealing with the bottom of the barrel, beggars can’t be choosers.  It might interest you to know that Qualls did not allow any runs to score in the month of May.  With Singleton on the verge of being brought up, Houston might have a few more closer games.

 

ACQUIRE: These players are owned, but owners might be willing to part with them and they shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg..

Fernando Rodney‘s current line isn’t pretty (2.75 ERA – 1.53 WHIP) and his owners may be frustrated.  What they might not realize is that in the month of May, Rodney had a 1.74 ERA with a  1.16 WHIP along with 8 saves.  Given his track record you might be able to pry Rodney away for a Mike Leake type player who you plucked off waivers and is due to regress.  There’s no guarantee with Rodney, but he won’t cost you much either.

Addison Reed hasn’t had the best start either, and a little over 2 weeks ago had an ERA of 5.03.  Since May 12th he hasn’t given up a run and owners not paying attention to the week to week improvements only see a 4.18 ERA & 1.23 WHIP.  Reed is better than that and should produce quality numbers from here on out.  You may have to pony up a slightly better player than you would with someone like Rodney, but you’ll get better results for your money (you get what you pay for).

Joe Nathan has had an ERA above 3.0 only once since 2000 and his highest WHIP over that time is 1.16.  His ERA has shot up a full 2 points in the past two weeks and if there was ever a chance to get Nathan at a discount, This Is It.  His price will depend on the other owners frustration level and experience.  Don’t overpay just in case something is wrong, but don’t go offering garbage either as too much of a low ball offer might offend them.

Doolittle and Mejia could also be considered Acquire candidates because of their higher ownership.  You may be able to get one of them cheap since their new owner probably isn’t too attached and only have a waiver wire pick invested.  Britton could be considered as well but I’m not completely sold on him yet, do what you will here.

 

FIRE: These players are either slumping, in danger of losing their job or have reached their peak value and can be unloaded for top dollar.  Either way, you might want to consider moving them.

Huston Street‘s value is at an all time high.  With 16 saves he’s halfway to last years total and with only half the ERA.  A correction is coming, but more importantly and injury could be on the way as well.  Street hasn’t had the best luck when it comes to health, and it might be worth considering selling while the stock is high.  You may be able to trade him straight up for a pitcher or hitter or package him for an upgrade somewhere and get a lower closer as a second player.  And, when Street does go down, you won’t have to run as fast to the waiver wire to grab his replacement (which would be Joaquin Benoit).

Trevor Rosenthal made some improvements in is ERA in May, but his WHIP has gone up and the  strikeouts are what we saw last season.  His 3.75 ERA in May is almost in line with his xFIP for the year and slightly above his SIERA so there is a chance the man we saw in May is the best we’re going to get this year.  Jason Motte is still working on regaining his velocity but will soon be breathing down Rosenthal’s neck like Rosenthal was with Mujica last season.  Before a controversy arises, shopping Rosenthal now might be in your best interest.  His name still has value and you have last years numbers and a potential turn around as a selling point.  If you decide to stick with Rosenthal and he strings together a few stinkers, grab Motte in preparation of a potential change.

Ernesto Frieri got 2 saves this week (although Tuesday’s was shaky).  His walks are down from last year but so are his strikeouts and his home run totals have increased.  Mike Scioscia may have confidence in him, but that doesn’t mean you have to.  As long as Frieri is struggling, Joe Smith will be in the picture stealing the occasional save and lowering his value.  With the exception of Tuesday Frieri has strung together some good games raising his value.  It might be wise to sell before he blows up again.  I would even dump him for Doolitle, Mejia or Britton if they are available.

 

Saving Nolan RyanBelow are my current closer rankings and the (alleged) player next in line to for save opportunities.  A number of the higher ranked closers will need an injury (or Tanya Harding incident) to remove them from their current role, while some of the lower ranked closers will probably put themselves out of work by their own doing.

 Job security (1 = All Clear, 2 = solid ground, 3 = shaky ground, 4 = rocky ground, 5 = Avalanche…RUN

  Closer

Security

Team Next in Line DL 
1 Craig Kimbrel 1 Braves David Carpenter  
2 Kenley Jansen 1 Dodgers Brian Wilson  
3 Greg Holland 1 Royals Wade Davis  
4 Koji Uehara 1 RedSox Andrew Miller  
5 Aroldis Chapman 1 Reds Jonathan Broxton  
6 Francisco Rodriguez 1 Brewers  Will Smith Jim Henderson
7 Glen Perkins 1 Twins Casey Fien  
8 Huston Street 1 Padres Joaquin Benoit  
9 Trevor Rosenthal 1 Cardinals Jason Motte  
10 David Robertson 1 Yankees  Adam Warren  
11 Sergio Romo 1 Giants Jeremy Affeldt Santiago Casilla
12 Joe Nathan 1 Tigers Joba Chamberlain  
13 Rafael Soriano  2 Nationals Tyler Clippard  
14 Jonathan Papelbon  2 Phillies Mike Adams  
15 Steve Cishek 1 Marlins A.J. Ramos  
16 Joakim Soria  2 Rangers Jason Frasor  
17 Casey Jannsen 2 Blue Jays Brett Cecil Sergio Santos
18 Jason Grilli 2 Pirates Mark Melancon  
19 Addison Reed 2 Diamondbacks Brad Ziegler  
20 LaTroy Hawkins  3 Rockies Adam Ottavino  
21 Hector Rondon  2.5 Cubs Neil Ramirez  
22 Sean Doolittle 2.5 Athletics Luke Gregerson  
23 Jenrry Mejia 3 Mets Jeurys Familia  
24 Fernando Rodney  3 Mariners Danny Farquhar  
25 Zach Britton 3 Orioles Darren O’Day  
26 Ernesto Frieri 4 Angels Joe Smith  
27 Chad Qualls 3 Astros Kyle Farnsworth Jesse Crain
28 Grant Balfour 4 Rays Jake McGee  
29 Bryan Shaw/Cody Allen 4.5 Indians John Axford  
30 Ronald Belisario 6 White Sox Committee Nate Jones

Closer Notes:

It’s been an uneventful week in the world of closers.  Nobody was fired, demoted or injured.  The closest thing we have to a change this week is Hector Rondon being placed on paternity leave.  Makes for a rather boring week as a writer, but I’m sure fantasy owners can use the break considering the turmoil over the past month.  Just because there has been calm seas doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things to discuss, but it’s mostly bullet points.

Jenry Mejia is settling into the closer role (and still available in 55% of Yahoo leagues), but it may surprise you who has pitched the 8th inning his last two outings.  Vic Black (It’s a name only Mets fans would know).  He was recalled from AAA after the Mets released Jose Valverde, and it’s nice to see the Mets shedding some of it’s dead weight.  Black is a big strikeout pitcher and holds a minor league K/9 ratio of 10.68 K/9 (11.05 in AAA).  The biggest problem is walks, he had a 4.86 BB/9 in the minors (5.18 in AAA).  This year was do different as he had 18 K’s in 18.2 innings but also walked 17.  If he can learn some control he could make an interesting choice not only as a setup man for the Mets but for fantasy owners as a holds guy with high strikeouts like Dellin Betances.  We’ll wait a few weeks before anointing him the new setup man, but he’s someone to keep an eye on.

The White Sox unofficially handed the 9th to Ronald Belisario and so far he has been (expletive #@#^% deleted).  Sure he has 3 wins and a save in his last 5 attempts, but he also has a blown 2 saves and allowed earned runs in 4 of those 5 games.  The other two candidates at the time were Jake Petricka and Daniel Webb, and neither has given up an earned run in the past two weeks.  Zach Putnam is another name to consider but he’s more of a dark horse (then again, so was Belisario).  Normally I’d recommend a preemptive strike, but it’s hard to get a read on what Ventura will do here.  My money is still on Webb, but Petricka is still intriguing.  I would sit tight and watch this one unfold.  Ventura stated that Belisario is still his closer, and if that’s his guy I think the Rays found a perfect person to take Grant Balfour off their hands.

In Cleveland, it was Cody Allen and not Brian Shaw getting the save opportunity Friday night.  It’s not like Shaw pitched the day before and couldn’t go.  Maybe the Indians are still going with a committee or maybe, just maybe, it’s Allen Time.  The Indians haven’t had much need for a closer lately so even if Allen is the new unofficial 9th inning guy, there’s no need to rush out there and grab him (unless you’re in a league where potential closers go off the board quickly).  Allen wouldn’t be an elite option for saves, but he’ll be a stable arm in your bullpen should the Indians stick with him and end the controversy.  On to the bullets.

 

  • Wade Davis is still available in over 80% of leagues.  I’m not going to stop harping on this until his ownership reaches 20% somewhere.
  • Dellin Betances is another Wade Davis type reliever who has 51 strikeouts in 30.2 innings.  He should be owned in all formats.
  • Neil Ramirez was told he would receive the save opportunities while Hector Rondon was away on paternity leave.  This gives us a clear indicator who the next in line in Chicago should Rondon falter or become injured.
  • Sergio Romo has allowed 4 earned runs in his last 3 appearances moving his ERA from 2.21 to 3.52.  He allowed 7 earned runs this month as opposed to 2 in April.
  • It seems Kenley Jansen and Brian Wilson have both put their early season struggles behind them.  Wilson hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 6 appearances and has resumed his spot as the primary setup man.  Jansen has allowed one run in his last 6 but has 5 saves with 9 K’s and only 1 walk.
  • The Red Sox have been using Andrew Miller as the primary setup man for Koji Uehara.  Those of you in holds leagues may want to keep an eye on Miller, he could be in line for a bump in value.
  • Jason Grilli notched his second save since his return and has officially reclaimed the closer role.  Mark Melancon still has value in holds leagues, but elsewhere he can be safely returned to the waiver wire.
  • Francisco Rodriguez has allowed runs in 3 of his past 6 appearances.  We new the superhuman 0.43 ERA wouldn’t last, and now it sits at a pedestrian 2.33.  His partner in crime Will Smith is still jiggy with a 0.36 ERA, that’s one earned run in 28 games.
  • Looks Like Darren O’Day will have to settle for the setup role as Zach Britton is getting comfortable with the closers role.
  • Jake McGee did not allow any runs to score in the month of May, and yet Grant Balfour is still the closer.  There is no justice.
  • Jim Johnson is owned in 33% of CBS and 47% of Yahoo leagues.  Guys, put down the crack pipe…it’s over.
Jim Finch

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The self proclaimed Grand High Exhausted Mystic Ruler of Fantasy Baseball. While I am not related to Jennie or Sidd Finch, I will attempt to uphold the integrity of the Finch family name as it relates to baseball.