So Who’s next in line for Saves? This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, but a recent question about the situation in Tampa inspired me to put my thoughts into writing. Each week, I (along with all the other experts) make up our lists and rankings of closers along with who our choices are for the guys to be next in line. There are two basic assumptions that we all go by for the most part when making our decisions on who a new closer might be.
- The guy next in line for saves will be whoever has been setting up things in the 8th inning.
- The closer has to be a righty
Both of these theories have been challenged this year and is changing the way I evaluate who will be next in line for saves should the current closer be removed or goes down with an injury. Lets take a look at some examples of changes made this year at the closer position.
In Baltimore, Tommy Hunter was removed from the closer role and owners immediately moved to Darren O’Day. He was the obvious choice as he’s a righty, had been setting up for Hunter all season and has had great success as a reliever the past few years. In past years you would have been right to jump on O’Day, but not this year. Zach Britton had been lights out this year since being moved to the bullpen, and while some thought he could steal a few save opportunites, they’re not going to use a lefty as their closer. Assumptions 1-2 were negated when Britton and not O’Day received the first save opportunity and has run away with the job. O’Day, who has done a great job setting up for Hunter is now setting the table for Britton.
Moving over to Oakland, it took a while for Oakland to officially remove Jim Johnson from the closer role. Luke Gregerson received the tap on the shoulder as tradition would have it since he’d been setting up for Johnson and had closing experience, but at the time, he was the only real choice the A’s had. Cook and Doolittle had just returned from injuries and nobody else really made themselves stand out. The A’s attempted to work Johnson back into the 9th inning, but his blowups only solidified their decision that he wasn’t ready. Oakland could have stuck with Gregerson but they didn’t . Ryan Cook was the next logical choice. He was the man everyone thought would be the closer coming into this year before Johnson was signed and had been setting up for Gregerson. Another curveball was thrown when lefty Sean Doolittle was named closer, and just like Zach Britton, he’s run away with the job. Again, assumptions 1 & 2 are out the window again.
When the Indians finally had enough of John Axford, Cody Allen was the speculative grab, but Allen remained in the 8th as Bryan Shaw received the first crack at closing duties. Granted Allen has since replaced Shaw as the closer, but it was the 7th inning guy who initially received the first crack here.
The Mets had 2 good options when they demoted/release Kyle Farnsworth. Jeurys Familia & Daisuke Matsuzaka had both been sharing the setup man duties up until that time. While neither one of them were an appealing choice to fantasy owners, most assumed it would be one of them or even dark horse Carlos Torres getting the call. Instead it was recently demoted starter Jenrry Mejia who got the job.
This brings us to Tampa Bay where the Rays
have had enough decided to temporarily relieve Grant Balfour of his dutires. Joel Peralta has been the primary setup man this year. Jake McGee has spelled him on occasion, but more often than not it was Peralta taking the mound in the 8th in front of Balfour. Going by past thinking, Peralta should be the man to close out games during this (temporary) switch, but Peralta has been setting up for McGee this week (granted in non closing situations since Tampa hasn’t given them any save opportunity). Balfour did record a 2 inning save on Wednesday, but that’s besides the point, we’re looking at who is next in line.
In Detroit, Joe Nathan has been slumping badly and everyone is looking to Joba Chamberlain as the player to add in anticipation of a move. Going by what has been happening this year, there’s a better than average chance that it will be Al Alburquerque and not Chamberlain that takes over the 9th should Detroit decide to remove Nathan for a spell. Even Yankees Manager has come out and said he would have no problem using Dellin Betances in closing situations if needed, yet Adam Warren is the next guy in line since he’s been setting up Robertson.
So do we now abandon this notion that the set up man is the next logical choice if something happens with a teams closer? At least for this year we can for the most part, but each instances should be evaluated case by case. Some teams like Pittsburg & San Diego have a predetermined hierarchy. There wasn’t a doubt that Melancon would be the man to turn to when Grille was injured and the same holds true with Joaquin Benoit should Huston Street go down. It’s those teams with several good options to turn to that you have to watch out for.
Below are my current closer rankings and the (alleged) player next in line for save opportunities. The Next in line guy may not be the man who has been setting the table, but as I explained above, things have changed this year. Some teams have one clear cut choice and the next in line guy is the current setup man, but for teams with several options I’ve listed the alternate player who may play a role in the save game. If the next in line box is empty, that means the setup man and next in line guy are one in the same.
Job security (1 = All Clear, 2 = solid ground, 3 = shaky ground, 4 = rocky ground, 5 = Avalanche…RUN
|Closer||Security||Team||Current Setup Man||Next in Line|
|1||Craig Kimbrel||1||Braves||Shea Simmons||David Carpenter|
|2||Greg Holland||1||Royals||Wade Davis|
|3||Aroldis Chapman||1||Reds||Jonathan Broxton|
|4||Koji Uehara||1||RedSox||Junichi Tazawa||Andrew Miller|
|5||Kenley Jansen||1||Dodgers||J.P. Howell||Brian Wilson|
|6||Francisco Rodriguez||1||Brewers||Will Smith|
|7||Huston Street||1||Padres||Joaquin Benoit|
|8||Glen Perkins||1||Twins||Casey Fien|
|9||David Robertson||1||Yankees||Adam Warren||Dellin Betances|
|10||Trevor Rosenthal||1||Cardinals||Pat Neshek||Jason Motte|
|11||Rafael Soriano||1||Nationals||Tyler Clippard||Drew Storen|
|12||Casey Janssen||2||Blue Jays||Aaron Loop|
|13||Sergio Romo||2||Giants||Jean Machi||Santiago Casilla|
|14||Joakim Soria||2||Rangers||Jason Frasor|
|15||Jonathan Papelbon||1||Phillies||Jake Diekman||Antonio Bastardo|
|16||Steve Cishek||1||Marlins||A.J. Ramos|
|17||Jason Grilli||2||Pirates||Mark Melancon|
|18||Sean Doolittle||2||Athletics||Luke Gregerson||Gregerson / Johnson|
|19||Joe Nathan||2||Tigers||Joba Chamberlain||Al Alburquerque|
|20||Fernando Rodney||2||Mariners||Danny Farquhar||Tom Wilhelmsen|
|21||Addison Reed||2||Diamondbacks||Brad Ziegler|
|22||Hector Rondon||2||Cubs||Pedro Strop||Neil Ramirez|
|23||Zach Britton||2.5||Orioles||Darren O’Day|
|24||Cody Allen||4||Indians||Bryan Shaw||John Axford|
|25||LaTroy Hawkins||3||Rockies||Adam Ottavino|
|26||Ernesto Frieri||3||Angels||Joe Smith|
|28||Jenrry Mejia||3||Mets||Vic Black|
|29||Ronald Belisario||5||White Sox||Zach Putnam||Daniel Webb|
|30||Grant Balfour||4||Rays||Joel Peralta||Jake McGee|
|Potential Closers on the DL: Nate Jones (White Sox), Jesse Crain (Astros)|
Now that the closers are out-of-the-way, we’ll move on to your two-start pitching options for week 12. Rob Adams covered the streamer options for week 12 yesterday which you can see here.
|Must Start Options|
|Player||Opponent 1||Opponent 2|
|Masahiro Tanaka||Tor – Marcus Stroman||BAL – Wei-Yin Chen|
|Max Scherzer||KC – Yordano Ventura||@CLE – Josh Tomlin|
|Johnny Cueto||@PIT – Brandon Cumpton||TOR – Marcus Stroman|
|Adam Wainwright||NYM – Jacob deGrom||PHI – Cole Hamels|
|Julio Teheran||PHI – Cole Hamels||@WAS – Doug Fister|
|Jon Lester||MIN – Phil Hughes||@OAK – Tommy Milone|
|Michael Wacha||NYM – Jonathon Niese||PHI – Kyle Kendrick|
|Tanner Roark||HOU – Dallas Keuchel||ATL – Ervin Santana|
- Check the status of Adam Wainwright before setting your lineup Monday.
- Lester has had a bad month, but I still trust him against these opponents.
- Roark isn’t an ace, but he sure is pitching like one. Love the home starts.
|Solid Options – Have no Fear|
|Player||Opponent 1||Opponent 2|
|Cole Hamels||@ATL – Julio Teheran||@STL – Adam Wainwright|
|Hyun-Jin Ryu||COL – Tyler Matzek||@SD – Eric Stultz|
|Dallas Keuchel||@WAS – Tanner Roark||@TB – Erik Bedard|
|Tyson Ross||@SEA – Chris Young||LAD – Josh Beckett|
|Phil Hughes||@BOS – Jon Lester||CWS – John Danks|
|Tommy Milone||TEX – Yu Darvish||BOS – Jon Lester|
|Jonathon Niese||@STL – Michael Wacha||@MIA – Jacob Turner|
|Drew Pomeranz||TEX – Colby Lewis||BOS – Rubby De La Rosa|
- I like Hamels first start, but the second matchup vs Wainwright worries me.
- Keuchel pitches great on the road, Washington has a nice park and Tampa Bay’s offence isn’t scaring anyone.
- I still have a hard time trusting the Hughes name, but I can’t argue with his numbers this year.
- Remember 2012 when you started Milone for all his home games without fear, he’s back…
- The Rockies aren’t as scary on the road and RYU in San Diego is a no brainer.
- Niese hasn’t allowed more than 3 earned runs in any start this year so don’t worry much about St.Louis.
- Pomeranz against strong opponents but at home against weak pitchers. He could be a shaky option for some, but I would start him without fear.
|Shaky Options: Do what you will|
|Player||Opponent 1||Opponent 2|
|Jered Weaver||@CLE – Trevor Bauer||TEX – Nick Martinez|
|Yordano Ventura||@DET – Max Scherzer||SEA – Roenis Elias|
|Jason Hammel||@MIA – Tom Koehler||PIT – Brandon Cumpton|
|Trevor Bauer||LAA – Jered Weaver||DET – Justin Verlander|
|Marcus Stroman||@NYY – Masahiro Tanaka||@CIN – Johnny Cueto|
|Jake Odorizzi||BAL – Wei-Yin Chen||HOU – Brad Peacock|
|John Janks||SF – Matt Cain||@MIN – Phil Hughes|
|Jason Vargas||@DET – Justin Verlander||SEA – Chris Young|
|Josh Tomlin||LAA – Matt Shoemaker||DET – Max Scherzer|
|Chris Young||SD – Tyson Ross||@KC – Jason Vargas|
|Kyle Lohse||@ARI – Wade Miley||@COL – Tyler Matzek|
- Jered Weaver has been shaky his last 3 starts and can’t seem to get past the 6th inning.
- Ventura has great second start, but his first one at Detroit could negate all gains of game vs Seattle.
- Hamel has allowed more than 2 earned runs at home only once this year.
- Home field for Bauer a plus, but negated by playing two high-powered offensive teams.
- Stroman has been locked in his last 4 starts while the Yankees & Reds haven’t been
- Odorizzi has a 3.13 ERA at home. If he can keep Baltimore in check, he should have a good week.
- Danks hasn’t been good for years, but he’s been hot for the past month.
- Vargas has an ERA under 2.0 on the road, but this is Detroit. Seattle is a good matchup.
- Tomin has been not since his return, but the Angels & Tigers can cool things off in a hurry.
- Chris Young has gone cold, but his opponents aren’t exactly hot. Flip a coin.
- Lohse at Colorado they way they’ve been hitting could be disastrous.
|Borderline No, but you may feel different|
|Player||Opponent 1||Opponent 2|
|Jacob deGrom||@STL – Adam Wainwright||@MIA – Tom Koehler|
|Wei-Yin Chen||@TB – Jake Odorizzi||@NY – Masahiro Tanaka|
|Erik Bedard||BAL – Kevin Gausman||HOU – Dallas Keuchel|
|Ervin Santana||PHI – Kyle Kendrick||@WAS – Tanner Roark|
|Roenis Elias||SD – Eric Stultz||@KC – Yondano Ventura|
|Willy Peralta||@ARI – Brandon McCarthy||@COL – Juan Niacasio|
|Justin Verlander||KC – Jason Vargas||@CLE – Trevor Bauer|
|Rubby De La Rosa||MIN – Kevin Correia||@OAK – Drew Pomeranz|
- deGrom’s first game screams no, but Miami is a maybe.
- Chen has pitched well enough lately to handle TB, but I have zero trust in him at Yankee stadium
- Santana is hot and cold. Philly is no threat but Washington could hammer him.
- Bedard is a WHIP killer and Baltimore will take care of his ERA. Houston matchup is neutral though.
- Elias will either pitch well or get hammered, there is not much wiggle room.
- Peralta has pitched well at times this year, but not consistent enough for me to start at Colorado.
- Verlander should remain on your bench until he puts 3 very good starts in a row together.
- De La Rosa can give you K’s and is playing weak teams, but those patient batters can wear him down quickly.
|No! Just NO!|
|Player||Opponent 1||Opponent 2|
|Kevin Correia||@BOS – Rubby De La Rosa||CWS – Andre Rienzo|
|Brandom Cumpton||CIN – Johnny Cueto||@CHC – Jason Hammel|
|Kyle Kendrick||@ATL – Ervin Santana||@STL – Michael Wacha|
|Tom Koehler||CHC – Jason Hammel||NYM – Jacob deGrom|
|Colby Lewis||@OAK – Drew Pomeranz||@LAA – Matt Shoemaker|
|Tyler Matzek||@LAD – Hyun-Jin Ryu||MIL – Kyle Loshe|
|Brandon McCarthy||MIL – Wily Peralta||SF – Ryan Vogelsong|
|Wade Miley||MIL – Kyle Loshe||SF – Madison Bumgarner|
|Matt Shoemaker||@CLE – Josh Tomlin||TEX – Colby Lewis|
|Eric Stultz||@SEA – Roenis Elias||LAD – Hyun-Jin Ryu|
|Jacob Turner||CHC – Jeff Samardzija||NYM – Johathon Niese|
I’m not going to explain why these players should not be used this week. Those that know why don’t need an explanation, and those that do should start preparing for football season.