Who’s Next In Line for Saves?

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.

  1. The guy next in line for saves will be whoever has been setting up things in the 8th inning.
  2. 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  
27 Chad Qualls 3 Astros ?  
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.

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.

3 thoughts on “Who’s Next In Line for Saves?”

  1. Good stuff Mr. Finch, but I’m still wondering when Soria’s numbers will warrant him moving up in the rankings.

    1. I should have moved him up one more spot above Romo, but that’s it. It’s not because he doesn’t deserve it, it more because the men above him have either been better or haven’t done enough to warrant being moved down.

      Anyone in the top 16 can be moved a few spots up or down based upon your personal preferences, but all are solid choices to own for the remainder of the year (although Romo does worry me with his recent struggles, but I’m not surprised he hit a rough patch).

  2. Apparently there was a glitch between saving this article and publishing it, and everything below shaky options was left off. I’ve set it back to a previous version. Apologies to anyone who may have seen this earlier. Granted there may be a spelling mistake or two in this version, but at least all the pitchers are listed this time 🙂

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