Closer Report: Frieri gets Grilled

Last week’s big news was Jason Grilli was out as Pittsburgh’s closer.  This week’s news in Jason Grilli is out of Pittsburgh.  In a head scratching swap, the Pirates sent Grilli to the Angles for their problem child Ernesto Frieri.  Things don’t change for Mark Melancon, he will still be the closer in Pittsburgh.  Frieri on the other hand, who had a chance to close for the Angels (and blew it several dozen times) will now be lucky if he is allowed to be a setup man.  Last year Frieri had a HR/9 of 1.44, and that was with a favorable home park and division.  This year his HR/9 is 2.32, that’s 8 long balls in 31 innings…not good.  He goes from pitching on the road in Seattle & Oakland to pitching in Cincinnati, St. Louis and Chicago.  Maybe Pittsburgh thinks they can fix him and maybe the change of scenery will do him good.  I’m skeptical on both fronts and Pittsburgh should be as well.  Look for Tony Watson to take over as the primary setup man for Melancon giving Pittsburgh a formidable 1-2 punch in the late innings.

Over in the Angels bullpen, Mike Scioscia lost another one of his favorite toys.  First they took Raul Ibanez away from him, forcing him to give regular playing time to C.J. Cron (I’m sure he went home and kicked his dog over that one).  Now they’ve taken away his Frieri, but I’m sure Scioscia will be damned if he’s going to give the 9th inning to Joe Smith.  The pitcher with the ho-hum name has done a pretty good job this year when called upon.  In fact, Smith has been very consistent for 3 1/2 years now, but for some reason Scioscia has a problem with him.  With Jason Grilli on board, look for the former Pirates closer to take over in the 9th inning for the Angels.  He’s a step up from Frieri and considering his home ERA was a full point higher in Pittsburgh, the change of scenery might actually help Grilli.  If you’re an owner of Joe Smith I would hold him for a week if you can, just to make sure this shakes out as planned.  Odds are though, Smith’s fantasy value is cooked baring an injury (or Scioscia termination).

White Sox Closer Ronald Belisario was pulled Friday night after allowing a solo home run and two singles.  Jake Petricka was eventually called upon to close out the game and picked up the save.  Afterwards, Robin Ventura stated that the club with go with a committee and use matchups to determine who is closing each night.  Daniel Webb might have gotten the job if not for the 26 walks in 35 innings.  Jake Petricka has done slightly better with 22 walks in 43 innings, but he’ll still have to audition.  Zach Putnam was the first man called upon Saturday to receive a save opportunity, but 3 hits and 1 earned run didn’t help his chances.  So who will be the next closer in Chicago?  My money says Putnam, but Belisario got the closer job over Webb last time around so who knows.  If you’re in a league where potential closers are rostered by aggressive owners, throw a dart at Putnam.  Everyone else, just sit back, enjoy the show and see how things play out.

This week, Rangers GM Jon Daniels (no relation to Jack) stated that RP Neftali Feliz was an option for promotion should a need in the bullpen arise.  Given the Rangers struggles, injuries and place in the standings, this has led some to speculate that Joakim Soria could be traded, but I don’t see that happening.  Soria has a 7 million dollar option for next year; compared to the price of relief pitchers on the open market, it’s a relatively affordable contract.  Also, while Feliz has been successful so far in AAA, I don’t see Texas throwing the added pressure on him (and his arm) so soon.  The Rangers could trade Soria, but it would really make no sense unless an offer came along that they could not refuse.  If you’re a Soria owner, I would relax as I don’t see him going anywhere this season.  As for Feliz, I expect the Rangers to ease him back into things, eventually setting the table for Soria in the 8th by the end of the season.


A few other notes and fun facts that can be covered by bullets:

  • The Tigers said they were working on Joe Nathan, but he’s not fixed yet.  He gave up a run on Wednesday and again on Saturday, but still managed to get the save in both.  I guess the fact he didn’t blow the save and only gave up one run in each is an improvement.
  • Over the past 30 days, which closer has a Zero ERA, 0.14 WHIP and 22 K’s over 14 innings?  Sean Doolittle, that’s who.  Oh, and he’s available in 23% of Yahoo leagues (And if it’s your league he’s available in, football season starts soon).
  • For the month of June, which relief pitcher has a Zero ERA, 0.35 WHIP and 14 K’s over 11 innings?  Antonio Bastardo…..The writing is on the wall Mr. Papelbon
  • Dellin Betances leads all relief pitchers in strikeouts (74).
  • While nobody was looking Trevor Rosenthal returned to form with a 0.75 ERA for the month of June.  He still walked 9 batters in 12 innings, but at least he’s not letting those walks cross home plate.
  • Sergio Romo had an ERA of 1.74 for the month of April, 4.63 in May and 8.59 in June.  Many warned before the season he would regress, but nobody expected a total collapse.  Might be time to invest in Santiago Casillo (or maybe Jean Machi).
  • Hector Rondon recovered from Monday’s disaster to record a clean save on Thursday.  I would still keep Neil Ramirez on speed dial.
  • The top 5 players for holds are Will Smith (21), Tony Watson (20), Brad Ziegler (19), J.P. Howell (18) and Tyler Clippard (18).  With the exception of Clippard, who saw those other guys coming?
  • Luke Gregerson leads the league in blown saves with 6.


Below are my current closer rankings and the (alleged) player next in line for save opportunities.  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.

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 Jordan Walden  
2 Greg Holland 1 Royals Wade Davis  
3 Aroldis Chapman 1 Reds Jonathan Broxton  
4 Koji Uehara 1 RedSox Andrew Miller  
5 Kenley Jansen 1 Dodgers 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  
11 Rafael Soriano 1 Nationals Tyler Clippard Drew Storen
12 Casey Janssen 1 Blue Jays Aaron Loop  
13 Joakim Soria 1 Rangers Neal Cotts Jason Frasor
14 Sean Doolittle 1 Athletics Luke Gregerson  
15 Steve Cishek 1 Marlins Mike Dunn A.J. Ramos
16 Jonathan Papelbon 1 Phillies Jake Diekman Antonio Bastardo
17 Mark Melancon 2.5 Pirates Tony Watson  
18 Zach Britton 2.5 Orioles Darren O’Day  
19 Joe Nathan 2 Tigers Joba Chamberlain Al Alburquerque
20 Fernando Rodney  2 Mariners Danny Farquhar
21 Sergio Romo 2 Giants Jean Machi Santiago Casilla
22 Addison Reed 2 Diamondbacks Brad Ziegler  
23 Hector Rondon 2.5 Cubs Pedro Strop Neil Ramirez
24 LaTroy Hawkins  2.5 Rockies Rex Brothers Adam Ottavino
25 Chad Qualls 3 Astros Tony Sipp Jose Veres
26 Cody Allen 4 Indians Bryan Shaw John Axford?
27 Jason Grilli 5 Angels Joe Smith  
28 Jenrry Mejia 4 Mets Jeurys Familia Vic Black
29 Grant Balfour 4 Rays Joel Peralta Jake McGee
30 TBD – Zach Putnam? 5 White Sox TBD TBD

If the next in line box is empty, the setup man and next in line guy are one and the same.

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.

4 thoughts on “Closer Report: Frieri gets Grilled”

  1. If Soria got traded to a team where he actually could get some save opps, it might be a good thing.

    1. True, but the odds of him getting traded to a team that actually needs a closer would be slim. I’d love to see him get a few more opportunities, but his ERA & WHIP more than make up for the lack of saves.

  2. What are your thoughts on the Philly bullpen situation? If Papelbon is traded at the deadline, they have Bastardo, Giles and Diekman on the back-end to close things out. Does Bastardo get the first crack at it, or do they turn to one of the younger guys and leave Bastardo in his 8th inning role, which he’s been quite solid in over his career? I have a feeling Diekman gets a shot at some point, but not sure when. Your thoughts?

    1. Diekman has all the tools to be a future closer, but I don’t see it being this year. With a 50% walk rate in the minors and a 3.75 BB/9 in the majors this year and last, I think the Phillies will let him improve his control in middle relief the rest of the year and possibly next year (unless he has a strong spring).

      Bastrado has done a good enough job in the 8th this year and with Philly and has earned a shot. The Phillies aren’t playing for much this year so moving Bastrado to the 9th shouldn’t upset the balance of things in the bullpen. Even if they do, does it really matter this year?

      Kenneth Giles is the dark horse here and has similar walk percentages as Diekman. The rest of his numbers are good and while Diekman may be the front runner of these two men, which one of these men gets first crack at closing next year will come down to who can harness their control first.

      Long term I like Giles better, short term I’d bank on Diekman and for just this year I’d go with Bastardo.

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