Hello and welcome to the Closer Report. We have a key injury to discuss, and I’ll take you on a tour of places that call to mind those three dreaded words: Closer. By. Committee. All this plus the Grid, so let’s get to it.
As If the Twins Didn’t Have Enough Problems
We thought we knew what we were getting with Glen Perkins, or at least I did — solid yet unspectacular production for most of the season. I even thought he might be a little underrated. While Perkins has a habit of petering out at the end of the season thanks to various aches and pains, you may have forgotten that Perkins was perfect in save chances during the first half of last year. Unfortunately, Perkins was not looking sharp out of the gate and now he has been placed on the disabled list.
While this is looking like a lost season for Perkins, we need to look ahead at who will be getting the saves for the Twins. Now, no need to make unkind jokes about the pathetic start the Twinkies have gotten out to. Things are looking a little dire right now, but I’m sure most of you realize that there will be serious fantasy value attached to the pitcher that can run away with this role.
As much as I want to point to Trevor May, I think the pickup is Kevin Jepsen. He has not distinguished himself this season, but he did take over the ninth inning when Perkins went down last year and thrived in the role. The trust of the manager often overrides everything else in these situations, so I see Molitor giving Jepsen first crack. As for May: he has been great since shifting to the bullpen, and his velocity is certainly closer-worthy. He could get saves if Jepsen falters, but that is no guarantee.
Late Inning Mysteries
I wrote about Minnesota, assuming that one player would emerge, but that doesn’t seem to be a safe assumption these days. Look at Atlanta, Oakland, and Tampa Bay. Sensible baseball management doesn’t necessarily bring a smile to fantasy owners faces. I think if Atlanta can get a lead Arodys Vizcaino is going to get the chance. I’d just like to see him convert that chance before declaring anything further.
There’s nothing solid about what is happening in Oakland. This week Ryan Madson gave up two runs in the eighth and Sean Doolittle gave up the lead by giving up two more in the ninth. I’ve not been shy about my concerns over Doolittle and think Madson is the better bet in the long run. John Axford has actually been good and could sneak by them temporarily, but he is a ticking time bomb, so be very careful with him as well.
As for the Rays, Alex Colome closed out a game with a four-run lead and is the pitcher I want to own. Xavier Cedeno picked up the win in that game and has been appearing in high leverage situations. He might even get the chance to steal a couple of saves. I was not a fan of Brad Boxberger when the season began, but it seems like the path will be clear for him when he gets back if someone doesn’t significantly step up.
News and Notes
- One place where I didn’t see things settling down so quickly was Philadelphia, but what do you know; Jeanmar Gomez has racked up the saves since we last met. He is a decent pitcher and a must-own for now; however, be prepared to cut bait when the rough patch comes — he doesn’t have dominant stuff so that patch could come at any time. Nevertheless, I bumped him up the rankings a little bit.
- It pains me to say it, but I moved Fernando Rodney up a little bit as well. I still wouldn’t want him on my team though.
- K-Rod‘s velocity is still not all the way back, but he has gotten better results since opening day. To reiterate, I think he will be a rock solid second closer for the duration of the season.
- Sergio Romo was sent for tests on his elbow, and the Giants are hoping that a little rest will do Romo some good. In the meantime, Hunter Strickland will pitch more important innings and could cement his place as next in line in San Francisco. Strickland’s long-term future is bright, but these short-term gains are nice to see for owners, even if they are at Romo’s expense.
- I’m keeping Ken Giles next in line in Houston for now, but the Astros probably need to bump him from the eighth inning for now. The Astros have plenty of candidates to pitch in the eighth, and Giles needs some clean innings in low-leverage situations. No matter what Giles does, Luke Gregerson has been fine so far and will be closing for a while.
- Before we get to the grid I want to spotlight some players off the grid that might be worth a look in deeper/holds leagues: Veteran Matt Albers has shown fine form and has appeared in high leverage situations for the White Sox. Huston Street has been great so far for the Angels and Joe Smith has a tight grip on the eighth inning, but keep an eye on Mike Morin, who has been spotted in close games and throws some serious heat. Fernando Rodriguez was touted in this space last year and has come out strong in 2016. Oakland has been using him for more than one inning and as I’ve previously noted, most of the pitchers in that bullpen have not pitched well, so an opportunity for a bigger role may present itself.
The Closer Grid
The Closer Grid tells you who is getting saves, how secure they are, and who is next in line. For security rankings: 1 = Rock Solid, 2 = Secure, 3= Shaky, and 4 = Worrisome. If you think someone was ranked higher or lower than they should be, let me know in the comment section below.
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