The season is only a couple of weeks old and we don’t want to do rash things, but early in the season is often the best time to find value on the waiver wire. Have you really been passing on promising arms like Vincent Velasquez or Matt Moore because you’re hanging on to someone who may not get another save this year?
When I look at ownership percentages this is exactly what I am seeing. We went through this sort of thing with Ken Giles last year. Owners drafted Giles expecting him to just toss Jonathan Papelbon aside and grab the ninth inning in Philadelphia. We know by now how hard it can be to take the closer role from a veteran. Even though Giles pitched and got solid Ks, his ratios were not outstanding during the first half. Maybe it paid off for some owners in the end, but I’m guessing that Giles owners dug themselves a hole that they couldn’t get out of.
Some of you might be holding on to Giles again this year, hoping that he might get some saves. Luke Gregerson certainly looks capable of holding down the job. At least Giles has significant upside; the players some owners are still holding on to are almost a complete waste of a roster spot. Opportunity is knocking fantasy owners. What are you waiting for?!? Drop these guys now.
Drop J.J. Hoover. The bargain basement for saves felt especially dicey this year, and Hoover seemed like one of the very worst options. Saves are saves as the saying goes, but the Reds are a poor team and Hoover has been a pretty bad pitcher. Over the past couple of years his BB/9 has been over 4.0. He gave up 13 home runs in just 62.2 innings in 2014. While he got his homers under control in 2015, his K/9 took a big drop. However, his ERA was under 3.0 and he had a shiny 8-2 record. How bad could it be in 2016?
Pretty bad in fact, as he has been the worst of 2014 and 2015 in one tidy package. In just 5 .1 innings Hoover has given up 3 home runs, walked 4 men, and struck out only 4. He has given up multiple runs in 3 of his last 4 outings, leading to a 15.19 ERA and a 2.25 WHIP, and being pulled from the closer’s role. The Reds are not overflowing with great candidates so it’s possible that they could take another look at Hoover down the road. With his hat trick of high walks, low Ks, and lots of homers, he won’t be a solution there for any extended period of time.
Drop Sean Doolittle. He is currently owned in 69% of Yahoo! leagues, and I can’t wrap my head around that. I didn’t see a big announcement, but Ryan Madson got the last few saves opportunities, and Doolittle only put an end to that this week because Madson was unavailable from pitching so much. I was worried that Doolittle was not safe. He had velocity issues, and with all the one-time closers in the Oakland bullpen he seemed more vulnerable to me than most. He has given up three home runs this season, and though there was no official announcement it looks like Doolittle has just stopped getting save chances.
If Doolittle is not getting saves then he is not much different from any number of pitchers on the waiver wire. Madson has been pretty solid in the role and maintained the form that he showed on the Royals last season, so I don’t know that he’ll be handing the role over any time soon.
Drop Drew Storen. I know you drafted him thinking you would be getting saves, but once Roberto Osuna was named the closer and converted a couple of saves, it was time to cut the cord here. Osuna has the manager’s loyalty and is also highly skilled. Meanwhile, Storen pitched badly when he wasn’t closing last year, and has followed it up with a poor start to this season. Osuna had a blister earlier this week and Storen gave up a couple of runs before getting the save, but Osuna rebounded again and I don’t expect many hiccups going forward. 39% of you own Storen. You can do better.
Other pitchers you can safely drop are David Hernandez, Danny Farquhar and Jason Grilli. Like the other pitchers I mentioned, it’s not impossible that they chip in a couple of saves going forward, but they lack strikeout upside and don’t offer much ratio help.
News and Notes
- With Hoover removed from the primary closer role and presumed replacement Jumbo Diaz sent to the minors, Bryan Price announced that Tony Cingrani, Blake Wood, and Hoover would form a committee. Cingrani and Wood quickly got shelled, and who gets the next chance is anyone’s guess. My guess is it’s Cingrani, though many are suggesting Caleb Cotham has a shot since he got off to a hot start. Ross Ohlendorf is not improbable. I don’t have to tell you to avoid this situation, do I? There’s got to be something better on the wire.
- I am bumping Cody Allen down a few notches even though he is still a Closer Report favorite. He gave up a 3-run home run to Robinson Cano in his second inning of work on Thursday, and he has these outings a little too often to be ranked ahead of Trevor Rosenthal or David Robertson. Nevertheless, Allen is safe in my mind and Terry Francona’s aggressive usage suggests to me that he loves him. Hang in there.
- K-Rod had more ugliness this week, but he didn’t blow any saves so he is still safe (for now). I wouldn’t mind if he’d get his act together a little more.
- Every year we have to decide between the veteran who is getting the holds and the sexy pick who we want to be next in line. It seems like this is goes on in Arizona all the time, and I had the sexier Daniel Hudson as next in line, but Tyler Clippard has been great this season and vultured the save this week. I swapped their places on the Grid.
- Alex Colome finally got another save, and I guess he will pick up a few more before Brad Boxberger comes back. He is ok as a third closer, but I wouldn’t count on much after Boxberger returns.
- I couldn’t find room for him on the Grid, but Phillies Hector Neris has been racking up holds and strikeouts. Jeanmar Gomez hasn’t done anything wrong, but it could get ugly at any time. We’ve seen what some of the other candidates in that bullpen can do, so Neris might end up as a prominent fantasy name before long.
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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