We’re back for another edition of The Closer. Per usual, there are plenty of bullpen shakeups to discuss as well as a few non-closer relief pitchers that could be useful in your league.
While some of the messy closer situations have seemed to work themselves out, such as the Cincinnati Reds and Oakland Athletics, there are plenty of questions surrounding others, like the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies.
This year, however, it seems as though injuries continue to be the driving force in forcing teams to change their closing options. Whether it be a star, like Baltimore’s Zach Britton, or key parts of a committee, Washington’s Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover, injuries always throw a wrench in the plans of real and fantasy managers.
Additionally, managers’ faith in their closers continue to block more appealing relief options from taking the limelight, like in Arizona.
Unfortunately for Zach Britton owners, the closer was placed on the DL Saturday for a second time this season. Once again, Britton will hit the DL with a left forearm strain, but an MRI revealed no structural damage. Expect the Orioles to take a very cautious route with Britton hitting the shelf yet again early in the season.
For owners who hung on to Brad Brach during Britton’s first DL stint, you’ve got yourself a solid closing option. Brach should continue to see the majority of chances with Britton out. Darren O’Day will get to set up Brach with Mychal Givens getting the ball in other high-leverage situations.
Just when things seemed as though they couldn’t get any more jumbled for the Nationals bullpen, Shawn Kelly lands on the DL with a lower-back strain. He’ll join Koda Glover on the shelf as the two were supposed to handle closing duties after Blake Treinen was removed from the role earlier this season.
While Treinen is still a candidate to receive save opportunities, it seems like manager Dusty Baker would rather turn to Matt Albers out of the bullpen as he got the first chance out of anyone after Kelley went down. This was Albers first career save in 102 games, snapping one of the more trivial relief pitcher streaks out there as he was gunning for Ryan Webb’s record 105 games without a save.
For now it seems as though Albers will get the first go in save situations. Enny Romero and Treinen will mix into that in some way, but your best bet is leaving the Nats’ bullpen alone until Glover returns – which should be soon.
Someway, somehow, Fernando Rodney continues to receive save opportunities despite sporting a 10.80 ERA and 1.97 WHIP over 11.2 innings. Last night, this may have had something to do with Archie Bradley’s inability to pitch a clean ninth as he loaded the bases before Rodney came in to secure the victory.
With that being said, Arizona’s decision to leave Bradley in the bullpen has to say a lot about how they feel about Rodney closing games. Manager Torey Lovullo’s decision to go with Rodney in the ninth shows a ridiculous level of faith, but as fantasy owners know, that leash is only so long.
If Bradley continues to pile up the impressive numbers he has thus far, it shouldn’t be too much longer before we see a change in Arizona’s bullpen. Keep an eye on Rodney over the next couple of weeks as Arizona is simply too good of a ball club to leave the ninth inning to chance.
The Closer Grid
The Closer Grid tells you who is getting saves, how secure they are, and who is next in line. This year we moved away from the overall rankings and have listed closers by division.
For security rankings: 1 = Rock Solid, 2 = Secure, 3= Shaky, 4 = In Danger
|Baltimore||2||Brad Brach||Darren O’Day||Mychal Givens|
|Boston||1||Craig Kimbrel||Matt Barnes||Heath Hembree|
|New York||1||Aroldis Chapman||Dellin Betances||Tyler Clippard|
|Tampa Bay||2||Alex Colome||Danny Farquhar||Chase Whitley|
|Toronto||1||Roberto Osuna||Joe Smith||Joe Biagini|
|Chicago||2||David Robertson||Tommy Kahnle||Anthony Swarzak|
|Cleveland||1||Cody Allen||Andrew Miller||Bryan Shaw|
|Detroit||2||Francisco Rodriguez||Justin Wilson||Alex Wilson|
|Kansas City||2||Kelvin Herrera||Joakim Soria||Peter Moylan|
|Minnesota||2||Brandon Kintzler||Matt Belisle||Taylor Rogers|
|Houston||2||Ken Giles||Chris Devenski||Luke Gregerson|
|Los Angeles||4||Bud Norris||Blake Parker||David Hernandez|
|Oakland||3||Santiago Casilla||Ryan Madson||Ryan Dull|
|Seattle||1||Edwin Diaz||Dan Altavilla||Marc Rzepczynski|
|Texas||3||Matt Bush||Jeremy Jeffress||Keone Kela|
|Atlanta||2||Jim Johnson||Arodys Vizcaino||Jose Ramirez|
|Miami||2||A.J. Ramos||Brad Ziegler||Kyle Barraclough|
|New York||1||Jeurys Familia||Addison Reed||Hansel Robles|
|Philadelphia||4||Hector Neris||Joaquin Benoit||Edubray Ramos|
|Washington||4||Matt Albers||Blake Treinen||Enny Romero|
|Chicago||1||Wade Davis||Hector Rondon||Koji Uehara|
|Cincinnati||3||Raisel Iglesias||Drew Storen||Michael Lorenzen|
|Milwaukee||3||Neftali Feliz||Corey Knebel||Jacob Barnes|
|Pittsburgh||2||Tony Watson||Felipe Rivero||Daniel Hudson|
|St. Louis||2||Seung Hwan Oh||Trevor Rosenthal||Matt Bowman|
|Arizona||3||Fernando Rodney||Archie Bradley||J.J. Hoover|
|Colorado||1||Greg Holland||Adam Ottavino||Mike Dunn|
|Los Angeles||1||Kenley Jansen||Pedro Baez||Josh Fields|
|San Diego||3||Brandon Mauer||Ryan Buchter||Brad Hand|
|San Francisco||1||Mark Melancon||Hunter Strickland||Derek Law|
SP eligible relievers that should be on your radar
Mike Clevinger: Indians – Clevinger had mixed results during his rookie campaign last year with the Indians, going 3-3 with a 5.26 ERA. With ace Corey Kluber going on the DL earlier this week, Clevinger will come up from Triple-A to take Kluber’s spot in the rotation.
While Clevinger has far more appeal in deeper leagues, he is RP eligible. It’s always nice to get SP numbers out of your RP slot, especially when your squads closer options aren’t that great. He’s scheduled to start Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Royals which, if anything, provides an appealing matchup for Clevinger’s first start of the season.
Matt Andriese: Rays – Andriese pitched seven scoreless against the Marlins on Friday for his second consecutive seven inning start. Quietly, Andriese has been fairly consistent this year posting a 3.09 ERA in 35 innings. With the volatile world that has been pitching this season, Andriese represents a decent option that’s still out there in a lot of leagues.
A lot of his value comes from being RP eligible, which is always nice in head-to-head leagues with daily lineups. He’ll make his next start against the Royals on Tuesday, a favorable matchup to say the least.
Trevor Cahill: Padres – Cahill quickly made up for his five-run start against the Diamondbacks after going six scoreless Tuesday against the Rockies. Also RP eligible, Cahill has decent upside when it comes to strikeouts as his 11.1 K/9 will attest to. His 3.60 ERA and 1.17 WHIP are actually not bad through 30 innings either.
While Cahill is more of a deep-league option right now, he’s a few starts away from being a viable option in all leagues if he can keep his current pace up.
Jacob Tuner: Nationals – Turner, who has made one start earlier this year, is expected to take Joe Ross’ spot in the rotation after Ross was demoted. He backed up the Nationals’ decision after going four innings out of the bullpen on Wednesday, only giving up two hits.
Tuner isn’t a high ceiling guy by any means, but his RP eligibility makes him an interesting streaming option depending on the matchup. He’s slightly more appealing in points leagues where Washington’s high powered offense has a chance to earn him a win more often than not.
Michael Lorenzen: Reds – OK, Lorenzen isn’t a SP eligible reliever, but he still deserves a few words.
Lorenzen has been eating up innings out of the Reds’ bullpen thus far and has fairly deceiving numbers. Although he currently owns a 4.15 ERA, seven of the eight runs given up have come from bad outings against the Brewers and Cubs. His 9.4 K/9 and 1.17 WHIP make him serviceable in leagues that require holds or RP slots in general.
The Reds don’t hesitate to use Lorenzen in high leverage situations either, as he has aggregated two wins, two holds and a save through 15.1 innings. If anything were to happen to Raisel Iglesias, Lorenzen would be in competition with Drew Storen for save chances.
Visit Fantasy Rundown for additional closer news and rankings.