Fantasy Baseball

Week 11 Closer Report

Things seemed to have settled in the closer world.  There are still some shaky options at the bottom and potential controversies brewing elsewhere, but nobody has done anything this week to warrant a change.  As of today, what you see above is what you get, at least for another week.  If you’re more interested in starting pitchers, be sure to check out Rob Adams week 11 streaming options as well as Tommy Landseadel’s 2-start pitchers.

Closer Notes:

With 4 straight saves over the past 10 days, Cody Allen is now the man in Cleveland.  Ahhh, Not so fast.  Apparently Terry Francona doesn’t know a good thing when he sees it.  Francona stated that the long-term goal is to work John Axford back into the role.  For crying out loud……WHY!  Most people can admit when they made a mistake, they correct their mistake and move on.  Signing Axford was a mistake, putting Allen in at closer fixes that.  So why, for the love of god would you put Axford back in at closer?  It’s not going to happen overnight, but the 50 or so percent of you who now own Allen, just be prepared.  Granted Francona could come to his senses, but in case he doesn’t, you might want to start shopping Allen now so at least you’ll get something above waiver wire value in return.

Let me squash the Joe Nathan rants and rumors out there.  Yes he has been horrible the past two weeks and fantasy owners and experts are calling for Joba Chamberlain.  This is not going to happen.  How short memories are, or have you all forgotten that from April 12th to May 16, Nathan allowed only 1 earned run over 13 innings collecting 10 saves.  Joba Chamberlain has pitched well and is next in line should Nathan get injured, but until then occasional fill in work is all he’s going to get.  The Tigers are on the hook for 19 million dollars over the next 2 years and they aren’t paying Nathan that much money to set up Champerlain.

Nathan has had a bad few weeks, but he should come around (unless he’s hiding an injury).  I recommended Nathan as a buy low candidate last week, and I’m sticking with that.  He’s no longer an elite option, but he should finish somewhere in the 11-16 range.

Sergio Romo on the other hand is in the last year of his contract making 5.5 million.  Romo had a great April, but in May he had an ERA of 4.63 with 2 blown saves.  He did save 10 games over that time, but with the Giants sitting on top of the NL West, any further hiccups could be his demise.  I’m sure you read plenty in the off-season about Romo’s diminishing stuff and potential for regression.  Romo isn’t going to fall apart overnight, but I wouldn’t expect more than the 3.38 ERA he’s sporting now for the remainder of the season.  In the meantime, keep an eye on Jean Machi.

Ronald Belisario picked up a couple saves this week, but I can’t in good conscience recommend picking him up (and refuse to put his name in bold print).  Maybe this will work out and I’m wrong…how important are those few saves worth to you to find out.

Jim Johnson is owned in 43% of Yahoo and 28% of CBS leagues.  I just don’t get it…That’s all I have to say on the subject.


Relief Pitchers:

For weeks I’ve been pimping out Wade Davis trying to get his ownership up to a respectable level.  This got me thinking of what other relievers are out there with a high K/9 and good ratios that could help your fantasy team.  So I headed over to Fangraphs and went through their leader board and found several other non closing relief pitchers that could make interesting additions if available.  If you have some questionable closers (or no closers), there are the guys you want, not those RP eligible starting pitchers who will kill your ratios.

Dellin Betances: Of all the players on this list, Betances has the most value.  Not just because he has the highest K/9, but because he’s the only player on this list with over 30 innings (36).

36 3 61 15.25 1.50 0.75 0.88 1.06 1.00

Betances should be owned in all leagues (including 10 team leagues).  He’s owned in 42% of CBS and 36% of Yahoo leagues so the word is out, but he is still available for more than half of you.

Wade Davis: I’ve said enough about Davis over the past few weeks and I’m not going to beat a dead horse, but a quick recap for those who are new here.

27 5 44 14.49 1.32 0.77 1.17 1.94 1.58

Can you imagine a lineup with both Betances & Davis?

Andrew Miller: I mentioned Miller last week as he’s been setting up in Boston, but never really looked at his numbers until I saw his strikeout rate.

24.2 2 39 14.23 2.55 1.01 1.41 1.79 1.53

The ERA is up a little but better than average for a relief pitcher, and the rest of his numbers are very close to Davis above.  Unlike Davis, Miller is available in over 95% of CBS and Yahoo leagues.

Zach Duke: Duke wasn’t anything special as a starting pitcher, but as a relief pitcher…..

24 3 32 12.00 1.50 1.08 1.57 1.63 1.55

With a 55% ground ball rate, a FB% under 20, 1.88 BB/9 and only one home run allowed for the season, Duke seems to have found his calling.

Will Smith:The fresh prince moved to Milwaukee and has been getting jiggy with it.

27.2 0 36 11.71 0.98 1.23 1.99 2.80 2.53

His xFIP & SIERA suggest a correction is coming with his ERA.  Smith had a problem with walks in April but has only issued 4 free passes from May onward.  With 3 earned runs all season (2 of them this week), Smith is a virtual lock to help your ERA & WHIP on a weekly basis (and he’ll throw in a few K’s).

Tyler Clippard: Of all the players listed here, Clippard is the most dependable.

26.1 4 34 11.62 1.37 1.14 3.07 3.63 2.99

A correction may be coming for Clippard as well, but considering he’s played below his xFIP & SIERA in the past I wouldn’t worry about it. His ERA may not always be consistent, but the rest of his numbers are.

Aaron Barrett: The name may be new to you, so let me introduce you to the young National

2013 AA 50.1 1 69 12.34 2.15 1.09 1.99
2014 ML 20.2 2 26 11.32 0.87 1.31 2.15

With the exception of the high walk rate, Barrett is doing everything he did in the minors to earn his job.  He posted an 11.90 K/9 in the minors so the K’s are real.  It’s hard to say what the future will hold, but for this year he seems to be dialed in.

Tony Watson: Watson has made slow and steady progress since debuting with the Pirates in 2011 and this year is coming into his own.

28 5 35 11.25 0.96 1.07 2.11 2.58 2.21

Watson relies on his 93.5 MPH sinker over 60% of the time, mixing in his changeup and occasional fastball.  As a lefty you would think his innings would be limited, but he surpassed 70 last year and is on pace to top that in 2014.  He’s only given up 3 runs this year, all of them before April 23rd.  He’s also vultured 5 wins this season and while wins are predictable with relievers, it’s still nice to see.

Brett Cecil ranks in the top 10 for K/9 (13.30), but with 14 walks in 22 innings, a 1.57 WHIP and a 3.63 ERA, he’s not someone to roster right now.  Looking at last years numbers and the improvements he’s made in the past month though, he’s someone to monitor for the second half.

In case you were curious, here are the top 10 closers in the K/9 category:

  1. Craig Kimbrel 15.78
  2. David Robertson15.43
  3. Kenley Jansen 15.12
  4. Greg Holland 14.07
  5. Sean Doolittle 13.03
  6. Koji Uehara 12.62
  7. Joakim Soria 12.27
  8. Glen Perkins 11.96
  9. Trevor Rosenthal 11.44
  10. Fernando Rodney 11.12

Seven out of the ten were the top 10 closers taken off the board in this years draft.  Those that doubted Robertson coming into this year are probably kicking themselves right about now.  Fernando Rodney surprised me but he did have an 11.07 K/9 last season, I’ve just never been a Rodney fan so I’ve overlooked him in the past.  Joakim Soria is pitching like it’s 2009, that’s the last time he had a K/9 this high (11.72 K/9).  All of the closers are at or above where they should be with the exception of Trevor Rosenthal who is down from last season (12.90 K/9).


Below are my current closer rankings and the (alleged) player next in line for save opportunities.  A number of the higher ranked closers will need an injury (or Tanya Harding incident) to remove them from their current role, while some of the lower ranked closers will probably put themselves out of work by their own doing.

Job security (1 = All Clear, 2 = solid ground, 3 = shaky ground, 4 = rocky ground, 5 = Avalanche…RUN

  Closer Security Team Next in Line
1 Craig Kimbrel 1 Braves David Carpenter
2 Greg Holland 1 Royals Wade Davis
3 Koji Uehara 1 RedSox Andrew Miller
4 Aroldis Chapman 1 Reds Jonathan Broxton
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
10 Trevor Rosenthal 1 Cardinals Jason Motte
11 Rafael Soriano  1 Nationals Tyler Clippard
12 Casey Janssen 2 Blue Jays Brett Cecil
13 Sergio Romo 2 Giants Jean Machi
14 Joakim Soria  2 Rangers Jason Frasor
15 Joe Nathan 1.5 Tigers Joba Chamberlain
16 Jonathan Papelbon  1 Phillies Antonio Bastardo
17 Steve Cishek 1 Marlins A.J. Ramos / Mike Dunn
18 Jason Grilli 2 Pirates Mark Melancon
19 Sean Doolittle 2 Athletics Luke Gregerson
20 Fernando Rodney  2 Mariners Danny Farquhar
21 Addison Reed 2 Diamondbacks Brad Ziegler
22 Hector Rondon  2.5 Cubs Neil Ramirez
23 Jenrry Mejia 3 Mets Jeurys Familia / Vic Black
24 Zach Britton 3 Orioles Darren O’Day
25 Cody Allen 3.5 Indians Bryan Shaw
26 LaTroy Hawkins  3 Rockies Adam Ottavino
27 Ernesto Frieri 3.5 Angels Joe Smith
28 Chad Qualls 3 Astros Kyle Farnsworth
29 Ronald Belisario 5 White Sox Zach Putnam
30 Grant Balfour 4 Rays Jake McGee
Potential Closers on the DL: Nate Jones (White Sox), Jesse Crain (Astros)     

Rankings are bases upon the last 30 days, overall production and past years performance.

By Jim Finch

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 replies on “Week 11 Closer Report”

Hey Jim, with Maddon stating he’s going with a closer by committee this morning, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on McGee versus Peralta. You have McGee next in line and McGee has been the hot add this morning, but I am leaning towards Joel Peralta as the better waiver wire add. Since May 10, Peralta has a 1.29 ERA over 14 appearances with an 11.57 K/9 and a 2.57 BB/9. He’s also been Balfour’s primary set-up man pitching almost exclusively in the eighth and ninth innings (in June he’s made four appearances in the eighth inning and just one in the seventh). McGee’s been pitching an inning before Peralta (he pitched in the 6th inning Thursday and the seventh inning on Friday and Sunday) and managers don’t typically like using left-handers as closers.

I feel like I’m the only guy adding Peralta in Yahoo! Leagues, but I feel like he’s going to get the first crack at it and could hold the job down. Now that it’s time to actually make a move, how confident are you that McGee is the best add? Am I missing something here?

Conventional wisdom says Peralta should be the next guy in line because he’s a right hander as opposed to McGee who is a lefty. Looking over in Baltimore, Zach Britton, a lefty who was the 7th inning guy took the closer job over the much anticipated righty Darren O’Day who was the popular add at the time.

Then there is the Cleveland situation where Cody Allen was the popular choice and add to replace John Axford. Sadly it was Bryan Shaw who was given first crack at closing and it wasn’t until weeks later that Allen was given the job, even though it sounds like a temporary one at that.

Jumping over to the Yankees, Adam Warren is the obvious choice as the new closer should something happen to David Robertson, but several weeks ago the Yanks have stated that they would have no problem using Dellin Betances as the closer should something happen.

I had Peralta as the next in line guy in the past, but after what happened in Baltimore and Cleveland, and given recent statements from the Yankees, it got me thinking. Cleveland has been using Peralta in the 8th and seem to be happy with this. If they weren’t they would have moved McGee there a while ago but did not. Since McGee has been lights out this year with only 3 earned runs, it makes sense that Cleveland leave their eighty inning man where he is and move McGee to the ninth as to not reshuffle the entire deck.

I can see the logic in this and see more teams doing this so I’ve started rethinking my next in line guys and have changed a few of them recently, McGee being one of them. Granted when it comes to what a manager will do, it’s all speculation on my part and everyone else doing rankings on who will be there. It’s a crap shoot, but in this case I would stick with McGee as the man to take the closer job.

Detroit is another team this is in the situation that Cleveland was in and Tampa is currently facing. Everyone is looking to Joba Chamberlain as the next in line guy, but I’m starting to think that if a move does take place, it will be Al Alburquerque who gets the call and not Joba.

The set up man in the past was the obvious choice to grab if the closer was on shaky ground, but this year it seems that if the club has several good options available they are leaving their 8th inning guy where he is and going with the other choice. That is unless their 8th inning guy has already established himself as someone you can lean on like Melancon in Pittsburg or Benoit in San Diego.

So to answer your question, I’d still go with McGee, but just like Cody Allen in Cleveland, it might just be a short term add or could turn into a full blown committee until Axford is deemed fit to return to his duties.

Comments are closed.