Good day everyone, and welcome to the Closer. I’m sure many of you have heard about, nay lived through, the Dog Days of August during this season and in seasons past. If that is our nickname for August, what do we say about baseball in September? Many of the teams you follow, whether we are talking about the Boston Red Sox or When Puigs Fly, have been out of contention for some time. Others are comfortably in the lead; in reality that means you will be watching as many September call-ups as studs. In fantasy that means you are like the boss Paul Hartman and have been sitting on a 20 point lead for an eternity. So unless you are in a tight race in your head to head league, you have little incentive to read this column or even watch baseball.
Yet here you are. And why is that? Because you are a baseball fan! You are still paying close attention to what is happening in the best game around. And baseball is the best game around, even in September.
Watching football is a slog. You hear baseball is boring, but a football game is just as long and only contains 11 minutes of actual action. Football fans complain that baseball is too long, but it is shorter than pregame programing on ESPN.
A baseball fan would mock a friend who cites the importance of wins or said on base percentage didn’t matter. You cite statistics as you argue over all-time greats because it has meaning and matters to you. Meanwhile, football players, officials, and fans will endlessly debate the placement or a ball near the first-down marker, as if the placement is not almost entirely arbitrary, as if we can make an informed decision from watching on TV.
So there is no Bill James in football, much less a Roger Angell. Instead of advanced statistical analysis or moving prose, we instead hear phrases like “in this league” to add an unwarranted sense of gravitas. The drama and importance of baseball is not manufactured.
My controversial view: Most football fans are not football fans. They are chicken wing fans.They are drinking fans. They are gambling fans. Now, I like all of these things too, but if I ate chicken wings, drank beer, and gambled while I hung out with my friends and Nancy Kerrigan happened to be on the screen, that wouldn’t make me a huge figure skating fan – even if my friends and I screamed “OOOHHHH!!” every time she landed a triple lutz or tripped herself up in the attempt.
So this Sunday at 1:00 I will not be at a bar watching whoever the local football team is. I will be watching baseball at home this Sunday, and the Sunday after that, and the Sunday after that, and God willing the Sunday after that.
In the meantime, enjoy all the great fantasy football coverage here at the assembly. If you are reading this and are a football fan, I wasn’t talking about you! To each his own.
Think there was a shortage of closer news this week?
So I mentioned last week that there was “Chaos in Closerland.” Some of these situations have stabilized while others have changed since last week.
Since last week Sean Doolittle has regained velocity, pitched back-to-back games, and has begun picking up saves in Oakland. He may provide owners with a boost down the stretch after all. Go get him!
Greg Holland has pitched in back-to-back games as well, and while these outings were clean, Holland was not in peak form. The strikeouts were not there and neither was the velocity, . . . at least the saves were there. Sit tight Holland owners, I’ve said Yost is loyal to his guys so you may at least get some saves.
Robbie Ross is apparently closing in Boston after the Jean Machi experiment has seemingly come to an end. I would not rush out to get Ross; the whole situation is to be avoided if at all possible.
Glen Perkins is recovering slowly from his assortment of injuries so I am placing Kevin Jepsen on top of the heap for the Twins. I’m unsure whether Perkins will get another save, so if for instance someone like Doolittle is out there, make the move. If there isn’t a good saves possibility, then get a rabbit, a spot starter, someone who can help you. We are down to the wire and we need to do whatever we can to get points in the standings. As far as Jepsen goes, Fangraphs has pointed out that he has out-pitched hie peripherals; at this point I don’t care, he can probably do that for another couple of weeks and he has been great lately.
The Closer Grid
Check out the news and notes after the grid as well. Closers are ranked from best to worst and we’ve included ratings for job security:
1 = solid, 2 = secure for now, 3 = shaky, and 4 = worrisome.
I had a great recommendation for you in deep NL-only league, that being Hansel Robles of the red-hot New York Mets, but unfortunately he has had a death in the family and it is unsure when he will return. So in his stead, how about Kevin Quackenbush? The name may be familiar as he picked up some saves last year for San Diego. He won’t be getting any down the stretch this year with Craig Kimbrel manning the ninth, but Quackenbush has been lights out of late and may provide ratio help and a win or two if you are lucky.
Speaking of the red-hot Mets: I am no Met lover, but I enjoyed watching Jonathan Papelbon and the National’s bullpen get lit up. Good thing they shut down Strasburg all those years ago so that we can witness this dynasty.
Mark Melancon had a bit of a rough patch this week, but the guy has given owners everything they could have wanted, especially after the tough start. I think he will be ok from here on out. If it goes on for much longer Joakim Soria is the guy to grab, but I don’t know that this is a necessity.
Need more closer news, waiver wire picks, 2-start pitchers, prospects and general fantasy baseball goodness, head on over to Fantasy Rundown.