The Closer: Down to the Wire

The Closer Logo 1Good day everyone. For those of you still alive in your fantasy baseball leagues, this is the most exciting and frustrating time of the year. Exciting if you are in contention for your league titles, but oh so frustrating if you are desperately trying to pick up a few points to put you over the top. The player who buoyed your hopes throughout the year suddenly drops an 0 for 7 on you at an inopportune time. (Thank you, Carlos Gonzalez!) and that is enough to cost you a point in a tight batting average race. And try as you might to forget those awful outings by Luis Severino and Alex Wood (and they did their best by rebounding this week), those starts are on your team’s ledger and made a visible impact on your ratios even at this late date. You will need some more solid starts to get back to where you were.

And that’s just talking about the less volatile categories. What about saves and steals and the like? If you are a Xander Bogaerts owner, how thrilled you must be that he’s suddenly decided to up his steal total now that September has come around. But what if Xander is on the team that’s right behind you in steals; you are cursing his name if you are able to pronounce it.

If the importance of events is magnified in your roto leagues, what about those of you in head-to-head leagues? If you were in the playoffs last week and had Alex Wood on your team then you don’t get to read this column anymore, but chances are if you carried Alex Wood for this long you didn’t qualify for the playoffs anyway. Let’s treat it as a Mad Lib. I know there are a lot of you who went into your head-to-head playoff in first place who are now trying to get amped up for week 2 of the NFL season. Head-to-head playoffs are patently unfair, and you might have gotten beat by a bum on a hot streak – or maybe that bum on a hot streak is you. Either way, even if you like H2H leauges (and I do), let’s agree that this format is kind of unfair.

So here’s a little more unfairness for you: If you are in a head-to-head matchup right now fighting for a championship or to go onto that final round – I got nothing for ya. That’s not just because I’m the reliever guy, but I’ll put it to you this way: If you are carrying Bruce Rondon or Robbie Ross I bet you are gone from your playoffs. Long long long long gone. But if you are in a roto league battle (or are a really lucky head-to-head guy carrying a few bums), read on.

They say the devil is in the details. What does that make the fight for roto league championships? Let’s give the devil his due and find a couple of sneaky pickups who might give you a little of this and a little of that; not too much, but just enough to give you what you need: those precious points that pave the road to a yoo-hoo shower.

Joe Smith – Wise guys have ben betting against Huston Street’s health for many, many years. You’d be pegged a fool for doing so of late, but recently Street can down with the flu and Smith grabbed a save. The flu is a short-term issue we assume; it’s not like a wonky elbow or an intercostal, but nevertheless if Smith is out there he is worth a grab. We’ve seen how even a reliable starter can hurt you when you need it least; Smith is not likely to do this sort of damage. He will continue to be used in high-leverage situations (he’s gone in holds leagues I assume), and could sneak in a win here or there. And Street is always a candidate to miss a game here or there. If that happens Smith is the guy who will get the save you need.

Brett Cecil – I was pretty high in Cecil coming into the season, and while I was off the mark the guy got a raw deal. I may be a little off on the details, but if memory serves he came in with a one-run lead against the Yankees with the bases loaded and no one out. He lost the lead and then lost his job just like that. Miguel Castro replaced him but faltered and eventually gave way to Cecil again, but Toronto was either blowing guys out or losing so Cecil didn’t get many chances. When they finally came he was inconsistent, which led to him getting yanked again for Roberto Osuna. This time it stuck and things have been quiet regarding Cecil ever since. Also quiet: batters facing Cecil. He hasn’t allowed a run in weeks. And while he’s been yanked around all-season, he’s pitching in important spots now. Osuna has been solid, but Cecil has been the Jays best reliever for some time. I’m taking him ahead of teammate Aaron Sanchez in hold leagues, and with each lefty retired he will nudge your ERA and WHIP closer to the top of the pack.

Addison Reed – I don’t think there is a player search feature on this site. (Editor Jim, if there is, please don’t tell them about it here. Because…) If there was one (Editors Response – there is one on the front page) and you searched for Addison Reed, you’d find nothing but me gushing for the guy, claims that he was undervalued, nothing but the power of positivity. As soon as the season started, there was nothing to be positive about. He got crushed repeatedly, lost his role and was sent to the minors. However since his return he’s been a different guy with improved mechanics. The Mets were paying attention and acquired him; he has remained filthy. He has picked up 3 holds and even a save since the trade. You might see a few more saves from Reed; Juerys Familia has been excellent, but he has worked hard this year so they may rest him for his playoff run. This might be a sneaky pick up for you.

The Closer LogoThe Closer Grid

I think we are looking at the last grid of the year. Don’t forget to read the news an notes. 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.

  Team Security Closer Set Up Lurker
1 Reds 1 Aroldis Chapman J.J. Hoover Ryan Mattheus
2 Dodgers 1 Kenley Jansen Jim Johnson Pedro Baez
3 Padres 1 Craig Kimbrel Joaquin Benoit Shawn Kelley
4 Yankees 1 Andrew Miller Dellin Betances Justin Wilson
5 Mets 1 Jeurys Familia Tyler Clippard Addison Reed
6 Phillies 1 Ken Giles Luis Garcia Jeanmar Gomez
7 White Sox 1 David Robertson Nate Jones Jacob Petricka
8 Orioles 1 Zach Britton Darren O’Day Brad Brach
9 Nationals 1 Jonathan Papelbon Casey Janssen Matt Thornton
10 Pirates 1 Mark Melancon Joakim Soria Tony Watson
11 Angels 1 Huston Street Joe Smith Fernando Salas
12 Cardinals 1 Trevor Rosenthal Kevin Siegrist Steve Cishek
13 Brewers 1 Francisco Rodriguez Will Smith Jeremy Jeffress
14 Astros 1 Luke Gregerson Pat Neshek Chad Qualls
15 Rangers 1 Shawn Tolleson Sam Dyson Jake Diekman
16 Blue Jays 1 Roberto Osuna Aaron Sanchez LaTroy Hawkins
17 Indians 2 Cody Allen Bryan Shaw Zach McAllister
18 Cubs 2 Hector Rendon Pedro Strop Justin Grimm
19 Marlins 2 A. J. Ramos Mike Dunn Carter Capps-(DL)
20 Giants 3 Santiago Casilla Sergio Romo Hunter Strickland
21 Royals 3 Greg Holland Wade Davis Kelvin Herrera
22 Rays 3 Brad Boxberger Brandon Gomes Jake McGee-(DL)
23 Mariners 3 Tom Wilhelmsen Carson Smith Logan Kensing
24 Dbacks 3 Brad Ziegler Daniel Hudson David Hernandez
25 Athletics 3 Sean Doolittle Drew Pomeranz Fernando Rodriguez
26 Braves 3 Arodys Vizcaino Brandon Cunniff Alejandro Pena
27 Twins 4 Kevin Jepsen Glen Perkins Trevor May
28 Rockies 4 John Axford Jairo Diaz Christian Friedrich
29 Tigers 4 Bruce Rondon Alex Wilson Al Alburquerque
30 Red Sox 4 Robbie Ross Jean Machi Junichi Tazawa

News and Notes

In each of his last two outings, David Robertson has given up the lead in horrendous fashion. Maybe he’s tiring, hiding a minor injury or there are mechanical issue; the point is he is struggling. There’s no turning back from here, but I could see fantasy owners giving him a rest on their bench no matter what the White Sox do. Robertson is still a top-7 or so option for 2016.

As an Arodys Vizcaino owner, I wish I had him on the bench last weekend as he had a couple of awful showings. It seems he turned it around picking up the win against Toronto, and Atlanta’s lack of options didn’t put his job in danger. Nevertheless, he has yet to pick up a save this month so I’m dubious about how much of a help he will be going forward.

Luke Gregerson left the Astros to be with his wife for the birth of his child. The Astros didn’t really miss him as the Rangers handed Houston their lunch for four games. Pat Neshek has been effective and Chad Qualls has closing experience so one of them might grab a save before Gregerson is back. It’s really a coin flip, but mine came up Neshek.

Kevin Jepsen had a misstep and Glen Perkins is rumored to be back this weekend. I still think Jepsen gets most if not all of the saves for the Twins from here on out.


Fantasy Rundown BannerNeed more closer news, waiver wire picks, 2-start pitchers, prospects and general fantasy baseball goodness, head on over to Fantasy Rundown.

Michael Zakhar

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Michael lives in New Jersey with his beautiful wife Virginia and his adorable son Johnny. We enjoy going to see the Lakewood BlueClaws, who play 20 minutes from home. In addition to baseball, Mike loves reading, music and professional wrestling.

3 thoughts on “The Closer: Down to the Wire”

    1. I’m assuming Michael missed the news of Storen breaking his thumb last week; the Nationals have been updated. Sorry about that.

      As for Alex Colome, you can definitely make a strong case for him being there over McGee, but McGee will be back Sunday and it’s hard to argue what he’s done and is capable of doing. If anything, I might slide Brandon Gomes out as he will most likely be third in the pecking order between the 3 relievers.

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