This column usually goes up on Saturday, but last week I was able to wrap up a little early so I went up on Friday, May 13th – Friday the 13th. As Wikipedia says, it is usually considered an unlucky day in Western culture. Who am I to doubt Wikipedia? Not that I was arrogant enough to think I would sway the tide, but if you were mentioned in The Closer last week you ran into some serious problems.
First of all, I talked about Trevor May. I said he was under-owned and was all set up to become the closer in Minnesota in a week or two. Kevin Jepsen had hardly been impressive; Glen Perkins was not due back any time soon, and May had been mowing down hitters for weeks. Well, the day we touted May he came in the eighth inning against the Indians and took the loss, giving up 3 runs in the process. Then a couple of days later he recorded a hold but allowed a home run to Jason Kipnis. Cry uncle all you want, May was not finished with your fantasy team’s ratios. On Tuesday he gave up 3 more runs, including 2 more home runs – one to Ian Kinsler and one to J.D. Martinez.
To sum things up: Before we wrote about May he had a 1.89 ERA and had allowed just one home run. Since then: 3 home runs, 7 earned runs, and his ERA ballooned to 4.79. All in 1.2 innings. Soooo . . . I can’t fault you for hate-dropping May if you haven’t already, but I’d be more inclined to sit him or reserve him in most leagues. May certainly had a rough stretch here, but his overall performance out of the bullpen has been strong. I expect he’ll be better soon. I’m not certain that Jepsen will ever get better, and May is still the most likely replacement this season.
We also wrote about the Houston bullpen and discussed Luke Gregerson’s struggles.He did manage to avoid the curse of the Friday the 13th Closer report and picked up another save on Wednesday, but in between he blew saves in back to back appearances. Should Gregerson continue to falter, it seems like fantasy owners think Ken Giles is going to get his job back, but I don’t see how Houston could ignore Will Harris.
I suggest fantasy owners forget about what they thought would happen in March and look at the current usage pattern, which has Harris in the eighth inning. Yet, owners are ignoring that, and also ignoring that while Giles has shown some improvements this month, he is still unreliable. If Harris were to get the job he wouldn’t have much of a leash, but he is a better bet for saves than Giles at this time.
We’ve written a lot about the Texas bullpen, and I’m just going to assume I did last week as well. Shawn Tolleson had been pitching poorly before his Friday the 13th mention, but the nail in the coffin was a grand slam to Khris Davis. Tolleson was lucky to have the job this long (K’s down, walks up, gopher prone) and could quickly fall down the depth chart if he doesn’t turn things around quickly.
Sam Dyson will take over, and while he doesn’t have an elite whiff rate he does gets tons of grounders and could hold on to the job for a while. I like Dyson, but I confess that I am rooting for a Matt Bush redemption story that ends with him in the closer’s role. It seems like everyone wrote about Bush after he plunked Jose Bautista this week, and I’m guessing most of you know his history. He was throwing gas in the spring and has looked good since arriving in the majors. He’s actually worth a stash in AL only leagues, though that may be my heart talking.
Every day is Friday the 13th for the Reds bullpen so I don’t want anyone pinning this on me. Tony Cingrani was charged with protecting a 2 run lead and gave up a home run to Rajai Davis. Ross Ohlendorf pitched a clean eighth inning and Jumbo Diaz is back from the minors. I say this every week, but it bears repeating: you don’t need saves this badly; just avoid everyone.
Steve Cishek was spared from discussion in last week’s column, but he was not spared from the pounding that was going around this week. On Friday the 13th he blew the save against the Angels. Then the next day he came in and gave up a three-run home run to Albert Pujols. Back-to-back blown saves are always cause for alarm. While Cishek has a little bit of proven closer cache to him, he lost his job last year, and it was a little bit of a surprise when the Mariners declared he’d be the closer before the season started. Joaquin Benoit was activated this week and would be next in line should Cishek continue his rough stretch.
News & Notes
Alex Colome has been rolling along. While it seems like he is going to get bumped in favor of Brad Boxberger when he returns, I wouldn’t drop Colome until Boxberger nails down a few saves without incident.
Ryan Madson was finally, officially, named Oakland’s closer, but he has held down the role quite effectively for some weeks now. I moved him up to rock solid in the grid as Sean Doolittle is no longer much of a threat. He could move up the ranks as well.
Jeremy Jeffress blew his first save this week, and Tyler Thornburg picked up the slack on Thursday to get a save while Jeffress rested. Jeffress is talented, but he is a trade candidate, so forward-thinking owners should keep Thornburg’s name in the back of their minds.
Fernando Salas picked up a couple of saves this week, but Joe Smith is still the man in Anaheim while Huston Street is out. Smith had been pitching a lot, which gave Salas those opportunities.
I have a really unscientific comment in my mind, but I am going to make it. It seems those closers that come out of nowhere to make the waiver wire all-star team are in danger to go back into obscurity quickly. Think about that before you hang on to Jeanmar Gomez in a keeper league.
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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