Fantasy Baseball

The Closer: Is Rosenthal the New Rodney?

The Closer Logo 1I’m sure Trevor Rosenthal owners are not too happy that what was probably their top drafted closer has just 12 saves on the season. You know who else has 12 saves? Fernando Rodney, that’s who! It’s ironic that these two men are tied with saves, because there are a number of similarities in their career numbers.

Let’s start with the WHIP. Rosenthal’s WHP the past three seasons are 1.41, 1.27 and 1.66. Fernando Rodney’s career WHIP is 1.34, and he has finished a number of seasons with a WHIP in Rosenthal’s range. Rosenthal didn’t start his career with a high WHIP, posting a 0.93 and 1.10 his first two years. Well, Rodney has had those odd years as well where he has posted a lower than normal WHIP, but they are so few and far between we just dismiss them.

A high WHIP usually comes from a high BB/9, and Rodney has a career BB/9 of 4.37. Currently Rosenthal has a 3.90 BB/9, but it has been above 5.0 in two of the past three years so the odds are good he catches Rodney in two or three seasons.

Looking at their career batted ball data there are more similarities.

Rodney 19.5 50.4 30.1 11.7
Rosenthal 20 45.4 34.6 12.1

Rosenthal does have a lower GB% and higher FB%, but those are career numbers. If you look at Rosenthal’s last two years you’ll see the ground balls trending up while the fly ball rate is coming down. A few more years with similar trends and those numbers will be much closer.

Swing% Contact%
Rodney 43.8 74
Rosenthal 49 74.3

Both contact percentages are the same. Rosenthal has a higher swing rate, but so did Rodney early on. Eventually they started swinging less at Rodney while making similar contact, and that is what is happening to Rosenthal this year – evident by his 43.4 percent swing rate, but with the same contact% as last year.

Well at least Rosenthal has strikeouts on his side, right? Well….. I guess we can give this one to Rosenthal for now since he does have four straight seasons with a double digit K/9 while Rodney has only posted four double digit K/9 seasons over his entire career. Let’s see what happens in a few years when Rosenthal loses one or two miles per hour on that fastball.

Are you a Rosenthal owner? Did you throw up in your mouth a little while reading this? It’s OK if you did; I had a similar reaction when comparing the numbers. I’ve never been a big Rosenthal fan, and after looking at these two careers side by side I’m not sure I’ll ever be one. I’m glad I own zero stock in him this season, and I can virtually guarantee I will not own him in any future leagues.


Jonathan Papelbon was placed on the DL yesterday with a right intercostal strain. Depending on the severity, Papelbon could be out for as little as three weeks or as much as eight weeks. As much as some of you may loathe the man, he was ranked in the top 12 for saves this season with 16, though his ratios and low strikeout total will not be missed.

Shawn Kelley is slated to step into the closer role in his absence and is an immediate add in fantasy leagues. Kelly’s ratios are much better than Papelbon, he is getting more strikeouts (a big plus), and best of all – there really isn’t anyone else that stands out in the Nationals bullpen right now so his job should be fairly secure until Papelbon gets back. Felipe Rivero could swipe the occasional save chance, and either Blake Treinen or Matt Belisle could see their late inning role expand if you’re speculating on holds.


Jake McGee blew the save, and then blew his knee out. OK, not really, but the inflammation was enough to land him on the DL. There was debate on who would take the closer role, but unlike other closer controversies this was settled quickly. Carlos Estevez will serve as the team’s closer, but I would not rule out the possibility of Jason Motte sneaking an occasional save and possibly stealing the job away.

Estevez may be the closer, but I’m not sure I would roster him if you are worried about your ratios. He currently has a 4.43 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. The WHIP is surprisingly low considering the 4.43 BB/9 – coincidentally equal to his ERA. He counters the walks with a low H/9 (6.64) along with a high K/9 (9.74). The low hits are nice, but when you factor in a 46 percent fly ball ratio and 36 percent hard hit rate – let’s just say you’ll be holding your breath every time a bat connects. I’m secretly pulling for a few blowups as I think Motte is better suited for the role.


Last week Paul Molitor removed Kevin Jepsen from the closer role, but what he announced afterwards was not what fantasy owners wanted to hear. Molitor stated that he would be going with a committie of Fernando Abad and Brandon Kintzler at closer.

Kintzler received the first save opportunity, but Abad has been the better pitcher and probably the one fantasy owners should roster if you’re speculating on saves. This season Abad has a 0.79 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and 22 strikeouts over 22.2 innings. He has a 53.6 percent ground ball rate, a fly ball percentage under 20, and a hard contact percentage of 24.6 – all numbers you like to see. Pick up Abad if he’s available. At the very least he’ll help your ratios.


It appear Cincinnati has settled on Tony Cingrani as their closer, with Ross Ohlendorf and Blake Wood splitting time in setup duty. While Cingrani has nailed down his last two save chances, he hasn’t exactly been dominant and has just one strikeout this month over 7.1 innings. Wood and Ohlendorf haven’t been much better so neither pitcher poses much of a threat. If you are desperate for saves then maybe pick up Cingrani. Personally I’d rather roster a high strikeout middle reliever with good ratios than roll the dice on Cingrani – but that’s me.


When a manager says “Get him in fantasy baseball and see what happens”, that’s as good as an official endorsement. Will Harris is now the closer for Houston with Luke Gregerson now the setup man. It’s about time really. Just like a prospect mashing away in Triple-A with nothing left to prove, Harris went out there night after night and flat-out dominated. We should have seen it coming as Harris was terrific last season as well, post a 1.90 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. Gregerson should transition comfortably back to the eighth inning considering he spent most of his career there – successfully too I might add.

So what does this mean for poor Ken Giles? I guess Giles will have to learn to be happy playing second fiddle to Gregerson. Oh, wait a minute; Pat Neshek has been pitching in the seventh lately. That means Giles is even further down in the pecking order. Maybe it’s for the best; give him a bunch of innings in low pressure situations and gain some confidence. Maybe next season, if he’s lucky, he can set things up for Harris.

I know this goes without saying, but Will Harris is a must own right now.

The Closer LogoThe Closer Grid

The Closer Grid tells you who is getting saves, how secure they are, and who is next in line. If you think someone was ranked higher or lower than they should be, share your thoughts in the comment section below. Win the argument – win the rank.
For security rankings: 1 = Rock Solid, 2 = Secure, 3= Shaky, 4 = In Danger

  Team Security Closer Set Up Lurker
1 Orioles 1 Zach Britton Brad Brach Mychal Givens
2 Royals 1 Wade Davis Kelvin Herrera Luke Hochever
3 Yankees 1 Aroldis Chapman Andrew Miller Dellin Betances
4 Dodgers 1 Kenley Jansen Pedro Baez Joe Blanton
5 Rays 1 Alex Colome Xavier Cedeno Erasmo Ramirez
6 Red Sox 1 Craig Kimbrel Junichi Tazawa Koji Uehara
7 Pirates 1 Mark Melancon Neftali Feliz Tony Watson
8 Mets 1 Jeurys Familia Addison Reed Jim Henderson
9 Tigers 1 K Rod Justin Wilson Shane Greene
10 Blue Jays 1 Roberto Osuna Jason Grilli Jesse Chavez
11 Indians 1 Cody Allen Bryan Shaw Dan Otero
12 White Sox 1 David Robertson Nate Jones Zach Putnam
13 Cardinals 1 Trevor Rosenthal Kevin Siegrist Seung-Hwan Oh
14 Marlins 2 AJ Ramos David Phelps Kyle Barraclough
15 Rangers 1 Sam Dyson Jake Diekman Matt Bush
16 Brewers 2 Jeremy Jeffress Tyler Thornburg Will Smith
17 Mariners 2 Steve Cishek Joaquin Benoit Nick Vincent
18 Cubs 1 Hector Rendon Pedro Strop Justin Grimm
19 Padres 1 Fernando Rodney Kevin Quackenbush Ryan Buchter
20 Astros 2 Will Harris Luke Gregerson Pat Neshek
21 Phillies 2 Jeanmar Gomez Hector Neris David Hernandez
22 Angels 2 Huston Street Fernando Salas Deolis Guerra
23 Braves 2 Arodys Vizcaino Jim Johnson Hunter Cervenka
24 Dbacks 3 Brad Ziegler Daniel Hudson Tyler Clippard
25 Giants 2 Santiago Casilla Cory Gearrin Hunter Strickland
26 Nationals 3 Shawn Kelley Felipe Rivero Blake Treinen
27 Athletics 3 Ryan Madson Sean Doolittle John Axford
28 Twins 4 Fernando Abad Brandon Kintzler Ryan Pressly
29 Reds 4 Tony Cingrani Ross Ohlendorf Blake Wood
30 Rockies 4 Carlos Estevez Jason Motte Boone Logan

You’ll notice a number of changes to the grid this week. Here are some of the most notable closer adjustments.

  • Kenley Jansen has been bumped down due to the lack of save opportunities, plus his 3.86 ERA and 1.29 WHIP over the last 30 days is much higher than several other players deserving of the top honors.
  • Zach Britton gets some much-needed attention in the top spot due to his excellence not just recently, but for the entire season.
  • Mark Melancon also moves up a few slots as he is one of the top 3 closers for saves for the season and over the past 30 days. He doesn’t get the strikeouts of the big guns, and his season ratios are a little higher, but over the past 30 days his ratios have been elite.
  • Trevor Rosenthal got dropped from 7 to 13. His 3.22 ERA and 1.66 WHIP for the season are borderline unacceptable, and a 5.06 ERA and 1.69 WHIP over the past 30 days have me questioning his job security.
  • Francisco Rodriguez moves into the top-10 as he ranks in the top-five for saves not just for the season, but over the past 14 and 30 days. Like Melancon, he doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts and his season ERA is over three, but he has been right there with the elite over the past 30 days.
  • Alex Colome should have moved up a while ago. He has nine saves and zero earned runs over the past 30 days, and his 18 saves for the season is tied with Wade Davis. His job security also moves up to one – A manager would have to be crazy to remove him from the closer role.
  • Hector Rondon deserves to move up, but his lack of saves keeps him behind players with much higher ratios.
  • Will Harris has been moved into the closer role, and even though he has been elite I hesitate to move him up too quickly. If he is still saving games in a few weeks he’ll make a big jump on the grid.


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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.