2013 Fantasy Baseball: The Week 13 Closer Report
The Seattle Mariners’ bullpen continues to intrigue, the Boston Red Sox bullpen continues to confuse and could we see a reunion in Beantown to solve those woes and the Papa Grande era in Detroit is over (or at least on indefinite hold).
I covered the Mariners’ pen last week, but had very little data to go on. As we near the end of another week, a couple of more data points have shown up and they lead more to a committee than a defined closer at this point.
Oliver Perez picked up the first save and as I noted last week, he’s been far more effective against righties than lefties (in small samples) in both 2012 and 2013. However, he pitched the seventh inning on Tuesday night and it looks like he’ll only be a part of the committee. And it looks like the Mariners will be a committee so invest wisely. Perez would garner my highest FAAB bid if I had to choose. This isn’t going to be a situation where one player emerges in my opinion. We will likely see many guys get chances. Such as…
Yoervis Medina (who?) picked up the save Tuesday night and Eric Wedge said he was saving Medina for the save opportunity. Curious indeed. Medina has been in the Mariners’ system for eight seasons since signing as a 16 year old. He’s has solid stuff in the minors, but struggled with control (and he walked in the winning run against the Angels this week). He’s not been molded as a “closer of the future” in the system. He probably has a chance to run with the job, but I don’t give him much of a chance. Though, I do hope this is his entrance song.
Tom Wilhelmsen came in to a one run game in the eighth inning on Tuesday night and promptly gave up a game-tying home run to Albert Pujols. There is no shame in giving up a dinger to Pujols, but it was Eric Wedge’s use of Wilhelmsen in that situation was peculiar. Usually, struggling relievers will be given a chance to work things out in lower leverage situations before being thrown back into the fire. This outing likely pushes Wilhelmsen’s return to the closer’s role further down the road if he can get back on track.
Carter Capps took five days off and then pitched in back to back games giving up six runs in an inning and two thirds. He’s likely moved to the back of the bus. The cool kids are there, but there aren’t any save opportunities.
Boston Red Sox
Andrew Bailey was still the closer according to manager John Farrell early in the week. However, it looks like his hold was tenuous at best. Then, he blew another save on Thursday night and he’s out as closer. Since returning from the DL, Bailey is 2-1 with a 7.20 ERA and three saves in six chances. Opponents have a 1.159 OPS against him in 10 innings. He’s give up five home runs during that time and in his last converted save opportunity gave up two runs against the Baltimore Orioles. Luckily, the Red Sox were up by three at the time.
Koji Uehara is the play with Bailey off to find himself in the wilderness of lost closers. It’s a little bit of a surprise to see Uehara in this role now. Not that Uehara isn’t equipped – he’s a fantastic reliever who has always shown the stuff to excel in high leverage situations. However, when Bailey hit the DL earlier in the season, John Farrell said he wanted to keep Uehara in his role as a setup man.
Junichi Tazawa looks like he will stay in a setup role, but I could still see him getting a chance to close at some point.
Andrew Miller was warming in the pen when Bailey blew his last save. I could see him getting some matchup saves as a lefthander, but that’s about it.
Do you want a dark horse? How about Jonathan Papelbon? Yes, the same Papelbon who left the Sox to sign with the Phillies. The Phils are going nowhere this season and I’m sure they’d like to rid themselves of the rest of Papelbon’s contract (two years, $26M plus a vesting option of $13M for 2016). If they don’t pick up any of the contract, the Red Sox wouldn’t need to give them much. It’s not clear that the Red Sox would want to tie up that much money in a closer that the chose not to re-sign because his contract was out of line with their value for him.
Sayonara Jose Valverde. It was nice having you around while you were around. I was mesmerized by his wicked ways and thought he could succeed. Clearly, he did not as he was designated for assignment this week. The Tigers hope he stays in the organization to work on this stuff, but I could see him refusing and retiring. So, where do we go from here? We’ve tilled this ground so many times I’m not going to go into too much depth. Leyland wants one guy to close. He wants that guy to be a veteran, not some rookie. He probably doesn’t care if he’s left handed or right handed.
Joaquin Benoit will be the first man up. He got this ringing endorsement from Jim Leyland. Benoit has struggled to pitch on back to back days and he’s always seemed comfortable in the setup role. Benoit has the skills to succeed and I’d invest in him as the full-time closer for the Tigers.
Bruce Rondon – see “not some rookie.” He’s been fine at AAA, but his walk rate (4.0/9) is probably still a bit too high for that role.
Drew Smyly? Maybe, but he’s been quite effective as a long relieving lefty out of the pen. He could also succeed, but he’s not all that “veteran.”
Jonathan Papelbon has a much better shot of landing here than Boston in my opinion, but it is still a long shot (at least at this moment). As the season wears on, the Tigers may become desperate.
I think ultimately the Tigers go with Benoit as long as they can. If he falters, the will look outside the organization.
Ernesto Frieri continues to shine and he’d need a continued run of wildness (something he’s been able to avoid lately) to lose his gig.
Francisco Rodriguez is still at 299 saves. Jim Henderson will have to sit through at least one more save change for K-Rod to get his 300th save. Rodriguez is also a possibility to be dealt at the trading deadline as he’s shown an ability to throw strikes and close games out again.