2014 Fantasy BaseballChris Garosi

2014 Fantasy Baseball: The Week 1 Closer Report

krod land
Source: Mike McGinnis/Getty Images North America

Welcome back to The Fantasy Fix’s Closer Report for 2014. Fantasy baseball is in full swing and closers are dropping all over the league. This will probably be the longest column all year. You won’t see the 6,000 words I wrote for the Fantasy Fix Draft Kit here, but a lot has changed since then so we’ll go through all of the changes below.

Usually this column will focus on the week to week changes and news in the closer world and touch on relief pitching in general.

As always, feel free to ask a question in the comments below or shoot me a note on Twitter.

On to the initial 2014 Closer Report where we have notes on all of the teams that have seen a change since the last Draft Kit update.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks lost one of their more reliable relievers to Tommy John surgery in David Hernaddez. He is done for the year. That puts Brad Ziegler into a more prominent role in the bullpen. Addison Reed is still the closer, but he does have the established J.J. Putz right behind him should he falter in the slightest.

Baltimore Orioles

Tommy Hunter was finally name the closer, but his inability to get left handers out likely means that someone like Brian Matusz may see the odd save chance in a matchup situation. Hunter doesn’t have the strongest hold on the closer’s role, but each of his competitors have their warts as well.

Boston Red Sox

Junichi Tazawa has jumped ahead of Edward Mujica in the bullpen pecking order. However, both are strong options and should anything happen to Koji Uehara, I could see manager John Farrell moving Mujica into the role and keeping Tazawa in his familiar eighth inning role.

Chicago White Sox

Nate Jones was assumed to be the closer during the offseason. Then, Robin Ventura named veteran Matt Lindstrom on Opening Day. Now, Jones has hit the DL with a glute/hip issue and Lindstrom has looked shaky. I think Ventura will give Lindstrom a bit of a leash, but his fly ball tendencies don’t seem to fit well with US Cellular Field’s deep desire to give up home runs.

Cincinnati Reds

Woof. I’ve put Jonathan Broxton at the head of the bullpen as the reports seem to say he’ll get the role when he’s off the DL (perhaps as early as Monday).  I still think J.J. Hoover is a better option to stay healthy and get a couple of chances, but he can be dropped in shallow leagues. Sam LeCure might see a chance too, but I think this will be a mix and match pen until Aroldis Chapman returns.

Detroit Tigers

The Tigers lost young fireball Bruce Rondon to Tommy John surgery and now the bullpen looks as shaky as it did last year (save for veteran Joe Nathan anchoring it). Nathan isn’t the youngest guy out there and if he falters then the Tigers will look to walk-machine Al Albuquerque or Joba Chamberlain. Stay healthy my friend.

Houston Astros

Looks like I was wrong about Chad Qualls. He hasn’t gotten any high leverage chances yet in 2014 and Josh Fields has moved into the closer’s role for now. It doesn’t make a ton of sense for the Astros to do this as they could build Qualls’ value as a closer while keeping Fields’ value lower (and him cheaper for the future). But, they don’t look to be going that route so Fields is the man for now. His control is such that he’ll likely lose the job at some point, but it would probably be Matt Albers to step in and not Qualls.

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels bullpen is a mess in front of closer Ernesto Frieri. Joe Smith is who he is – a ROOGY with limited skills. The rest of the bullpen has little upside. Perhaps Fernando Salas can be above average if he can recapture some of his past glory.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Brian Wilson hit the DL and the Kenley Jansen handcuff moves to Chris Perez. Wilson has begun throwing again and the hope is that the nerve irritation in his elbow will be able to be managed during the season. However, he’s a candidate to hit the DL again at any time.

Milwaukee Brewers

Francisco Rodriguez has moved ahead of Jim Henderson and into the closer’s role. However, I think this is a short lived demotion for Henderson. He made some mechanical changes in the spring and he’s still adjusting. When his stuff returns, he’ll be back in the closer’s role.

New York Mets

Bobby Parnell is on the DL with a partially torn UCL (or MCL as the Mets like to call it – it’s the same ligament) and there is a 50% chance he’ll have to undergo Tommy John surgery. So, we welcome back column-favorite Papa Grande – Jose Valverde. I professed my love for him last year and he burned me. So, I’ll temper my enthusiasm for him this year.

However, there is very little behind Valverde as Kyle Farnsworth looked done during the spring with a flat, lifeless fastball. Jeurys Familia has an electric arm, but he’s young and unproven. Carlos Torres has some interesting history, but he’s not shown the ability to stay on a major league roster for long periods of time. Vic Black is at AAA and has some control issues, but is probably the most intriguing backup for the Mets.

New York Yankees

My spring training favorite Cesar Cabral didn’t make the roster so Matt Thornton slides on to the list as a potential option to close out games should the pen implode. There isn’t much to see here and isn’t much of a reason to speculate.

Oakland Athletics

Ryan Cook started the year on the DL so that pushes Sean Doolittle into the backup role and Luke Gregerson follows along. Jim Johnson isn’t a dominant pitcher and is prone to bouts of ineptitude.  However, Bob Melvin isn’t about to make a change after a bumpy start. Johnson will need to struggle mightily before the A’s remove their $10M man. Cook should be back within a week and will likely slot right behind Johnson.

Tampa Bay Rays

Juan Carlos Oviedo had some trouble getting back into the United States (which can occur when you lie about your identity). As a result, the Rays were able to keep an interesting arm in Brandon Gomes at the major league level. In 2012 in 55 1/3 at AAA for the Rays, Gomes had a 32.9% K% and a 6.3% BB%. Those are tasty numbers that offer a lot of upside for Gomes should he move into a higher leverage situation.

Texas Rangers

I was also completely wrong about Neftali Feliz’s ability to recover fully from his TJ surgery. Reports out of AAA have Feliz back up to 94 -96 mph but no other pitches working yet. It may take Feliz another month or so before he gets back to the majors and Joakim Soria may have solidified the closer’s spot. The rest of the bullpen offers a couple of other pitchers in Jason Frasor and Alexi Ogando who have each closed in the past.

Toronto Blue Jays

Sergio Santos was one of my favorite sleepers going into draft season this year. I invested heavily in him on most of my squads. He was and is the superior pitcher to the now-injured Casey Janssen. I can see Santos taking the job and never giving Janssen the chance to get it back. The Jays hope Janssen is back by April 13, but I don’t see it. I think he’ll need more time giving Santos more opportunities to solidify his hold on the role.

Definitions

2014 Closer – The current closer
Handcuff Option – This is the guy who I believe will step into the closer role if the current closer loses his job.
Other Option – Another arm in the pen who could close if the manager chooses to go a different route.
Dark Horse Option – If all hell breaks loose in the pen, this guy could get a shot this year.
2015 Closer – This guy should be in the closer’s role on Opening Day 2014.

 

Team

2014 Closer

Handcuff option

Other option

Darkhorse Option

2015 Closer

Arizona

Addison Reed

J. J. Putz

Brad
Ziegler

Jake Barrett

Addison Reed

Atlanta

Craig Kimbrel

Jordan Walden

Luis Avilan

David
Carpenter

Craig Kimbrel

Baltimore

Tommy Hunter

Darren O’Day

Ryan Webb

Brian Matusz

Ryan Webb

Boston

Koji Uehara

Junichi
Tazawa

Edward Mujica

Rubby de la Rosa

Edward Mujica

Chicago (NL)

Jose Veras

Pedro Strop

James Russell

Arodys Vizcaino

Arodys Vizcaino

Chicago (AL)

Matt
Lindstrom

Daniel
Webb

Scott Downs

Ronald Belisario

Nate
Jones (DL)

Cincinnati

Jonathan
Broxton (DL)

J.J.
Hoover

Sean
Marshall (DL)

Manny Parra

Aroldis Chapman (DL)

Cleveland

John Axford

Cody Allen

Bryan Shaw

Vinnie Pestano

Cody Allen

Colorado

LaTroy Hawkins

Rex Brothers

Matt Belisle

Wilton Lopez

Rex Brothers

Detroit

Joe Nathan

Al Albuquerque

Phil Coke

Joba Chamberlain

Joe Nathan

Houston

Josh
Fields

Matt
Albers

Chad
Qualls

Jesse Crain
(DL)

Not on the
team

Kansas City

Greg Holland

Kelvin Herrera

Aaron Crow

Yordano Ventura

Greg Holland

Los Angeles Angels

Ernesto Frieri

Joe
Smith

Fernando
Salas

Nick Maronde

Ernesto Frieri

Los Angeles Dodgers

Kenley Jansen

Chris
Perez

Paco Rodriguez

Chris Withrow

Kenley Jansen

Miami

Steve Cishek

Mike Dunn

A.J. Ramos

Carter Capps

Steve Cishek

Milwaukee

Francisco
Rodriguez

Jim
Henderson

Brandon Kintzler

Will Smith

Jim Henderson

Minnesota

Glen Perkins

Casey Fien

Jared Burton

Alex Meyer

Glen Perkins

New York Mets

Jose Valverde

Kyle
Farnsworth

Jeurys Familia

Vic
Black

Bobby Parnell
(DL)

New York Yankees

David
Robertson

Shawn Kelley

Matt
Thornton

Dellin Betances

David
Robertson

Oakland

Jim Johnson

Sean
Doolittle

Luke Gregerson

Drew Pomeranz

Ryan Cook (DL)

Philadelphia

Jonathan Papelbon

Antonio Bastardo

Justin De Fratus

Mauricio
Robles

Jonathan Papelbon

Pittsburgh

Jason Grilli

Mark Melancon

Tony Watson

Bryan Morris

Jason Grilli

St. Louis

Trevor
Rosenthal

Carlos
Martinez

Kevin Siegrest

Jason Motte
(DL)

Trevor
Rosenthal

San Diego

Huston Street

Joaquin Benoit

Dale Thayer

Nick Vincent

Joaquin Benoit

San Francisco

Sergio Romo

Santiago Casilla

Jeremy Affeldt (DL)

Kyle Crick

Santiago Casilla

Seattle

Fernando Rodney

Danny Farquhar

Tom Wilhelmsen

Yoervis Medina

Fernando Rodney

Tampa Bay

Grant Balfour

Jake McGee

Joel Peralta

Brandon
Gomes

Grant Balfour

Texas

Joakim Soria

Jason Frasor

Alexi Ogando

Neal Cotts

Neftali Feliz (AAA)

Toronto

Sergio
Santos

Steve Delabar

Jeremy Jeffress

Brett
Cecil

Sergio Santos

Washington

Rafael Soriano

Tyler Clippard

Drew Storen

Erik Davis

Tyler Clippard

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1 Comment

  1. April 6, 2014 at 8:29 am — Reply

    Phil Coke is not an option to close at all. He’d be the very last option on the team.

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