2014 Fantasy Baseball: The Week 11 Closer Report
Welcome back to The Fantasy Fix’s Closer Report for Week 11. Last week’s report was relatively short so we’ll see what we find this week. Again, bullpens are settling down with the same pens showing up as problems nearly every week. Follow along to see where we are today.
Remember, we’ve moved the Fantasy Fix Closer Report Chart to its full time home right here.
As always, feel free to ask a question in the comments below or shoot me a note on Twitter.
J.J. Putz was activated from the DL on Monday. He’s been used three times since then and picked up the loss on Wednesday night. I think he’s behind Brad Ziegler right now in the pecking order, but that could flip flop at any time.
On Saturday night, Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez noted that recent call up Shae Simmons be used in a set up role potentially taking opportunities from David Carpenter and the since-activated Jordan Walden. The waters behind closer Craig Kimbrel are certainly muddy.
Kimbrel has shown he’s human this year (but still outstanding) so the handcuff to Kimbrel has gained a bit more import. We know well Walden (former closer in Anaheim who has struggled with injuries) and Carpenter (the late developing reliever who has shown well for the Braves the last couple of years – he’s also getting hammered with BABIP bad luck right now to the tune of a .430 clip right now.
Shae Simmons is a bit more of an unknown. He made his major league debut this year as a 23 year old after being drafted in the 22nd round of the 2012 MLB draft by the Braves. He’s small at 5’ 9” and as with most relief prospects has been generally ignored by prospect mavens. He’s always snuck into the end of a column in the section “Don’t sleep on this guy” after the top 10 prospects have been listed.
Simmons brings a fastball/slider combo that serves late inning relief pitchers well. He’s posted big K% numbers at every stop, but has struggled with control from time to time. In 2014, it looks like he may have solved his walk issues and as a result has vaulted into high leverage situations at the major league level. In 116 innings over three seasons, he’s never given up a home run.
All of that to say that Simmons doesn’t bring pedigree, but does have the skills to be a high-leverage player in the Braves’ bullpen. For further information, check out Nathaniel Stoltz’s piece at Fangraphs from earlier this year (with video).
Uh, oh. Yes, I missed that closer Hector Rondon was absent from games in late May because of paternity leave (and not a phantom injury). However, Rondon is now injured or at least nursing an elbow injury. As a result, Neil Ramirez picked up the save on Friday night with Rondon unavailable. Rondon did throw from the mound on Saturday without incident and he may be available Sunday. However, if you own Rondon, now is the time to get Ramirez. He’s likely on the waiver wire in your league.
Joe Nathan continues to struggle and went five days between appearances last week. His velocity remains down nearly a fully mile per hour from last year. If we take a look at the last 14 days in the Tigers pen, we see Corey Knebel and Evan Reed as the two most effective pitchers (when looking under the hood at FIP, xFIP and SIERA). I don’t believe of either of them are in line for higher leverage situtaions, but they are names to keep tucked away. Joba Chamberlain is still the handcuff for Nathan owners.
This column paints a less than rosy picture of the disaster that was Saturday’s game for the Tigers. It notes that Ian Krol has been dealing with some bicep tendon issues and could see the DL as they Tigers have called up fellow lefty Blaine Hardy.
Los Angeles Angels
Ernesto Frieri was at it again on Saturday night failing to record an out and giving up four earned runs in a non-save situation. He had been pretty solid since May 1 with a 2.08 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 17 2 /3 innings. This is probably just a blip, but Frieri does have the propensity to implode a couple of times a year. Joe Smith is still the man behind the man (though he did also give up a run on Saturday night), as Cam Bedrosian looks a bit over matched in his first taste of the big leagues. Fernando Salas continues to lurk and I still believe he could be an effective closer if given the shot.
New York Mets
Jenrry Mejia left Thursday’s game with back tightness and has not pitched since. The injury seems to be improving, but the Mets will likely be extremely cautious with their young flame thrower. Jeurys Famalia would likely step into the role of the Mets find the need to DL Mejia.
San Francisco Giants
Sergio Romo picked up back to back blown saves against the Rockies Friday and Saturday night. Jean Machi has been the most effective reliever in the pen (though he’s been a bit lucky with a 95.5% LOB% so far this season). The Giants aren’t a team to make hasty moves so Romo should be safe. However, they do have a Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla (who should be off the DL early next week) in reserve with past closing experience.
Tampa Bay Rays
On Monday of this week, the Rays moved to a committee to close games as Grant Balfour has struggled all year long. And of course, in the first opportunity after the announcement, Balfour pitches two and a third innings of shutout ball to earn the save. Of note, Joel Peralta was warming behind him if needed and Jake McGee was not used. So, I’ve slotted Peralta in as the handcuff currently (though McGee has more long term upside).
The Rays also called up Kirby Yates who had a 0.36 ERA (1.73 FIP) ERA at AAA this year and a 36.1% K% rate on the season. He’s a long shot to have any value this year and at 27 years old likely has no value in dynasty leagues.
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. And to clarify – this may be the lefty specialist who steps in for match up saves along the way.
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.
And if you are looking for the chart, we’ve moved it to its permanent home right here. Updates will be made daily so be sure to check back each day to see any movement.
Thanks as always for reading.