2014 Fantasy BaseballChris Garosi

2014 Fantasy Baseball: The Week 2 Closer Report

New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles
Jim Johnson – in happier days

Welcome back to The Fantasy Fix’s Closer Report for Week 2. We continue to see closers drop like flies and the unsettled nature of bullpens all around the league has fantasy owners wanting to dump the saves category completely.

Let’s take a look at what has changed in the last week at the top of the bullpen pecking order.

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

Chicago White Sox

A little bit of good news on Nate Jones as they have pinpointed the actual issue – it’s not his hip nor his back, but his back.  There still isn’t a timeline, but at least the White Sox should be able to map out a plan of recovery.

Detroit Tigers

Joe Nathan has a dead arm. Eno Sarris wrote a great piece on closer’s velocity early in the season. Nathan’s fastball is down two mph year over year. That’s not good especially for a pitcher of Nathan’s *cough* experience level. I’d be a bit concerned if I’m a Nathan owner. He’ll get a long leash, but the Tigers have World Series aspirations and won’t suffer through another season with problems at the back of their bullpen.

Patrick from Bless You Boys  left a comment on last week’s column stating that Phil Coke would not be an option to close and indeed would be the last option on the team.  I’m not sure I agree that he’d be the last option, but I do agree he shouldn’t be on the chart. There isn’t much upside there – he’s clearly a LOOGY and that odd matchup save he might get isn’t worth worrying about except in the very deepest of leagues. So, you’ll see no more Coke from me.

I was also remiss in not putting Corey Knebel into the dark horse discussion. The first round draft pick in 2013 is a 6’3” 195 pound righty out of the University of Texas. He had a 35% K% and 8.6% BB% in 31 IP at Hi-A last year with a 0.87 ERA (1.52 FIP). He’s currently at AA Erie, but could be on the fast track to offer reinforcements for the Tigers in the second half. Monitor Knebel in deep/dynasty formats especially with Bruce Rondon done for the year.

Houston Astros

Josh Fields is likely still the closer. However, he came into a non-save situation on Thursday and blew up (handing Anthony Bass a seven pitch save). Fields is not the long term answer as a closer as his control is atrocious (11.3% walk rate last season and 2012 as his only season in the minors with a BB% lower than that number). Chad Qualls and Matt Albers are still better values for the season in my eyes and I’d rather invest in shares of those two guys than Fields.

New York Yankees

David Robertson hit the DL with a slight groin injury. He’s already back to throwing on flat ground and I’d assume he isn’t out longer than the 15 days prescribed by the DL trip. Shawn Kelley was the first man up and he picked up a save and a loss. Kelley was a bit overworked so Joe Girardi said he’d go with Adam Warren if a save chance opened up when Kelley was down.

We also saw David Phelps get a long distance (2 1/3 innings) save when Kelley and Warren weren’t available. There isn’t much to speculate on here – I wouldn’t jump on anyone in the pen except in the deeper leagues where every save counts. Robertson will get his job back as soon as he recovers.

New York Mets

As I noted last week, the Mets don’t really have much behind Jose Valverde. Valverde’s results have been good so far, but he’s still seeing diminished fastball (and split-finger) velocity and he is increasingly relying on the fastball.  Strangely, he’s may be one of the safer closers for the next month. I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence.

Oakland Athletics

Well, we didn’t see Melvin making a change last week. We also didn’t see Jim Johnson continuing his implosion. But, an 18.90 ERA and 4.50 WHIP will get folks thinking about moving you out of whatever role you currently have. Johnson was prone to these bursts of inadequacy over his last two years as Orioles’ closer. However, he’s always bounced back. And I imagine that the A’s will give him the chance to earn his job back. But, where should you go for saves in Oakland now as the A’s have no shortage of live arms in their pen?

Ryan Cook has the dreaded “closer of the future” label (which never seems to quite work out). He’s just recently returned from the DL this week and I believe he’s the best bet long term. However, I think he will be eased into any save chances.

That leaves lefty Sean Doolittle and righty Luke Gregerson. Doolittle is a converted field player who has excelled on the mound. Gregerson was acquired from the Padres over the offseason and had some incredible numbers in San Diego.

Usually, I’d shy away from a lefthander as a closer, but Doolittle’s splits show he can get both righties and lefties out equally well (214/259/312/571 versus righties and 226/263/352/616 versus lefties). I like Doolittle to be the Cook handcuff and have an equal shot at taking over for Johnson for the long term. Doolittle is only a year older than Cook so it’s not like Cook has some huge advantage in terms of youth.

Gregerson also has excellent splits though the gap between this righty/lefty split is greater than the spread for Doolittle. Gregerson does have a little bit of experience in the role, but didn’t hold on to it in San Diego.

This is a tough bullpen to divine, but I’d go with Cook for the long term, but I think Doolittle, Gregerson and Dan Otero all will get a shot in the short term with Doolittle getting the first shot in my opinion. However, if (and likely when) Johnson rights the ship, he’ll be back in the closer’s role. I wouldn’t go overboard bidding on Cook, Doolittle or Gregerson.

Toronto Blue Jays

Casey Janssen is nearing a return to the active roster. Sergio Santos has been great in the early going and I don’t see any reason to take the job from him and give it to Janssen. Santos is the superior pitcher now and was prior to his injury. Buy Santos from anyone who is looking to deal him with Janssen’s imminent return. I see a 30+ save season in Santos’ future.

Washington Nationals

There hasn’t been any sea change in the Nats’ pen (Rafael Soriano still isn’t very good, Tyler Clippard is probably the handcuff, Drew Storen looks better, but still can’t be trusted). However, Aaron Barrett has opened a lot of eyes with his early season performance and I was remiss in not putting him out there as the dark horse in the pen.

He has massive K% rates in the minors and his control has improved as he’s moved up the ladder. He’s always been a bit old for his level, but he looks to be locked in now. He’s getting high leverage chances like this one. He is going to have value in holds leagues and with the trust he’s earned from manager Matt Williams he’s now in the dark horse driver’s seat.

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. 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.

 

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

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

Joba Chamberlain

Corey Knebel

Joe Nathan

Houston

Josh Fields

Chad Qualls

Matt Albers

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 (DL)

Bobby Parnell (DL)

New
York Yankees

Shawn Kelley

Adam Warren

Matt Thornton

Dellin Betances

David Robertson (DL)

Oakland

Ryan Cook

Sean Doolittle

Jim Johnson

Luke Gregerson

Ryan Cook

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

Aaron Barrett

Tyler Clippard

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1 Comment

  1. matt
    April 12, 2014 at 8:58 am — Reply

    Mujica should be ahead of Tazawa. And Williams would have used Storen to close last night with Soriano unavailable..

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