2014 Fantasy Baseball: The Week 5 Closer Report
Welcome back to The Fantasy Fix’s Closer Report for Week 5. There doesn’t seem to be a slowdown in the upheaval in bullpens around the league. Remember, we’ve moved the chart to its full time home right here.
Let’s take a look at what has changed in the last week at the top of the bullpen pecking order. I’ve recovered from my 26 hours of driving from last weekend to provide you a bit more of an extended view of what’s going on in bullpens around the league.
As always, feel free to ask a question in the comments below or shoot me a note on Twitter.
Addison Reed has given up runs in two of his three appearances so far this week and has a sort of Gordie Howe reliever hat trick with a win, loss and a save. Interestingly, Reed’s strikeout rate is up and his walk rate is down – he’s been harmed by the long ball with three HRs given up already in just 14 IP after giving up 12 HRs over his last two seasons in 126 1/3 IP. He’s still solidly in the roll, but J. J. Putz is firmly his backup.
After struggling a bit, Craig Kimbrel has picked up three straight save chances though his elevated walk rate does give me a bit of pause. Continue to monitor his work and Jordan Walden is the pitcher to own should he falter.
Boston Red Sox
I’ve shuffled the backups to Boston closer Koji Uehara on this week’s report. I’m not sure that John Farrell would agree with me. However, Edward Mujica has given up a run or more in five of his last six appearances. I just can’t see how the Red Sox could trust Mujica as a closer. I’ve elevated Junichi Tazawa to the handcuff for Uehara’s owners and slide Andrew Miller into the report as the next one in line. Mujica needs to right the ship with a few clean appearances before he sneaks back onto the report.
Chicago White Sox
Nate Jones is still on the shelf and has yet to resume baseball activities. In shallow leagues with limited DL or bench spots, it may be time to jettison him if a better option comes along. And that bullpen has nothing to really scare anyone – Zach Putnam looks to be the most effective pitcher so far.
LaTroy Hawkins has a bit of a stronger grip on the closer’s role with Rex Brothers’ recent implosion. I still don’t see how Hawkins holds the job all year so Brothers continues to be the reliever to own as a handcuff and the likely closer after Hawkins is dealt at the trading deadline.
I flip flopped Joba Chamberlain and Al Albuquerque putting Joba into the driver’s seat should Joe Nathan sustain an injury or fail in some other way. Chamberlain has been more effective than Al New Mexico and he’s been a bit unlucky with a .444 BABIP and 66.7% LOB%. The Tigers also signed Joel Hanrahan on Friday and immediately placed him on the 15-day DL. If healthy, Hanrahan could end up with some value (especially in holds leagues).
I could write a dissertation each week on the Astros’ bullpen and the struggles within. The best pitcher in the pen had been Matt Albers, but he’s now on the DL with shoulder tendinitis with no prognosis for a recovery time. Josh Fields’ control problems continue to plague him. And now, Fields is out as closer with Chad Qualls and Anthony Bass stepping into the late inning role for now. Qualls has been quietly effective outside of one huge blowup and this is a great chance for him to grab the job and run with it.
Player A: 8 1/3 IP 5.40 ERA, 2.16 WHIP 12 strikeouts, 3 walks (2 intentional)
Player B: 8 IP, 2.30 ERA, 1.625 WHIP, 11 strikeouts, 2 walks (2 intentional)
Player A is Qualls’ stats for the whole year. Player B is Qualls without his huge blow up on April 19th. I still hold out hope that he’s going to be the closer until the deadline. He hasn’t given up an unintentional walk yet this season, but he’s been a bit too hittable. The issue I see is that his velocity (which had returned last year) is back down about one mph. Still, I think he’s the best option of a motley crew.
Now, enter Jesse Crain into the conversation. Many believed that Crain was the closer as soon as he was healthy. The problem is he can’t seem to get healthy. Now, it seems that the Astros believe he’ll be healthy by the time he’s eligible to come off the DL on May 29. It’s never been a question about Crain’s ability, it’s always been health. If healthy, he can claim the job. I’d like to see him go on a rehab assignment before I jump to snag him.
The Astros also signed Tony Sipp this week who seemed to be dumped by the D’backs because he wasn’t quite gritty enough. He’s no bullpen savior, but hasn’t shown the normal LOOGY splits. Even if he’s mildly competent, he could hold value in holds leagues.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Joe Smith has two clean sheets in his last two appearances as does deposed closer Ernesto Frieri. More importantly, Frieri didn’t walk anyone in his last two outings. I still think Frieri gets his job back at some point, but Smith has a chance to run with it. Frieri will need a bout of ineffectiveness or injury by Smith. He won’t just slot back in when his control is back.
Dane de la Rosa looks like he might factor into the bullpen scenario a bit sooner than I anticipated. I still don’t hold out a lot of hope that his shoulder can stand up to the rigors of the bullpen, but his velocity was up in his last sim game so he’ll likely find his way back to the majors in the next ten to fifteen days.
Jim Henderson heads to the DL with shoulder inflammation after getting crushed Thursday night. That solidifies Francisco Rodriguez as the closer and perhaps a top 10 option for the rest of the year. I slid Will Smith and Tyler Thornburg up (and I might prefer Thornburg as Smith’s control hasn’t been great).
Toronto Blue Jays
Casey Janssen heads out on a rehab assignment on Monday. I’d assume he’ll get a week of rehab appearances and be back up to Toronto in mid-May. I do believe he’ll be eased back into the closer’s role. Sergio Santos has been pretty unlucky (.500 BABIP, 20% HR/FB rate), but he’s done himself in with a 9.35 BB/9 rate. At the beginning of the season, I believed Santos would usurp Janssen and not allow anyone to wrest the closer’s role from him. However, Santos’ control is not yet back to his pre-injury levels and he’s left the door wide open for Janssen to take it back once fully healthy and acclimated to the majors.
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.