2014 Fantasy Baseball: The Week 7 Closer Report
Welcome back to The Fantasy Fix’s Closer Report for Week 7. And I was wrong last week – more turmoil was to come in the closer’s role and we’re here to examine it. Will we ever have a hold on the closer situation this season? 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.
Addison Reed has given up runs in four of his last five appearances including a blown save on Monday giving up two home runs to the Nationals. After that game, Kirk Gibson was quick to confirm that Reed was still his man in the ninth inning.
“There’s no controversy here. He’s our closer, and he’s done a hell of a job for us,” Gibson said. “You can forget that. It didn’t work out for us tonight, and it [stinks].”
And it isn’t like the D’backs have a lot of options. J.J. Putz is still on the DL. Brad Ziegler blew up on Wednesday giving up four runs to the Nats and getting just one lonesome out. And even if Ziegler gets a shot, he’s always had problems with left handed hitters so he’s not a long term solution. The D’backs traded for Reed this offseason and I imagine they give the young closer a long leash.
This situation turned quickly as Zach Britton got his first professional save on Thursday night throwing 12 pitches and getting three ground ball outs – the quintessential Britton outing. It looks like Britton may get an extended run as manager Buck Showalter wasn’t glowing in his endorsement of Tommy Hunter. He compared Hunter to last season’s closer Jim Johnson:
“The difference between Tommy and Jimmy is that Jimmy had a track record,” Showalter said. “Tommy does, too, with certain other things, so there’s some unknown about where this will go with Tommy.”
Ironically, Britton’s profiles as a lefty Jim Johnson – both are heavy ground ball pitchers with below average strikeout rates. Britton has become almost a one pitch pitcher out of the pen throwing his fastball 90% of the time.
I wouldn’t give up on Hunter, but in shallower leagues he should be jettisoned to the waiver wire. I don’t think Showalter has any allegiance to Hunter and wouldn’t hesitate to use someone else (other than Hunter) in the role if Britton falters.
I noted last week that I could see Bryan Shaw sneaking into the closer’s role with a 25% chance to do so. However, I may have undersold the chance – at this moment it looks like a 50/50 split between he and Cody Allen. I don’t see a big difference between the two – it may came down to Terry Francona’s preference to keep Allen in his familiar eighth inning role and move Shaw into the closer’s role. At this point, there has been no clear direction as the Indians’ Twitter feed noted. There may not be a nightly guy, but Allen and Shaw should see the lion’s share of the work and don’t be surprised if Shaw ends up being more valuable.
Chad Qualls has a save and a win in his last two outings and looks to be solidifying his hold on the closer’s job in Houston. On Friday, Bo Porter said Qualls was indeed his closer. There won’t be a lot of opportunities, but a closer is a closer especially in deeper leagues.
Also, Josh Fields has returned from a stint in the minors and will likely slot into lower leverage situations.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The last four saves have gone to Ernesto Frieri, Joe Smith, Frieri, Smith. It seems like the Angels are trending toward a ‘pen that looks like the Indians. I’ve left Frieri in the top spot on the chart, but like the Indians, I believe Smith and Frieri are interchangeable at this time.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Manager Don Mattingly expressed his concern over the drop in Brian Wilson’s in velocity and all-around struggles. Brian Wilson expressed his disagreement that anything is wrong with regard to his health. I’ve bumped Wilson off the Closer Report chart until he comes around and slid J.P. Howell into his role. And no, Chris Withrow isn’t an option this year. You can’t walk a batter per inning and expect to be used in high leverage situations.
New York Mets
So Terry Collins is going to have a new closer every day. Isn’t that quaint? Well, at least it seems that they view Jenry Mejia is the closer of the future. However, they want to transition him into the role slowly by getting him up to pitching on back to back days. However, we don’t know how long that will take. In dynasty/keeper leagues, Mejia is the guy. In redraft leagues, he probably is as well, but just know that it will be a bit bumpy with him not getting every save opportunity.
Based on Jim Johnson’s recent struggles (again!), I put Sean Doolittle back into the driver’s seat in the bullpen. Johnson has given up runs in his last two outings while Doolittle has picked up a win and a save. Johnson is back to having to earn his way back into the role with Doolittle in the lead at the moment.
St. Louis Cardinals
Jason Motte’s rehab assignment continues to go well as he put together a two inning outing on Thursday night striking out two and giving up no runs, hits or walks. He’s thrown 6 2/3 innings and struck out 5 batters over six appearances. I imagine he’s back in the majors in the next seven to ten days. Trevor Rosenthal certainly hasn’t been lights out and Motte could be the one to step into the role should Rosenthal falter.
Fernando Rodney blew a save this week for the Mariners. However, his job is safe as he’d reeled off six straight scoreless appearances prior to the blown save.
Tampa Bay Rays
Grant Balfour blew up Thursday night and Jason Collette had a series of great tweets about Balfour’s issues. You can see them here, here, here and here. The crux of the issue? Balfour isn’t getting folks to swing at his slider and his fastball velocity is down and he’s coupled that with poor control. Collette says he doesn’t see any reason to speculate on injury with Balfour. That said, he’s had a couple of big blow ups this year and Joe Maddon was quick to pull Balfour from this outing on Thursday. On Friday, he reiterated that Balfour is his closer.
Maddon has two solid options in Jake McGee and Joel Peralta. Peralta has been up and down (though he has three clean outings in a row) all year so I’d like to think Maddon would look to McGee first if Balfour continues to struggle.
Toronto Blue Jays
Casey Janssen looks to be back and locked into the closer’s role. He’s got two saves in his first three appearances (all clean sheets) off the DL. His velocity is down a bit from its peak in 2011, but he’s around where he was last year. He should be a solid fantasy value the rest of the way.
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.