2014 Fantasy Baseball: The Week 9 Closer Report
Welcome back to The Fantasy Fix’s Closer Report for Week 9. Are the Chicago White Sox switching closers? Do the Cubs have a new closer in waiting? Is there any news outside of the Windy City? 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.
On Thursday night the Cubs put closer Hector Rondon on the paternity list. More importantly (for us), they named Neil Ramirez as the closer for the night thus providing us with important data as to who the next man up would be (for now) in Chicago).
Joseph Pytleski over at ROTOscouting had a great breakdown of the Cubs’ bullpen of the future. I agree with his outlook for Ramirez and my favorite Cub Arodys Vizcaino. Remember Vizcaino is still just 23 years old. I’m not sure that Blake Parker ever gets a real look – I think the Cubs would rather see what they have in Kyuji Fujikawa (once healthy) than Parker. Head over there to take a look – he has charts!
And he’s spot on about Jose Veras and Pedro Strop. Veras is a one year rental and Strop just can’t consistently throw strikes. Strop will always tantalize and more often than not demoralize your fantasy squad.
Chicago White Sox
Oh, Ronald Belisario, you’ve had the chance of a lifetime and fallen. Not completely, but you’re certainly stumbling. Belisario’s ugly save last weekend elicited this endorsement from manager Robin Ventura:
‘‘I think we’re at a point where we’ve got other guys that have the ability to do it,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘It’s not the time to do that right now. [Belisario] was throwing strikes. It’s not like he was walking guys.’’
I want to focus on the last sentence – “It’s not like he was walking guys.” And that’s correct. Belisario isn’t walking anyone especially when compared to the rest of the White Sox bullpen. Belisario’s 6.3% BB% rate is the lowest of all White Sox relievers who have thrown more than five innings. Zach Putnam is second on that list. Belisario has been a bit unlucky (5.10 ERA, 2.95 FIP, 3.38 xFIP, 3.04 SIERA). He’s been hurt by a low LOB% of 53.2%. So, he’s not nearly as bad as he’s shown. Being a groundball pitcher, he does need help from his defense.
Scott Downs picked up a four out save on Monday, but he’s given up runs in three of his last four outings. Ventura went back to Belisario on Wednesday, but Belisario blew the save again. However, it wasn’t his entire fault. He gave up in infield single to lead off the inning, but got a ground out and fly out. Inexplicably, Ventura called for the intentional walk of Jason Giambi to get to Yan Gomes who singled to tie the game. The Sox came back to win in the bottom of the ninth, but Ventura didn’t help his closer one bit.
Belisario continues to be my recommendation in Chicago and I still think he’s got a longer leash than most other analysts do.
LaTroy Hawkins took another hit as he gave up a couple of unearned runs on Wednesday. Nothing has changed since last week, but he’s running out of lives. Rex Brothers and Adam Ottavino are the two relievers jockeying for the spot should Hawkins be removed.
Joe Nathan has given up two runs in three of his last five appearances including in his last two outings where he’s picked up a blown save and a save. The save on Thursday night was the third straight night he’d pitched which doesn’t seem like a great move for a 39 year old pitcher. My guess is we may not see that much anymore (if ever again) giving some additional chances to Joba Chamberlain. Nathan’s fastball velocity is down to his 2011 levels when he finished with a 4.84 ERA and 14 saves for the Twins in his first year back from Tommy John surgery.
I mentioned Josh Fields last week and he continues to look like a different man since his time in the minors. He’s thrown eight innings with only two hits, two walks and 13 strikeouts. Those in keeper/dynasty leagues should put him on your radar for next year. And if (when?) Qualls is dealt later this summer, he could sneak into the closer’s role. That’s not a sentence I thought I’d write just a few short weeks ago.
In April, Francisco Rodriguez threw 16 innings and didn’t give up a single run while fanning 23 batters. In May, he’s thrown 11 innings and given up seven runs while striking out only eight. The long ball has certainly hurt him with three dingers over those 11 innings. Are we starting to see K-Rod fade a bit? It certainly seems that way.
Tyler Thornburg looked to be the answer earlier in the year, but walks have come back to bit him lately and I don’t think he gets the gig. Will Smith and Zach Duke have been the best pitchers in the Brewers’ pen and I think Smith might be the first one to get a shot if K-Rod falters more than he has recently. Duke will remain in his long relief role where he’s been effective.
New York Mets
Jennry Mejia is the closer now. It doesn’t really look like he’s got any challengers at the moment.
Jose Valverde is not the handcuff. He’s not on the Mets anymore. Quite a quick turn for him.
Jason Grilli is now back as the closer officially. If Grilli stays healthy, then he should be the closer for the rest of the season. Mark Melancon is the handcuff and should be owned by Grilli owners.
Rafael Soriano is the closer, but he’s walking a tightrope. He hasn’t given up a HR in 21 IP so far this year. Over his last three seasons, he’s averaged one HR every 10.5 IP. A correction is coming and soon.
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.