Fantasy Baseball Closer Report: Week 7

by Dan Harris | @danharris80 | Featured Writer
May 19, 2017

How will the Mariners fill the void left by Edwin Diaz’s demotion?

I have been writing weekly fantasy sports articles for a few years now. I write the article on the same night every week, always with some sporting event playing on the TV and the soothing noise of my son’s white noise machine from his room on in the background.

But every once in awhile, some unforeseen circumstance forces me to write the article a day early. Take this article, which I usually write on Thursday nights, and last week. I took my wife down to New York last Thursday to see the musical “Hamilton” for Mother’s Day. I know what you’re thinking – yes, that was a baller move and no, I’m not going to miss my left kidney which I sold in order to pay for the tickets.

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So I wrote last week’s closer report on Wednesday night. But I knew – I KNEW – that something big was going to happen on Thursday with a closer. Something that would ordinarily take center stage in the closer report, but would be embarrassingly absent thanks to the early draft. That’s just how life and fantasy writing works.

So when we finally made it to Manhattan late that afternoon and I saw that I had 11 texts waiting for me, I was pretty prepared for some closer news. I had a bit of a reprieve when the first 10 were all from my mother-in-law, who was watching the kids, asking some pretty basic questions. To be fair, I shouldn’t have assumed she knew where we kept the towels or how to turn on the central air. That’s a bad job by me.

But the 11th one was from my buddy and fellow Mets fan, John, and it read simply, “Familia – blood clot in shoulder. Probably out awhile. Mets season done. Sad face emoji.” (No joke, John does not know how to do emojis, so that text is literally what he wrote. It’s weird, but we’ve all gotten used to it).

Anyway, to the Mets, Familia, and his fantasy owners, I offer my most humble apologies. My early article writing has an incredible power, having caused the Cam Newton car accident a few years back, the Max Scherzer offseason knuckle injury, and now this. So, for the good of the closer landscape, I’ve canceled all Thursday trips for the rest of the baseball season, and will keep this article published on its normal schedule.

Well, Familia wasn’t the only shakeup in the closer world, and indeed, just six teams remained in their exact spot from last week. So let’s jump in and see how the landscape is looking:

Team (Closer) Current Rank Previous Rank
Dodgers (Kenley Jansen) 1 1
Red Sox (Craig Kimbrel) 2 3
Cubs (Wade Davis) 3 4
Rays (Alex Colome) 4 5
Rockies (Greg Holland) 5 8
Indians (Cody Allen) 6 6
Blue Jays (Roberto Osuna) 7 7
Royals (Kelvin Herrera) 8 10
Cardinals (Seung-Hwan Oh) 9 11
White Sox (David Robertson) 10 14
Astros (Ken Giles) 11 16
Yankees (Dellin Betances) 12 2
Marlins (A.J. Ramos) 13 15
Rangers (Matt Bush) 14 19
Giants (Mark Melancon) 15 29
Mets (Addison Reed) 16 9
Pirates (Tony Watson) 17 17
Twins (Brandon Kintzler) 18 18
Brewers (Corey Knebel) 19 21
Orioles (Brad Brach) 20 13
Angels (Bud Norris) 21 23
Reds (Raisel Iglesias) 22 24
Tigers (Justin Wilson) 23 28
Diamondbacks (Fernando Rodney) 24 26
Braves (Jim Johnson) 25 20
Phillies (Hector Neris) 26 27
Athletics (Santiago Casilla) 27 25
Padres (Brandon Maurer) 28 22
Mariners (Committee) 29 12
Nationals (Committee) 30 30


The Big Movers

The Yankees fall from two to 12 with the Aroldis Chapman injury. Dellin Betances is obviously a top-notch replacement, but the fact remains that there is a zero percent chance of Chapman getting Wally Pipp’d. This is Chapman’s job when he returns, which could be in a month. Betances is a great option, sure, but absent a Chapman setback, the Yankees situation remains a tad behind the top tier.

The Giants make a significant move with Mark Melancon returning, but I’m going to be cautious with that ranking for now, leaving them at 15th. The last time a pitcher went on the disabled list with a minor forearm strain and convinced his coaches he was ready to come back early was Zach Britton, and we know how that turned out. Let Melancon throw a few solid outings before we are convinced he’s back.

Speaking of Britton, his replacement, Brad Brach, take a bit of a dive this week after a disastrous few outings. Brach is talented but he’s in a slump. And here’s the thing – are we sure he’s going to get the next save chance? After Brach struggled in the series against the Nationals, Buck Showalter brought him into Tuesday’s game in the seventh inning. Sure, it was an incredibly high-leverage situation, with the bases loaded, no outs, and a three-run lead (Brach proceeded to give up a grand slam, by the way), so maybe it was one of those progressive “use your best reliever in the most important situation” thing. But, as someone who is heavily invested in Brach, I’m a little nervous that Darren O’Day, who has been great lately, is secretly going to get the next save chance. Brach gets listed as the closer still, but the Orioles situation falls down to 20, and I’d add O’Day if I had the room just to be safe.

Finally, the Mariners take a nosedive down to 29th, as Edwin Diaz and his control issues were too much for Scott Servais to let continue in the ninth inning. The team is going with a committee for now, but given Steve Cishek’s struggles in his first opportunity, my guess is Tony Zych will get the next shot. Diaz is going to be used in a few low-leverage situations until he irons out his mechanics, and I’m sure the Mariners want to give him every chance to get the job back. But for now, fantasy owners should want no part of the situation.

Random Musings

Greg Holland just keeps rising, and is now a top-5 closer. He looks great, he gets tons of opportunities, and he converts them all. As I’ve written before, this isn’t peak Holland, but it’s plenty good enough. Glad to have him back, and glad to see the Rockies winning.

Ken Giles and Matt Bush both move up a bit, too. Giles still has his issues – he’s walked a batter in each of his last three appearances – but he’s up to 11 saves and it’s clear that he’s going to get the ball in the ninth inning nearly every time out at this point. And look what Matt Bush can do when he gets some save opportunities. Suddenly pitching for the hottest team in baseball and looking quite comfortable in the ninth inning, Bush could easily rise higher than 14th next week.

Addison Reed is an absolutely fine replacement for Jeurys Familia and, frankly, will probably do better in the role than Familia had been doing. So it might be a little unfair to drop him down to 16th. But the Mets are not looking like they’ll provide many save chances, and Reed will be a prime trade candidate if the Mets fall out of it. So, he takes a bit of a fall.

Hi there, Corey Knebel. You are much, much better than Neftali Feliz. Don’t blow any saves and we’ll move you way up from 19th, mmmmkaaaaay? Seriously, buy on Knebel. He should have been the closer from the start.

I’m not going to be shocked if Bud Norris holds the closer’s job all year, or at least until he’s traded mid-season. He’s performed exceedingly well, and the Angels can deploy Cam Bedrosian in an effective late-inning relief role while keeping his arbitration numbers down. Save that money for Mike Trout, Arte Moreno!

Justin Wilson did blow a save, but he’s gotta do that like 20 more times to get to Francisco Rodriguez levels. Wilson has the stuff and the talent to hold the job all year. Tommy likey. Tommy want wingy. Do people still get Tommy Boy references?

Fernando Rodney – still wearing his hat to the side, and still closing games like a champ. Never change.

I surmised that Santiago Casilla would be moving up these rankings this week. I surmised incorrectly. You don’t get to blow saves and then refuse to talk to the media and then move up these rankings, ok? It’s like my ONE rule. Seriously, the Giants got fed up with that act, and the A’s easily could, too. I’d be selling some shares if I could find a buyer.

Brandon Maurer has not had a good week. I know the Padres don’t want to be losing games like that, but turning the job over to Ryan Buchter or Brad Hand feels a little like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, no? Until Carter Capps gets his stuff together, I have no interest in owning a member of the Padres bullpen.

Until next week, friends. On Friday, like usual. I promise!

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Dan Harris is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Dan, check out his archive or follow him on Twitter at @danharris80.

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