Fantasy Baseball Closer Report: Week 11

by Dan Harris | @danharris80 | Featured Writer
Jun 16, 2017

Felipe Rivero owns the closer role in Pittsburgh, even if the team hasn’t confirmed it yet

There hasn’t been a whole lot of excitement this week in the world of relief pitching. I mean, Raisel Iglesias threw up the rare stinker and Craig Kimbrel’s K-rate took a major dip when he struck out just four of the nine batters he faced (now a mere 54.3% on the season – barely worth mentioning).

Nevertheless, the closer carousel is always spinning, and we’ve got plenty to discuss. So let’s dive right in. Here is your closer report for Week 11.

Bookmark our Closer Depth Chart for updated coverage throughout the season >>

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

The Big Movers

Clint Hurdle mercifully pulled the plug on the Tony Watson experiment, and despite briefly pretending that it would be a committee between Felipe Rivero and Juan Nicasio, it became immediately apparent that this is Rivero’s job. That’s what a 0.78 ERA and 0.72 WHIP will do for you. If it’s purely about the skills, Rivero will hold the job all year. But as we know, baseball teams consider plenty of factors. The Pirates will almost certainly deal Watson at the deadline this year, and his value will be a lot higher with him successfully closing games. Meanwhile, Rivero is under team control for four more seasons, so there’s no rush to throw him into the closer’s role. With Hurdle trying desperately to avoid naming a closer, the best guess is that it’s Rivero’s job until he blows a save or two, at which point, the team would hand it back to Watson. But for now, given Rivero’s incredible numbers and the scary state of closers, the Pirates jump up to 19.

If we went back through the chart for each week, I’d bet we see that the Nationals have covered the most ground, as they routinely move from a situation to avoid to a situation to buy and then back again. Poor Koda Glover. I guess when you’re 24 years old, you figure a little lower back pain is no big deal and you can just go out there and throw 95 mph, huh? Trust us old folks, dude – back pain is nothing to play around with. Next time, grab a heating pad, pop a few Advil, and take some time off. Unfortunately, Glover is going to be on the shelf for an indeterminate amount of time. I have absolutely no idea who will get the next save opportunity for the Nationals, but I’d guess Matt Albers, as he has been the . . . least terrible of the other Nationals relievers. But the Nationals have this weird conundrum, where they desperately need to trade for a reliable reliever, and yet have nearly a 10-game lead in their division, which alleviates any pressure. They will trade for a closer at some point – I can pretty much guarantee you that they won’t trust Glover with the role in the post-season. But for now, avoid all current healthy Nationals relievers, stash Glover, and hope he makes it back soon.

Random Musings

I’m keeping the Red Sox and Craig Kimbrel at the top spot because of his historic strikeout rate, but let’s not lose sight of what is happening with Kenley Jansen here. I mean, Roberto Osuna is second in the majors with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 17. Jansen is first. With a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 45. Forty. Five. Oh, and you know how many strikeouts he has? 45. Meaning what, class? The dude has zero walks this season. 45 strikeouts. Zero walks. Not human.

Speaking of Osuna, let’s give him a little credit. Since blowing three of his first four save chances as he worked through some rustiness coming off the disabled list, Osuna has converted his last 16 opportunities, allowing just three earned runs over his last 20 innings. And he’s struck out 28 batters while walking just two. He’s back.

The Yankees’ ranking is seriously meaningless right now. Aroldis Chapman is due to return on Sunday, and assuming he looks fine, then he and the Yankees will vault into the top-10 immediately, and likely higher. But we don’t count our chickens before they’ve hatched here in closerville, so for right now, we’ve got an elite fill-in in Dellin Betances who will likely go back to a setup role in a few days. Which, when I put it all into my magic formula, comes out with 21. Either way, that ranking will be drastically different next week.

If you read this article each week, you know how much I enjoy Fernando Rodney and like to poke fun at him. But kinda quietly, he’s gone on a massive run here. He hasn’t given up an earned run since April 29th. Over that span, he has 12 saves in 13 chances and has struck out 14 in 14 2/3 innings. Let’s give the big guy some credit. Oh, and he still has a 5.11 ERA. So, there’s that.

I’ve been pretty consistent with saying that I think Bud Norris has a legitimate chance to hold the job even when/if Cam Bedrosian and/or Huston Street come back, and I’m holding tight to that. Norris has been more than adequate in the closer’s role, and I think Mike Scioscia would really love to have an excuse to be able to use Bedrosian in whatever the highest leverage situation is in the game. If you could include Norris as a throw-in to a deal to get over the hump, I would, but I really am expecting him to hold the role.

So, I guess that Pat Neshek thing was a joke? After being named the closer, he pretty consistently pitched the seventh or eighth inning, and when a save situation actually presented itself on Thursday, it was Hector Neris who got and converted the save opportunity. As we’ve discussed previously, it makes no sense for a team like the Phillies to move Neshek to the closer’s role, especially when Neris hadn’t been THAT bad. I’d expect Neris to get the next several save chances, until he blows one or Pete Mackanin eats some bad sushi or something, in which case the skipper will do something crazy and name a new random reliever as the closer.

That’s all for this week, friends! Until next time.

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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