Fantasy Baseball Closer Report: Week 19
I love movies. I don’t mean love movies like love going to the movie theater and ordering popcorn and buncha crunch. I mean love movies like memorized every major Oscar nominee from 1970 – 1999 back when I cared about things other than sports. (Note: If you do this and you put “Oscar Trivia” as one of your interests on your resume, you will get every job you interview for. Trust me.)
Often times, in everyday conversation or when writing an article, a scene or a line from a random movie will pop into my head. And tonight, as I was ranking the closing situations, that’s precisely what happened.
I thought about the movie “Cast Away” (Tom Hanks, nominated for best actor, 2000 – yup, still got it), and how, when he’s first stranded on the island, he tries to take what remains of his life raft and paddle out to a boat he sees in the distance. He doesn’t get very far, as the waves crash upon him, including one giant wave that finally turns everything haywire and sends him back to shore.
Several years later, after he’s found something he can use as a sail and builds a raft, he tries again. This time, he survives the big wave and continues out to sea, where the water is entirely calm.
As I was writing this article, I thought about how it’s been to try to rank the closing situations this year and how it’s just constantly been swimming against the current, trying to get to a place where we could reasonably tell who was going to be closing the following week. And then the trade deadline off in the distance – the big wave – that would throw everything into chaos, was always waiting for us.
But now that we’ve made it past that wave, everything is a little easier. There’s not much turnover. There’s little risk of guys losing their jobs. We’ve finally gotten to the calm part of the ocean. All we need to do now is drift the 500 miles or so until a large ship sees us and we can return to our Fed Ex family.
But even when the waters are serene, there’s always some interesting happenings to talk about. So let’s check out our closer report for Week 19 and see where we stand. And yeah, I know I just pretty much gave away the entire plot of Cast Away, but if you haven’t seen it yet, come on, dude! It’s like 20 years old at this point.
|Team (Closer)||Current Rank||Previous Rank|
|Dodgers (Kenley Jansen)||1||1|
|Red Sox (Craig Kimbrel)||2||2|
|Cubs (Wade Davis)||3||3|
|Yankees (Aroldis Chapman)||4||4|
|Rockies (Greg Holland)||5||5|
|Blue Jays (Roberto Osuna)||6||6|
|Brewers (Corey Knebel)||7||7|
|Rays (Alex Colome)||8||8|
|Pirates (Felipe Rivero)||9||9|
|Royals (Kelvin Herrera)||10||10|
|Astros (Ken Giles)||11||11|
|Orioles (Zach Britton)||12||12|
|Indians (Cody Allen)||13||13|
|Reds (Raisel Iglesias)||14||14|
|Mariners (Edwin Diaz)||15||16|
|Diamondbacks (Fernando Rodney)||16||18|
|Tigers (Shane Greene)||17||19|
|Nationals (Sean Doolittle)||18||27|
|Padres (Brad Hand)||19||15|
|Marlins (Brad Ziegler)||20||20|
|Phillies (Hector Neris)||21||21|
|Cardinals (Trevor Rosenthal)||22||23|
|Braves (Arodys Vizcaino)||23||24|
|Mets (A.J. Ramos)||24||17|
|Athletics (Blake Treinen)||25||25|
|Twins (Matt Belisle)||26||30|
|Giants (Sam Dyson)||27||22|
|Rangers (Alex Claudio)||28||29|
|Angels (Bud Norris)||29||26|
|White Sox (Tyler Clippard)||30||28|
The Big Movers
The Nationals take a giant leap forward, purely by virtue of providing us with clarity on their closing situation. To the surprise of certain fantasy analysts who advised you otherwise and shall remain nameless (ahem, me), the Nationals did not opt to go with Brandon Kintzler, and instead stuck with Sean Doolittle. It’s been the right choice so far, as both Doolittle and Kintzler have thrived in their respective roles. The only reason the Nationals aren’t even higher is that they have three relievers capable of closing, and so Doolittle’s job isn’t quite as safe as it otherwise would be. But still, they rise significantly.
Conversely, the Mets situation takes a significant step down. That has nothing to do with A.J. Ramos’ performance, though he hasn’t pitched very well since joining the club. Instead, the move is because of the news that Jeurys Familia is on the verge of returning to the Mets, and should be back within a couple of weeks. It’s hard to see what the Mets gain by bringing Familia back at this stage, but if he does indeed come back, it’s probably not to set up Ramos. The uncertainty drops the Mets down to 24th.
At of the time of this writing, the Angels and the Mariners are still playing their Thursday night game. My hope is that the Angels win a close game and Bud Norris gets the clean save because honestly, I’m not 100 percent certain he’s still the closer. Although the Angels had an off day on Monday, Mike Scioscia opted not to use Blake Parker or Norris to protect a two-run lead, and instead gave the save chance to Keynan Middleton, who allowed a run but converted the opportunity. Scioscia claimed he just wanted to give both Parker and Norris an extra day of rest. Then, on Wednesday, the Angels scored a run in the eighth inning to make the game a non-save situation, and Parker pitched. Would Norris have pitched the ninth if it had remained a save situation? Has Norris’s many blowups finally lost him the role? I truly don’t know. For now, as of writing this, I’m working under the assumption that Norris is still the closer, but the uncertainty moves this situation down. If Parker does get the next save chance, however, I’d feel much better about the Angels!
Sam Dyson’s surprisingly competent run as the Giants closer looks to be coming to an end shortly, as Mark Melancon is on the verge of coming back from a pronator strain in his elbow. Melancon has had a rough season performance-wise (4.35 ERA, 1.35 WHIP), but his pedigree and contract dictate that he’ll obviously get the job back immediately upon his return. The Giants situation should bounce back up significantly once Melancon shows that he is fully healthy, though the team’s lack of wins certainly keep it from being an exciting place to seek saves.
Once the Twins finally got a save opportunity, Matt Belisle grabbed onto the closer’s role and is holding it firm. Entering Thursday’s game, Belisle had not allowed an earned run in 16 straight appearances, and had easily converted both of his recent save opportunities. Glen Perkins continues to progress in his rehab, and word is that he’ll be activated sometime next week, assuming no setbacks. But it’s unclear if he’ll reclaim the closer’s role, especially with the Twins remaining in the thick of the Wild Card race. If Belisle continues to pitch effectively, he’s got a good shot to hold the job all year.
I suppose we should all feel a little better about Alex Claudio’s job security with Keone Kela going back on the disabled list, but there’s not much rhyme or reason to how he is being used. The “problem” for Claudio is that he’s a lefty, he gets ground balls, and he’s pitching incredibly well. You know when a reliever like that comes in handy? Pretty much EVERY inning after the starter comes out. It seems like when the Rangers have a lead, Jeff Banister will try to hold Claudio back, but otherwise, deploys him whenever necessary. It’s not an ideal situation. But at this point, I’d expect Claudio to get the next save chance for the Rangers, and that’s worth . . . something.
Finally, Brad Hand and the Padres drop several spots based on the nonsense that went on during Thursday’s game. In case you missed it, Andy Green brought Hand into the game to face Joey Votto with two runners on in the seventh inning. And if that wasn’t weird enough, he brought him in mid-batter, when the count was 2-2. What the what? Hand got hit hard for the first time in quite awhile (he had a 24-inning scoreless streak coming in), but the results were far less important than the fact that Hand was used in the seventh inning. And Andy Green commented after the game: “At the end of the day, do I want Brad Hand up in the most pivotal situation and do I want him on the mound?Without question.” Ugh. No, Andy Green, you and fantasy owners everywhere want Hand on the mound in the ninth inning only, thanks! My guess is that Hand’s next appearance will be in the ninth inning, but this game, and Green’s comments, make this a little less desirable of a situation.