Fantasy Baseball Closer Report: Week 9
Once again, we have stability at the top of this week’s closer report, while chaos reigns in the bottom half. Based on the early results, it’s looking like a better year to have invested in high-end closers than in high-end starters, which isn’t usually the case.
Enjoy the holiday weekend, everyone. Here are this week’s rankings:
|Team (Closer)||Current Rank||Previous Rank||+/-|
|Mets (Edwin Diaz)||1||1||–|
|Padres (Kirby Yates)||2||2||—|
|Astros (Roberto Osuna)||3||3||—|
|Yankees (Aroldis Chapman)||4||4||—|
|Indians (Brad Hand)||5||5||—|
|A’s (Blake Treinen)||6||7||+1|
|Pirates (Felipe Vazquez)||7||6||-1|
|Dodgers (Kenley Jansen)||8||8||–|
|Reds (Raisel Iglesias)||9||11||+2|
|Cardinals (Jordan Hicks)||10||9||-1|
|Blue Jays (Ken Giles)||11||14||+3|
|Brewers (Josh Hader)||12||12||—|
|Nationals (Sean Doolittle)||13||10||-3|
|Tigers (Shane Greene)||14||13||-1|
|Diamondbacks (Greg Holland)||15||15||–|
|Giants (Will Smith)||16||16||–|
|White Sox (Alex Colome)||17||17||–|
|Cubs (Steve Cishek)||18||22||+4|
|Red Sox (Committee)||19||19||—|
|Marlins (Sergio Romo)||24||26||+2|
|Orioles (Mychal Givens)||25||20||-5|
|Rockies (Scott Oberg)||26||18||-8|
Toronto Blue Jays
Giles’ bump up the rankings was a long time coming, and it’s well deserved. His peripherals suggest he never really fell off as a high-end reliever, but still, he posted an ERA over 4.00 in two of the last three years thanks to trouble with home runs. He’s got that under control this year and is also striking out batters at an elite level while posting a very manageable walk rate. The advanced metrics largely back up Giles’ performance to-date, and he looks well on his way to having a season that’s as good as any he’s had in the past.
It’s been very ugly of late for Sean Doolittle, who has given up six runs in two innings over his last three appearances. He’s had some bad luck with batted balls (.333 BABIP) but is also posting walk and swinging strike rates that are far worse than his career averages. This will most likely go down as a blip on the radar for an excellent pitcher, but the non-zero chance of a bigger issue necessitates a small drop down the rankings.
Steve Cishek has each of the three saves that the Cubs have generated since Pedro Strop landed on the injured list, so it seems safe to say that Cishek is the leading candidate for saves even if he may not see every single one. Cishek is a pretty good pitcher and should have a fair amount of fantasy value for however long he is in the closer role. But Strop and Brandon Morrow are both making progress in their injury recoveries, so this situation could get messy again soon.
I’ll go ahead and lump these teams together because there are a lot of similarities here. All of these squads get a sizable bump in the rankings this week, although that is largely due to some other closer situations cratering (Orioles, Rockies, and Braves, I’m looking at you). None of the Rays, Twins, Phillies, or Angels have a designated closer, but each of these bullpens have multiple effective relievers and at this point it’s probably fair to say that each has a clear favorite for saves (Diego Castillo, Blake Parker, Hector Neris, and Hansel Robles, respectively). I’d rather be invested in those guys than in shakier relievers like Sergio Romo and Mychal Givens who have the job to themselves.
Rockies closer Wade Davis landed on the 10-day injured list with a left oblique strain this week, and manager Bud Black quickly indicated that Scott Oberg would serve as the primary closer in Davis’ absence. It’s nice to get some clarity from a manager for once, so thanks for that Bud! Oberg has a shiny 1.77 ERA, but he’s been very fortunate in terms of both BABIP and strand rate and is barely striking out more hitters than he’s walking. This could go very wrong, very fast in Coors Field. Davis’ injury isn’t considered severe, so while it makes sense to grab Oberg if you need saves, keep your expectations in check both in terms of his performance and how long he’ll have the job.
Boston Red Sox
Ryan Brasier seems to have gotten back on track after hitting a little rough patch, but his brief struggles may have been enough to allow another reliever to enter Boston’s closer committee. Brandon Workman, not Brasier, picked up Boston’s last save even though Brasier was presumably available. The Red Sox’ best reliever, Matt Barnes, should also see the occasional save, so this now has the look of a three-man committee. Thankfully Barnes and Brasier can still help your ratios even when they aren’t picking up saves. Workman is generating a ton of strikeouts but is also walking way too many guys, so he isn’t a must-add player.
Chris Martin was temporarily filling in at closer while Jose Leclerc worked on his mechanics in low-leverage spots, but then Shawn Kelley returned from the injured list and picked up back-to-back saves on Tuesday and Wednesday. Kelley is probably a better bet for saves than Martin, but it may be a moot point. Leclerc has thrown 5 1/3 scoreless innings since May 12 with 11 strikeouts and zero walks, and he could be on the verge of regaining the closer job. If Leclerc keeps pitching like that when he gets the job back, he will quickly ascend the closer rankings.
Luke Jackson has run into some trouble recently, blowing save chances on Saturday and Tuesday while surrendering four earned runs in the process. Jackson bounced back with two scoreless innings on Thursday, but his struggles may have opened the door for Sean Newcomb, who picked up a save of his own on Monday. Jackson was never named the full-time closer to begin with, so this has the look of a committee situation going forward.