4 Top Closer Stashes (2019 Fantasy Baseball)
To say the closer landscape has been ugly this season would be an understatement. Sure, there have been some pleasant surprises with consistent contributions like Hector Neris and Shane Greene. But, wow, is it ever hard to find reliable sources of saves these days. In a landscape where committees are nearly the norm, we’ve asked our writers to help identify the top closer stashes as we head into the summer months.
Who is your top closer stash in fantasy baseball?
Amir Garrett (CIN)
News of Hunter Strickland’s setback broke while typing a recommendation to stash the supposedly returning reliever. Let’s instead take a chance on a middle reliever with elite skills. Garrett has garnered a 1.63 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 27.1 innings behind a slider that has generated an absurd .136 wOBA and 29.3% swinging-strike rate. Although the Reds have underperformed their run differential and could welcome back Scooter Gennett and Alex Wood by the All-Star break, they may explore offers for Raisel Iglesias if they remain buried in the NL Central standings. If so, Garrett could receive save opportunities and make a massive imprint. Besides, he can help most teams in his current role by posting gaudy strikeout tallies and ratios.
– Andrew Gould (@andrewgould4)
Reyes Moronta (SF)
A few guys will become the de facto closer for their teams due to trade deadline moves. I think the first closer to be moved in 2019 is Will Smith of San Francisco. He’s been solid all year and his trade value is likely at its peak. To maximize their return, the Giants would be smart to sell high soon and move him before he hits a rough patch like the end of last year. San Fran has shown no interest in giving Mark Melancon save chances since they signed him to that awful contract. Next man up for the Giants should be flame thrower Reyes Moronta. He was outstanding with a 2.49 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 65 IP last year. While those ratios are higher this year, his propensity for Ks makes him ideal closer material. Moronta is literally striking out a third of the batters he faces in 2019, boasting a 33.1 K% and 13+ K/9. All this is in spite of a sharp decrease in GB% and a .302 BABIP. He’s in the 80th percentile of xBA, xSLG and fastball spin rate. Simply put, he’s nasty and should get a shot soon.
– Josh Dalley (@JoshDalley72)
Jose Leclerc (TEX)
Leclerc has hit another small rough patch (3 ERs in his last 2 IP) in what’s been a frustrating season for his fantasy owners, but those who keep the faith could still be rewarded when all is said and done. The 25-year-old right-hander signed a four-year contract extension with Texas in March, so the Rangers are surely hoping/anticipating that he can be their long-term solution in the ninth inning. Texas has been more competitive in the standings than many people envisioned, so they may be hesitant to make a change at closer right now. But 35-year-old Shawn Kelley has been getting by with smoke and mirrors, and his underlying statistics suggest things could go wrong in a hurry. The only thing standing in the way of Leclerc being a dominant late-inning arm is his occasional bouts of wildness, but he has issued just two walks over his last 13 2/3 innings. If/when Kelley implodes, Leclerc could step right in and perform like a top-10 closer in the season’s second half. That’s certainly worth a stash in leagues that value saves.
– Andrew Seifter (@andrew_seifter)
John Gant (STL)
Keep an eye on the Cardinals’ bullpen situation, as there are potential mix-ups in place that could benefit Gant and see him transitioned to the regular closer’s role. Jordan Hicks is currently manager Mike Shildt’s go-to guy in the ninth, but Hicks’s once firm grasp on the closer’s role may be loosening. Hicks’s performances have been a rocky roller coaster all season, seemingly following up each lockdown save with a dud in an eerily consistent pattern. While he’s continuing to see save opportunities, Shildt has definitely been feeling uneasy calling Hicks’s name in high-leverage situations. John Gant looks to be the main beneficiary should Hicks be removed from the closer’s role. Gant has dominated in his setup role for the Cardinals, posting a stellar 1.64 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, and 35:9 K/BB ratio in 33 innings this season. He’s been deployed in plenty of high-leverage spots, so Gant would likely transition well to a full-time closer’s role. Carlos Martinez, the Cardinals’ other potential option to replace Hicks in the closer’s role, isn’t doing much to strike confidence into Shildt, which acts as another boost for Gant. I’d consider this a low-risk stash as well since Gant is pitching at a high volume and delivering magnificent numbers (including recording nine holds). Look for Gant to usurp the closer’s role, at least temporarily, should Hicks continue to struggle with shutting the door.
– Connor Rooney (@c_rooney_)