Fantasy Baseball Closer Report: Week 12
Big kudos go out to my (well-named) colleague Andrew Gould, who stepped up and covered this column in my absence last week. Little did I know my scheduled week off would coincide with Craig Kimbrel finally putting pen to paper and joining the Cubs. You’re welcome, Kimbrel owners.
It’s always interesting to get another writer’s perspective on my closer rankings, and while I will be working off the previous week’s rankings for ease of transition, I’ll certainly be incorporating some of Gould’s input as well.
|Team (Closer)||Current Rank||Previous Rank||+/-
|Padres (Kirby Yates)||1||1||—|
|Brewers (Josh Hader)||2||2||—|
|Indians (Brad Hand)||3||4||+1|
|Yankees (Aroldis Chapman)||4||3||-1|
|Astros (Roberto Osuna)||5||5||—|
|Dodgers (Kenley Jansen)||6||7||+1|
|Mets (Edwin Diaz)||7||6||-1|
|Pirates (Felipe Vazquez)||8||8||—|
|A’s (Blake Treinen)||9||9||—|
|Reds (Raisel Iglesias)||10||10||—|
|Phillies (Hector Neris)||11||16||+5|
|Tigers (Shane Greene)||12||12||—|
|Giants (Will Smith)||13||13||—|
|White Sox (Alex Colome)||14||14||—|
|Diamondbacks (Greg Holland)||15||15||—|
|Nationals (Sean Doolittle)||16||17||+1|
|Cardinals (Jordan Hicks)||17||18||+1|
|Rockies (Wade Davis)||18||25||+7|
|Red Sox (Committee)||19||19||—|
|Braves (Luke Jackson)||22||27||+5|
|Royals (Ian Kennedy)||23||29||+6|
|Rangers (Shawn Kelley)||26||24||-2|
|Blue Jays (Joe Biagini)||27||11||-16|
|Marlins (Sergio Romo)||28||26||-2|
Gould made a pretty compelling case for ranking Hector Neris ahead of Raisel Iglesias, but I’m not quite ready to go there. Neris and Iglesias both have the ability to be top-10 closers, but I still trust Iglesias a bit more when it comes to job security. Neris does have the Phillies’ last seven saves, but most of that has been with Pat Neshek on the injured list. Neshek’s return is now imminent, and while I expect Neris to hold onto the job, you just never know for sure with Gabe Kapler calling the shots. Still, Neris absolutely deserves to jump guys like Shane Greene, Will Smith, and Alex Colome, who could all be dealt into set-up roles at the trade deadline.
Wade Davis was activated from the injured list last Friday and picked up his first save since returning on Monday. Scott Oberg did a decent job in Davis’ absence, but there’s no closer controversy in Denver. The bigger question is how Davis will fare. His 2.55 ERA looks tidy, but his 5.09 BB/9 is a major blemish that should catch up to him eventually in hitter-friendly Coors Field.
Toronto Blue Jays
Ken Giles had been one of the most pleasant surprises among closers this year until he hit the injured list on June 11 right elbow inflammation. Both Giles and manager Charlie Montoyo are optimistic that Giles will only require the minimum 10-day stay on the IL, but there’s always the possibility of a setback when it comes to elbow soreness. Daniel Hudson ended up with the first save in Giles’ absence, but Montoyo has made it clear that Joe Biagini will be the team’s interim closer. Biagini hasn’t exactly been outstanding this season, but he’s certainly worth rostering until Giles proves he’s healthy.
Kimbrel’s decision to sign with the Cubs is good news for Luke Jackson, as Gould pointed out in this space last week. Jackson reached the double-digit save mark on Thursday, and while Josh Tomlin, Jacob Webb, and Anthony Swarzak all also picked up saves over the last week, all three were purely circumstantial, as Closer Monkey has detailed. Short of a trade for an established closer, the biggest threat to Jackson isn’t any of the aforementioned names. It’s A.J. Minter, who worked on his stuff and command during a stint in the minors. Jackson remains the clear-cut closer for now, but Minter will reportedly have a chance to compete for the job. We’ll see.
Kansas City Royals
Don’t look now, but the Royals appear to have finally settled on a closer. Ian Kennedy has Kansas City’s last five saves, dating all the way back to May 1. The fact that the Royals have only generated five saves since the beginning of May is a reason to temper your enthusiasm, but a closer is a closer, right? Kennedy has been a thoroughly mediocre pitcher over the course of his major league career, but he’s actually pitching better than ever before, as demonstrated by his smooth 8.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio, 2.04 FIP, and 2.80 SIERA. Consider picking him up if you’re in one of the 84 percent of leagues in which he’s available.
Tampa Bay Rays
Jose Alvarado was on the bereavement list and now the restricted list as he deals with a family issue in Venezuela. It isn’t clear exactly when he will be back with the Rays, but it shouldn’t be much longer. In the meantime, Diego Castillo and Emilio Pagan will have one less guy to compete with for save chances, but nobody in this bullpen has picked up a save since Castillo got one way back on May 28.
While the Cubs have been vague about his timeline, Kimbrel is probably still at least a couple weeks away from joining the team and inheriting the closer job. I’m inclined to agree with Gould that Kimbrel should debut right around the 10-spot in the closer rankings. In the meantime, I’ll go ahead and designate this situation as a committee. Pedro Strop has collected three saves since returning from the injured list on June 4, and with Steve Cishek currently day-to-day with a bruised knee, Strop is pretty clearly the best bet for saves on the North Side until Kimbrel is ready.
I’ve been calling the Twins’ closer situation a committee for more than a month, and recent events have only strengthened my conviction that there is no designated closer in Minnesota. Twins skipper Rocco Baldelli has been playing matchups in the ninth with Blake Parker and Taylor Rogers for most of the season, and with Parker scuffling and Rogers temporarily unavailable due to back stiffness, Trevor May finally picked up his first save on Tuesday. May, as you might recall, was the fantasy community’s favorite to land the closer job in spring training. Whether he will see more chances is unclear, but at this point, it really just comes down to whether this is a two- or three-man committee.