Fantasy Baseball Closer Report: Week 13
We’ve got lots of major movement in the Closer Report this week, headlined by the return of Ken Giles, eye-raising bullpen usage in Cincinnati, and the continued struggles of Blake Treinen and Wade Davis. Thankfully the top-end closers look as strong as ever, with Kirby Yates, Josh Hader, and Brad Hand putting more and more distance between themselves and the rest of the pack.
|Team (Closer)||Current Rank||Previous Rank||+/-
|Padres (Kirby Yates)||1||1||–|
|Brewers (Josh Hader)||2||2||–|
|Indians (Brad Hand)||3||3||—|
|Yankees (Aroldis Chapman)||4||4||—|
|Astros (Roberto Osuna)||5||5||–|
|Dodgers (Kenley Jansen)||6||6||—|
|Pirates (Felipe Vazquez)||7||8||+1|
|Mets (Edwin Diaz)||8||7||-1|
|Blue Jays (Ken Giles)||9||27||+18|
|Phillies (Hector Neris)||10||11||+1|
|Nationals (Sean Doolittle)||11||16||+5|
|Giants (Will Smith)||12||13||+1|
|Tigers (Shane Greene)||13||12||-1|
|White Sox (Alex Colome)||14||14||—|
|Angels (Hansel Robles)||15||21||+6|
|Cardinals (Jordan Hicks)||16||17||+1|
|Reds (Raisel Iglesias)||17||10||-7|
|Diamondbacks (Greg Holland)||18||15||-3|
|A’s (Blake Treinen)||19||9||-10|
|Royals (Ian Kennedy)||20||23||+3|
|Red Sox (Committee)||21||19||-2|
|Rangers (Shawn Kelley)||23||26||+3|
|Braves (Luke Jackson)||24||22||-2|
|Rockies (Wade Davis)||28||18||-10|
|Marlins (Sergio Romo)||29||28||-1|
Toronto Blue Jays
Ken Giles was activated from the injured list on Thursday and steps right back into Toronto’s closer role, where he’s had a ton of success this season (11 saves, 1.04 ERA, 1.00 WHIP). The one concern for his rest-of-season outlook is a potential trade to a team that already has an established closer. But given Giles’ lengthy closer pedigree and the fact that he’s signed through the 2020 season, it’s more likely that any team willing to pay the price it will take to acquire him would want to use him in the ninth inning.
Sean Doolittle was a borderline top-10 closer to begin the season, and he’s back in that range now that he’s recovered from the rough stretch he endured in late May. Since May 28, Doolittle has an impressive 2.08 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 13.5 K/9 rate. He’s back.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels never formally named Hansel Robles their closer, but actions speak louder than words. Robles now has 11 saves while no other Halos reliever has more than two. It always seemed likely that Los Angeles would reserve Ty Buttrey for a more flexible “fireman” role, but that has rarely included holding leads in the ninth inning. This has ended up as a more traditional closer situation than it initially appeared. With Cody Allen no longer in the picture, it should stay that way.
Last week I stood up for Raisel Iglesias’ job security, so of course this week he was used in the eighth inning in back-to-back games while Michael Lorenzen was granted the opportunity to pick up the saves. Talk about timing. Iglesias is still considered the Reds’ closer, but it’s now clearer than ever that Reds manager David Bell meant it when he said in the offseason that Iglesias is “going to pitch in the most important spots in the game,” whether it is the ninth inning or earlier. Iglesias still has the full confidence of his manager — not to mention 13 saves compared to four for Lorenzen — so there is no need to panic. But a drop down the rankings is probably warranted here.
I’m not sure what exactly is wrong with Blake Treinen, but we’re fast approaching the All-Star Break and he is showing no signs of getting better. Treinen now sports an ugly 4.03 ERA and 1.53 WHIP after allowing three runs without retiring a batter Thursday. Walks have been a huge problem — his 5.35 BB/9 is the eighth-highest among all pitchers who have thrown at least 30 innings — but he’s also generating far fewer whiffs than last year and giving up much more hard contact. When you look at his career as a whole, last season now looks like the major outlier, so it’s pretty hard to be confident in Treinen turning things around and returning into a dominant closer.
Tampa Bay Rays
Nothing major has changed in Tampa’s bullpen hierarchy. Jose Alvarado is close to returning after dealing with a family issue in Venezuela, and when he does he’ll rejoin a closer committee with Diego Castillo. But neither Tampa reliever has pitched particularly well of late. Both have ERAs over 6.00 over the last month, meriting a drop down this week’s rankings. The moral of the story is that if you’re not going to have the closer job to yourself, you better be putting up dominant ratios in order to maintain some fantasy value.
Wade Davis has been absolutely horrific since returning from the injured list, allowing eight earned runs over his last 3.1 innings. You have to wonder how long a team with playoff aspirations can let that go on, particularly when the Rockies have a perfectly capable replacement in Scott Oberg. Oberg picked up three saves while Davis was sidelined and has a smooth 1.50 ERA and 1.00 WHIP on the season. Even if Davis manages to hold onto the job, it’s getting to the point where the damage done by his ugly ratios (5.40 ERA, 1.80 WHIP) outweighs the saves he provides.
New York Mets
Edwin Diaz hasn’t been as bad as the other preseason consensus top-two closer, Treinen, but he also hasn’t been nearly as good as fantasy owners hoped or expected. Diaz has surrendered four runs over his last three innings (and eight over his last 6.2), ballooning his ERA to 3.77 and his WHIP to 1.36. That said, the strikeouts have still been there. The walk rate isn’t too bad, and his .406 BABIP allowed is a strong indication of bad luck. He could be a good buy-low candidate at this point.
San Francisco Giants/Detroit Tigers/Chicago White Sox
I’ll go ahead and loop these three teams together because the situations are all quite similar. Will Smith, Shane Greene, and Alex Colome have all been excellent, drama-free closers this season, but all three face some risk of getting traded into a set-up role for a contender. If they are still closers after July 31, their stock should continue to rise — particularly Smith, who possesses a level of dominance beyond Greene and Colome.
The Cubs’ ranking this week is just a temporary placeholder until Craig Kimbrel joins the team. Once that happens, expect to see him start out right around 10th in the closer rankings.
The Mariners have avoided settling on a closer since Hunter Strickland landed on the injured list at the end of March, but Roenis Elias appears to be quietly emerging of late. With a 3.72 ERA and 1.32 WHIP, Elias isn’t exactly a world-beater, but he does have each of Seattle’s last three saves and is worth deploying in leagues where saves are hard to come by. I’m not quite ready to remove the committee designation here, but one or two more saves from Elias could do the trick. Strickland recently suffered a setback in his lengthy recovery from a strained lat muscle, so Elias should have a bit more time to try to solidify his hold on the closer job.