Fantasy Baseball Closer Report: Week 8
We (meaning I) took last week off here at the Closer Report to focus on some fantasy football content, which means that there are TWO weeks of closer craziness to cover this week. So throw on your favorite team’s hat, pop in some Big League Chew (TM), and start to get loose because it’s our time to shine!
As we approach the stretch run in fantasy leagues the closer landscape is as messy as ever. A full third of the league (10 of 30 teams) check-in as “committee” situations this week, and there are a couple other situations that could become committees overnight. If you don’t have at least three of the top-15 closers in these rankings, you’ll probably have to scrounge around for saves aggressively over these final weeks. Hopefully, this week’s column can help you along on your journey to title town.
|Team (Closer)||Rank (+/-)||Notes|
|A’s (Liam Hendriks)||1 (+1)||Last year’s breakout closer has officially reached the pinnacle|
|Dodgers (Kenley Jansen)||2 (+1)||Looking like vintage Kenley|
|Brewers (Josh Hader)||3 (-2)||Gave up his first hit of the season on September 5. Bum!|
|Indians (Brad Hand)||4 (+2)||Started out rocky but now leads the league in saves (12)|
|Cubs (Jeremy Jeffress)||5 (+21)||Has Cubs’ last four saves|
|White Sox (Alex Colome)||6 (-1)||Six walks in his last 6 2/3 IP, but he keeps racking up saves|
|Yankees (Aroldis Chapman)||7 (-3)||Has barely pitched, but at least he’s got the pedigree|
|Mets (Edwin Diaz)||8 (-1)||Mets have a grand total of one three-out save since August 9 (Diaz got it)|
|Reds (Raisel Iglesias)||9 (-1)||Still the closer following the Archie Bradley acquisition|
|Nationals (Daniel Hudson)||10 (-1)||Five home runs inflate his ERA, but he’s has been excellent otherwise|
|Braves (Mark Melancon)||11 (-1)||Doesn’t miss a ton of bats, but he’s still plenty useful|
|Cardinals (Giovanny Gallegos)||12 (+9)||Has really taken to the closer role|
|Rangers (Rafael Montero)||13 (+3)||Off to a very nice start to his closer career|
|Astros (Ryan Pressly)||14 (+4)||Finally starting to settle in|
|Marlins (Brandon Kintzler)||15 (-1)||Ranks among save leaders despite Marlins’ low expectations, Covid-19 outbreak|
|Twins (Committee)||16 (-5)||Taylor Rogers still seems like the primary option, but others will see opportunities, too|
|Padres (Committee)||17 (-2)||Trade deadline acquisition Trevor Rosenthal appears to be ahead of Drew Pomeranz|
|Phillies (Brandon Workman)||18 (-5)||Average closer with good job security|
|Rockies (Daniel Bard)||19 (+9)||It took a while, but the job is his|
|Rays (Committee)||20 (+7)||Nick Anderson and Diego Castillo currently sharing closer duties|
|Blue Jays (Committee)||21 (+4)||Rafael Dolis may be inching ahead of Anthony Bass|
|Angels (Ty Buttrey)||22 (-5)||Felix Pena is on his heels|
|Red Sox (Matt Barnes)||23 (-3)||Red Sox closer by default provides plenty of strikeouts, plenty of walks|
|Pirates (Richard Rodrguez)||24 (-)||Only three saves, but looks to have the ninth inning locked up|
|Mariners (Committee)||25 (-2)||Yoshihisa Hirano and Yohan Ramirez have recently alternated saves|
|Tigers (Committee)||26 (+3)||Gregory Soto is currently the best bet for saves in Motown|
|Diamondbacks (Committee)||27 (-15)||Kevin Ginkel looks like the current frontrunner|
|Royals (Committee)||28 (-6)||The Royals don’t seem interested in having a set closer since trading Trevor Rosenthal|
|Giants (Committee)||29 (+1)||Don’t say I didn’t warn you about Gabe Kapler|
|Orioles (Committee)||30 (-11)||Cole Sulser is out as closer, Hunter Harvey could eventually be in|
With each of Chicago’s last four saves, Jeremy Jeffress has separated himself from Rowan Wick and Craig Kimbrel and taken ahold of the Cubs’ closer job. Jeffress currently ranks as the fourth-most valuable relief pitcher in standard 5×5 formats, according to Baseball Monster, which is the same spot he finished in during his excellent 2018 season with Milwaukee. He’s fully capable of dominating from here on out.
St. Louis Cardinals
Andrew Miller earned the first two saves after the Cardinals returned from their Covid-19 hiatus in mid-August, but then Miller had a stint on the Injured List and Giovanny Gallegos took over. Gallegos has the Cardinals’ last four saves, and he’s pitching extremely well (1.59 ERA, 0.53 WHIP, 11.12 K/9). Miller is now back, but this certainly looks to be Gallegos’ job the rest of the way.
After a brief period where Jairo Diaz looked to be the closer — and then an extended stretch where it appeared to be a full-blown committee — Daniel Bard has earned the Rockies’ last three saves and five of their last six. As a 35-year old who hadn’t pitched in the Majors since 2013, Bard is a feel-good story in a turbulent year. Whether he can keep it up is anyone’s guess, but his peripherals are even better than his surface stats, and there are only a few weeks left anyway.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays have been a committee all year, and things aren’t about to change now. But with Nick Anderson back in the picture, he’s clearly worth rostering and deploying in just about all leagues. He’ll continue to share save chances with Diego Castillo, but Anderson has yet to give up a run and has a K/9 approaching 14.0, so he can help your fantasy teams in more ways than just saves.
The Diamondbacks don’t appear to have a set closer following the Archie Bradley trade, but if you’re in the mood for speculating, Kevin Ginkel earned the first post-Bradley save on September 4. That said, Ginkel currently has an ERA of 6.75 and an obscenely high BB/9 of 7.31, so he may be more likely to blow up your ratios than help your save count. Should Ginkel continue to struggle, Stefan Crichton has been alright (3.00 ERA, 1.48 WHIP) and is likely next in line.
Kansas City Royals
Since the Royals traded Trevor Rosenthal, Greg Holland has two saves, while Scott Barlow and Jesse Hahn have one apiece, and strikeout machine Josh Staumont has zero. Holland is probably the best bet for save chances at the moment, but it’s unclear whether the Royals care about having a designated closer except when they are trying to build up the trade value of a veteran reliever on a short-term contract.
It was fun while it lasted, Cole Sulser owners. After racking up saves in the early going, Sulser increasingly struggled with command in late August, ultimately forcing the Orioles to pull him from the closer role at the end of the month. Baltimore has generated one save since then, and it went to long reliever Cesar Valdez, who threw the final two innings. Hunter Harvey has been talked up some as the Orioles’ “closer of the future,” but manager Brandon Hyde says he wants to mix and match in the ninth, and that’s probably what he’ll continue to do in these final few weeks.
There was a time early in the season where Brad Hand looked to be on thin ice, but fast forward to September, and the man leads all of baseball in saves. His 2.45 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 11.66 K/9 look pretty good, too. Hand has perhaps been fortunate not to surrender a single home run yet, but that good luck has been canceled out by an absurdly low 53.3 percent left-on-base percentage.
Given his past performance and team situation, it always seemed like Ryan Pressly could be an above-average fantasy closer. His statistics still don’t look great — in large part because he’s struggled with walks — but he’s been much better on all fronts of late. Pressly is still missing as many bats as ever, so if he can get his control under, well, control, he could perform like a top-10 closer going forward.
San Diego Padres
It certainly looks like the Padres acquired Trevor Rosenthal to serve as their closer, as he’s earned both of the team’s saves since the trade deadline. If he earns one or two more, I’ll no longer consider this a committee (and Rosenthal will likely see a big jump in the rankings). But given how valuable the San Diego closer has proven to be this season, I would recommend holding onto Drew Pomeranz a little bit longer just in case.
Toronto Blue Jays
Anthony Bass has been scored upon in four of his last six appearances, and he looks to be losing ground to Rafael Dolis, who has the Blue Jays’ last two saves. Like Daniel Bard, Dolis hasn’t pitched in the Big Leagues since 2013, but he is having a very nice season with a 1.77 ERA and 10.62 K/9. He has struggled with walks, however, which could come back to bite him, especially if he begins to allow more home runs. It may be a moot point since Ken Giles is on the verge of returning from the Injured List. Giles won’t be immediately thrust back into the closer role, but it sounds like he may only need one or two low-leverage appearances before it happens.
Los Angeles Angels
Felix Pena appeared to be on the verge of replacing Ty Buttrey as the Angels’ closer, but then Pena blew the save in the first game of a doubleheader on September 6, while Buttrey successfully closed out the nightcap. Pena has now given up five earned runs in one inning over his last two appearances. Buttrey recently went through a rough stretch of his own, but he remains the favorite for saves at the moment.
Yoshihisa Hirano would appear to be the closer of choice in Seattle these days, but the team is trying to be careful with the 36-year old’s workload, which has opened up opportunities for 25-year old Yohan Ramirez. Based on recent usage, look for Hirano and Ramirez to roughly split the team’s remaining save chances.
After pitching fabulously in July, Joe Jimenez was downright awful in August, and he forced the Tigers to change course. Gregory Soto stepped in and quickly picked up two saves, but then he blew his third opportunity. That led to Jose Cisnero getting a chance, but he blew his opportunity as well. The most recent save went to Bryan Garcia, who has six walks and just seven strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings so far this season. Soto is probably the best bet to see the next save chance, but this is very much a committee right now.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants are creating a lot of save chances lately, but they’re all going to different pitchers, which is par for the course for manager Gabe Kapler. Tony Watson, Tyler Rogers, and Sam Coonrod have each successfully converted at least one save over the last week. Who’ll get the next one? 🤷
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