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10 Closers To Sell or Stash (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

Apr 21, 2021

It sometimes feels as if playing fantasy baseball during the month of April is really just about monitoring bullpens. This year has been no different. Therefore, our writers highlighted their favorite closers to both stash and sell this week.

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Q1. Who is your top closer to stash?

Kendall Graveman (RP – SEA)
Although it somewhat already happened, it’s time to stash Graveman. Rafael Montero started the year as the closer for the Mariners, and he recorded two saves in five chances. Having more blown saves than actual saves isn’t a good way to start the season. Meanwhile, Graveman notched two clean save chances and has yet to allow an earned run. Keep in mind that we’re dealing with small samples for relievers, so the tides shift quickly. For now, Graveman looks to factor into the save chances with a potential closer committee with the Mariners. Stash him before it’s too late since most fantasy managers need saves.
– Corbin Young (@Corbin_Young21)

Emilio Pagan (RP – SD)
Pagan was rumored to be first in line for the Padres’ closer role heading into the season, leading many fantasy managers rushing to the waiver wire to add him. However, we have seen Mark Melancon take the reins of the closer gig, and he has been solid so far with six saves and no walks. However, there are some cracks in the armor. His 8.5% swinging strike rate is cause for concern, and his .130 BABIP is due for regression.Given that we’ve seen inconsistencies from Melancon since he left the Pirates, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him have a few bad outings. If that happens, Pagan and his nearly 30% strikeout could step in. Yes, Pagan has a walk issue as well, but he’s the more dominant reliever. Holding a backup closer who will provide solid ratios for a top-five team in baseball is a smart move, even it’s just to keep him away from the competition for the time being.
– Carmen Maiorano (@carmsclubhouse)

Andrew Chafin (RP – CHC)
Craig Kimbrel has been lights-out this year — as of this writing, he hasn’t allowed a single run — but that may not matter for the immediate future of the Chicago Cubs. The team is 6-9 and sitting in last place in the National League Central. If Kimbrel continues to dominate, he will become one of the premier trade targets over the next few months. That opens the door for Andrew Chafin, who has been a strikeout machine. He also leads the Cubs in holds. It’s a longterm stash, but in deeper leagues, Chafin appears to have an inside track to eventual saves.
– Mario Mergola (@MarioMergola)

Joely Rodriguez (RP – TEX)
Rodriguez began the year on the injured list with a sprained ankle and was activated just three days ago. He’s already made two appearances for the Rangers, both of which occurred in high-leverage situations. He predictably struggled in his first game over the weekend against the Orioles (2 ER over 2/3 of an inning), but he worked a scoreless eighth inning with two punch outs against the Angels on Sunday. He looks to be the preferred setup man in Texas and should continue to serve as a bridge to closer Ian Kennedy. Kennedy has looked great to begin the season and Texas is not going to win a lot of games, which makes him a prime trade candidate. Rodriguez put up a 2.13 ERA, 1.026 WHIP, and 17 strikeouts over 12 2/3 innings with Texas last season and would be the biggest beneficiary if Kennedy were moved in a deal. It may require patience to stash him but he’s serviceable right now if you play in a SV+HLDs league.
– Jon Mathisen (@EazyMath)

Lucas Sims (RP – CIN)
The Reds love to use established bullpen roles. From 2017-2020 former closer Raisel Iglesias had 100 saves, which ranked fifth in the majors. Amir Garrett, the Reds new closer, has three career saves and compiled a 6.31 xFIP and a 0.75 K/BB ratio in four appearances this season. He ranks in the bottom 10-percent in xwOBA, K%, BB%, xERA, xSLG, and xBA. He owns t a career 3.86 ERA and 3.80 xFIP as a reliever – good but not great. He was given the first crack at the role because of a stellar 2020 campaign, and although he’s yet to blow a save, it’s only a matter of time if he keeps pitching like he is. Meanwhile, Lucas Sims has a 2.46 xFIP this season with a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious 9.00 K:BB ratio in six appearances. Sims also ranks in the 90th-percentile or above in xwOBA, xERA, xBA, xSLG, K%, Whiff%, and max exit velocity. He’s no worse than 57th-percentile in any of the Statcast dashboard statistics. Sims already has one save this season, and it came in a game where Amir Garrett was fresh and available. It’s also the most recent save any Cincinnati Red has recorded.
– Lucas Babits-Feinerman (@WSonFirst)

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Q2. Who is your top closer to sell?

Alex Reyes (RP – STL)
This is such a difficult question since many fantasy managers probably need saves desperately given closer injuries and struggles. However, if you can trade away Alex Reyes for Aroldis Chapman or Ryan Pressly, I’d consider it. Through 5.1 innings, Reyes totaled three clean saves with no earned runs, three walks, and four strikeouts. Before the season, reports from Zachary Silver of MLB.com noted the Cardinals planned for a 100-inning cap for Reyes, meaning he’ll stick in a relief role. Reyes could hold down the closer job and easily stay under the 100-inning mark, but it doesn’t hurt to shop him with Reyes’ injury concerns. Again, it’s difficult to trade away any saves at this point, so maybe the answer is just to hold on, and don’t move any closers compiling saves yet.
– Corbin Young (@Corbin_Young21)

Diego Castillo (RP – TB)
Castillo is a phenomenal reliever – let’s be clear about that. His absurd 30.3% K-BB rate so far this season should cause fantasy managers to double-take. Of course, this is more about who the Rays are as an organization, rather than my lack of confidence in Castillo. In 2019, we saw over 10 relievers garner saves for the Rays, and their organizational philosophy is still the same. You can probably sell another league mate on the idea that the Rays will win a lot of games, and Castillo could be a top-five save option based on the early results. However, you’ll know better, given that the likelihood of him getting over 20 saves is low. If you have other closers to pick up the slack, trade Castillo for an area of need.
– Carmen Maiorano (@carmsclubhouse)

Alex Colome (RP – MIN)
The Minnesota Twins brought in Colome during the offseason, but many fantasy players remained skeptical. Colome had the all-important “closing experience” that managers so desperately covet, but he also dropped his ERA from an impressive 2.80 in 2019 to an impossibly low 0.81 in 2020. That was incredibly unsustainable, and we are witnessing the regression firsthand. As of this writing, Colome is pitching to a 5.68 ERA. The Twins have other options to explore and, if I were to offload a closer, I would look to move Colome before his role no longer has value.
– Mario Mergola (@MarioMergola)

Jake McGee (RP – SF)
This would be the definition of a “sell high” and it seems foolish right now considering how desperate fantasy teams are for saves. McGee has been very impressive to start the season with a 2.16 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 10:3 K/BB ratio over 8 1/3 innings. He’s tied with San Diego’s Mark Melancon for the league lead with six saves, but I have concerns over the sustainability of his stats and his durability. He’s relying heavily on his fastball (93.3%) and is only producing a 23.9% Whiff rate and 23.6% Chase rate. One dimensional pitchers eventually get figured out by hitters. He’s also 34 years old and hasn’t pitched more than 51 innings in a season since 2017. He has a lengthy injury history and could get overworked by manager Gabe Kapler as the Giants have few reliable late-inning options outside of Tyler Rogers. You could fetch a decent return from a save-needy team if you’re willing to trade McGee right now. If you’re comfortable with your current save situation and can afford to let him go then it may not be a bad idea to move him. But it could be hard to let him go considering his job security and the Giants’ propensity to play in close games, despite the red flags mentioned above.
– Jon Mathisen (@EazyMath)

Kenley Jansen (RP – LAD)
Jansen is probably not in danger of losing his job any time soon. Yes, he had a scare after he blew a save on April 7th, and Corey Knebel picked up the next save on April 9th. But Jansen has a long track record and is pitching well, except that he has six walks in seven innings. It’s part of a disturbing trend that has seen Kenley’s walk rate increase in four consecutive seasons while his average velocity has decreased. And his xFIP has risen from 1.82 in 2017 to 3.56 to 3.77 to 4.18 to 5.34 this season. Simply put, if there are managers in your league who think Jansen is a safe, reliable closer, then it would be wise to trade him to them. There is no shortage of other options in the Dodgers’ bullpen. The first crack would probably go to Knebel. My top target in a trade would be Raisel Iglesias, but if you can get Matt Barnes or Emmanuel Clase for Jansen, you might even be able to get another player thrown in.
– Lucas Babits-Feinerman (@WSonFirst)

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