This is going to be a semi-regular update on all things related to Closers in fantasy baseball. I’m going to go over all relevant information and explain my rankings and prospective saves in detail, while also talking about the different risks some Closers face and who potential pick-ups are for speculative saves as well.
Interestingly, there has been relatively little change from the beginning of the season until now (compared to most seasons). The biggest changes have been Tolleson losing his job to Dyson in Texas, Hoover losing his job to Cingrani in Cincy, Gomez emerging in Philly, Madson emerging in Oakland, and Jepsen closing while Perkins is on the DL in Minnesota. Some minor surprises to start the season were Gregerson getting the call over Giles (which seemed to shock many, though I wasn’t one of them as I predicted Gregerson would get the job), and Osuna being named closer over Storen (which given the skill difference between the two really shouldn’t have shocked many). Joe Smith got some run as a closer with Huston Street on the DL, but Street is back closing for the Angels now. For me, the most shocking thing to date is the fact that as of June 3rd, Fernando Rodney has yet to allow an earned run! I predict some rocky times to follow, but he’s earned the Padres’ patience. They should still try to trade him sooner than later before that house of cards comes crashing down though.
AL EAST State of Closers
Toronto Blue Jays/Boston Red Sox/Baltimore Orioles – Not much to say here as these are 3 of the safest closing situations in baseball. Osuna, Kimbrel, and Britton are all top 5 closers on contending teams. It’s not worth holding any of their set-up men because those guys aren’t going anywhere.
Tampa Bay Rays – Colome started the season as the closer while Boxberger was on the DL. Boxberger was supposed to supplant Colome, but re-injured himself upon his return and will miss another month or 2. This should solidify Colome‘s hold on the job for the rest of the season. Honestly, I don’t know why they’d make a change there in the first place as Boxberger is mediocre while Colome has been straight-up dominant (with the peripherals to back it up) thus far. I have him ranked in the second tier of closers just below the elites – he should be good to go as the closer from here on out.
New York Yankees – Aroldis Chapman returned from suspension and supplanted Andrew Miller as the closer in New York. I was mildly surprised he took over with Miller dominating as the best closer in baseball, but I think it’s really just a tactic to build Chapman‘s value in order to trade him. That is a really interesting situation in New York. The Yankees are barely clinging to life at 4 games below .500 and 6.5 games behind Division-leaders Baltimore and Boston. With their offense lagging (worst wOBA in the AL!) and their starting pitching overachieving (sorry, Sabathia and Nova won’t keep this up), the only thing keeping them in the hunt is their best-in-baseball bullpen. Betances-Miller-Chapman virtually ensure that if the Yankees make it to the 7th inning with a lead, they’ve all but won the game. All 3 of these guys could be dominant closers – and this is where it gets interesting. Chapman, a free agent after the season, will surely be dealt before the trade deadline to ensure the Yankees get something for him; and it’s hard to imagine any team trading for him and not using him as a closer (though it is possible so he does carry some risk there). However, Miller, and to a lesser degree Dellin Betances, could also be dealt. Miller is signed through the 2018 season for $9/year – making him extremely attractive and valuable to teams. The Yankees may choose to hold onto him, but they really need to rebuild and get younger (they have a very old core group there) in order to compete in future seasons. Keeping relievers doesn’t make sense in this case – especially when you can get a ransom for them (see Ken Giles trade). Miller has already been linked to teams needing a dominant lefty like the Indians, Cubs, Rangers, and others. In 2 of those those cases (Indians/Cubs), it’s ambiguous whether Miller would end up closing for those teams, but it wouldn’t be likely with elite closers already on the rosters in Cody Allen and Hector Rondon – plus as a lefty the teams would likely want to be able to pitch Miller against lefties earlier in games. In Texas, however, Miller would almost certainly replace Sam Dyson as the closer. Miller becoming an elite closer again this season is dependent upon him either staying in New York after Chapman has been traded, or being traded to a contending team that needs a good Closer – like Texas, Washington, or San Fran perhaps. Betances, meanwhile, could become a dominant closer in New York if both Chapman AND Miller are dealt. Betances is cheap and under team control through 2019, so I can’t imagine them dealing him unless they get a TON in return – which could happen. Not only do all 3 of these guys bear watching over the next 2 months as potential closers due to the likelihood of the guy in front of them on the closer depth chart being traded, but also because they will be elite level closers if they do claim the role. As RazzBall’s Grey is fond of saying, SAGNOF (Saves Aint Got No Face) – but when that face is one of those 3, it’s a HUGE boost to not only your team’s save totals, but also your ERA, WHIP, and Ks as well – so all 3 should be stashed in all leagues.