Post Trade Deadline Closing Situations

Well, the trade deadline has officially come and gone.  We successfully predicted many of the situations that changed – with freshly minted closers Dellin Betances, Kelvin Herrera, Tony Watson, Tyler Thornburg, and Jake Barrett all occupying top 10 spots on the Speculative Saves page.  We also had former closers Hector Rondon, Jonathan Papelbon, and Tyler Clippard ranked low in the Closer Rankings due to the excessive risk that they carried in losing their jobs.  We also had Jeremy Jeffress ranked as a somewhat high risk guy who – despite the lack of rumors recently – had been tabbed as a guy who could be moved… and he was.  Hopefully if you needed saves you acted accordingly and ended up with a new closer or 2 after the deadline.

Dellin Betances immediately goes into the elite tier of closers.  His ERA/WHIP are great but the strikeouts make him elite.  He has 0 competition in New York for his job as well.  Herrera would also be in the elite tier if not for the fact that we don’t know how long Wade Davis will be out.  It sure sounds like it’ll be a lengthy stint on the DL though.  Watson is a guy who I am very confident will hold onto the job in Pittsburgh despite the presence of former closer Neftali Feliz.  The Pirates feel Watson has paid his dues and deserves his shot so he’ll only lose the job if he really implodes.  Thornburg is a guy who is having a breakout season – great ERA/WHIP and tons of Ks.  If you’re in a league that runs their waivers weekly on Sunday, then he hadn’t become closer yet because Jeffress was still around so make sure to add him this weekend if you can.  He also has very little competition in Milwaukee for the job right now.  Barrett is the other newly-minted closer of the group.  While he isn’t as skilled as the other new closers, he’s still a good reliever and should be able to hold down the fort in Arizona where there’s also 0 competition with Daniel Hudson looking like he completely forgot how to pitch over the last month or so.

The other big thing to happen that hasn’t technically resulted in the gain or loss of a closer role yet was the Andrew Miller to Cleveland trade.  While many people incorrectly jumped out and proclaimed Miller the new closer (bumping Cody Allen to a set-up role), Indians manager Tito Francona is staying vague on the subject.  He says they will leverage both relievers in situations that call for it.  What that seems to imply is that Miller and Allen will share the closer role depending on who is coming up to bat in the 8th/9th innings.  It looks like a closer timeshare – which is hell for fantasy owners.  Normally I’d say wait a week and see how it shakes out then drop them if it stays a timeshare, but Miller and Allen are both elite relievers – so even getting a save or 2 per week still gives them value.  It’s a tough break for fantasy owners of Allen and Miller, but you have to hold them for now.  Keep in mind, too, that Miller is the only lefty in the Tribe bullpen (Kyle Crockett has been up and down but he’s hardly reliable) so it would make more sense to me to deploy Miller when tough lefties are coming to bat in the 7th/8th innings than it would to just designate him the closer.  Keep an eye on this situation moving forward.

There are two speculative guys who might be available in your leagues who I would pick-up if possible – Cam Bedrosian and Ken Giles.  With Huston Street pitching HORRIFICALLY it seems like it’s only a matter of time before Bedrosian takes over.  Street recently got a vote of confidence from his manager, but we all know that’s just the last step before you’re replaced.  Bedrosian is an absolute stud who would immediately go into the elite tier of closers.  Also, Street is a candidate to be traded before the August 31st trade deadline because no one wants his contract for how little production he offers – he’d have no problem getting through waivers.  Ken Giles is the guy who was supposed to start the season as the Astros closer… however he got bombed in Spring Training and had a rough start to the year forcing the Astros to go to their incumbent closer – Luke Gregerson.  After pitching well for awhile, eventually Gregerson‘s mediocre stuff caught up with him and he started blowing games.  However, Giles was still not pitching all that well at the time either so they decided to turn to journeyman Will Harris instead as Will had been virtually untouchable at that point.  However, it has long been thought that the Astros have been looking for a legitimate reason to install Giles as the closer.  And now Harris has given them one.  He’s blown 4 games since July 8th including back-to-back games on July 30th and August 1st.  With his ridiculously low ERA at the time Harris became closer, we knew regression would eventually hit him pretty hard.  He’s still a good reliever, but I think this is going to be the justification for the Giles trade that the Astros needed and he’ll become their new closer shortly.   Giles would also be in the elite tier of closers based on how he’s pitched since June.  In fact, he hasn’t even allowed a single hit in 7 of his last 8 outings!  Yeah – Ken Giles is back.  Go get him if he’s available in your league NOW.

If those two aren’t available in your league, there’s a couple others I’d keep an eye on.  Steve Cishek just blew another save… and despite pitching well overall this season, he’s blown 7 games now.  Normally this might not be that big of an issue if not for the fact that the strikeout BEAST Edwin Diaz is breathing down his neck.  If Diaz were to take over at closer he might be the best closer in baseball – so yeah, he’s probably worth picking up in case Cishek blows another one or two down the stretch.  The Mariners might also try Diaz out at closer in the final month if they either feel like he’s the better closing option and they’re competing or if they’re throwing in the towel and want to install Diaz as their closer for next year.  Either way, it’s probably a good idea to pick him up if you have an available bench slot.  Next up is Ryan DullDull, like Bedrosian, is sitting behind an aging closer (Ryan Madson) with mediocre at best skills who could also be an August waiver trade casualty.  Thus, Dull has two ways he can become a closer – through Madson‘s continued suckage, or through a Madson trade.  If Dull does become a closer, he’d be solid.  He has very good skills, though his strikeouts aren’t phenomenal like a lot of these other guys… he’d still definitely be worth a pick-up.

State of Closers – AL Central Edition

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.

AL CENTRAL State of Closers
Cleveland Indians/Chicago White SoxCody Allen and David Robertson are both among the best closers in baseball and aren’t going anywhere.  Don’t worry about the next guy in line on either team unless one of them gets injured.

Kansas City Royals – On the surface, Wade Davis looks like the same dominant reliever he’s been since 2014 – but he’s most certainly not.  His K rate and velocity are down, and his walk rate is up.  He has a 0.89 ERA but his SIERA is 3.71, and his xFIP is 4.25 (SIERA and xFIP are predictive ERA statistics used to take the luck factor out of a pitcher’s ERA to show how they’re really doing)!  What this means is that he hasn’t been pitching nearly as well as his ERA would seem to indicate.  Compounding this issue is the fact that the next guy in line, Kelvin Herrera, is a top 5 reliever in all of baseball – so a change in roles would be pretty easy to see.  Still, until Davis starts giving up runs, the fact that he’s been an elite reliever (though he’s never closed for an entire season yet) the last 2 seasons and that he’s only given up 2 earned runs so far this year keeps him pretty safe for now.  Just be aware – this is a situation that you should keep an eye on.  Herrera would be a top 5 closer if given the role, but no need to stash him unless Davis blows several games.

Detroit Tigers – I feel like the perception is that K-Rod is on the hot seat and could lose his job.  The fact is, however, that he’s one of the safest bets to keep his job in all of baseball.  Rodriguez started the season battling the Zika virus, which sapped his strength – leading to decreased velocity.  He has recently proclaimed himself 100% over the illness, though, as his velocity is back up and he’s pitching well again.  The only guy in that pen pitching better is Justin Wilson – an elite lefty.  However, the Tigers do not want to make a change, don’t want Wilson closing, and K-Rod will pitch well enough that they shouldn’t have to consider it at any point.  If K-Rod has prolonged struggles from here on out, feel free to stash Wilson, but I wouldn’t bother until then.

Minnesota Twins – Now THIS is an ugly situation…almost as ugly as the Reds’ pen.  The Twins really want Perkins at closer – and they will give him every chance to reclaim the role once he’s healthy – if and when that ever happens.  Honestly, I’m skeptical he’ll ever be healthy enough to pitch effectively this season.  He’s still out indefinitely.  Kevin Jepsen was given the opportunity to close when Perkins went on the DL, but I think we can all see Jepsen is awful – or at least miscast as a closer (he’s an ok middle reliever).  Many people might mistakenly think lefty Fernando Abad is next in line, but if you look at his usage, he very rarely goes a full inning.  They prefer to use him in lefty specialist situations.  I don’t think the Twins will use him as a closer.  Brandon Kintzler has been pretty steady for them, but he doesn’t strike out nearly enough guys to be an effective closer, and he has a history of allowing too many HRs (and is this year as well), so I don’t see him as a likely candidate either.  Michael Tonkin is a decent candidate with a good K rate and BB rate, but he also gives up too many HRs and way too many fly balls as well (51% fly ball rate!) – not what you want in a closer.  Still, with a 3.29 ERA backed up by a 3.23 SIERA, you should keep an eye on Tonkin.  My only problem with stashing him is his usage – they don’t seem to have faith in the guy as he only has 1 hold all year so they don’t seem to want to use him in high leverage situations.  So… who’s left?  Trevor May.  May looked like a shoe-in to close sooner than later, but then he imploded in 5 straight relief appearances in mid May – giving up 10 runs on 4 HRs in just 3 innings.  However, he hasn’t given up a hit in 5 appearances since then.  While his ERA is at 5.13, his SIERA sits at 2.59 – showing it’s mostly bad luck to blame for that unsightly ERA.  May’s BABIP is .355 with a 1.7 HR/9 rate – he’s giving up lots of hits and HRs, but both rates should come down.  He’s still very dominant – striking out 13.7 batters per 9 innings (6th highest among qualified relievers!) supported by a 15% swinging strike rate, and conceding only 3.4 walks per 9 (good considering the high strikeout rate).  Once May gets a bunch of scoreless/good appearances in a row, I expect him to eventually claim the closer’s role.  I think he ends up with the most saves on the Twins this season (though it won’t be a high number with how many games they lose).  Assuming he doesn’t have any blow-ups this week, you could get ahead of the game by picking him up for $1 ASAP.

State of Closers – AL East Edition

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.

Streamlining the Site – Changing It Up

Hey guys! We’re streamlining the site – taking out old links and pages that were no longer relevant in order to focus on our specializations – Starting Pitcher 2-starts, Closers, Draft Prep (during preseason), and Advice.  We pride ourselves on thoroughly covering those areas and staying up-to-date on the site.  We will also be redesigning in the coming weeks so don’t freak out if things look different – all good changes!  We encourage readers to please direct all questions to the “Ask RotoSaurus” page in order to keep the 2-start and closer pages clean and encourage traffic flow to other pages as well.  Feel free to ask us any and all fantasy-related questions there and Dusty and/or I will get back to you ASAP.  Also, I will be writing posts on all things closers throughout the season so be on the look out for that.  Thanks guys!

~Team RotoSaurus

Site Updates for the 2016 Season

We at RotoSaurus are excited for a new season of fantasy baseball, and we are in the process of updating our site to help you all with your drafts. The NFBC ADPs and positional eligibility lists are live and updated, and all other lists are coming soon. Check back with us in the coming weeks for strategy, rankings, sleepers, and much more!