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Fantasy Baseball 2017: Closer Depth Chart Week 3

Welcome back to the Wednesday Weekly Closer Report where you will get the latest on every team’s relief/closing situation and what to expect for the remainder of the year. News surrounding closers is kind of like Vin Diesel, 2 Fast and 2 Furious, so knowledge is key in winning the relief game. This week we have some shakeups around the league, specifically regarding one situation in Texas that I predicted last week. So let’s get down to business and see which closers are excelling and which closers are slowly sinking into an icy abyss. Also below find a newly added feature to this weekly article: a ranking of the ‘Immediate Waiver Pickups.’ Not only will you know who to target, but I will let you know who to prioritize and which player provides you with the best chance for saves in the future. Now, to the Closer Depth Chart Week 3:

American League East

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentBOSCraig KimbrelMatt Barnes
ConfidentNYYAroldis ChapmanDellin Betances
ComfortableBALZach Britton (INJ)Brad BrachBrad Brach
ConfidentTORRoberto OsunaJason Grili
ConfidentTBAlexander ColomeDanny Farquhar

Zach Britton faces his second injury problem of the year, this time with a sore forearm. Manager Buck Showalter expressed confidence that the injury will not sideline Britton for long, but he also stated he could not be certain Britton would return once eligible. Luckily, the Orioles have a plethora of great bullpen arms and will now turn their ninth inning duties over to Brad Brach. Over the past few years, Brach has arguably been the most dominant set-up man in baseball not named Dellin Betances or Andrew Miller. Given his stuff and consistency, Brach makes for a juicy pickup not only for this week but potentially for the long term due to the uncertainty regarding Britton’s status. Although Showalter mentioned potential split in the role between Brach and Darren O’Day, go pick up Brach and roster him for a while until you see Britton return to form and 100% health. Craig Kimbrel is back baby! The Red Sox gave up quite a few prospects to acquire this heat-seeking missile, but when he is right and mixing that filthy slider with 98+ heat, he is nearly unhittable.  I have touted Kimbrel all season long and now he seems to have found his stride. On the season, Kimbrel is 6/6 in save opportunities and in his most recent 4 game stretch, Kimbrel did not walk one batter. When he commands his pitches, he can compete for the Number One Closer Throne with any Closer in the game.

American League Central

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentCWSDavid RobertsonNate Jones
ConfidentKCKelvin HerreraJoakin Soria
ComfortableMINBrandon KintzlerRyan Pressly
ComfortableDET Francisco RodriguezAlex Wilson
ComfortableCLECody AllenAndrew Miller

The fluctuating stock market of Francisco Rodriguez always provides food for thought. The good: Rodriguez has 3 scoreless appearances. The bad: Rodriguez has 3 appearances where he gave up a run. Rodriguez’s age (35) and inconsistency makes him more of a flier at Closer for the rest of the year, but Alex Wilson is not really inspiring all that much confidence into anyone right now. The Tigers current lead the American League Central at 8-4, and while atop the division I would not expect a change at Closer from a veteran with Rodriguez’s pedigree. But if the Tigers begin to falter, as I expect, I can see Rodriguez becoming more trade bait later in the year in order to lengthen a team’s bullpen. Ultimately, do not see him holding down the Tigers job year round, or any other job for that matter.

American League West

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ComfortableLAACam BedrosianAndrew Bailey
ConfidentSEAEdwin DiazSteve Cishek (INJ)
ComfortableTEXMatt BushJeremy JeffressMatt Bush
UnknownOAKSean DoolittleSantiago CasillaSean Doolittle
ConfidentHOUKen GilesLuke Gregerson

My favorite Closer division in baseball deserves about one thousand words on its own, but I will keep the discussion as brief as possible. Seeing the calendar still reads April, Ken Giles of course cannot pitch well for any sustained period of time. Luke Gregerson’s stats may look ugly (7.36 ERA), but in actuality Gregerson has 7 clean innings besides one realllllllllllll rough outing (6 earned in .1IP). Houston is streaking now and is one of the better teams in the game, so given his potential and documented April struggles, Giles leash should be long…for now. How convenient Sam Dyson’s experiences trouble with his right hand, landing him on the DL, after blowing yet another save. Banister is clearly protecting his pitcher here with this mysterious (and most certainly fake) injury, which, lucky for us, opens the door for Matt Bush. However, given Bush’s injury history, Jeremy Jeffress also deserves your attention. After months of arguing who would win the Oakland closer role, there seems to be an official split between Santiago Casilla and Sean Doolittle. Unfortunately, they both struggled mightily in their last appearances, both in the same game, which saw Casilla open the eighth inning, giving up two runs, and then Doolittle failing to clean up Casilla’s mess, allowing 2 himself. For my two cents, Doolittle cealrly is the better pitcher, with more potential, but both are worth owning until one starts running away with the job.

National League East

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
UnstableWSHBlake TreinenShawn KelleyShawn Kelley
UnstablePHIJoaquin BenoitHector NerisHector Neris
Confident ATLJim JohnsonArodys Vizcaino
ComfortableMIAA.J. RamosBrad Ziegler
ComfortableNYMJeryus Familia (SUS)Addison Reed

Nearing return from suspension, Jeryus Familia should take back the Closer role shortly, although there are rumblings that Terry Collins may ease him back into the job. Addison Reed is still worth holding onto for now, as he has been serviceable in Familia’s absence, but once Collins hands the reigns over the Familia, Reed should slide back to his setup role for the remainder of the year, barring recurring Familia struggles. As Blake Treinen‘s grasp on the Washington Closer job loosens, Shawn Kelley‘s grows stronger. Kelley recorded 4 consecutive scoreless appearances appearances, racking up 2 wins and one save during that stretch, which was in relief of Treinen after he gave up 2 hits and 2 walks, recording just one out. Although neither reliever deserves the job as of now, I am officially calling a state of emergency for Treinen owners due to his recent struggles and would not be surprised to see a switch at the position before the turn of the calendar month to May. Phillies newly christened Closer Joaquin Benoit failed to impress last week in his new role, blowing a save opportunity and giving up 3 runs in .2IP. We all know where this is heading eventually as Hector Neris has not given up a run in 6.1IP and has 7 strikeouts on the season. Neris is the guy to own in Philadelphia, so if you’re looking for a speculative add, he should be the guy you target.

National League Central

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentCHCWade DavisHector Rondon
ComfortableCINRasiel IglesiasMichael Lorenzen
ComfortableMILNeftali FelizCorey Knebel
ConfidentSTLSeung-Hwan OhTrevor Rosenthal
ComfortablePITTony WatsonDaniel Hudson

I fancy myself a patient man. I do not overreact and always look at the positive side to try and calm my nerves. However, I am currently finding that Seung-Hwan Oh is not good for my health. After performing as one of the most dominant arms in baseball last year, Oh has allowed at least one run in 4 of 5 appearances on the season. Now, in his most recent outing (where he gave up a run) he recorded his first save! Whoop-de-do! Joy and rapture from all Oh’ owners. The good news is is that I do not expect a Trevor Rosenthal comeback tour this year. Also, Oh’s true competition, Kevin Siegrist, can no longer throw strikes (8 walks in 4.1IP). Oh has a long leash after last year’s beautiful campaign, but it’s getting shorter and shorter with each unclean appearance.

National League West

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentLADKenley JansenSergio Romo
ConfidentSFMark MelanconHunter Strickland
Unstable SDBrandon MaurerCarter Capps (INJ)Carter Capps (INJ)
UnstableARIFernando RodneyRandall Delgado
ConfidentCOLGreg HollandAdam Ottavino

Carter Capps should return to the Padres by the end of April, meaning that a Closer change should be coming soon. Brandon Maurer has run into troubles recently and never really seemed liked a fit for the Closer role. I expect a seamless transition to Capps once fully healthy. How about the start to Greg Holland’s season! He finally looks like his old self, going 7/7 in save opportunities and leading all of Major League Baseball in the category. While I do not believe the Rockies are in this season for the long haul, they can score (and give up) runs by the bunches, so I expect a lot of close games and the save opportunities to be there all season long. My best friend Fernando Rodney just cannot help himself. It is like clockwork. The Groundhog comes out in February, ghouls and goblins on Halloween, Santa on Christmas and the real Fernando Rodney blows saves and struggles mightily throughout the entire season. He is currently in sole possession of second in the National League for saves (5 on the season). He also posts a rather robust 8.53 ERA and 1.89 WHIP. Backup Randall Delgado cannot point any fingers as he has been equally as atrocious (8.22 ERA, 1.70 WHIP). If the Diamondbacks are serious about contending this 2017 season, and in my opinion they should be with their offense and solid staff with great potential consisting of Zack Greinke, Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray, Shelby Miller and Patrick Corbin, they desperately need to make a closing change. If I had to put money on it, the Diamondbacks end-of-year Closer is not currently on their roster.

Ranking of the Immediate Waiver Pickups

  1. Matt Bush (TEX)
  2. Hector Neris (PHI)
  3. Sean Doolittle (OAK)
  4. Shawn Kelley (WSH)
  5. Carter Capps (SD)
  6. Brad Brach (BAL) (This ranking is due to his short-term role as the others have year-long closer potential. If you want to stream saves just for this week, I would rank him second behind Matt Bush.)

And that’s a wrap for the Closer Depth Chart Week 3. Be sure to scour the waiver wire for all these relievers and check back every Wednesday for the latest updates regarding the closer jobs around the league. Until we meet again, keep your eyes open and your nose to the ground.

To contact me with any questions or general fantasy baseball discussion, please email me at redsocker45@gmail.com or tweet me @AJGamballer.

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