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Fantasy Baseball 2017: Closer Depth Chart Week 4

Welcome back to the weekly closer report where I will break down each team’s bullpen situation and tell you which team’s bullpen waters look the darkest and murkiest. As is always the case early in the season, we still have a lot of shifting pieces throughout the league, including a few situations you really need to monitor going forward (most notably those situations in Oakland and Detroit I noted last week). Do not forget to check out the rankings of the ‘immediate waiver pickups’ at the end of the article to see who has the most upside going forward for his team’s closer job. Here’s the Closer Depth Chart Week 4:

American League East

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentBOSCraig Kimbrel Matt Barnes
ConfidentNYYAroldis ChapmanDellin Betances
ComfortableBALZach Britton (INJ)Brad Brach
ConfidentTORRoberto OsunaJoe Biagini
ConfidentTBAlexander ColomeDanny Farquhar

Zach Britton is due to come off the disabled list on Wednesday, but the Baltimore Orioles want to play it safe, scheduling a bullpen session on Wednesday instead. While the Orioles may not immediately activate him on Wednesday, he should return by the weekend, so this situation should come to a close by Saturday. In any event,  as outlined last week Brad Brach should be owned in most leagues by now, but if he is available on waivers and you are desperate for saves, he will be a good bet for the next few days.

American League Central

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentCWSDavid RobertsonNate Jones
ConfidentKCKelvin HerreraJoakim Soria
Confident MINBrandon KintzlerRyan Pressly
UnstableDETFrancisco RodriguezJustin WilsonJustin Wilson
ConfidentCLECody AllenAndrew Miller

Francisco Rodriguez has allowed a run in 4 of his last 5 appearances, seeing his ERA rise to 5.87 and WHIP to 1.83. However, in those four appearance he allowed a run, Rodriguez earned the save in 3 of those appearances, blowing just one. Looking at this latter statistical anomaly does not make sense as his peripheral stats (6.70 FIP, 4.77 xFIP) tell the true story. With these continuous struggles, a change is looming, but which Wilson will survive the final battle? Before the season, I would have tabbed Alex Wilson as the favorite to supplant Rodriguez as the closer, but now it appears as though Justin Wilson is the favorite. It’s like a Wilson on Wilson crime! Justin’s peripherals (1.19 FIP, 2.12 xFIP, 12.46 K/9) trump those of Alex (4.54 FIP, 4.93 xFIP, 6.75 K/9), plus Justin has not allowed a run yet on the season, so let’s go ahead and name Justin the winner of the Wilson battle royal.

American League West

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
Comfortable LAACam Bedrosian (INJ)Bud NorrisBud Norris
ConfidentSEAEdwin DiazNick Vincent
ComfortableTEXMatt BushJeremy Jeffress
UnknownOAKSantiago CasillaSean DoolittleSean Doolittle
ConfidentHOUKen GilesLuke Gregerson

As I boldly predicted, Cam Bedrosian started his 2017 campaign off to a furious start, allowing 0 earned runs and striking out 9 over 6.2IP. Unfortunately, the Angels placed Bedrosian on the disabled list with a groin injury, which initially muddied the closer’s job in LA. Fortunately, journeyman starter Bud Norris took over the duties and is 2/2 in his two save opportunities. While I believe Norris can only be good in small doses and has no long term appeal, he clearly has taken over the Angeles closer job and should be owned in all leagues. What is more confusing: Stephen Hawking’s dissertations on quantum mechanics or the Oakland Athletics bullpen situation? After Sean Doolittle received back-to-back closing opportunities on April 10th and 15th, Santiago Casilla earned 2 saves last week, with Doolittle receiving 3 holds in setup duties. Let’s also throw in the fact that Ryan Madson got a save on April 22nd, but that seems more of a case of rest for Casilla, who pitched 3 of the previous 4 days. This situation gets more uncertain with each passing week, but I am sticking with Doolittle as the long term favorite, but honestly who knows. Do not fret over Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais’s statement that he will us Edwin Diaz in high-leverage situations, not just closing spots, in order to get Diaz more work. In fact, please allow me to translate that message for you: Servais admitted to doing a poor job of managing Diaz and his workload in the early part of the season. Diaz has pitched in one game since April 16th, which is not Diaz’s fault. If Servais wanted to get Diaz more work, he could simply pitch Diaz, regardless of the situation, one day and then pitch him the next game if there were a save opportunity. Diaz pitched back-to-back games once already this year, and 8 times last year. So, from all fantasy baseball owners, myself included, please Mr. Scott Servais pitch your best commodity and ace reliever, and keep him in tip-top shape.

National League East

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ComfortableWSHShawn KelleyKoda GloverShawn Kelley
UnstablePHIHector NerisJoaquin BenoitHector Neris
Confident ATLJim JohnsonArodys Vizcaino
Comfortable MIAA.J. RamosBrad Ziegler
ConfidentNYMJeryus FamiliaAddison Reed

In not really all that shocking newsBlake Treinen lost his closer’s job in Washington and now Shawn Kelley leads the way out of the bullpen. Kelley earned 3 saves last week, going 2.2 scoreless innings, giving up 1 hit with 3 strikeouts. But if that is the case, why did Koda Glover earn back-to-back saves to end the week, the second of which came when the Nationals said Kelley would be available to pitch? Glover’s first save came as no surprise, as Kelley pitched 3 of the previous 4 nights. The second save…if you are a Kelley owner, just chalk it up to extra rest for the new closer. Monitor this situation throughout the year, as not only is there internal closer rumblings, but also rumblings involving highly touted closers from other teams. Do we finally have the christening of Hector Neris we have all been waiting for? Last week Neris earned 2 saves, with Joaquin Benoit setting him up in both. While the Phillies have not publicly declared Neris as the Closer, the writing does seem to be on the wall. While I am happy the Phillies made the right call, we are not out of the woods yet since Neris did struggle in his second opportunity, giving up 3 hits and one run, and also struggled in a non-save situation in the ninth two nights later, giving up 2 hits, 2 walks and one run. Keep your eyes peeled, as this could be a hot potato the rest of the season.

National League Central

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentCHCWade DavisHector Rondon
Comfortable CINRasiel IglesiasDrew Storen
UnstableMILNeftali FelizJacob BarnesJacob Barnes
ConfidentSTLSeung-Hwan OhTrevor Rosenthal
Comfortable PITTony WatsonDaniel Hudson

All Seung-Hwan Oh owners can collectively take a sigh of relief. After a rocky start last week, and a very hot start for Trevor Rosenthal 2.0, Oh finished the week in strong fashion, going 3/3 in saves on 3 consecutive days, all of which seemed rather pain free, racking up 5 strikeouts in those 3 appearances, giving him a total of 5 saves for the week. If we had an Oh illness, this would be exactly what the doctor would have prescribed. A few more appearances like these would help to officially calm my nerves, but for now I am confident Oh will lead the way for the Cardinals the rest of the season. I am not declaring a state of emergency in the Cincinnati Reds bullpen, but I am declaring a state of watch. While Rasiel Iglesias continues to pitch well, traditional closer Drew Storen also has put up good numbers early in the season. Storen has the pedigree of a true closer, with multiple long, successful stints with the job in Washington a few years ago. Also, I still am not entirely sure how the Reds plan to use Iglesias long term. I personally view him as a starter with great upside and massive potential, but then again if you thought that about Aroldis Chapman (also a former Cincinnati Red oddly enough) you would have been wrong. Monitor this situation, and I recommend looking closely at Iglesias’s usage for the next few weeks. Neftali Feliz blows his first save in a Brewers uniform and its absolute chaos, panic and mayhem in the streets of Milwaukee. Let’s calm down everyone. Was that outing against the Cubs an ugly disaster and dumpster fire? Of course. But besides that one outing, Feliz has only given up 1 run in 5.2IP. Having said that, Jacob Barnes slammed the door shut the very next night, solidifying his role as the backup in front of Corey Knebel. Barnes now boasts an impressive 11.12 K/9, with 0 earned runs allowed in 11.1IP. Although it’s not officially panic time in Milwaukee, we are on the verge of a potential change, and picking up Barnes will help you get in front of that before it happens.

National League West

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
Confident LADKenley JansenPedro Baez
ConfidentSFMark MelanconHunter Strickland
UnstableSDBrandon MaurerCarter Capps (INJ)Carter Capps (INJ)
UnstableARIFernando RodneyArchie BradleyArchie Bradley
ConfidentCOLGreg HollandAdam Ottavino

Over his last 4 appearances, Fernando Rodney has shown us his Dr. Jekyll side, throwing 4 scoreless innings, amassing 3 saves, and giving up only 1 hit and 1 walk with 5 strikeouts. However, as we know from the story, Mr. Hyde can pop up any time, anywhere, and it is only a matter of time before Rodney starts wrecking homes, doctor’s laboratories and fantasy teams with his unstable and inconsistent performances. Although not your prototypical closer, Archie Bradley shows the most promise to take over the closing duties in the Arizona Diamondbacks bullpen. While Bradley profiles more as a long reliever than a one-inning closer, Bradley has the strikeout upside (9.53 K/9) of a legitimate closer and has excelled in his new bullpen job, allowing only 1 run and a .179 batting average against across 11.1IP.  Rodney’s job might not publicly be in danger, but I always expect him to be on the precipice of disaster, so a quick, unannounced change would not surprise me. Stash Bradley for now, and not only will you log a few extra quality innings per week but also you have the chance for long term saves.

Ranking of the Immediate Waiver Pickups

  1. Shawn Kelley (WSH, 63% Yahoo ownership)
  2. Hector Neris (PHI, 53% Yahoo ownership)
  3. Sean Doolittle (OAK, 16% Yahoo ownership)
  4. Carter Capps (SD, 13% Yahoo ownership)
  5. Bud Norris (LAA, 18% Yahoo ownership)
  6. Justin Wilson (DET, 12% Yahoo ownership)
  7. Jacob Barnes (MIL, 18% Yahoo ownership)
  8. Archie Bradley (ARI, 8% Yahoo ownership)

And that’s a wrap for the Closer Depth Chart Week 4. 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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