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Fantasy Baseball 2017: Closer Depth Chart Week 6

Welcome back to the Wednesday Weekly Closer Report where I will break down and rate each team’s bullpen situation. If you have not yet noticed, 75% (rough approximation) of the players drafted this year currently find themselves on the disabled list. Every day, you wake up to player news regarding another high profile injury to a stud pitcher or slugger. Unfortunately, Closers have not been passed over this year, with more than a few designated Closers finding themselves on the sidelines trying to make their way back atop their team’s bullpen and back into our starting lineups. With so many moving pieces, this week could be the week you capitalize on your opponents’ hesitancy.  As always, 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 6:

 

American League East

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentBOSCraig Kimbrel Joe Kelly
ConfidentNYYAroldis ChapmanDellin Betances
ComfortableBALBrad BrachDarren O'DayBrad Brach
ConfidentTORRoberto OsunaJoe Smith
ConfidentTBAlexander ColomeDanny Farquhar

The injury woes continue for the Orioles Zach Britton, and this time he will miss significant time. That troublesome left forearm will leave Britton sidelined until the All-Star break, leaving Baltimore without (arguably) the games most dominant reliever since 2014. Some good news: Brad Brach is 8/9 on save opportunities on the year and, historically, possesses two of the better skills a Closer should have: the ability to strike people out and the ability to keep the ball in the park. As Britton’s career backup, and one of the more reliable setup men over the past few years, Brach will finally get to showcase his dominant arsenal and, barring yet another injury, should hold down the Closer job until Britton’s return in mid July. 

American League Central

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentCWSDavid RobertsonNate Jones (INJ)
ConfidentKCKelvin HerreraJoakim Soria
ComfortableMINBrandon KintzlerRyan Pressly
ComfortableDETJustin WilsonAlex WilsonJustin Wilson
ConfidentCLECody AllenAndrew Miller

Hallelujah! After weeks of clamoring for Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus to make the switch from Francisco Rodriguez to Justin Wilson, Ausmus finally must have read one of these articles. In his explanation, Ausmus noted how great K-Rod has been since joining the Major Leagues and how professionally he took the news, but really this was a mere formality. Let’s do a quick breakdown. On the year, Rodriguez boasts a 8.49 ERA, 2.06 WHIP, .352 batting average against and a 64% save percentage (7/11), while allowing 4 home runs. On the other hand, my boy Justin Wilson enjoys a cool 0.59WHIP, 14.49 K/9, 5.50 K/BB and .087 batting average against, allowing as many TOTAL HITS (4) in his 13.2 innings of work as as Rodriguez allowed home runs in his 11.2 innings. Francisco Rodriguez had a great ride in the Major Leagues. Who could ever forget his pivotal role in the Anaheim Angels 2002 World Series run where K-Rod, as a rookie, struck out 28 batters in 18.2 postseason innings, recorded 5 wins, posted a 1.93 ERA and 0.80 WHIP, and, most importantly, lead that bullpen and the team to a World Series victory over the Barry Bonds led Giants. We enjoyed the tantalizing and dynamic talents of this young superstar so many years ago, but now he may finally be at the end of his rope.

American League West

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ComfortableLAABud NorrisBlake ParkerBud Norris
ConfidentSEAEdwin DiazNick Vincent
ConfidentTEXMatt BushJeremy Jeffress
UnstableOAKSantiago CasillaRyan MadsonRyan Madson
ConfidentHOUKen GilesWill Harris

Cam Bedrosian does not sound close to a return in the near future, so Bud Norris should hold onto that job for the mean time, with the 14.79 K/9 strikeout machine Blake Parker waiting in the wings. With Sean Doolittle sidelined once again, Ryan Madson receives a bump in the pecking order. While Madson has been pitching well recently, Santiago Casilla seems to be the only arm in Oakland earning any save opportunities, so he remains the only viable fantasy option there.

National League East

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
UnknownWSHShawn Kelley (INJ)Koda Glover (INJ)Shawn Kelley (INJ)
UnknownPHIHector NerisJoaquin BenoitHector Neris
ComfortableATLJim JohnsonArodys Vizcaino
Comfortable MIAA.J. RamosKyle Barraclough
ConfidentNYMJeryus FamiliaAddison Reed

The Philadelphia Phillies closing nightmare continues. We think Hector Neris leads the charge, but in the eighth inning of a one run game last Thursday, Joaquin Benoit blew the save by giving up a solo home run to Miguel Montero. Now of course Pete Mackanin wanted to give Neris the save opportunity in the ninth and have Benoit fill the backup duties in the eight, so seeing Benoit blow the save there does not really mean anything to Neris’s chances going forward. However it is a perfect snapshot of the Phillies inability to pick the correct bullpen arm no matter the situation. Given their propensity to struggle and the volatility in the bullpen, the Phillies situation is one to avoid. Speaking of situations to avoid, someone tell me what they think will happen in the Washington Nationals bullpen. Blake Treinen was a trainenwreck (ha!) waiting to happen to begin the season as the Closer. So we moved to a Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover bipartisanship, seeing Kelley slowly take over the job. But then wouldn’t you know it, both the incumbent and backup go down with injuries, seeing a new dynamic duo of Matt Albers and Enny Romero emerge from the underworld. That’s a real Mariano Rivera/John Wetteland 1-2 punch. Anyway, both Glover and Kelley are on track to return by this weekend, which will make for great bullpen fodder. My money stays with Kelley, with Albers being the main vulture for saves until the weekend rolls around, so feel free to pick him up if desperate.

National League Central

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentCHCWade DavisHector Rondon
ComfortableCINRasiel IglesiasDrew Storen
UnstableMILNeftali FelizCorey KnebelCorey Knebel
ConfidentSTLSeung-Hwan OhTrevor Rosenthal
ConfidentPITTony WatsonDaniel Hudson

Much ado about nothing here for the most part. Corey Knebel continues to be one of the better backups this 2017 season, posting a fantastic 25 strikeouts in just 16.1IP, allowing only 8 hits. While Neftali Feliz pitched 3 “clean” innings last week, they were anything but clean, allowing 2 hits and 3 walks in 3 innings of work. Even though has has not blown a save since April 19, Feliz still maintains a lofty 6.20 FIP and 5.04 xFIP, while also posting a sub .200 BABIP against (.176). Feliz normally hold his opponents well below the average .300 BABIP (career .236 BABIP against), but we should expect his BABIP to normalize and regress to his career mean, which means more baserunners and hits are coming in Feliz’s future. I’d buy stock in Knebel now and holster him just before Feliz’s final knockout blow.

National League West

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentLAD Kenley JansenPedro Baez
UnknownSFMark Melancon (INJ)Derek LawDerek Law
ComfortableSDBrandon MaurerCarter Capps (INJ)Carter Capps (INJ)
UnstableARIFernando RodneyArchie BradleyArchie Bradley
ConfidentCOLGreg HollandAdam Ottavino

The Fernando Rodney saga rolls on to Week 6! This may be better than the Star Wars or Lord of the Rings series, and could possibly end up being a longer-running sitcom than The Simpsons. He has a 10.80 ERA and 1.97 WHIP to go with a .965 OPS against. It almost seems unfathomable that he could keep his job for this long on a team on pace for over 88 wins and currently in possession of the final Wild Card spot in the National League. The only reason Rodney has not been publicly shamed and banned from the Arizona bullpen is because they do not have a viable, reliable and experienced reliever to turn to. But at this point, my 11 year old baby cousin (who has 0 years of service in the MLB) would be as effective as Rodney. Much like the Detroit situation, I can only scream so loud for the Diamondbacks to turn to Archie Bradley. Maybe Torey Louvullo reads this article too! Anyway, Bradley backed up Rodney’s only save last week, allowing 1 run in 1.1IP, but striking out 3. His put away stuff, combined with his great command and ability to keep the ball in the park makes Bradley a good fit at Closer, especially considering the incumbent abomination. The injury bug strikes again! Word is not out yet on how much time Mark Melancon may miss due to his right pronator strain, but it looks like it will be longer than the 10 day variety. Manager Bruce Bochy confirmed Derek Law will handle the lion’s share of the save opportunities while Melancon enjoys time on the beach. Both he and Hunter Strickland profile similarly, with a  slight advantage in strikeout rate going to Strickland but a slight advantage in control and command going to Law. With Bochy giving us input already, I am comfortable rolling with the straight-shooting Manager’s first reaction, so pickup Law immediately. However, even if you miss on Law, Strickland is not a bad speculative/vulture pickup either.

Ranking of the Immediate Waiver Pickups

  1. Brad Brach (BAL, 80% Yahoo ownership)
  2. Shawn Kelley (WSH, 46% Yahoo ownership)
  3. Justin Wilson (DET, 44% Yahoo ownership)
  4. Bud Norris (LAA, 64% Yahoo ownership)
  5. Hector Neris (PHI, 45% Yahoo ownership)
  6. Derek Law (SF, 9% Yahoo ownership)
  7. Archie Bradley (ARI, 19% Yahoo ownership)
  8. Corey Knebel (MIL, 18% Yahoo ownership)
  9. Carter Capps (SD, 8% Yahoo ownership)
  10. Hunter Strickland (SF, 11% Yahoo ownership)
  11. Ryan Madson (OAK, 42% Yahoo ownership)

And that’s a wrap for the Closer Depth Chart Week 6. 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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