It took just two games before the first closer blew a save in 2017. The honor goes to Mark Melancon, who took the loss after giving up two runs to the Diamondbacks on Sunday afternoon. With Melancon’s track record, no one is worried. I’m sure he had some jitters making his first appearance for the Giants after signing a 4-year $62 million deal over the winter.
On the other side of the field Sunday afternoon, Diamondbacks closer Fernando Rodney was credited with a win, but not before he gave up the lead the 8th inning of a 4-4 ballgame. Rodney’s history leaves a little more room for concern if the shaky start continues. Fortunately for Rodney owners, there is not much competition for the closer role in the Dbacks pen.
Just a few hours later, Seung Hwan Oh became the second closer of 2017 to blow a save. The Cardinals closer came into the 8th inning and worked out of a jam, then gave up the 3-0 lead in the top of the 9th inning against the Cubs. The Cardinals eventually won it 4-3 in the bottom of the 9th, so Oh got the vulture win. No real concerns over the BS from Oh. He earned the closer role last year and it will take more than one BS to lose the role, however, Cards setup man Kevin Siegrist should be more than capable of closing games if the opportunity arises.
One closer who could be on the hot-seat early is Jeanmar Gomez. He does not have the elite “stuff” of most closers, yet managed to notch 37 saves for the Phillies last year with a 4.85 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, and 6.16 K/9 – yuck. Gomez got his first save of 2017 on Monday, but not before giving up a 2-run homer to the Red’s Scooter Gennett. Hector Neris, the real gem of the Phils’ bullpen, pitched a clean 8th inning to setup Gomez for the save. Neris looms as the obvious candidate should Phillies Manager Pete Mackanin decide a change is needed. Neris posted a 2.58 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 11.43 K/9 in 2016, very much closer stuff. Neris will continue to rack up holds in the meantime.
In Colorado, the questions surrounding who would be the Rockies’ closer seem to have been quieted as Greg Holland took the first three save opportunities without issue. Adam Ottavino recorded two holds, then blew what would have been his third hold on Thursday afternoon when he gave up a game tying solo home run to Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the 7th inning. Mike Dunn wrapped up the seventh for Ottavino, then pitched a clean 8th and was eventually credited with the win. Dunn also has two holds for the Rockies on the season. 5 of his first 6 outs came via the strikeout, and after Thursday 6 of 10 outs recorded were Ks. Dunn, a lefty, always had strike-out stuff, good for about 10 K/9 for his career. He should continue to see plenty of holds opportunities for the Rockies.
There were lots of question marks surrounding the Washington Nationals closer heading into 2017. Blake Treinen, with his 98 MPH fastball, was named the team’s closer and is 2/3 in save opps so far, the blown save coming Thursday night when he was called upon to get the final out in the 9th inning and gave up a single to Tyler Moore, allowing an inherited runner to score. Koda Glover and Shawn Kelley will see most holds opportunities.
Over to the American League, news broke late that Blue Jays’ closer Roberto Osuna would start the season on the 10-day DL. Osuna is hopeful to return from the DL as soon as he is eligible. In the meantime, Jason Grilli is the lead candidate for saves, however the Jays admitted Joe Biagini could see some save opportunities as well. I talked about Biagini in my Blue Jays Team Preview, noting he was a guy to watch out for. He’s a better all-around reliever than Grilli, despite Grilli’s tremendous 12+ K/9 rate. After being named interim closer, Grilli gave up an 11th inning walk-off homer to Mark Trumbo in the Jays’ opening game. This bodes well for Biagini getting an opportunity sooner than later.
The Indians bullpen picked up right where they left off, with Andrew Miller pitching a perfect 8th inning in a tied ballgame on Monday. The Indians took the lead in the 9th, scoring three off Texas closer Sam Dyson before Cody Allen struck out the side for his first save, notching Miller his first win of the season. Miller had 10 wins as a reliever in 2016 and should see similar win totals in 2017 as Indians’ manager Terry Francona loves to use his best reliever in tight ballgames no matter the inning.
Back to Sam Dyson for a moment – he followed up Monday nights loss with a blown save on Wednesday, this time giving up 5 runs, with a Francisco Lindor grand slam the final blow. He fell to 0-2, and in 1 inning of baseball he’s given up 8 earned runs, while striking out no one. Cause for concern? I think so – Matt Bush and his sub 1.00 WHIP are waiting in the wings if Dyson does not right the ship quickly.
In Anaheim, Mike Scioscia did not commit to naming a closer, but as expected Cam Bedrosian saw the team’s first save opportunity and nailed it down with a perfect inning. 31-year-old Blake Parker is also turning heads in Anaheim. Parker made the Angels bullpen after finishing spring training on a streak of 17 consecutive outs made by strikeout. Through Thursday, Parker recorded 5 of his first 6 outs via the strikeout. He came into the 6th inning of Tuesday’s game and recorded a hold, though he did give up two earned runs. Thursday, Parker was brought into the 6th inning again, this time striking out the two batters he faced without issue . If he continues to rack up the Ks, he could see more high leverage situations and his stock will rise quickly in a sub-par Angels bullpen.
That’s the week one bullpen roundup. With only a few days in the books, there was actually quite a bit of action across the league. It’s important to not overreact too early. I don’t think any legitimate closer or set-up man is at risk. However, closer turnover is extremely high and the situation in Philly is worth keeping a close eye on, as is Blake Parker’s hot start. I’ll be back next Friday with another round.
(Click the RED link below to listen)
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday April 9th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #82 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will be previewing the coming week’s key matchups and discussing key fantasy information.
Our guests this week are Craig Mish, and Professor Mark Rush. Mark is the Chief Editor for MLFS, a writer, and occasional guest on our shows. Craig Mish is the host of a fantasy baseball show on Sirius Satelitte Radio along with Jim Bowden from 9-11am EST Monday through Friday. Craig is also the host for a show on Sirius every Sunday morning with FSWA Hall of Famer Lenny Melnick from 7-10am EST.
You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”