Second Week Closer Review
**We’re looking more for “Closer Situation” than “Save Opportunity” Statistically Speaking**
Former Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna and former Cleveland Indians closer Cody Allen locked it down for the Astros and Angels respectively. LeClerc and Treinen had fairly quiet weeks as the closers for the Rangers / Athletics respectively. The only real story is the Mariners. Anthony Swarzak is the real name of interest and will be discussed below. He appeared in a save situation once this week, but it was no ordinary save situation. Mike Trout was 90 Feet away from home plate with only 1-Out when Swarzak entered the game. Pujols was set down on strikes, and Swarzak finished an impressive two out save.
The Twins (Parker), Indians (Hand), and White Sox (Colome) have been relatively uninteresting with successful saves. Perhaps the only thing worth mentioning is that Rogers (Lefty) and Trevor May did not have a save. It seems clear that for now, the main 9th-inning guy for the Twins is Blake Parker. In a direct contrast, while the Royals did not have a true closing opportunity in the past week, Shane Greene had several. Year-to-date, Greene has 7 Saves.
The Yankees (Chapman), Blue Jays (Giles), and Rays (Alvarado) had relatively uneventful weeks, and saved the games they were expected to. In Boston, the first Save Situation of the season seemed to suggest Matt Barnes was the guy to own. But in the last two opportunities, it has been Ryan Brasier taking over with Barnes pitching parts of the 7th and 8th. It is hard to predict usage here, but Brasier seems like he may have the inside track. Miguel Castro got a save opportunity for the Orioles, but frankly I don’t see him as viable in many leagues other than games like 5×5, and even then I’m selling for whatever I can get and count on.
Some may have a few more saves than others, but for the most part this division (Jansen:Dodgers, Yates:Padres, Smith:Giants, Holland:DIamondbacks) went pretty smoothly this week. The only thing of intrigue that’s worth mentioning is that Wade Davis of the Rockies did not get a SV opportunity. In a manner of speaking he had one, but he was also the pitcher of Record, and the scorekeeper gave Davis the win.
A few teams in this division seemed to fail to get a real closing opportunity at all (Reds / Cubs) so we have little to work with there. Hader was absolutely elite. Hader will continue to be elite so long as the Brewers don’t bring in a replacement. And while he doesn’t get as much credit, the lefty Vazquez was similarly solid in Pittsburgh. The bullpen of conflict is the St. Louis Cardinals. It looked like Hick’s role may be in question earlier in the week, but after two consecutive saves it looks like he once again has the clear inside track.
The Nationals (No Saves) and Mets (Clear, efficient Closer) were fairly boring this week. Adam Conley got one save for the Marlins, but blew a 3-3 tie at one point as well. Being that he is a lefty and former starter, I don’t see him as being a clear closer as of now. That said, I don’t see anyone particularly close to that role. Vizcaino and Minter each got a save this week, but Minter’s was more recent and since being more clearly healthy off the DL. I don’t necessarily see this as cut-and-dry, but AJ Minter seems like the favored 9th-inning man to me about now. And then the Phillies have been a real mess. Many have been clamoring for Hector Neris while Robertson, Dominguez, and Neshek fight over every hold and save. This seems like a team trying to keep it’s arbitration numbers low, so don’t be surprised if they constantly go after under-contract veterans like Pat Neshek.
Adds / Speculative Watch List
Ryan Brasier, Boston Red Sox — As a Brasier owner in a dynasty league, I was very skeptical after the first save that anything had changed in the dynamics between Brasier and Barnes. But after Barnes was used in a second straight appearance as a 7th/8th role guy, I began to take Brasier ascension quite a bit more seriously. This is still a situation that I see as largely being in flux, but it seems that Brasier built a great deal of trust with the coaching staff last year. He is certainly worth a flier.
Anthony Swarzak, Seattle Mariners — Is Swarzak “the Closer?” Maybe not in the way that Kenley Jansen is, but he is I believe established as the clear player to own. No, his first save and getting that first save is not everything. But for a bullpen without a clear closer and with so many struggles, seeing Swarzak shut the door on the Angels was rather impressive. He actually managed to nab his second save today, even though that isn’t covered in the information above. Sometimes it is as simple as being the guy who gets the next opportunity, and then the next, and continuing to make the most of it. Swarzak is primed to be that guy.
Diego Castillo, Tampa Bay Rays — Castillo will only be covered in brief because he was mentioned in last week’s article. On many teams, Castillo would be the smallest step away from a closer position. Unfortunately for him, Jose Alvarado has looked just as good this season and has had some “baseball viral” clips of his sinker with Arm-side run at 97-99+ MPH. He’s a great RP who may do a lot of dirty work, just may not get a ton of saves.
Brandon Brennan, Seattle Mariners — Admittedly, last week’s reddit share got me thinking about Brennan. While it is hard to know exactly who he is when you look at his last three years sample, he seems to have recently improved his ability to control/command his pitches. And while this may be a weird “positive” to add, failure to continue to suppress walks will be easy to see and react to as a fantasy owner. So for now, I’m more than comfortable adding him in league’s with these kinds of contexts.
Ty Buttrey, Los Angeles Angels — While Allen may be off to a strong start and doing well to keep Angel’s leads in the 9th inning, Buttrey is the name that appears to be lurking. For SV+Holds or IRS+Hs formats he already possesses value and has been used in valuable spots the last few games. But even for saves leagues, it would take only an Allen implosion or injury to put Buttrey in serious proximity to saves.
JB Wendelken, Oakland Athletics — Although it is very early in the 2019 season, Wendelken’s combination of innings and strikeouts alone are reason to have a piqued interest especially in non-saves formats. Wendelken has over 10 IP already with 13 Ks. He has matched this K total with 0 BBs and 0 HRs. Again, he isn’t a player to necessarily target if you’re looking for saves. But Wendelken could have a large role with a high number of valuable innings for the A’s.
Richard Lovelady, Kansas City Royals — More of a flier than anything, as we don’t have too much data on the 23 Year Old. But as a lefty and in a pen that doesn’t have too much in terms of established arms, it is reasonable to see Lovelady establishing himself as a Hold or IRS+Hs candidate as soon as this year. He’s not necessarily a rush to the wire guy with 1 Career IP of middle relief, but someone to at least keep an eye on.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday April 7th, 2019 from 8pm-9:30pm EST for episode #150 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. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. We will discuss spot starters for the coming week, plus a weekend update, and look ahead to next week.
Our guest this week is Bryan Luhrs. Bryan has been a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com for 6 years, and is the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Cole Freel, and Kyle Amore live on Thursday April 11th, 2019 from 7:30-9pm EST for episode #151 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. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. Cole and Kyle will discuss the latest happenings in the world of MLB and fantasy. They will take a look back on the previous few days and a preview of the coming weekend. Including spot starts, bullpens, offense, and minor league players.