Week 13 Closer Review
Clean Week Closers — Players who have little-to-nothing to discuss role wise, as well as got their team’s save Opportunities this week and converted flawlessly.
Alex Colome (Chicago White Sox), Ian Kennedy (Kansas City Royals), Shane Greene (Detroit Tigers), Aroldis Chapman (New York Yankees), Roenis Elias (Seattle Mariners), Hansel Robles (Los Angeles Angels), Felipe Vazquez (Pittsburgh Pirates), Josh Hader (Milwaukee Brewers), Will Smith (San Francisco Giants), Sean Doolittle (Washington Nationals), Sergio Romo (Miami Marlins), Edwin Diaz (New York Mets)
Ian Kennedy and Roenis Elias haven’t had the job for long, but as things currently stand they both seem to be the clear favorites to hold the job IF they can perform well. Kennedy disappeared from the Closer role after getting the Royal’s first save of the season. Now he’s getting a real chance and he seems better fit for the role than anyone the Royals have tried previously. I have far more hesitation about Elias, who seemed to be close to a clear hold on the job previously until he performed his way out of it. While Elias’ 3.60 ERA looks very solid, it wasn’t long ago that the number hovered around or above 4.00. Plus his skills are far from ideal as a Closer. His 9+ K/9 is certainly an improved figure from last year for Elias, but mixed with a 4+ BB/9 leaves a lot to be desired. So Elias’ hesitation is actually more performance related, which is less common at this point for most of these closer situations that are more about the usage of the bullpen through management.
Aroldis Chapman technically allowed a Run this week, but it was an unearned run, and he has been very good this year and very consistent in actually getting those important Saves.
Clear Closers who “Struggled” — “Struggled” taken loosely. Simply the closer fails to live up to the criteria of the former category. Specifically, the world “Flawlessly.” But they are the clear closers with little to discuss.
Brad Hand (Cleveland Indians), Ken Giles (Toronto Blue Jays), Roberto Osuna (Houston Astros), Kenley Jansen (Los Angeles Dodgers), Kirby Yates (San Diego Padres), Shawn Kelley (Texas Rangers), Wade Davis (Colorado Rockies), Greg Holland (Arizona Diamondbacks), Luke Jackson (Atlanta Braves)
The first five or so names on this list are some of the best closers in all of baseball, and their struggles this week were fairly minor. For instance, Kirby Yates blew a Save and surrendered 3 Runs in a game, but only 1 Run was earned, and there’s very little in his recent performance that gives us much to worry about as far as I have seen. Roberto Osuna hasn’t been as good as he was in his dominant beginning of the season, and Ryan Pressly is a phenomenal relief pitcher, but Osuna seems locked in to the role. The only major note here is that Ken Giles owners need to be wary of a trade that could change his role circumstances. That said, I would argue many if not most of the locations Giles would land he would become the closer especially given the likely price of acquisition. I’d only really be wary if I was in an AL Only league and thought a team like the Braves might come knocking.
Greg Holland did blow a save, but he’s been solid all year and remains a pretty solid bet to have a strong hold on that job moving forward. Luke Jackson continues to show cracks despite having decent overall numbers, aside from Blown Saves. I’d say it is still his job to lose, but the Blown Saves are going to be focused in on harshly– and for fair reason– if they happen many more times. Shawn Kelley might not be the best reliever or have the most definitive hold on the job, but unless Leclerc starts playing exactly like his dominant 2018 version immediately, he is the clear favorite and has only had small blemishes in terms of his performance.
Wade Davis is the Closer / job most worth discussing. This was by FAR a better week for Davis than last week. But he still wasn’t perfect. This is one of those points on the graph where it is either a glimmer of false hope before a crash, or a return to an expected level of performance. Davis’ overall numbers since returning from the IL are pretty bad still, but if he has a better week this week once more, it will look as if his rust is wearing off.
Teams / Closers With No Opportunity this Week
Mychal Givens (Baltimore Orioles), Boston Red Sox, Hector Neris (Philadelphia Phillies)
Jobs to Discuss, Week 6/11-6/17
[Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland Athletics, St. Louis Cardinals]
Quite a few injuries this past week are affecting the Saves market right now. Diego Castillo and Blake Treinen had a disastrous game against one another, but both now find themselves on the IL. Emilio Pagan is likely to be the major benefactor, and as three healthy closers have gotten saves at times this season, Chaz Roe could also see a save or two. On the Oakland side of things, Liam Hendricks, who was brought up a few weeks ago as one of the best RP in baseball so far this year, steps into the role. Hendricks is probably added in most relatively active leagues by the writing of this, but if not he is someone to add in a league with Saves. The Cardinals also suffered an injury– a more definitive injury that will completely remove Jordan Hicks from the Closing conversation at this time. Last week I mentioned my belief that Hicks only held the role due to the fact that he was the incumbent– that if it were “Preseason” right now and a decision were to be made tomorrow, Martinez would get the job over Hicks. Now Hicks isn’t even a factor in that equation. It seems there’s been conflicting reports about Martinez and Gant, but I would wager Carlos Martinez is the Cardinals closer. [Shoutout to fellow writer Kyle Amore who proclaimed in the preseason to much backlash that Martinez could be moved to a RP role and be the Cardinals closer sometime this season.]
Not Much to Discuss
[Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs]
For different reasons, I don’t find much of a reason to go into detail on these jobs. The Minnesota job has consistently NOT been held by one person so it does not fit any of the above categories. That said, it seems the committee of Rogers / Parker / May is very solid. I’ve been happy, as a Taylor Rogers fan, that Rogers has been getting a bit more of a lean in the work recently. And for the Cubs, it is a committee now (Strop / Cishek, favoring Strop) that will be completely squashed by the emerging Closer giant Craig Kimbrel as long as he does not have any major problems anytime soon.
The Reds have gone from using Raisel Iglesias as more of a traditional closer to now mixing up some back-end bullpen roles, and actually showing us a bit of Michael Lorenzen favoritism as of late towards that 9th inning role, at least compared to earlier in the season. Both are worth owning in most SVs leagues, and neither has a strong hold on the definitive “Closer” role.