Week 14 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), Shane Greene (Detroit Tigers), Ian Kennedy (Kansas City Royals), Shawn Kelley (Texas Rangers), Liam Hendricks (Oakland Athletics), Roenis Elias (Seattle Mariners), Luke Jackson (Atlanta Braves), Sergio Romo (Miami Marlins), Sean Doolittle (Washington Nationals), Craig Kimbrel (Chicago Cubs), Wade Davis (Colorado Rockies), Josh Hader (Milwaukee Brewers), Kenley Jansen (Los Angeles Dodgers), Will Smith (San Francisco Giants), Greg Holland (Arizona Diamondbacks), Kirby Yates (San Diego Padres)
“Clean” is a very relative term for a few guys on the list this week. Wade Davis for instance. I usually only look at the SV situations, and Wade Davis was perfect in both of those this week in terms of Runs allowed, however he had a bit of a blow-up in a tied game and was also saddled with a Loss. Davis started the year entrenched in the role, so he really has to fall out of it for anyone to ascend to the position, and the two clean saves this week make it seem like he may have gotten it back together enough to remain in the role. Oberg deserves some monitoring if Davis does flail a bit more, but as of now it just wouldn’t shock me at all if he was the closer from now until the end of the year. Craig Kimbrel of the Cubs also got blown up in a non-Save situation and recorded a clean save. Not the cleanest of clean weeks, but also not someone worth much discussion as he would likely be entrenched in the role the rest of the year unless Kimbrel is an utter disaster.
Liam Hendricks is the closer for as long as Blake Treinen is out, and so for that reason I have this listed as a “clear” situation. I don’t expect Hendricks to maintain the job when Treinen comes back, but since it seems clear to me in both respects, I’ve given this Closer role the “clear” designation.
Roenis Elias is listed by some as being the Closer and by others as a part of the Committee. By my count, the last five successful saves from the Seattle Mariners have come from Roenis Elias. The peripherals are still not ideal for a late-inning reliever, and the last time he seemed in this position he seemed to struggle his way back to a 4.00+ ERA. But as of this moment, he’s pretty clearly the guy they want to put in the 9th inning right now.
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.
Aroldis Chapman (New York Yankees), Brad Hand (Cleveland Indians), Hector Nerris (Philadelphia Phillies), Edwin Diaz (New York Mets)
There’s not a ton to talk about here as these have been some of the better and more clear closers throughout the year. Hand and Chapman especially. Edwin Diaz might deserve some discussion though. The Jarred Kelenic trade for the Mets was already absolutely awful in my opinion even believing that Diaz was the most elite tier of closer. His ERA is now over double last year (4.78) and his HRs allowed have been atrocious (1.97 HR/9). Some may point to a degree of luck– and certainly this may be part of it. His xFIP, which normalizes HR rate and considers HRs a factor of “luck” for lack of a better term, is 2.88. But elite Closers don’t usually struggle with these HR Rates. For example, Diaz has allowed 7 HRs this year whilst Aroldis Chapman has only ever given up 7 HRs in a season once and has never allowed more. Diaz allowed 10 HRs two years ago as well. Diaz, to date in his career, has allowed 27 HRs in 223 IP. Comparatively, Aroldis Chapman has allowed 25 HRs in 511.2 IP. Edwin Diaz has already allowed MORE CAREER HRs than Aroldis Chapman. While I still believe he has a bright future with high-Ks as a closer, the question of Edwin Diaz having a HR issue is becoming more and more legitimate. I’m as big on getting HR Suppression from my closer as Ks, as I believe the former is incredibly important and often overlooked as being far less important than K/BB.
Teams / Closers With No Opportunity this Week
Ken Giles (Toronto Blue Jays), Baltimore Orioles (Mychal Givens), Los Angeles Angels (Hansel Robles), Houston Astros (Roberto Osuna), Pittsburgh Pirates (Felipe Vazquez)
Jobs to Discuss, Week 6/24-7/1
Minnesota Twins + Tampa Bay Rays + Cincinnati Reds
Briefly touching on some committees, it seems the Twins have been showing an increased willingness to lean on Taylor Rogers late in-game, as he has four of the team’s past five save Opps. As someone who had Taylor Rogers at the very top of his first list of non-Closers back in Week 1, I am a pretty big fan of this decision. I still see this as a flexible bullpen and I think management will use Rogers earlier if the Left handed match-ups make the most sense. But this is almost trending towards Rogers being more of the full-time closer.
Jose Alvarado had his first save since going on a personal leave of absence this past week. With Castillo hurt, it seems likely he’s the most prominent name in the platoon, but Emilio Pagan and other RH relief pitchers will get their shots based on match-ups.
The Cincinnati Reds are unique on this list because they are the only “committee” that doesn’t include an element of the “platoon.” Rogers and Alvarado are both LHP and as such are non-traditional for the closer role, and have a platoon disadvantage to the majority of hitters on paper, so it makes sense to move them around to where they would be most valuable. Predicting when Michael Lorenzen or when Raisel Iglesias come out of the bullpen is much more difficult and deals more with who they want to use or if they feel the need to use a fireman before the 9th inning. For now, they’re both worth owning in the vast majority of leagues that have SVs but no other specific RP category.
Boston Red Sox
The most prominent news from this past weekly cycle comes from the desk of the Boston Red Sox, who claim to be making moves to fix their closer position by preparing Nathan Eovaldi for the role. It’s certainly an interesting decision to make. Eovaldi is obviously a flame thrower who has been known for throwing 100 MPH as a starter throughout the majority of his career. My biggest concern with Eovaldi in the role is that the past few seasons he hasn’t been much of a HR suppressor, though that was something he accomplished pretty well before 2016. If Eovaldi is available in your league– which is certainly possible as an IL’d pitcher who may not have been considered valuable enough as a STARTER– go and grab him. It’s hard to know or project how this transition will work, but we now have a reasonable expectation that Eovaldi will have the job.
St. Louis Cardinals
There isn’t much to report here. Officially, I do think it’s reasonable to consider it a committee between a few guys like Martinez or Gant, but I get the sense that this job will soon be Carlos Martinez’s to lose. He has been around the sport for a while so his “veteran presence” helps both the old school arguments and the arbitration elements, as the “Saves” likely won’t cost the Cardinals a great deal of extra arbitration in the long run. He’s also had solid numbers both peripheral and otherwise in the Bullpen so far. His K/9 isn’t spectacular for a closer, but he can get the K’s and he’s suppressed the HRs so far. Basically, everything checks out to me with Carlos Martinez.