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April 15, 2014

Closer to Me

Week Three

by Mauricio Rubio


White Sox
I’ve written about the White Sox a lot for two reasons: 1) I have access, and 2) their closer situation is tumultuous. Matt Lindstrom gave up another lead on Sunday. It wasn’t all Lindstrom’s fault—Jose Abreu made an error that started the rally—but Lindstrom’s profile doesn’t allow for many defensive mistakes behind him. Lindstrom’s stuff is contact-oriented for a reliever.

This all comes with the caveat that it’s early but Lindstrom has thrown a total of 91 pitches this year and has generated five swings-and-misses. For contrast, Daniel Webb has thrown 112 pitches and has generated a swing-and-miss 13 times. That doesn’t seem like a big difference in the raw, but essentially, Webb is doubling Lindstrom’s whiff rate. It fits both players’ profiles as well; Webb is a player who has swing-and-miss stuff, as he utilizes a mid-90s fastball and power slider to induce those empty swings that a high-leverage reliever needs when his defense makes an error behind him.

Lindstrom has the job now, but his hold on the title of closer is shaky at best. Nate Jones’ condition is improving but there’s still no real timetable for his return. I think it’s worth a shot to pick up Webb in case Lindstrom falters again.

Closers-by-Committee
I’m torn on this issue. The baseball game theory enthusiast in me loves the idea of teams experimenting with a closer by committee, playing matchups and utilizing good baseball analysis rather than employing a security blanket in the ninth inning regardless of where the high-leverage, late-game situation may come. The fantasy player in me hates the idea however as it makes it impossible and generally not worth it to try and pick up saves from any of teams utilizing the closer by committee strategy.

Three teams are going with the CBC strategy, the A’s, the Cubs, and the Astros.

Jim Johnson has been awful to start the year. He’s not locating, and when he is, he’s getting hit. Johnson is still getting the strikeout numbers, but that’s the only glimmer of hope that fantasy owners can hold on to at this point. The former Oriole started last year poorly as well, but in that case Johnson managed to hold onto the closer job despite his shaky performance. In this situation, Johnson will have to pull an Ernesto Frieri to separate himself from a collection of arms in Luke Gregerson, Sean Doolittle, Danny Otero, and Ryan Cook. Cook in particular was a favorite pick of mine to eventually ascend to the closer role, but the situation in Oakland is murky. I think Johnson is actually a decent bet to win the job back outright, but I’m looking closely at Gregerson if Johnson continues to struggle.

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<< Previous Article
Daily League Strategy:... (04/15)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Closer to Me: Attritio... (04/08)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Closer to Me: Week Fou... (04/22)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Dynasty Dynamics: NL C... (04/15)

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