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May 15, 2014

Closer Report

Week Seven

by Mauricio Rubio

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Ascent

Toronto Blue Jays:
Casey Janssen was activated from the disabled list on May 11, which will help stabilize a Jays bullpen that has been little more than a rotation of names trying to close out games and failing all the same. Santos provided the ultimate case study in how sustainable a horrendous BB% can be if you supplement it with a tremendous strikeout rate (the answer, not very). Aaron Loup tried his hand at closing and was spotty and unspectacular. Bret Cecil earned three saves but his walk rate was only slightly better than Santos’. Essentially, the Blue Jays bullpen was proficient at doling out The Three True Outcomes between Santos (8.3 BB/9 and a 2.3 HR/9), Loup (4.9 BB/9) and Cecil (6.6 BB/9). Janssen will provide consistency and control to a unit that desperately needs it. He’s a must-own at this point and will get the saves in Toronto.

Chicago White Sox:
Matt Lindstrom has continued to defy my pessimistic projections on him as he has stuck around as White Sox closer as all the other bullpen pieces around him crumble. We’ve been over the tight rope Lindstrom continues to walk as he carries a bad strike out and walk rate. He gets by on a high groundball rate (50.9 percent) and weak contact. He’s carrying a 14.5 percent line-drive rate and his stuff is conducive to the results so far. Wednesday’s sequence where he gave up a walk, a single, generated a double play then got a hard lineout is indicative of what his current skill set is, more or less. He’s a guy whose stuff plays out better over a whole inning with a clean slate. Given the lack of options the White Sox have in the ‘pen, it’s pretty clear that Lindstrom is going to be around for a while.

Purgatory

Cleveland Indians:
I was expecting this section to be all about Cody Allen, but alas, Bryan Shaw appears to have dibs on the main closing duties in Cleveland as the Indians figure out where they want to go after they’re done with this closer by committee experiment. Shaw isn’t a bad choice by any stretch, he’s been dominant so far as he’s paired a decent strikeout rate (22.7 percent) with a 16 percent line-drive rate and a high frequency of weak contact. While I love Allen I think Shaw is perhaps the guy to pick up in this bullpen. Terry Francona did allow for the possibility that John Axford may be able to regain his closing role again but that requires faith in Axford’s ability to string together a run of consistency that’s substantial enough to earn the job back. Speculating on saves requires these types of faith leaps, but in this case I’d rather gamble on the talent, as I don’t think Axford has it in him.

New York Mets:
Kyle Farnsworth was released and the Mets will be rotating some more names into the role in New York. It leaves the door open for some retreads but I’m rooting for Jeurys Familia in this ‘pen. The control isn’t there at all, but given the other names here (Daisuke Matsuzaka and what, Jose Valverde?), I’d rather roll the dice with this guy.

Collapse

Baltimore Orioles:
Tommy Hunter is in a bad spell right now. He’s given up eight earned runs from May 7-May 13 (3 1/3 innings). There’s not a whole lot behind him so it’s fairly likely he gets to pitch through it. I don’t think Kevin Gausman gets slotted into the closer role, and I’m not confident in Zach Britton.

Oakland Athletics:
Jim Johnson is in trouble again and it looks like Oakland is back to a closer-by-committee approach, which means that we’re going to be all hands off on Oakland relievers until they figure themselves out. Gregerson was victimized by a Jose Abreu home run in the eighth, so the situation isn’t clearing up anytime soon in my estimation.

Notes:

  • Addison Reed is in a bit of a rough spot, but he’s been pretty solid this year with good peripheral numbers and really just a few blow up outings. I think he’s fine.
  • Ernesto Frieri might be on the rise again.
  • Josh Fields is back up as Anthony Bass hits the DL. Chad Qualls might be the closer now, but again we’re just waiting around for Jesse Crain.
  • Francisco Rodriguez (nee K-Rod) finally gave up an earned run on May 11 against the Yankees. He’s mortal after all.
  • There was a weird amount of panic surrounding Kenley Jansen after he gave up three runs in a lost to the Giants on May 11. I think he’s fine.
  • Aroldis Chapman is back and Jonathan Broxton owners are left looking elsewhere for the saves.
  • Hey, remember when Jonathan Papelbon was teetering close to the edge? He hasn’t given up a run since April 2.

Cody Allen Watch:
Well, Axford lost the job, but as I stated before, Allen has some bodies in front of him, which ultimately gives me a sad.

Mauricio Rubio is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Mauricio's other articles. You can contact Mauricio by clicking here

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Fantasy Article Deep Impact: Week Six (05/15)
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