March 31, 2015
Ah, relievers. The position everyone loves to hate. Keeping tabs on closers can be one of the most frustrating parts of a fantasy baseball season, as situations change seemingly everyday. We’re going to try to help you through that this year, keeping you up to date on who will be grabbing saves around the league. For the first week, I’ll list all the relievers lined up to get the save opportunities to start the year, adding more details underneath where they’re merited. Later weeks will focus solely on those situations that have changed or could change soon.
New York Mets
The job is Mejia’s to start the year, but there’s no guarantee it will be his for long. Terry Collins has made it known that Bobby Parnell will have a shot at winning the job back when he returns from injury. Parnell should be back sometime in mid-to-late April, making him an intriguing, cheap saves option.
A lot of people will be targeting Ken Giles this year, and for good reason. He’s extremely talented and has a good chance of dominating if/when Papelbon is traded. With that being said, I would expect a trade to wait until close to the trade deadline, when relievers tend to have the most value. Target Giles at your own risk.
For a while there appeared to be a competition between Brett Cecil and Aaron Sanchez for the ninth inning role. The Marcus Stroman injury changed things, and this is Cecil’s job to lose. I expect he’ll hold on to it all year.
New York Yankees
It’s being assumed that Betances will be the closer for the Yankees this year, but the longer we go without an official word, the murkier the situation gets. He hasn’t looked good in spring training, and he has a near-elite arm in Andrew Miller breathing down his neck. Considering Betances’ price, I’d stay away from him for now.
This is Koji Uehara’s job when he’s healthy, but he’ll be starting the year on the disabled list. Considering his age and past injury problems, this likely won’t be the last stint he has on the DL. John Farrell has named Mujica the next in line for saves, and should see a good chunk of opportunities this year. In a league with saves and holds, Mujica is a cheap option who could pay big dividends this year.
This is an awful situation for fantasy owners. Jake McGee will almost certainly have his job back when he’s healthy, but that won’t be until at least May. Until then, Boxberger, Grant Balfour, Kevin Jepsen and Ernesto Frieri could all get save opportunities.
There doesn’t seem to be any sort of competition for the ninth inning in Detroit. The job is Joe Nathan’s to lose, though most (myself included) expect that to happen soon. Joakim Soria is next in line, but Bruce Rondon is the name to keep an eye on to grab saves later in the year.
Assuming he is healthy, Addison Reed is going to be holding down the ninth inning for the Diamondbacks to start the year. Between performance and health, though, I wouldn’t bet on him to hold the job all year. Brad Ziegler is the backup plan, but like Rondon in Detroit, Evan Marshall is the guy I’ll be watching as a possible mid-season addition.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Kenley Jansen will be back in early-to-mid-May. If you’re going after saves from the Dodgers, go after him. The rest of this group is muddled and confusing. Gun to my head, I would guess Joel Peralta gets the early-season saves in LA, but Chris Hatcher, Sergio Santos, and J.P. Howell are good possibilities as well.
Hawkins is the safest bet to be the first closer to lose his job. He’ll definitely be the guy right off the bat, but look for Adam Ottavino, John Axford, or Rex Brothers to take the role within the first six weeks of the season.
Like Mujica in Boston, Clippard is a very intriguing option in holds leagues. He’ll get the save situations while Sean Doolittle is on the shelf. When he comes back in early May, Clippard becomes one of the best set-up men in baseball if he doesn’t hold on to the closer job.
The shrug emoticon might be the most valuable closer option to target from Houston this year. Houston’s situation is terrible, not so much for a lack of talent but rather for a lack of clarity. Luke Gregerson has the inside track for saves to start the year, but Chad Qualls and Pat Neshek will get their own shot at the job as well. I’d stay away from this group for now.