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March 31, 2015

Closer Report

Week One

by Matt Collins

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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.

Team

Closer

Atlanta

Craig Kimbrel

Miami

Steve Cishek

New York Mets

Jenrry Mejia

Philadelphia

Jonathan Papelbon

Washington

Drew Storen

Toronto

Brett Cecil

New York Yankees

Dellin Betances

Boston

Edward Mujica

Tampa Bay

Brad Boxberger

Baltimore

Zach Britton

Cincinnati

Aroldis Chapman

Chicago Cubs

Hector Rondon

St. Louis

Trevor Rosenthal

Milwaukee

Francisco Rodriguez

Pittsburgh

Mark Melancon

Chicago White Sox

David Robertson

Cleveland

Cody Allen

Minnesota

Glen Perkins

Detroit

Joe Nathan

Kansas City

Greg Holland

Arizona

Addison Reed

San Francisco

Santiago Casilla

San Diego

Joaquin Benoit

Los Angeles Dodgers

Joel Peralta

Colorado

LaTroy Hawkins

Oakland

Tyler Clippard

Los Angeles Angels

Huston Street

Seattle

Fernando Rodney

Texas

Neftali Feliz

Houston

Luke Gregerson

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.

Philadelphia Phillies

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.

Toronto Blue Jays

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.

Boston Red Sox

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.

Tampa Bay Rays

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.

Detroit Tigers

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.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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.

Colorado Rockies

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.

Oakland As

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.

Houston Astros

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.

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

Related Content:  Saves,  Closers,  Fantasy

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Every Team's Moneyball... (03/30)
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