April 15, 2014
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.
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.
The Cubs situation is similar to the A’s in that their closer has been awful in the early going and it’s caused them to go to a committee and hope someone makes a clear case for the gig soon. Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon are the two names I’ve tabbed to eventually get the job, but I’m still not ruling out a return to form from Jose Veras.
Early on, Veras has shown no feel for where his curveball is going, and it’s led to brutal innings, but I feel that the Cubs are invested in Veras pitching well enough down the stretch to flip him for assets near the trade deadline. I’ve cut ties with Veras on a few teams, but I still have him flagged, as I think there’s room for resurgence if he can get the feel for his curveball again. In the meantime, I would go after Strop before Rondon but if you missed out on the hat tilted reliever Rondon isn’t a bad consolation prize. Kyuji Fujikawa lurks, but he’s still a long way from the ninth inning at Wrigley and left his extended spring training outing with an apparent injury.
The Astros are just waiting around for Jesse Crain to come back healthy. Currently, the combo of Chad Qualls, Matt Albers, and Josh Fields has combined for exactly one save, and Anthony Bass has been finishing games so far for the Astros. I think this job will change hands frequently until Crain returns.