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08-22

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Closer Report: Week 21
by
Matt Collins

08-15

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5

Closer Report: Week 20
by
Matt Collins

08-08

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1

Closer Report: Week 19
by
Matt Collins

08-04

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4

Fantasy Freestyle: Closers of 2018
by
Matt Collins

08-01

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6

Closer Report: Week 18
by
Matt Collins

07-25

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4

Closer Report: Week 17
by
Matt Collins

07-18

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Closer Report: Week 16
by
Matt Collins

07-11

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3

Closer Report: Week 15
by
Matt Collins

07-05

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3

Closer Report: Week 14
by
Matt Collins

06-27

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3

Closer Report: Week 13
by
Matt Collins

06-20

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Expert FAAB Review: Week 12
by
Mike Gianella

06-20

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0

Closer Report: Week 12
by
Matt Collins

06-13

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Closer Report: Week 11
by
Matt Collins

06-06

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Closer Report: Week 10
by
Matt Collins

05-30

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6

Closer Report: Week 9
by
Matt Collins

05-23

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1

Closer Report: Week 8
by
Matt Collins

05-16

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3

Closer Report: Week 7
by
Matt Collins

05-09

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10

Closer Report: Week 6
by
Matt Collins

05-02

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12

Closer Report: Week 5
by
Matt Collins

04-25

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4

Closer Report: Week 4
by
Matt Collins

04-20

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Reconsidering Your Targets
by
Mike Gianella

04-19

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8

Deep League Report: Week 3
by
Scooter Hotz

04-18

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3

Closer Report: Week 3
by
Matt Collins

04-11

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2

Closer Report: Week 2
by
Matt Collins

04-06

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30

The Stash List: 2017 First Edition
by
Greg Wellemeyer

04-05

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2

Deep League Report: Week 1
by
Scooter Hotz

04-04

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12

Closer Report: Week 1
by
Matt Collins

03-10

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3

The -Only League Landscape: American League Relievers
by
Mike Gianella

03-08

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2

Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Relief Pitchers
by
Greg Wellemeyer

03-07

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Player Profile: Shawn Kelley
by
Scooter Hotz

10-04

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8

Closer Report: It's Award Season!
by
Matt Collins

09-27

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2

Closer Report: Week 26
by
Matt Collins

09-20

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1

Closer Report: Week 25
by
Matt Collins

09-13

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Closer Report: Week 24
by
Matt Collins

09-06

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Closer Report: Week 23
by
Matt Collins

08-30

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Closer Report: Week 22
by
Matt Collins

08-23

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0

Closer Report: Week 21
by
Matt Collins

08-16

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1

Closer Report: Week 20
by
Matt Collins

08-09

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11

Closer Report: Week 19
by
Matt Collins

08-02

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13

Closer Report: Week 18
by
Matt Collins

07-26

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Closer Report: Week 17
by
Matt Collins

07-19

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4

Closer Report: Week 16
by
Matt Collins

07-12

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2

Closer Report: Week 15
by
Matt Collins

07-05

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7

Closer Report: Week 14
by
Matt Collins

06-28

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1

Closer Report: Week 13
by
Matt Collins

06-21

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2

Closer Report: Week 12
by
Matt Collins

06-14

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6

Closer Report: Week 11
by
Matt Collins

06-07

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9

Closer Report: Week 10
by
Matt Collins

05-31

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4

Closer Report: Week Nine
by
Matt Collins

05-25

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9

Updating the Tiers: Relief Pitchers
by
Bret Sayre

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April 6, 2017 6:00 am

The Stash List: 2017 First Edition

30

Greg Wellemeyer

Fantasy prospects who were hiding in plain sight all along!

Half-a-week’s worth of major-league games are behind us. What better time to speculate wildly about the arrival of the game’s top prospects, to parse medical reports (and teams’ misdirection regarding those reports), and to hypothesize irresponsibly about who is on the brink of a closing gig. It’s the return of the Stash List!

In case you’re not familiar from years past, here are the four types of players eligible for inclusion:

  • Minor leaguers: anyone currently in the minors.
  • Major leaguers on the DL: anyone currently on the disabled list who is owned in fewer than 25 percent of ESPN leagues. The restriction is there to exclude obvious players like Steven Matz.
  • Closers-in-waiting: any reliever who is not actively getting saves and is owned in fewer than 25 percent of ESPN leagues. This excludes pitchers who are in committees, and setup men who are widely owned, such as Nate Jones for example.
  • Others-in-waiting: any other player who is not currently active in the role that would net him the most fantasy value. This includes pitchers who are in line for a rotation spot but are not currently there, and position players who are not receiving regular playing time. This excludes players like Javy Baez who would surely benefit from a full-time role, but who already receive enough playing time to be relevant in all leagues.

And with that out of the way, let’s get on with the list:

1. Julio Urias (LHP)—Los Angeles Dodgers

The prevailing line of thought a few weeks ago was that Urias would head to extended spring training when camp broke. Instead, the Dodgers optioned him to High-A. He isn’t expected to pitch there and will instead open his season at Triple-A Oklahoma City at a time to be determined. Urias missed a couple of weeks in mid-March with strep throat and hasn’t yet thrown three innings in an outing. Expect him to come down with strep throat another time or two in the coming weeks as he attempts to accomplish the dual goals of stretching out away from the majors and saving his arm for October 2021.

2. Yoan Moncada (2B)—Chicago White Sox

The top fantasy prospect in the game will start at Triple-A Charlotte, and Tyler Saladino isn’t going to stand in his way for long. I do have concerns about Moncada’s swing-and-miss denting his near-term value, especially given his lack of experience at the upper levels. His game-changing speed and power on contact balance that risk with a potentially substantial reward.

3. Jorge Soler (OF)—Kansas City Royals

Soler is eligible to come off the 10-day disabled list on April 9, but will require more time than that since he hasn’t swung a bat since Feb. 26. Given his injury history and the fact that oblique injuries can linger and/or recur, it’s fair to be concerned. Soler will be the Royals’ everyday right fielder as soon as he’s ready to come back. At just 25 years old, he still has a tremendous amount of untapped potential and the Royals are hoping regular playing time will draw it out.

4. Michael Conforto (OF)—New York Mets

Thanks to a .300/.323/.500 triple-slash this spring and a Juan Lagares injury, Conforto made the Mets’ Opening Day roster, even if nobody told the Citi Field PA guy. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere for him to play, which is a bit of a problem in a game where scoring is based on accumulation of statistics.

5. Collin McHugh (RHP)—Houston Astros

Tools are fun and all, but responsible stashing includes taking value wherever your league mates give it to you. McHugh’s ERA and WHIP have worsened in both of the two years since his out-of-nowhere 2014 breakout, which I suppose is driving his way-too-low 16 percent ownership rate. He’ll strike out a shade less than one batter per inning and should win double digits. That’s back-end value even if the ratios don’t correct, and I think they will. McHugh is slated to pitch Opening Day in Triple-A as he works his way back from dead arm this spring. That his arm perished is no surprise considering his extraordinary breaking ball usage.

6. Jose Berrios (RHP)—Minnesota Twins

Berrios was atrocious in the big leagues last season, yes. You don’t hear much about the 2.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 10.1 strikeouts per nine he tallied in 111.1 Triple-A innings, though. Maybe Berrios’ 2016 season is evidence that demonstrates the gulf between Triple-A and the majors, or maybe we just shouldn’t weight a 58.1 inning sample so heavily. If he can correct the rumored pitch tipping and throw a first pitch strike more often than 55.2 percent of the time – 29th lowest among 328 pitchers that threw at least 50 innings – I like his chances at a useful fantasy season. Berrios didn’t pitch much this spring because he represented Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him in Minnesota as soon as he can get in the requisite reps in Rochester.

7. Reynaldo Lopez (RHP)—Chicago White Sox

8. Lucas Giolito (RHP)—Chicago White Sox

I still like Giolito more as a long-term option because of the upside. This ordering reflects my opinion that Reynaldo will be up first in 2017. At 23 years old, Lopez is hardly a finished product, but we have a better idea of what he can be since his stuff is in tact and his development is forward-moving. Giolito, on the other hand, enters a hugely important developmental year seeking to settle on some consistent mechanics and recover fastball velocity that went missing last season. The White Sox have no incentive whatsoever to rush Giolito through that process, or to make him attempt it against major-league hitters.

9. Martin Prado (3B)—Miami Marlins

Prado was the 18th-most valuable third baseman in 2016 according to ESPN’s player rater. If he hits in the top third of a top-heavy Marlins offense again, the counting stats should be there to complement his usually excellent batting average. Prado currently is on the 10-day disabled list but has been cleared to resume baseball activities.

10. Wilson Ramos (C)—Tampa Bay Rays

11. Tom Murphy (C)—Colorado Rockies

12. Devin Mesoraco (C)—Cincinnati Reds

Unless you own one of a small handful of options, you should be buying lottery tickets at the catcher position. Can I interest you in one that’s disabled? Ramos hit the 60-day version and won’t return until June at the earliest. It’s been three weeks since Murphy fractured his forearm on Anthony Rizzo’s bat. The recovery period was quoted as 4-6 weeks at the time, so it shouldn’t be too long before he’s back on the field. How often is an open question, given the Rockies’ apparent affinity for Tony Wolters. Mesoraco will begin 2017 in Double-A and Reds manager Bryan Price suggested he’d have to catch back-to-back nine-inning games before being activated. I acknowledge that these are all dubious investments for both injury and performance-related reasons, but catcher is such a wasteland that all three are worth an aggressive placement on this list.

13. Austin Meadows (OF)—Pittsburgh Pirates

Have you heard that the Pirates tried to trade Andrew McCutchen this offseason and might attempt to do so again depending on how he and the team play? If and when that happens, Meadows will be an immediate five-category contributor. He impressed this spring, hitting .333/.423/.556 in an extended look while all three of the Pirates’ starting outfielders played in the WBC.

14. Jose De Leon (RHP)—Tampa Bay Rays

De Leon will open on the minor-league disabled list with “forearm muscle discomfort,” whatever that is. Non-medically speaking, it is an issue for a pitcher who hasn’t yet thrown 120 innings in any of his three full professional seasons. The Rays, as usual, have incredible starting depth in the major leagues and upper levels of the minors. De Leon is at risk of moving down or off this list if he doesn’t return to action quickly, and in full form.

15. Blake Swihart (C)—Boston Red Sox

It wouldn’t be real Stash List without a Blake Swihart appearance.

16. Bradley Zimmer (OF)—Cleveland Indians

Man alive I’m ready for the minor league season to begin so I can begin quoting you small-sample minor-league stats instead of small-sample spring-training stats. Alas, it hasn’t, so allow me to tell you that Zimmer raked to the tune of a .358/.424/.660 line with three bombs and four steals this spring. More importantly, he only struck out 13 times in 58 plate appearances, a potential sign of progress after he struck out 171 times in 130 Double-A and Triple-A games a season ago. If Zimmer can carry the spring trend into the regular season, he’ll be up before long. Even with a healthy Michael Brantley, the Indians are giving outfield at-bats to the likes of Abraham Almonte and Austin Jackson.

17. A.J. Reed (1B)—Houston Astros

18. Joey Gallo (3B)—Texas Rangers

19. Pedro Alvarez (1B)—Baltimore Orioles

20. Dan Vogelbach (1B)—Seattle Mariners

Reed is the Berrios of hitters, a highly regarded prospect whose disastrous major league stint in 2016 overshadowed a dominant Triple-A performance. I like him the best of this group of mashers by a comfortable margin, but there’s nowhere for him to play in Houston presently. A five-year, $50-million contract says that Gurriel gets a long leash, though I’m not a believer in the 33-year-old Cuban as a first-division regular. Gallo is up with the big club while Adrian Beltre’s calf heals. He gave us the full Gallo in the season’s first two games, walking once, striking out four times, and hitting a baseball approximately 794 feet. That Pedro Alvarez had to take a minor-league deal on a team with, like, seven Pedro Alvarezes already on the roster seemed like a market overcorrection to me. The path to playing time is impossibly cloudy. His ability to destroy righties is not. I like players with strange dimensions as much as the next guy, and I like prospects who are proximate to the bigs. That’s about all I’ll say about Vogelbach, lest I anger the entire rest of the fantasy staff.

21. Archie Bradley (RHP)—Arizona Diamondbacks

Hooooo boy, I know we’re not supposed to overreact to one appearance, but did you see Bradley in relief on Tuesday night? That beard is glorious. Oh, and the stuff was too. Seven of the 10 outs Bradley recorded were by way of strikeout, and he had his heater up to 99. The bullpen is probably the right place for him, but don’t count him out as a starter just yet.

22. J.P. Crawford (SS)—Philadelphia Phillies

I’m not convinced that Crawford has an impactful fantasy profile. I am convinced that Freddy Galvis isn’t going to keep us from finding out before the summer heat settles in.

23. JaCoby Jones (OF)—Detroit Tigers

24. Aaron Altherr (OF)—Philadelphia Phillies

I like both of Jones and Altherr as power-speed options with potential for expanded roles in the near future. Jones’ path is clearer, as all he has to do is outperform Tyler Collins and Mikie Mahtook to earn the bulk of the center field reps going forward. Altherr, whose work with Matt Stairs led to a big spring, has a tougher road. He’ll have to displace one of Howie Kendrick or Michael Saunders, well-paid veterans brought in this winter. Ultimately, it makes far more sense for a rebuilding Philly club to see what they have in the younger, controllable Altherr. It just might take some patience while they arrive at that conclusion.

25. Roman Quinn (OF)—Philadelphia Phillies

If it’s difficult to find time for a guy already on the major-league roster, it’s even harder to figure how Quinn gets enough at-bats to matter. He has impact speed if a spot opens up. Until then, he’ll be in Triple-A trying not to get hurt.

Honorable Mention: Jorge Alfaro, Tyler Beede, Cody Bellinger, Carter Capps, Matt Duffy, Delino DeShields, Dilson Herrera, Ketel Marte, Francis Martes, Jesse Winker

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April 5, 2017 6:00 am

Deep League Report: Week 1

2

Scooter Hotz

Rookie outfielder Jacob May has at least until May to produce for the rebuilding White Sox. Keep an eye on him and these other possible fantasy replacement parts.

Finally. Baseball is back. No need for a lengthy introduction. Let’s get this Deep League Report rolling.

AL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS

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April 4, 2017 6:00 am

Closer Report: Week 1

12

Matt Collins

It's early, but it's never too early to review the fluid nature of baseball's save men and their potential successors.

Welcome back to another season of the Closer Report. If you’ve been reading here for the past couple of years, you’ll recognize me. This is the third-consecutive season that I’ll be handling this column, which every other writer on staff views as a punishment. Generally, I pick three or four situations a week to take a deep-ish dive on, and three or four more for quick hits. Of course, we’ve only had two days of baseball and not much news has come out just yet. So, instead, I'll focus on 10 situations of interest to start the season, and I’ll take a brief look at each of those today.

Additionally, I have a Closer Grid that I do my best to update relatively quickly. When I make a change, I’ll highlight in yellow. The third column might not seem as much obvious use to fantasy players; rather, it is for relievers that I generally like. Some could close games this year, and some could be of interest to dynasty players who want to keep an eye on young relievers. Mostly, though, it’s just pitchers who I think are fun. Anyway, with all of the housekeeping out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff.

Nationals

My biggest miss of draft season in regard to closer was almost certainly the Nationals situation. All spring, I didn’t understand why Shawn Kelley wasn’t being drafted higher. He’s clearly the best reliever in that bullpen, and Dusty Baker is a fairly traditional manager. Kelley getting the closer gig was a slam dunk in my eyes. Instead, they named Blake Treinen to that role. Now, I’m not cutting Kelley right away, because I think Treinen could have a fairly short leash. He’s a really good reliever, but since it took Baker so long to even name a closer it leads me to believe he also won’t hesitate to make a change. Additionally, Kelley should provide good value with his ratios in the meantime. I wouldn’t say I’m expecting Treinen to lose the job soon, but it’s realistic enough to hang onto Kelley at a time where there’s not much reliever value on the waiver wire.

Rockies

While Kelley was my biggest miss, it wasn’t my only one. I also was banking on Adam Ottavino taking the closer gig in Colorado. I know the Rockies made a fairly high-profile splash in signing Greg Holland, and he’s not that far removed from being one of the premiere relievers in baseball. However, he did miss all of last year, and Ottavino looked outstanding when he returned from his own long-term injury midway through last season. Holland was solid in spring and I think the Rockies will give him a little bit of a longer leash given their commitment to him this winter. I like Ottavino a lot, but I’m more likely to drop him before Kelley (and yes, I do own both in one league). Some of it is because of the leash, but it also is just a product of calling Coors Field home. I suspect that Ottavino will be the closer at some point, but if another closer option emerges early in the year I won’t wait around for the Rockies.

Blue Jays

Right before the season started, the Blue Jays announced that Roberto Osuna would start on the 10-day disabled list. This was surprising, considering that he pitched toward the end of camp. This likely moves Jason Grilli to the top of their depth chart, although he struggled in the opener Monday, and that could open the door for Joe Biagini. Don’t get too excited about either one, though, because Osuna is expected to be back as soon as he’s eligible to return.

Mets

We all knew that Jeurys Familia was going to be suspended to start the season, but we weren’t sure for how long. It came down last week that he’d miss New York's first 15 games, rather than the 30 that some speculated. This is a bit of a hit to those who drafted Addison Reed for a month’s worth of saves. He’ll still help with ratios, but Reed is not nearly as valuable as some were led to believe.

Angels

On Monday, manager Mike Scioscia told the presumed favorite for the Angels closer role, Cam Bedrosian, that they'd be rolling with a committee approach for the ninth inning. This was a bit surprising, considering that Huston Street is hurt and Bedrosian is clearly the best remaining option. One could be tempted to jump after Andrew Bailey on waivers, because he’s the next-most likely to get saves for L.A. I'd hold off, though. Bedrosian is an outstanding pitcher and the Angels recognize that. He’ll get the majority of the chances early on and I suspect he’ll eventually win the job outright. Even if Bedrosian loses the job when Street returns, the latter is always an injury risk. If anything, I’d use this opportunity to buy low on Bedrosian.

Reds

There’s not much good about the Reds heading into the season, but I’m pretty fascinated by the back of their bullpen. Raisel Iglesias is the most popular fantasy target on the staff, and it makes sense. He’s the most talented. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if they decide he’s better off in a multi-inning, Andrew Miller-esque role. The most likely way this happens, in my eyes, is if Michael Lorenzen steps up. I’m not saying I’d add him right now, because there’s not a ton of value just yet. But the upside is there, as he showed last year. If he can up his strikeout rate a bit, I think he could take the closer gig, as guys like Drew Storen and Tony Cingrani fade, and Iglesias moves into a more impactful role. Iglesias is my favorite pitcher on this roster, but by midseason I think Lorenzen will be the best for fantasy purposes.

Athletics

The most mysterious closer situation in baseball is in Oakland. It’s not that they’re officially going with a committee, it’s that they haven’t said anything about the role. Without any information, I’d just assume Ryan Madson still has the job. He took a big step back last year, though, and is entering his age-36 season. I don’t have a ton of trust in him, and believe it’s only a matter of time until Sean Doolittle takes the job. My only concern with Doolittle is that he could be traded if/when Oakland falls out of it again, which means he’d only have a couple of months—tops—to get saves.

Diamondbacks

Fernando Rodney is a popular pick to lose his role first, and for good reason. While he shows flashes of greatness, he’s incredibly erratic. That’s not the best look for a closer. With that being said, the Diamondbacks don’t have anyone who figures to challenge him immediately. Randall Delgado is likely second in the pecking order, and he had a 113 DRA- last year. I, too, believe that Rodney will eventually lose this job, but someone else will have to step up first, and it’s not clear who that’ll be or when they’ll do it.

Cubs

The defending champs have an unambiguous closer situation. The ninth inning belongs to Wade Davis. With that being said, Hector Rondon is my favorite set-up option that no one seems to talk about. He’ll get you strikeouts, keep his WHIP down and his home run issues last year were probably a fluke. At worst, he’s a near-elite non-closer. There also is the injury risk associated with Davis, which would obviously open up a spot for Rondon. I think I’m more wary of Davis than most, but either way Rondon deserves to be treated more like Nate Jones and less like Joaquin Benoit (who immediately follows Rondon in NFBC ADP).

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March 10, 2017 6:00 am

The -Only League Landscape: American League Relievers

3

Mike Gianella

Mapping out the late-inning bullpen depth charts across the junior circuit.

We conclude our mono league series this week with a look at relief pitchers. Since this is a deep league article, we’ll focus less on each team’s closer (yes, Aroldis Chapman is good, guys) and more about the set-ups who could either get saves or possibly take the job if the primary closer falters.

Baltimore Orioles
Closer:
Zach Britton
Set Ups: Brad Brach, Darren O’Day



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March 8, 2017 6:00 am

Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Relief Pitchers

2

Greg Wellemeyer

Stacking up the bullpenners based on their projected fantasy values through the end of the 2019 season.

We did it, gang. We made it to the end. In case you missed any of the previous installments, let’s get you caught up before going any further:

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March 7, 2017 10:36 am

Player Profile: Shawn Kelley

0

Scooter Hotz

The right-hander might have the inside track to the closer job in Washington, but is there reason to doubt he can handle it?

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October 4, 2016 8:30 am

Closer Report: It's Award Season!

8

Matt Collins

Time to hand out the hardware for those who brought home the bacon, and other metaphors.

Well, the regular season is over and with it goes the fantasy season. Hopefully you were able to take home a championship or two, and hopefully my advice didn’t cost you too badly in the standings. Like last year, I’m finishing things up with a review of all things closer. I’ll hand out a handful of totally subjective awards that are voted on by a one-man panel.

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September 27, 2016 6:00 am

Closer Report: Week 26

2

Matt Collins

Surveying the ninth-inning situations around the league for the final time in 2016.

Welcome to the final regular season edition of the Closer Report for the 2016 season. Once again, it was a fun year for relievers, albeit incredibly frustrating at times. I’ll try to do a recap of the year in closers soon, but there are still some fantasy teams fighting for their season, whether it be in the playoffs or in roto. This one is for all of you, because even with just a week to go in the regular season there is still somehow some news. The Closer Carousel never ends.

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September 20, 2016 6:00 am

Closer Report: Week 25

1

Matt Collins

Surveying the ninth-inning situations around the league.

Welcome to the penultimate edition of the Closer Report. For those of you in head-to-head leagues, you are hopefully in the postseason right now. If you are in roto leagues, hopefully you are at least in the hunt for the title. Either way, there are a few situations that could pay off for fantasy owners even with such little time remaining on the schedule. The grid has stayed mostly the same over the last couple of weeks, but keep up with any possible changes by following this link. Anyway, on to the news.

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September 13, 2016 6:00 am

Closer Report: Week 24

0

Matt Collins

Surveying the ninth-inning situations around the league.

Welcome to week twenty four of the Closer Report. The fantasy season is just about over, and now is the time of year to look for any little push that can catapult you to the top of the standings. As always, you can keep up with any changes on the closer grid. Now, let’s get to the news.

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September 6, 2016 6:00 am

Closer Report: Week 23

0

Matt Collins

Surveying the ninth-inning situations around the league.

Welcome to September. Closer news isn’t coming as quickly as it does earlier in the season, but with fantasy playoffs here finding hidden gems for relief spot is as important as ever. Even if you’re in a roto league and have no playoffs, September saves can be the difference between a payout and going home with nothing. As always, keep up with changes on the closer grid. Now, to the news.

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August 30, 2016 6:00 am

Closer Report: Week 22

0

Matt Collins

Surveying the ninth-inning situations around the league.

It was a wildly quiet week on the closer front this week. Expect things to be mostly quiet for the rest of the year, as teams have mostly settled on their bullpen structure at this point in the season. Don’t worry, though, as injuries and unstable situations will still create situations that can be taken advantage of for those of you looking to make a strong push to finish out the fantasy season. As always, keep up with any changes on the closer grid. Now, on to the news.

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