Which of these AL Central closers is a better bet for your fantasy squad in 2015?
We’ve finally gotten to the week where we cover everyone’s favorite position. Who doesn’t love projecting and just generally thinking about relief pitchers with all of their spare time? It can’t just be me, right? For this week’s Tale of the Tape, we’re pitting two veteran division rivals against each other, both of whom possess the all-important “established closer” tag. Although neither are to be considered top tier options, both will be owned in all leagues, and figure to play significant roles in their respective team’s playoff chances. It’s Fernando Rodney vs. Huston Street.
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Keeping an eye on the volatile closer situations around the league.
Relievers are a tough commodity to value in fantasy. Their volatility and main carrying stat, saves, make it difficult to project accurate value at the season’s outset. You never quite know where a big-time reliever season will come from in a given year. Koji Uehara was given the job after Andrew Bailey was felled by injury. Kevin Gregg emerged after Carlos Marmol was undone by the Upton brothers. So what I will be doing throughout the season is keeping an eye on the reliever situations around the league and offer my thoughts on guys who are worth targeting/keeping an eye on as the season progresses.
PADRES Huston Street – This was pointed out on Twitter but Street’s strand rate last year was 99.5 percent. It goes a long way in explaining how Street was able to maintain a decent ERA despite giving up 12 HR in 56 2/3 innings. Street is effective when healthy, but the “when healthy” part is kind of the main concern with him. He’s made four DL trips since 2011, and he already had a groin issue in camp this year.
The fantasy crew runs down the relievers it expects to beat their PECOTA projections in saves.
One of the fun ways we all try to outsmart our opponents in fantasy is by searching for hidden value in players who, for one reason or another, we suspect have the ability to outpace their projections (and, relatedly, their draft cost). Our Darkhorses series features staff picks for players who could very well outpace their PECOTA projections for the year and provide the top overall production in one of the standard five-by-five categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall outside of the top 10 and one longer-shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’re taking a look at pitching this week, following our run on offense a week ago. To read the earlier editions in this series, click below:
Petco Park can turn most any pitcher into a fantasy asset, but the Padres' position-player depth limits the appeal of their bats.
The best thing the Padres have going for them in real life is depth. Of course that just clouds the picture when it comes to fantasy. Still, the Padres have a reservoir of talent at the minor-league level, with enough of it bubbling toward the surface that they are of interest to deep leaguers. They have enough useful pieces at the major league level to be of interest to shallow players as well, with Chase Headley’s resurgence and Carlos Quentin’s good health being the keys to a lineup that struggled to produce counting stats in 2013. While one of those things will be sure to fail us going forward (Quentin’s health), the other has a good chance of staying true.
A relatively quiet offseason means that the Padres aren’t drastically different than they were before. The additions of Joaquin Benoit and Seth Smith add depth (there’s that word again), but lack impact. There were no waves made about the closer role, and the outfield picture only got murkier. Health will be paramount though, as a seemingly inordinate number of position players, pitchers and prospects have seen the disabled list in recent years. Still though, this Padres team seems the same as previous incarnations, with much of the talent (and fantasy value) being provided by the pitching staff.
A look at how deadline trades could affect the ninth-inning landscape, followed by this week's tiered closer rankings.
Welcome to another installment of The Bullpen Report. As a reminder, closers are rated in five tiers from best to worst. The tiers are a combination of my opinion of a pitcher’s ability, the likelihood that he will pick up saves, and his security in the job. For example, a pitcher in the third tier might have better skills than a pitcher in the second tier, but if the third-tier pitcher is new to the job or has blown a couple of saves in the last week, this factors into the ranking as well.
In addition to my weekly rankings, this week I will be taking a look at teams that might be sellers and the relievers who might be trade targets at the major-league trade deadline. For every other position on the diamond, player trades matter almost solely in -only leagues, where you run the risk of losing someone to the “other” league. If a first baseman gets moved from a National League to an American League squad, the mixed-league impact is typically negligible. Closers are the rare commodities where fantasy owners in every format are at risk if there is a trade. More often than not, a closer who gets shipped out of town at or near the deadline moves from the front of a bullpen into a set-up role.
The Padres are off to a horrible start, so a housecleaning might be forthcoming. Who stays and who goes?
The San Diego Padres, perhaps predictably, have gotten off to a miserable start in 2012. Although expectations were not high coming into the season, almost nothing has gone right for the club. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, not to mention ongoing ownership/television deal issues (I live 15 minutes from Petco Park and cannot watch the team on TV in my home, which might qualify as “charmingly retro” if it weren't so annoying), the Padres are staring at their worst-case scenario only a month into the campaign.
Last week, Kevin Goldsteinsuggested that a “housecleaning in San Diego could be coming.” Reader pobothecat wondered what such a housecleaning might look like, and so did I.
The noise coming out of Miami only rivals the shuffling market for closers. What are the fantasy implications?
Jose Reyes | Miami Marlins | SS | Signed as Free Agent Few would have predicted Reyes signing with Miami even a month ago, but the newly relocated Marlins are making big waves in the free-agent market this winter. In Miami, Reyes's value will likely rise a bit, but his ultimate fantasy value will be heavily tied to how many games he manages to stay on the field for. He'll bat leadoff for the Fish as he did for the Mets, but he'll have some much bigger bats behind him to drive him in; once you get past Emilio Bonifacio, who will bat second, he'll have Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton.
Reyes has averaged just nine home runs per season in Citi Field, so you might expect his power production to improve now that he's leaving (after all, he had a couple of 15-plus homer seasons in Shea Stadium). That is, until you realize that the new Marlins Ballpark has deeper fences than Citi almost the entire way around. The good news is that Reyes will recoup some of this value in terms of his steals. Ozzie Guillen is one of the most aggressive managers in terms of attempting steals, so Reyes could find himself back up over 45 or 50 swipes in 2012.
Mike Petriello looks at hidden gems in San Diego and Colorado, and who to avoid in Houston.
You don’t need me to tell you that Heath Bell is an elite closer, since he’s currently owned in 100% of ESPN.com fantasy leagues. But what makes this situation different is that unlike other top closers, Bell’s not likely to end the season with his current team, the dreadful Padres. So not only is San Diego a prime place to see an open closer’s role this season, his potential replacements are valuable enough that they may be able to help you right now - if you can spare the roster spot - rather than waiting for Bell to be moved and for your fellow owners to join you in trying to feast on a new closer.
If and when Bell moves on, Padre relievers Luke Gregerson and Mike Adams would be in line to get the save opportunities, according to Heater expert David Golebiewski. Each of them actually beat Bell in K/9 rate last season and had slightly lower HR/9 rates as well. PECOTA looks for more of the same in 2010, suggesting that they could easily step in for Bell should the need arise.