Week Two was another relatively quiet week on the closer front, though there was one big injury and a few noteworthy performances. The updated closer grid can be found here. Let’s get to it.
Glen Perkins hits the DL
You can’t predict injuries, but some trips to the disabled list are easier to see coming than others. Glen Perkins’ trip falls in the first category. He’s dealt with injury issues in the past, and is currently playing in his age-33 season. So, when his injury was announced, many fantasy players were somewhat prepared. Starting with Perkins himself, this won’t keep him out for the year, and it’s more than likely that he’ll get his job back whenever he returns. As such, I wouldn’t be dropping him if there is a DL slot available, but at the same time he’s replaceable enough in shallower leagues that you shouldn’t drop anyone significant to create room.
As for his replacement, one of the drawbacks of doing this once a week is that many times these situations are figured out before it’s time for another edition. This is one of those instances, as it was initially unclear whether Kevin Jepsen or Trevor May would take over the closer duties. However, at this point it is clearly Jepsen’s job. He’s almost certainly owned already at this point, but some could be looking to target May as a speculative play. On the one hand, I don’t see him getting more than a couple of token save chances. Jepsen, while unspectacular, is solid enough to hold down the ninth inning until Perkins comes back. On top of that, while May is the better pitcher, he’s able to throw multiple innings, and the Twins would prefer to use him in a middle relief, multi-inning role. On the other hand, he’s still worth owning in deeper leagues with his huge strikeout stuff in short stints and the swing and miss numbers to back it up. Just don’t expect him to help out with more than ratios for the moment.
Sean Doolittle isn’t helping his case
Heading into the season, I was among the highest on Doolittle. In fact, one of my bold predictions was that he’d finish the year as a top-five closer. Obviously, I didn’t have him ranked that highly, but I saw a relatively clear path to that result. Well, so far, that’s not looking too great. Last week, I mentioned that Doolittle could be seeing fewer save chances as the A’s try to play matchups more than holding to traditional bullpen roles. Since we last spoke, he did not convert one save chance, while allowing runs in two of his three outings with one blown save and two losses. Ryan Madson, his main competition, also gave up a run in one of his outings last week, but he also converted two saves. Doolittle is still a must-own, of course, but I’m much more bearish on him than I was just a couple weeks ago. Madson is also a must-own at this point, and is still available in 45 percent of Yahoo Leagues, 55 percent of CBS leagues, 65 percent of ESPN leagues. If you play in a league in which Madson is on the waiver wire, go grab him before someone else does.
The Reds are not a fun bullpen
I’m not writing about the Phillies this week, but that doesn’t mean I’m avoiding sad bullpens altogether. It was clear before the season started that Cincinnati’s closer situation would not be a fun one for fantasy owners, and boy have they not disappointed. J.J. Hoover was among the favorites in the running for the first man to lose his job, and he’s well on his way to claiming that title. So far he has: a 17.18 ERA, allowed runs in three of his five outings, and more walks than strikeouts. All of that is bad. Fortunately for him, his biggest competition has struggled as well. Jumbo Diaz was the favorite to eventually replace him, but he hasn’t impressed early on, either. He’s allowed runs in two of his last three outings, but more concerning is the fact that both his strikeout rate and swinging-strike rate are down so far this year. Now, if I were desperate for saves, I’d still be willing to take a shot on Diaz now as Hoover looks like he’ll be losing his job very soon. With that being said, I’m not nearly as confident given his current stuff. Someone else to keep an eye on is Tony Cingrani. His strikeout totals are great, but he’s still walking too many players. If he can find some semblance of control, this bullpen is wide open enough for him to get a shot at the closer role at some point.
Every team in baseball now has saves, with Arodys Vizcaino and Alex Colomé getting their first of the season last week. I am very optimistic that both will be valuable fantasy RPs in 2016, and the latter should get a lot more save chances playing on a potential contender with some lineup issues.
Sergio Romo is going to miss a few weeks with a right-elbow flexor strain. This doesn’t affect San Francisco’s closer situation right now, but it moves Hunter Strickland to the second spot on the depth chart for now and gives him a chance to lock that role up for the rest of the season.
I finally caved and swapped Sam Dyson into the next man up for Keone Kela, based almost exclusively on where each pitcher is being used in games. I still believe Kela is the better pitcher, and his rates are good enough to own in deeper leagues regardless. With all of that being said, Tolleson has looked much better lately, so none of this is too important as of right now.
Fernando Rodney was my choice to be the first closer to lose his job this year, but he’s looked very good thus far. Of course, we all know he could implode at any moment, so keeping an eye on his backup situation is always important. Kevin Quackenbush has underwhelmed, especially of late, so I moved Brandon Maurer ahead of him on the depth chart despite some walk issues for the latter.
We usually talk about poor performances in this space, but David Robertson deserves some recognition. It seems to me he’s been somewhat underrated over the last couple of years, but he’s five for five in save chances to start the year without allowing a run and striking out six batters to just one walk.
Thank you for reading
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