We’re back to some semi-interesting news over the last week, with one of the top closers taken this spring being ousted from his role. Additionally, we have some injury return news as well as a few updates on our favorite situations. As always, keep up with everything on the closer grid. Quick programming note on the grid, I have recently moved to a new apartment and haven’t had WiFi all weekend, which is why I’ve been slow to update it. It should be back up to regular pace on Wednesday. Now, on to the news.

Rosenthal Out in St. Louis … For Now

Heading into the season, Trevor Rosenthal was the sixth closer off the board in NFBC leagues and fifth according to Fantasy Pros’ data. Barring something totally unforeseen (which, I suppose this qualifies), he’ll be the highest-rated closer to lose his job in 2016. In some ways, the Cardinals’ reliever looks better than ever, as he’s carrying career-high strikeout and ground ball rates. Unfortunately, those control issues that threatened to cost him back in 2014 have crept up in an even bigger way this season. Through Sunday’s action, he’s walked just under eight batters per nine innings, which, scientifically speaking, is very bad and also not good. Mike Matheny has said he’ll go with a committee to replace Rosenthal for now, with Seung Hwan Oh, Kevin Siegrist and Jonathan Broxton getting chances. If I were ranking the urgency with which you should add each, I’d keep them in that order. Siegrist has been used in more eighth inning situations this year, but Oh has been catching up with him in that regard lately. Plus, the former is a lefty. Without any real indication at this point, I’d peg it for a 75/20/5 split for Oh/Siegrist/Broxton. I also wouldn’t be so sure about Rosenthal regaining his role this year, as those control issues are real and Oh has been good enough to keep this job all year now that he’s been given a chance.

Papelbon Nearing Return as Kelley Starts to Struggle

Prior to hitting the disabled list, Jonathan Papelbon hadn’t been his typical self, with career-worst marks in both strikeout and walk rate. Because of that relative lack of success, some saw his injury as a way to pave a path for Shawn Kelley to take the job full-time. Sure, Dusty Baker always prefers his veterans, but it’s not as if Kelley is a rookie. Plus, he’s been fantastic this year. Unfortunately, he’s had a bit of a rough stretch in the worst possible week, as both of his appearances resulted included at least one run crossing the plate and one involved a blown save. To his credit, both of the runs he allowed in that outing were unearned, but I have a feeling that won’t matter. Papelbon should be starting his rehab this week, and that could mean he’ll be back in Washington’s ninth inning sooner rather than later. Of course, given Papelbon’s diminishing stuff and Kelley’s still-dominant numbers, I’d hold on to the latter in relatively deep leagues. He should get saves again later in the year, and will help your ratios tremendously in the meantime.

Let’s Have a Mildly Positive Talk About The Reds

The Reds have been the symbol for despair in the Closer Report this year, but it seems like things have taken a bit of a turn lately. For starters, it appears Tony Cingrani has developed something of a firm grasp on the closer role, or at least as firm of a grasp as he can. He did allow a run in one outing this week, but he also pitched a clean ninth for the save on Sunday. His peripherals suggest this relatively positive stretch won’t last long, but those in NL-Only leagues can at least ride it while it lasts. Some saw J.J. Hoover’s promotion as a troubling sign for Cingrani, but I think it’s time to accept that Hoover just isn’t very good. He allowed five more runs in an outing this past week, and now has an 11.72 ERA to go along with a 9.21 FIP and a 6.14 DRA. The real name to watch, as I mentioned previously, is Raisel Iglesias. The former starter returned as a reliever this past week, and certainly showed some rust after missing most of the season. Still, we know the talent is there and his competition is beyond weak. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t lead the team in saves in the second half.

The Rockies Are Actually Interesting

In terms of actual baseball, the Rockies aren’t really that interesting, sitting 12 games out of first place and two games under .500. In terms of bullpens, though, they fascinate me. That’s mostly because of Carlos Estevez, who remains one of my favorite young arms in the game. It was an interesting week for the young fireballer, who converted two clean saves in addition to another scoreless inning, but also blew two games in the middle of the week. It’s clear that there is still work to be done with the 23-year-old, and he is obviously being affected by playing in Coors. Jake McGee — one of my favorite underrated targets heading into the season — should be starting a rehab assignment soon. When he returns, he’ll presumably take the job back. Estevez hasn’t been good enough to hold onto like Kelley in Washington. At the same time, he could very easily take the job back at some point later in the year if/when McGee is traded. Of course, Adam Ottavino also looms as he continues his rehab from Tommy John surgery. He could return this week. This will be a fascinating team to watch in the second half.

Quick Hits

The Twins seem to actually be going with a committee in the ninth inning, with Brandon Kintzler and Fernando Abad each getting save chances. This is cool in terms of real baseball, but it’s very, very uncool in terms of fantasy. Avoiding this situation entirely is best.

Fernando Rodney no longer has a 0.00 ERA. What a bum. He’s certainly been the most surprising closer in the league this year. I’d try to sell high on him if possible, as his value is almost certain to fall at some point either due to regression or simply being traded out of a closer role.

Speaking of which, Arodys Vizcaino is an interesting name to watch in the coming weeks as well. He probably is my favorite young arm in the game, and his value could change dramatically as the deadline nears. If he’s traded to a contender who needs a closer, he’ll become one of the top relievers in fantasy. If he’s dealt to a team that already has a closer, his value will obviously tumble.

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
I thought Iglesias made the most sense too, but I read somewhere that the Reds don't want to pitch him on back-to-back days. That might make him a co-closer at best...though given the few save chances the Reds generate he might be OK.