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.
Changes Finally Hit San Francisco
There arguably hasn’t been a team that’s been more on the verge of a closer change all year without actually going through with it than the Giants. It’s kind of a weird phenomena, as Santiago Casilla has been as solid as ever according to DRA and cFIP. However, he’s been a little more prone to hard contact this season, and it’s prevented him from really going on a strong run to solidify his job for the rest of the year. Now, after a tough two-week stretch, he’s forced Bruce Bochy’s hand. The Giants are obviously one of the better teams in baseball, so being able to pick up some fresh saves from this kind of team is a rarity at this time of year. Unfortunately, it’s not entirely clear who that pitcher will be. Sergio Romo has been my pick, as he’s been the guy I’ve had second in that bullpen since he returned from injury. Like Santiago Casilla, he’s a bit underrated but he’s also been prone to hard contact this year. The other option appears to be Hunter Strickland, who picked up the first post-Casilla save. His overall season-long DRA and cFIP suggest he’s been a bit overrated this year, but it’s worth noting he’s come into his own over the past six weeks. I would suspect saves will be split between these two — and possibly Derek Law when he’s healthy — but recent usage and performance suggests Strickland will be given the first chance to run with the job.
Who’s Closing in Miami
As someone who loves bullpens, the trend of teams pairing closer-caliber relievers at the back of their unit is surely something I can get behind. As someone who writes about bullpens in terms of fantasy, the trend is the bane of my existence. There’s been plenty of examples of this all year, but the Marlins are the latest frustrating roster. When Miami acquired Fernando Rodney, there was suddenly a battle for the ninth inning after A.J. Ramos had held down the gig admirably all year. An injury to the latter allowed the former to take the job and run with it for a while. Now, it looks like the tide is starting to shift again. Rodney has been horrible lately, allowing runs in three of his last four starts and walking 13 batters in his last 16 innings since the start of August. Ramos, meanwhile, had a rough August but has turned things around since the start of September. It’s unlikely he’s available at this point, but if you play in a shallower lead Ramos could be a season-changing pick up if he’s able to stay healthy down the stretch.
Andrew Bailey Is A Closer Again
This is truly a bizarre turn that can only happen on a bad roster at the end of the year. After Fernando Salas was traded to the Mets at the end of August, there was no clear front-runner for the ninth inning in the Angels’ bullpen. J.C. Ramirez and Deolis Guerra seemed to be the most likely candidates, but they never even got a chance. Instead, former Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey has seemingly run with the gig. Now, there is clearly no guarantee he’ll be able to keep the job all year. He spent most of this season with the Phillies, and was not good. He was able to strike out more than a batter per inning, but he combined that with real control issues and an inability to keep the ball in the park. He’s limited his walks since joining the Angels, and is inducing ground balls at more than a 50 percent rate while keeping the strikeouts. Of course, this is over four innings of work and is hardly a meaningful sample. He’s also on one of the worst teams in the league, so save chances don’t expect to be plentiful over the last few weeks of the season. On the other hand, he’s only owned in 24 percent of Yahoo leagues and it’s hard to find saves this time of year. If you need saves and someone like Strickland and/or Romo is already owned, there’s no reason not to take a chance on Bailey.
Brandon Kintzler has completely out-pitched my expectations since taking over the closer job in Minnesota, and has likely done enough to keep the job all year. With that being said, he’s really struggled lately, allowing runs in four of his last six outings. I don’t anticipate any changes right now, but this is a situation to keep an eye on as Ryan Pressly could get some late-season saves for the Twins.
Tony Watson has continued to struggle since taking over the closer job in Pittsburgh. He’s the owner of a 4.96 ERA since the start of August and is allowing an .888 OPS in that time. If Neftali Feliz were healthy, a change would likely already be made. There’s a chance he can come back and supplant Watson before the year is over, but it’s far from a sure thing.
Kenley Jansen is ridiculous. We all know this, but I don’t think we acknowledge this enough. He’s been completely dominant throughout his career, but one could make the argument he’s having his best season. This has nothing to do with fantasy, as he’s obviously not available, but Jansen is going to get paid this offseason.
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