Welcome back to the Closer Report. There were multiple changes in the reliever world over the weekend, and some messes yet to be cleaned up. Just a quick reminder that you can keep up with all of the changes at the Closer Grid. As always, the sections that are highlighted represent changes since the last iteration of this column.
Another injury in the Angels bullpen
The Angels aren’t having much luck with the back of their bullpen this year. Huston Street was the presumed closer, but he was hurt before the season even started. Later, it was a competition between Cam Bedrosian and Andrew Bailey. The latter was never the favorite in said battle, but he found himself on the disabled list, too. Now, Bedrosian finds himself on the disabled list after suffering a groin injury Friday. That leaves Los Angeles without a clear option to stick in the ninth inning, and it leaves fantasy owners scrambling for the best option. I’m not really sure there is one, but I have Bud Norris in the top spot right now. He got the save Saturday and has 11 strikeouts with 3 walks in his first 9 2/3 innings. Originally, I thought Blake Parker was the guy to own, as he’d been the best reliever in the bullpen and appeared to be setting up for Bedrosian. However, he was used in the sixth inning Sunday in a close game, which was a curious case. If you’re desperate for saves, either one is a worthy target at this point, but neither is going to be too exciting. To make matters even more confusing, the Angels just traded for David Hernandez, who has closer experience. He’s another name I’d keep an eye on.
Hector Neris quickly takes over in Philadelphia
Well, this one surprised me. Just last week, the Phillies ousted Jeanmar Gomez from their closer spot in favor of Joaquin Benoit. It made sense; Gomez just isn’t that kind of arm and Benoit is a solid veteran who allows Neris to stay in a more flexible role. But Benoit had a bad outing this past Sunday, and while manager Pete Mackanin wasn’t exactly up front about the change, it was enough to boost Neris up to the top spot on the depth chart. The good news is, the most-talented reliever is now getting the saves for Philadelphia. Despite a couple of tough outings this week, Neris should be fine in this role. It was assumed he’d get this chance at some point this year, but I’m still surprised that it happened so quickly.
Who to own in Washington?
The closer situation in Washington isn’t quite as clear as it is in Philadelphia. We know that Blake Treinen is out of the ninth, but it’s hard to be sure who the ideal closer to own is at this point. Shawn Kelley is my presumed favorite, and he remains in the top spot on the grid. He has the better track record, and got two straight saves this past week. However, Koda Glover got some love in spring training, has closer stuff and got the next two saves immediately following Kelley’s. Right now, I’d assume Kelley will get the majority of the chances, but it might be closer to a 60/40 split than I would’ve thought just last week. As I’ve mentioned before, there is a league in which I own both arms. I was holding them both until it was clear which one would be the better long-term own, and as of now that answer still hasn’t presented itself.
Getting worried about Francisco Rodriguez
In terms of fantasy value, I’ve always felt Francisco Rodriguez has been under-appreciated. It’s been a while since he was a truly elite RP, but over the past few years he’s been a steady presence who is a good second or third option in your fantasy bullpen. I didn’t end up with him in any leagues this year, but it wasn’t a case of flat-out avoiding him. In hindsight, it’s a good thing I didn’t land him. It’s officially time to be concerned with K-Rod. He’s now allowed at least one run in five of his eight outings, including each of his past two. While he has converted six saves, it hasn’t been pretty. To make matters worse, his velocity has fallen to an average of 88 mph on his fastball. There hasn’t been any mention of a change that I can find, but if you’re looking for a stash, I’d grab Justin Wilson while you can. I’m always a little concerned to commit to a left-handed handcuff, but it seems clear he’s the preferred option in Detroit.
• Edwin Diaz is still one of the better relievers to own in fantasy, but he may see fewer save chances than you think. It was reported Sunday that the Mariners want to use him more and that could include using him in non-save situations.
• In Oakland, Santiago Casilla got two saves and Ryan Madson got one. Madson's came with both Casilla and Sean Doolittle coming off two straight days of action. Casilla is the best option to own right now, but I’m still a believer in Doolittle’s long-term value.
• Jeurys Familia had three scoreless outings in his first week back from suspension, albeit with some control issues in the first two. Still, he should be ready to get back to closing soon.
Thank you for reading
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