One month into the season, there hasn’t been a ton of clarity added to some of the more confusing closer situations around the league. Although there wasn’t a ton of movement up and down depth charts in the past week, it doesn’t mean we're lacking for discussion topics. As always, you can keep up with the latest changes around the league with my Closer Grid. With that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff.
Fernando Rodney is somehow still the closer in Arizona
There hasn’t been a closer in MLB worse than Fernando Rodney in 2017. The Diamondbacks' ninth-inning man has 12.60 ERA through his first 11 outings and he’s allowed runs in six of them. Furthermore, he’s allowed a whopping eight runs over his past two outings. Despite all of that, the team is sticking with him in the ninth inning, though I can’t imagine it’ll last much longer. If there’s one situation to handcuff in the league, this is it. Unfortunately, it’s not entirely clear who would get the next chance. Among the Arizona relievers, the one I’d most like to own is Archie Bradley, although that’s not entirely because he could be the next closer. I think there’s a chance of that, but he also could find himself in the rotation. Either way, he’ll be fantasy-relevant. In terms of strictly closer probability, I still believe in Jorge De La Rosa. The converted starter has been consistently spectacular for the Diamondbacks and looks like a new man in his new role. J.J. Hoover is the other popular pick, and while he’s also been quite effective this year, De La Rosa has been pitching later in games. The only thing that gives me pause is that De La Rosa is a lefty, but I don’t think Arizona manager Torey Lovullo would let that hold him back. This is a tough situation that could go in a number of different ways, but if I had to bet on someone, I’d bet on De La Rosa. Also, as I’ve mentioned before, keep an eye on Jake Barrett, who is set to return from the disabled list soon.
Koda Glover gets hurt in Washington
Last week, I discussed the tough situation with the Nationals, as both Koda Glover and Shawn Kelley were getting saves. Although the latter was the favorite for the bulk of the opportunities, he never was truly safe with the former breathing down his neck. Glover hit the disabled list Thursday, and while it’s not a major injury it does give Kelley a chance to establish himself in that bullpen. He’s had just one outing since that time because the Nationals just decided it was easier to score 30 runs a game, and Kelly allowed a solo home run in the outing. This is probably good news for Glover, who could come back later this week and get another crack at splitting closer duties. I still prefer Kelley in this group, but it’s becoming more and more clear that no one in Washington has Dusty Baker’s full trust. Just this week they were already in the rumor mill for a new closer, this time being connected to Kelvin Herrera. It’s becoming more and more likely that the ultimate closer isn’t yet in Washington.
Zach Britton is back in Baltimore
After a short disabled-list stint, the Orioles have their elite closer back. Zach Britton was down with a strained forearm but his absence only lasted a couple of weeks. Brad Brach was the man to own in his absence, and now it’s time to decide whether or not to drop him. Personally, I would opt to keep him in most leagues, assuming there aren’t saves on the waiver wire. This is a case of me being risk-averse when it comes to forearm injuries, which is the same reason I own Hector Rondon in a bunch of leagues. If Britton does go down again, it’ll probably be a longer-term injury stint. If he doesn’t, you’ll at least get strong ratios from Brach while you wait for a better option to emerge on the waiver wire.
• The Blue Jays have struggled all around, and their closer hasn’t been an exception. Roberto Osuna spent some time of the disabled list and he allowed runs in four of his first six appearances. He looks like he’s settled down since then, though, and is still too talented to worry about.
• Jeurys Familia is back to closing in New York. Those who drafted Addison Reed aren’t too thrilled with what they got back, but he’s worth holding on to for another week or so to see how Familia works his way back.
• Alex Colomé had a rough week for the Rays, blowing two saves. While the results were strong before that, he’s been a different guy this year. His strikeouts are down, his ground-ball rate has decreased, and his walk rate is up. Combine that with the chance that he’s traded at the deadline to a team that already has a closer, looking to sell him might not be a bad idea.
• Bud Norris has been outstanding since taking over as Angels closer. He’s gotten the save without allowing a run in each of his past five appearances, and has nine strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings during that run. No, I have no idea what’s going on either.
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