Welcome back to another edition of the Closer Report. It was another busy week in reliever land, with injury after injury, after return from the disabled list, after injury. This might be (probably is) recency bias, but it seems as if there are more injuries to closers this year, a trend that likely is, at least partially, due to the new 10-day disabled list. Either way, you can keep up with all of these injuries and any other movement on the Closer Grid. Now, let’s get to the news.
Nationals Bullpen Back at Full Strength, As Confusing as Ever
After short stints on the disabled list, Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover each returned to a depleted Washington bullpen over the weekend. In the meantime, the Nationals were relying on a mess of relievers led by Matt Albers to take over closer duties and were undoubtedly excited to get their two best bullpen arms back. As was the case before both got hurt, it was safe to assume Kelley would get the bulk of the save chances with Glover getting a few more than your typical set-up man. Kelley got the first couple, but his second time out went extremely poorly. I don’t think that’s enough to give Glover the bulk of the chances or even a 50-50 split, but both absolutely need to be owned right now. It is also time to start thinking about maximizing their value. The Nationals are almost certainly going to trade for a closer at some point, so waiting until one of them goes on a run and trading them in mid-June could be the best use of either one.
Mark Melancon Hits the Disabled List
It’s been a disaster of a season for the Giants, and things got even worse last season when the usually durable and steady reliever Mark Melancon hit the disabled list with an elbow injury. The good news is it shouldn’t be a long stint, and there’s an outside chance he’s back Tuesday. More likely is that he’s back later in the week. For now, Derek Law is filling in at closer, but with it being such a short DL stint for Melancon he’s not really a must-own. If you’re in a league that values speculative saves, though, I’d keep an eye on either Law or Hunter Strickland. Melancon should be fine, but elbow injuries are the type that can creep up later and if it comes back you’d have to figure it’d be a longer absence. Law is higher on the depth chart right now, but he hasn’t been lights-out in Melancon’s absence and doesn’t have prototypical closer stuff. Strickland is the more stereotypical back-end arm. Either way, don’t drop someone you value for either one, but if you are looking for a new reliever they could be worth a speculative add if you don’t mind waiting.
Neftali Feliz Out of the Ninth Inning in Milwaukee…for Now
It’s been a rough start for Feliz. His strikeouts are way down, his walk rate is way up and he’s allowing home runs left and right. That’s…not a great combination. The Brewers recognize this, and they are taking Feliz out of the closer role. At least, their exact words were: “giving him a break.” This opens the door for him to return, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Corey Knebel takes the ninth now, and I’m confident in his ability to hold down the role. The 25-year-old has taken his game to another level this year with a 1.31 DRA and a 65 cFIP. I can’t see Feliz pitching well enough to take his job from Knebel. There is also Jacob Barnes, but he’s been struggling a bit since his hot start, and I think they’ll keep Feliz above Barnes on the depth chart for the time being.
Jeurys Familia Is Out Again
Jeurys Familia was out to start the season after getting suspended because of the domestic abuse allegations against him. Addison Reed took over the ninth inning in that time, and was mostly fine even if he wasn’t quite as dominant as he was last year. Now, Familia is out again, this time with an injury. Reed will be serving as the Mets closer, and it will possibly be for a long time. If he stays healthy, the bullpen situation is straightforward in New York, although they’re another team I’d expect to be targeting bullpen deal as the trade deadline gets closer.
• Aroldis Chapman also went down with injury this week, and probably will miss about a month. Obviously, Dellin Betances will take over as closer and if he’s not already owned in your league you’re playing in the wrong league.
• Greg Holland was a total wild card coming into the season after missing all of the previous season. I bet big on Adam Ottavino, and that has not paid off. Holland has been outstanding for Colorado and is looking like his old, elite self. Kudos to those who bought in this spring.