Closing Time 4/3: Ranking the Top 30 Closers Every Tuesday
I had originally planned on talking about how it’s not time to panic on Kenley Jansen after last Friday night when we saw his velocity way down. I figured his velo was fine this spring so I’d chalk it up to being some minor mechanical flaw. So of course when I woke up this morning and saw what he went out and did last night, I had to circle back and confess that yes, I am beginning to panic. The velo was still down, but the biggest shock of the night to me was that he actually walked two batters in a row. This is a guy who didn’t walk a single batter til the last week of June last year, compiling 51 K’s in the meantime. There is obviously something wrong here, whether it be an injury (he claims to be healthy) or some type of problem with his mechanics. The walks indicate to me that he knows something isn’t right and he is trying to overcompensate by getting too fine with his location. The next outing will be a big one, but for now I still think he deserves (to steal a phrase from Nick) TIARA status and I’d still want him over any other closer on the list (Kimbrel right on his heels though). Definitely don’t sell low, as owners who likely had to spend a 3rd or 4th round pick on him in the draft (and this is why you shouldn’t draft closers that early) would be selling for pennies on the dollar at this point.
Here’s a look at some of the other news in the closer landscape from the past week.
- After lauding Edwin Diaz all last year, he really let me down during his inconsistent 2017 season. He’s now off to a great start in 2018, racking up 6 K’s in his first 2 outings. It’s obviously a small sample size, but it’s worth noting that he’s been throwing his slider more often to begin the year and I’m all for that (43% compared to 32% his first two seasons).
- The top 20 of the list stayed the same for the most part, but there was a big addition to the mix with Greg Holland set to join the Cardinals next Monday and take over the closing duties. He’s certainly capable of climbing up this list after what was a pretty good 2017 campaign outside of bad August where fatigue may have settled in. He’s still able to miss bats are a borderline elite rate and should make for a great source of K’s and saves this year.
- Two closers are wasn’t really sure what we’d get from this year, Jeurys Familia and Kelvin Herrera have looked good so far. They’ve both been dominant in the not too distant past and are certainly capable of getting back to that level. It’s only been a few days, but the early returns are definitely encouraging.
- After refusing to allow Hunter Strickland to close out games for years now, the Giants have finally caved in and would you look at that, he already has nailed down his two save chances. Definitely a better alternative to Sam Dyson and Tony Watson, however, there’s still reason to pump the brakes a little. If you take a closer look at his career numbers, he has never been able to miss bats at a great rate and definitely ranks at the bottom in this list in the K/9 and SwStr% categories. He has held ERA’s under 3.10 in all 3 of his full MLB seasons but saw his WHIP jump up to 1.43 last year due to a jump in his BB rate which has been on the decline (1.75, 2.8, 4.26). He’s still worth owning in most leagues while Mark Melancon is out (however long that may be), and if continues to succeed, there’s a slight chance the Giants would stick with him since Melancon has basically given them nothing in a year plus now.
- Two names on this list that are rumored to be on the outs would be Brad Brach and Blake Parker. Brach probably has some leash, or at least who has deserved some, but there’s some concern after his first outing and then the fact he pitched in mop-up duty Sunday afternoon. Mychal Givens also pitched in that game and he has been fine to start the year, so I’d imagine it was more about just getting them some work then a proclamation that Darren O’Day is now the teams closer. Kenyan Middleton had to bail out Blake Parker Sunday, and this situation seems a lot more fluid. I’m all for Middleton getting a chance to keep the role full time, but given the inefficiencies of the guys in the role there and Mike Scioscia’s stubbornness to communicate anything, I don’t want any part of this until someone clearly pulls away from the pack.