One week into the season and we already have our first official closer change. While it wasn’t the exact move I was hoping for, Joaquin Benoit is still a big upgrade over Jeanmar Gomez. But still, #FreeHectorNeris. We also saw a few more 9th inning situations become a bit more clear, such as in Oakland, where they cut their number of “closers” in half, now only committing to 2 guys, Sean Doolittle and Santiago Casilla.
Let’s dive into the weekly Closer Ranks and see where everyone stacks up:
TIER 1: Nothing Compares 2 U
- I’m still sticking with my top 4, despite some struggles from a few guys on this list. Kenley Jansen gave up 2 ER in a non-save situation at Coors on Sunday but has been fine in his other 1.1 innings of work.
- Aroldis Chapman has been his typical self in two outings thus far, fanning 4 in 2 innings.
- I refuse to let the epic Mariners meltdown over the weekend against the Angels deter my love for Edwin Diaz. Expect him to be rock solid going forward.
- Zach Britton’s WHIP sits at 1.60 in 4 appearances, but he has been able to work out of his self-made jams and has yet to allow a run in picking up 3 saves.
TIER 2: Save Tonight
- Ken Giles wasn’t good in a non-save situation last Friday or last night, as he showed the same control issues that have plagued him in the past. The K’s are still there in bunches and Luke Gregerson hasn’t been good either, so I am not about to panic just yet.
- Mark Melancon has settled down after his blown save on opening day. His job security and opportunity keep his value this high despite his inability to miss bats at a high rate.
- Seung Hwan Oh has yet to have a clean inning in 3 outings to begin the season. In other news, Trevor Rosenthal made his debut the other day and struck out the side in order in his inning of work. A change isn’t close to imminent, but another blown save could force Mike Matheny to make a switch sooner rather than later.
- Craig Kimbrel was shaky his last time out, but he got the job done and has been solid to begin the year.
- Wade Davis is proving his horrendous spring was nothing to be concerned about. He has yet to allow a run in 4 appearances.
- Kelvin Herrera blew his first and only save opportunity of the year, but he should still be a rock solid top 12 closer all year.
- Roberto Osuna was activated off the DL yesterday which should relieve Jays fans and fantasy owners alike. He looked good in an inning of work last night.
- Cody Allen has been ok so far, but at least he has yet to blow a save. His job is safe despite Andrew Miller’s presence.
- Alex Colome keeps being underappreciated by most people, myself included. I just worry about him seeing enough save chances and/or potentially being traded.
- Addison Reed has been adequate in the closer’s role so far and should be fine to roll out in fantasy leagues for another week.
TIER 3: Bound for the Floor
- Greg Holland is back. Maybe. We will see how long this will last but it is nice to see him being used as much as he has early on.
- AJ Ramos has turned in 3 scoreless outings so far this season but made his one save opportunity interesting, allowing 2 baserunners.
- I see why the Dusty Baker chose Blake Treinen as his closer to start the year, as he features 3 really good pitches. He’s been making hitters miss with a lot of his pitches, but still has a tendency to leave some balls over the middle of the plate. I still think he gets a fairly long leash, but Koda Glover and Shawn Kelley still loom. Kelley hasn’t been great so far but he was warming up for a potential save opportunity on Monday night.
- If the Angels would just commit to making Cam Bedrosian there permanent closer, he would move up a tier. He’s made the most of his 2 chances, picking up 2 saves and 5 K’s.
- Neftali Feliz was electric last night, featuring multiple 100 MPH Fastballs as well as a filthy Slider. His only blemish on the year is the HR he allowed to Nolan Arenado, arguably a top 5 hitter in all of baseball. His stock is definitely trending upwards.
- David Robertson has looked good so far, but has yet to receive a save opportunity.
- Tony Watson has been solid if unspectacular in his chances so far, and seems to have the job solely locked down despite rumblings of him and Daniel Hudson sharing the role.
- Francisco Rodriguez is really not a fun guy to own at this point in his career. He is barely surviving on his 87 MPH FB and 83 MPH Changeup combo. It’s a recipe for disaster, but fortunately for him, there is no clear successor to the closer role in Detroit, at least until Joe Jimenez gets some MLB innings under his belt.
TIER 4: Better Days (and the Bottom Drops Out)
- Raisel Iglesias has been really good to start the season, and the Red’s would probably be better off just announcing him as THE closer. Until that becomes official, he’s stuck in this tier.
- Everyone has been excited since it seems like last year for the Phillies to finally make a change at closer and it came on Monday. But instead of going with young electric Hector Neris like we all hoped, they are going with 39 year-old Joaquin Benoit. He should be an ok source for saves, but the upside isn’t quite there compared to Neris. This move probably has something to do with the Phillies looking to up Benoit’s trade value before potentially shipping him off at the deadline and/or keeping Neris’s future arbitration costs down. Either way, it is tough to justify owning Neris in non-hold leagues anymore.
- Brandon Kintzler has been just fine to begin the season, and should have that role locked down for a while on what has been a surprisingly solid Twins team.
- Sam Dyson has been an unmitigated train wreck this year, as he blew yet another save last night. Matt Bush and Jeremy Jeffress haven’t been great either, so that’s something if you are looking for any positives to owning Dyson. Its far from a guarantee he gets the next save opportunity and Matt Bush should be owned in most leagues now.
- Jim Johnson doesn’t figure into the Braves long-term plans, but it’s fair to wonder if Atlanta will choose to treat the situation similarly to the Phillies with Benoit/Neris and keep the more talented Arodys Vizcaino in the set-up role for the year.
- Fernando Rodney continues to be Fernando Rodney. Lucky for him he has 0 competition.
- Brandon Maurer just doesn’t fit into the closers role. He’s not a terrible pitcher, but I am expecting this situation to turn into more of a matchup committee eventually, with some combo of Maurer, Brad Hand, Ryan Buchter and eventually Carter Capps figuring into the mix.
- The A’s actually made their closing situation a little bit more clear this week, naming Sean Doolittle and Santiago Casilla co-closers. Obviously Casilla will pitch when there are more right-handed hitters due up in save situations, with Doolittle throwing against left-handed heavy lineups. It’s not ideal for fantasy purposes, especially given the A’s low projected win total, but I suppose both should still be owned. Ryan Madson can officially be dropped in all standard leagues now.