Closing Time 7/9: Ranking the Top 30 Closers Every Tuesday
Light pink row designates Closer By Committee
- After a disastrous outing last week, Jose Alvarado was diagnosed with an oblique strain that will sideline him for 6-8 weeks. Even with Diego Castillo returning from the IL shortly after the All-Star break, I still think this is Emilio Pagan‘s job to lose for now. He has certainly earned it this year with a 1.75 ERA and .83 WHIP.
- With the trade deadline almost three weeks away and plenty of relievers expected to become available, it’s time to start evaluating the fantasy implications of these moves. The tier 1 closers are all likely to stay put, although teams have made their interest known in Kirby Yates. Under team control for another season and now a team trying to compete, the Padres would have to be blown away to move Yates at this point.
- Similar to Yates, there have been some rumblings regarding Felipe Vazquez but it’s fair to say, just like Yates, he won’t be going anywhere this year. Brad Hand has also been mentioned in potential trades at the deadline and while my money would be on him staying in Cleveland, who are currently 1.5 games ahead in the Wild Card race, the Indians seem to be entertaining trades involving their pitchers. Although he likely by stays, if the Indians could get an impact hitter for Hand, I wouldn’t be shocked to see them make a move. If so, Nick Wittgren would likely step in as the teams closer unless some other moves were made.
- Will Smith is the best reliever all but guaranteed to be moved this month with the Giants out of the playoff race and Smith’s contract up after the year. Where he goes is uncertain at this point, but he should remain a closer unless he goes to the Dodgers, Yankees, Astros or Cubs. Who becomes the closer in San Francisco after the deal is another mystery. It will likely come down to who is left once the dust settles, with Tony Watson and Sam Dyson also likely trade targets. It’s Watson’s job if he stays put, but if he and Smith both get moved, Dyson will likely take over. If all three are moved, the job will likely go to Mark Melancon and his unmovable contract although Reyes Moronta is the preferred option from a fantasy standpoint.
- Ken Giles and Sean Doolittle round out tier 2’s potential trade candidates, with both under team control next season so the two aren’t locks to be moved by the deadline. The Blue Jays seem more motivated to move Giles, so I’d put his odds of getting moved closer to 50% then Doolittle’s, and I’d also give Giles better odds at closing wherever he may end up. Joe Biagini and Daniel Hudson stand to gain some save chances if Giles were moved, but neither one is an exciting stash at this point. If Doolittle were moved, I suppose the Nationals would turn to Fernando Rodney as the heir closer, but that’s a rollercoaster ride I can’t recommend. I’d much rather see Wander Suero or even Tanner Rainey get a chance at that role over the 42-year-old Rodney.
- After Smith, Shane Greene and Alex Colome are the next best closer’s who are basically locks to be moved at the deadline. While they probably get dealt, neither one is guaranteed to be closing at their next destination, and I wouldn’t blame you for trying to sell them for less than their current value right now. In Detroit, it’s assumed Joe Jimenez is to take over the closer duties, despite his struggles this season, but he himself has drawn trade interest from teams like the Rays. If he were to get moved, look for Buck Farmer or maybe Victor Alcantara to pick up save chances, but neither is a recommended option. In Chicago, I’d love to see Aaron Bummer take over as the White Sox closer, as he is one of my favorite stashes at this point. The lefty has a little Zack Britton in him and has been impressive in his 33.1 IP so far this season (1.89 ERA and .93 WHIP). He’d certainly be a better option than Kelvin Herrera and his bloated 7.63 ERA.
- I imagine the Royals could be willing to eat some of Ian Kennedy’s contract in order to move him but I’m not sure if the return would be worth it to them. The same goes for Raisel Iglesias and the Reds. Both Kennedy and Iglesias should stay put this deadline. Greg Holland could be moved and was once a lock to move but his recent struggles combined with the Diamondbacks hanging around the wild card race make it more of a question mark now. Yoshi Hirano and Yoan Lopez seem to be next in line if Holland moves (or loses his job outright) with Lopez being the preferred option given his performance to date and overall upside. Sergio Romo could see himself moved at the deadline as well but I wouldn’t expect him to be closing wherever it is he may go. If he does leave, Nick Anderson makes for an intriguing fantasy pick up given his crazy K rate (13.98 K/9).
- If you are looking to stash potential closers in waiting now, I’d start with Aaron Bummer, Joe Jimenez, Nick Anderson, Yoan Lopez and Reyes Moronta. I wouldn’t be dropping any closers in the top 3 tiers for to add these guys yet, but if you have open roster spots and/or desperately need saves, these are the guys I’d be targeting first.