The closing roles throughout the majors are ever changing. One of the most important things that fantasy baseball owners must pay attention to is the closer carousel. Even if a closer has pitched consistently well all season, a chain of bad outings can quickly result in his removal from the closing role.
Whether it’s a roto or a points league, saves are extremely valuable. Of course in roto, saves are a category, but in a points league, the value of saves is completely up to the commissioner who sets up the scoring. Either way, having multiple closing pitchers is extremely important. Personally, I always have at least three closers on my roster.
Lately there has been an abundance of news regarding closers around the MLB, here are just a few:
The Cubs closing role has been a mess all season. To start the year, Jose Veras was the team’s closer; he was horrendous, never maintaining control of his pitches.
He posted an 8.10 ERA through 12 appearances while never actually getting a save – although he did blow two saves. Veras was released by the Cubs on June 10, only to be signed to a minor league contract by the Houston Astros.
Eventually the Cubs turned to Hector Rondon as their full time closer. Rondon has been solid, converting seven of nine save opportunities while keeping his ERA (2.45) and WHIP (1.17) low.
Recently, Rondon has not been available much. He was put on the paternity list at the end of May, causing him to miss four days. Once he was reinstated to the active roster, Rondon pitched in just three games before hurting his elbow, forcing him to the bench since June 6.
In his absence, Neil Ramirez has quietly picked up three saves. His stats are also better than Rondon’s – Ramirez has a 1.06 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, and 13.76 K/9. It looks like Rondon should return to action soon, as he had a successful rehab session on Saturday.
It appears that Rondon will remain the team’s closer, but keep an eye on Ramirez because Rondon may be on a short leash when he returns. Since the Cubs closer role won’t necessarily provide a pitcher with many save opportunities, it may be wise to stay away from these two in shallow leagues.
San Francisco Giants
Sergio Romo has been consistent for the Giants so far this season, well, up until June 12 that is. Until June 12, Romo had successfully converted 20 of 22 save opportunities while holding his ERA to 3.00 and his WHIP to 0.74.
On June 13, Romo blew his third save of the season against the Colorado Rockies giving up five runs on four hits and a walk in the ninth. The very next day, Romo blew another save, once again against the Rockies, giving up two runs, including a home run.
Romo has yet to pitch since blowing back-to-back save opportunities. Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy showed no doubt in Romo.
From a fantasy perspective, don’t doubt Romo; he’ll occasionally go through rough patches, but he’ll bounce back and be just fine. Although if something happens and he loses his job, it looks like the save opportunities would fall to either Jean Machi or Javier Lopez.
For future reference, when the San Francisco Giants are playing the Colorado Rockies, it may be best to bench Romo. In 2014, Romo has a 19.80 ERA against the Rockies; he has given up 11 runs on 12 hits in just five innings pitched against Colorado.
Tampa Bay Rays
Before the start of the 2014 season, the Rays added bonafide reliever Grant Balfour to their bullpen. Maybe adding that one piece would put them over the top and make them a World Series contender. Boy, were they wrong.
Currently, the Rays are sitting at 27-43, dead last in the MLB. Not only are they struggling as a team, Balfour has struggled too. Over the last three years, Balfour averaged an ERA of 2.44, a WHIP of 1.04, a K/9 of 9.08, and a BB/9 of 3.39. In 2014, his first year in Tampa Bay, he has a 5.88 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 7.62 K/9, and 6.88 BB/9.
On the other hand, Rays’ reliever Jake McGee has been outstanding. The 27-year-old reliever has been the Rays’ best arm out of the bullpen all year; it looks like he may finally be getting his chance in the closer role.
Last week, the Rays declared that they would have no closer, opting for a closer by committee. It doesn’t seem like that was the complete truth. Since that declaration, McGee has received the majority of chances in the ninth inning; although, only one has been a save opportunity, which he converted successfully.
It’s too early to say if McGee is going to be the permanent closer in Tampa Bay, but it does appear that he will at least be given the save opportunities for the time being.
Despite the Rays’ record, McGee is still very valuable in fantasy baseball. Tampa Bay was a popular pick to make the playoffs before the season and they certainly have time to bounce back. Picking up McGee would be good idea, but an even better idea would be dropping Balfour.
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