"In fantasy baseball, closers are about as un-American as it gets." - Babe Ruth
Okay, you caught me. Despite being an avid fantasy baseball junkie, Babe Ruth never uttered that quote, or at least not to the best of my knowledge. Still, that doesn't make it any less true.
If you know me or have read one of my clustered fantasy baseball rants then you know I despise closers and everything they represent. In make-believe baseball, closers are fickle temptresses that will claim they'll love you forever just to steal your wallet and rip out your beating heart four minutes later.
Nevertheless, closers are (supposedly) an important part of this funny game sports nerds like you and I play. And in the past week and a half, the amount of turn over at the position has been absolutely redonk (it's cool, I'm bringing redonk back).
So I'm going to try to my best to suck up my hatred of the concept to make sense of some cluttered save situations around the league. Oh yeah, and I might hand out a rose or two to some worthy candidates Bachelor-style. Got it? Didn't think so. Let's begin anyways:
Kenley Jansen - LAD - As of Monday afternoon, Jansen has replaced Javy Guerra as the closer and all I can say about that is about damn time. Jansen's stuff is absolutely filthy and while he's struggled with control at times, he's averaged 15.2 strikeouts per nine innings throughout his young career. Expect Jansen to immediately move into the upper of MLB closers and he has potential to be the number one fantasy reliever if the Dodgers are able to keep up their winning ways.
Rose decision: Javy Who? Please Kenley, take this purty flower and punish Don Mattingly for not making you the closer in the first place.
Chris Sale - CWS - The White Sox braintrust decided to move the 23-year-old lefty from starter to closer over the past weekend due to a sore elbow. While this hurt a lot of fantasy teams (including mine) who were banking on Sale continuing his hot start (three wins, 2.81 ERA), there is still a lot of good to find in this situation. First off, he's proven; Sale has compiled 18 holds, 140 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.64 across his first 126.1 major league innings. Secondly, he has just about as much job security as any closer in the league. I mean, just think about it; the White Sox certainly wouldn't be moving their best young arm to the bullpen unless the truly believed he can dominant at that position for the next decade. And finally, Sale looks like one of the tree people from Lord of the Rings. Sure, that might not seem like a bonus on paper but those things did some serious damage to Saruman's fortress. That's has got to be an added intimidation factor for opposing pitchers.
Rose decision: Chris Sale....you've won my heart/a rose.
Steve Cishek - MIA - Manager Ozzie Guillen has shifted Heath Bell from the closer role for "a couple of days" which has hoards of fantasy-heads rushing to the waivers to claim Cishek. Before you push all your chips into the pot though perhaps you should reconsider. I don't pretend to speak Ozzie but "a couple of days" sounds far from permanent. Adding to that notion is the fact that the Marlins just handed Bell a lucrative three-year, $27 million contract just this past offseason. I don't know about you but if I invest $27 million into something, I'm not going to throw it in the trash and never look back just because it has had a few defects. Don't get me wrong, Cishek is a quality young reliever and is definitely the best arm the Marlins have in their pen at this point. But Bell is going to get his fair share of second chances because let's face it: baseball is still all about the money.
Rose decision: I'm sorry Steve but I just don't think it's meant to be.
David Robertson - NYY - If you didn't know his name before last Thursday when Mariano Rivera blew out his knee, you surely do now. As Mugatu would put it: Robertson, so hot right now. Robertson. The 27-year-old former setup man is now closing for the most successful team in baseball history and therefore is the hottest commodity at the position by default. And to those who are worried that the Sandman's shoes are too big to fill, may I politely invite you to shut your face. Robertson is the definition of the word stud. In 66.2 innings last season, Robertson an ERA of 1.08 to go along with 100 strikeouts and he's yet to give up a single run this year as well. The Yankees haven't had a save opportunity yet since all their games against the Royal this past weekend weren't close but when the time comes, I'd bet my last dollar Robertson is the first man up. Furthermore, I'd be willing to bet anyone reading this $50 bucks that Robertson will be the best fantasy closer from this moment on.
Rose decision: Take the whole damn bouquet. I'm in love, I'm in love and I don't care who knows it.
Ernesto Frieri - LAA - First off I'd like to formally apologize for including Jordan Walden in my buy low portion of my column two weeks ago. That was unforgivable and I will pay dearly. Moving on, I'd like to redeem myself if at all possible by warning you to avoid the Frieri trap. With Scott Downs nursing a tweaked knee and LaTroy Hawkins working with a broken finger of his own, Frieri has become a popular name in Anaheim when discussing possible save replacements. Don't be fooled though. Frieri is a solid middle reliever who will get his fair share of strikeouts but he's on the bottom of a very low totem pole. Manager Mike Scioscia said it will come down to Walden and Frieri while Downs is out but in a perfect world, he'd love for Walden to recapture his old job and never look back. It's going to 50/50 while Downs is out and if Walden excels, he'll be back to being the permanent closer. Even if Frieri does a more than admirable job, I still think Scioscia intends to use Frieri as an innings-eater, especially with the rest of the bullpen's struggles and the fact Walden, Downs and Hawkins are all far more qualified for the role.
Rose decision: It's not you, it's me.
Andrew Cashner - SD - Huston Street just went down with [insert random injury]. Shocking. Given Street's slow recovery history plus the nature of the beast (right lat strain), it's looking someone else may be holding down his role for quite some time. With that in mind, allow me to introduce you to Andrew Cashner. The former Cubs flamethrower has a fastball that averaged 102.2 MPH this spring and while his most recent outing certainly wasn't pretty (0.2 innings, 3 ER) don't despair. This kid has always had the stuff to be a future closer and that's the exact role the Padres have him ticketed for. Even if Street comes back sooner than expected, it's likely the Padres ship him out of town for some prospects as they're sure to be out of contention come the trade deadline. Cashner isn't the best target on this list but if you miss out on the rest he's a worthy consolation prize.
Rose decision: Did you say 102.2? Hmmm...I think I'd like to get to know you better Mr. Cashner.
Rafael Dolis/James Russell - CHC - Don't. Just don't. Mediocre Cubs + committee = stay the hell away.
Rose decision: Uhh...sorry fellas. Fresh out of roses.
Arizona Diamondback Stock Watch
- Cody Ransom - 3B - In his past four starts, Ransom has three runs, five RBI and two homers. If these numbers keep up, he could have the hot corner job all to himself and with his power potential, he'd be useful in deeper leagues.
- Trevor Cahill - SP - Last week Cahill managed to be quality in both his starts allowing only four runs with seven strikeouts across 14.1 innings. His methods are never pretty but you can't deny the final results.
- Patrick Corbin - SP - Corbin held his own in his first start against the Marlins but then imploded only a few days later against the Mets (3.1 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 3 BB). Don't trust him until he strings a few useful starts together.
- Jason Kubel - OF - After his white hot start, Kubel went 17 straight at bats without a hit before his ninth inning single Monday. There's still no reason he should be on the waivers but perhaps he's human after all.