In the fantasy baseball world, there is no position that spurs as much debate as that of the closers. On one side of the fence, you've got the naysayers who continuously assert that the position is too volatile and that closers are single-category contributors not worthy of a high draft pick or substantial auction dollars. On the other side, you've got the proponents of the position who like to invest in their closers and believe that the player does more for their team than just accumulate saves. The former will happily bypass closers on draft day and chase saves on the waiver wire throughout the year while the latter choose to spend their FAAB budget on everyone else. No matter on which side of the fence you reside, with a saves category in play for your scoring system, they are still a must-own.

Personally, I sit on the side with the proponents and happily laugh at those who waste big free agent dollars on some flavor of the week who won't be closing games for too long. While they're out spending money on guys like Pedro Strop or Heath Bell, I'm sitting pretty with Greg Holland and Glen Perkins and making it rain at Club FAAB when Byron Buxton finally gets his call-up. They might be ahead of me in wins (yawn...totally arbitrary) and possibly strikeouts, but my ratios sparkle and I'm picking up saves faster than a five-year-old kid can pick boogers. And actually, if I'm smart about drafting, the folks who live on the other side of the fence don't even have the edge in strikeouts.

The fact is, quality closers do so much more than help you in just saves. Not only can guys like Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel help you in strikeouts, but they, along with some of the other high-end closers, will go out there and throw you 60-70 innings with killer ratios. They may not throw as many innings as most starting pitchers, but I'd rather have a closer with a 1.80 ERA over 65 innings in my active lineup than a mid-level starter who has a 4.50 ERA over 175 innings.

Unless, of course, that mid-level starter is a high-strikeout pitcher. If that's the case, then I'll take both. And that's the best way to use your closers. You don't need to burn high draft picks or big bucks on a premium starter. You can grab that elite closer in the seventh or eighth round and pair him up with someone like Jeff Samardzija or Jered Weaver in the 13th round and kill it in all the categories. 

Is the position volatile? Yes it is. But that's why you make the investment in the guys at the top of the food chain; the ones with the high level of job security. Grab Chapman in the eighth round and draft around that. Don't wait until the 22nd round to grab Jose Veras and think that you're going to succeed. Drafting closers is much like life -- you get what you pay for. When it comes to relievers, if you draft one in the 22nd round, you're getting 22nd round production. If you draft in the eighth, well that's more often your floor in value, not your ceiling. Last year I drafted Holland in the 10th and 11th rounds in many drafts and did you see what his numbers were? Come on.

But I'm not here to try and convince you that my way is the right way. My fantasy championships and your sixth-place finishes speak for themselves. You'll come over to the "dark side" when you've had enough. What I'm here to do is help inform you of, not only who the closers are for each team, but who the next in line for saves would be if a particular team's closer gets hurt or craps the bed bad enough to lose his job. To do that, I have created my own little table which I will share with you here. I'll update it throughout the spring while discussing some of the bullpen battles we'll see and then it will be updated each and every week during the season to keep you well-informed and in-the-know.

So without further ado, here is how the bullpens are stacking up as we head into spring training:

  Closer On Deck In the Hole
Atlanta Braves Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden Luis Avilan
Arizona Diamondbacks Addison Reed J.J. Putz Brad Ziegler
Baltimore Orioles Tommy Hunter Darren O'Day Ryan Webb
Boston Red Sox Koji Uehara Edward Mujica Junichi Tazawa
Chicago Cubs Jose Veras Pedro Strop James Russell
Chicago White Sox  Nate Jones Daniel Webb Scott Downs
Cincinnati Reds Aroldis Chapman Sean Marshall Jonathan Broxton
Cleveland Indians John Axford Cody Allen Bryan Shaw
Colorado Rockies LaTroy Hawkins Rex Brothers Matt Belisle
Detroit Tigers Joe Nathan Al Alburquerque Bruce Rondon
Houston Astros Josh Fields Chad Qualls Chia-Jen Lo
Kansas City Royals Greg Holland Kelvin Herrera Aaron Crow
Los Angeles Angels Ernesto Frieri Joe Smith Dane De La Rosa
Los Angeles Dodgers Kenley Jansen Brian Wilson Chris Perez
Miami Marlins Steve Cishek Mike Dunn A.J. Ramos
Milwaukee Brewers Jim Henderson Brandon Kintzler Alfredo Figaro
Minnesota Twins Glen Perkins Jared Burton Brian Duensing
New York Mets Bobby Parnell Vic Black Gonzalez Germen
New York Yankees David Robertson Matt Thornton Shawn Kelly
Oakland Athletics Jim Johnson Ryan Cook Luke Gregerson
Philadelphia Phillies Jonathan Papelbon Mike Adams Antonio Bastardo
Pittsburgh Pirates Jason Grilli Mark Melancon Tony Watson
St. Louis Cardinals Trevor Rosenthal Seth Maness Randy Choate
San Diego Padres Huston Street Joaquin Benoit Alex Torres
San Francisco Giants Sergio Romo Santiago Casilla Javier Lopez
Seattle Mariners Fernando Rodney Danny Farquhar Tom Wilhelmsen
Tampa Bay Rays Grant Balfour Joel Peralta Heath Bell
Texas Rangers Joakim Soria Tanner Scheppers Neftali Feliz
Toronto Blue Jays Casey Janssen Sergio Santos Steve Delabar
Washington Nationals Rafael Soriano Drew Storen Tyler Clippard

 

Searching for answer for the 2014 fantasy baseball season? Turn to a trusted source to enlighten you – Fantasy Alarm – and pick up your very own copy of the 2014 Fantasy Alarm Baseball Draft Guide. After reading the 200 pages of information you will be ready to dominate the competition in the coming season on your way to a fantasy baseball championship.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for nearly two decades on a variety of web sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him directly at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com




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About Howard Bender

Howard Bender is a Managing Editor at Fantasy Alarm, Co-Host of the Fantasy Alarm podcast and Co-Host of Fantasy Sports Tonight on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy and on the RotobuzzGuy Facebook page. You can also email him directly at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com.

Howard Bender on Twitter

@benjam227 Bell, Ball and Ellington for me this week. Like Bradshaw more in PPR and too much time share in NO for me for Robinson

@ranalli2195 No, keep West. To thin at RB. Miller sucks and you won't want to use him

@qcanelias no. Hes not a young kid. He's been around for a little while.

@qcanelias for final week? Sure. Im not protecting him for next year though