As you’ve seen over the first month and a half of the season, the Closer Grid is an ever-changing instrument that remains in constant flux due to the volatility at the position. But while a substantial number of situations remain steady, there are still plenty of others that are continuously evolving, or in some cases like the Mets, devolving. Man that bullpen is ugly. So with that, I’ve done a full sweep of all the bullpens around the league and made the necessary changes to the Grid.
You can follow along at the bottom of the page, but here are the changes you’ll need to know…
New York Yankees – While David Robertson has the job locked down and remains in the green with his level of job security, Dellin Betances steps in as a potential closer with Shawn Kelley landing on the disabled list. Should anything happen to Robertson or if he is unavailable for any reason, Betances could be an interesting choice. His 1.61 ERA and 15.72 K/9 are super-tasty and if you’ve seen the big man pitch recently, hitters just seem overmatched.
St. Louis Cardinals – My faith in Trevor Rosenthal has been waning as he continues to give up runs and blow saves and tie games. He’s allowed three runs over his last five appearances (5.2 innings) and he’s giving up far too many hits and walks to leave you feeling comfortable. Jason Motte is returning from Tommy John surgery and could be back by as early as next week. It’s difficult to think the Cards would just make the move immediately, but if Motte looks strong in his first few outings and Rosenthal continues to struggle, watch out. The St. Louis pen turns yellow with regard to job security now.
Toronto Blue Jays – Rest easy, Blue Jays fans, you’ve got Casey Janssen back in the ninth and the closer situation has received an upgrade to yellow. With Sergio Santos hurt and less-than-spectacular options lurking in the earlier innings, Janssen’s security as the team’s closer seems pretty solid for now. We’ll give it a few weeks before considering a move to green, but for now, this should be comforting enough.
Colorado Rockies – With the solid performance of LaTroy Hawkins, it would seem that he has solidified himself as the top guy for saves on the team and should be considered a secure option. Yes, we know that, eventually, he’ll be traded and Rex Brothers will step in, but that’s why he wasn’t bumped into the green just yet. He’ll hover in yellow until we know more as a player could be dealt at the drop of a hat.
Pittsburgh Pirates – While the situation remains in yellow, it’s been dropped further down the list as Mark Melancon start blowing saves and Jason Grilli’s return gets closer. Melancon has blown two of his last six opportunities with his most-recent blow-up looking pretty darn ugly, but he’s the best the Buccos have for now. When Grilli comes back there will be talk of instant replacement, but Clint Hurdle will likely ease the Grilled Cheese back in.
Chicago White Sox – Matt Lindstrom has not been the closer you dreamed of drafting during the spring and he continues to hit the bumps in the road rather than steer around them. But his security on the South Side seems pretty good right now and Robin Ventura has made no comments about changing things up at all. Maybe had Nate Jones been coming back sooner, the conversation would be different, but for now, the job stays with Lindstrom. At the least, he gets a quick bump into the yellow section.
Los Angeles Angels – It looks as if Ernesto Frieri and Joe Smith will be sharing the role for the time being. While the assumption is that Frieri will, one day, regain the job, the two are valued at about the same and both deserve to be in red.
Oakland A’s – Everything continues to point towards Jim Johnson regaining the job full-time, it’s still very much a situation in flux as Sean Doolittle and Luke Gregerson continue to see work in the role. It stays in red for now, but once Johnson gets the gig back, we’ll bump it to yellow.
Baltimore Orioles – Things are getting real tense around Charm City as the cries for Tommy Hunter’s removal become louder and louder. So far, nothing has changed and manager Buck Showalter, who once stuck through with Jim Johnson in a very similar situation, has said nothing regarding the safety of Hunter’s job or lack thereof. As you can see by the grid, the drop into red is a must even though the names stay the same. However, if you’re looking for a dark horse, right-handed reliever Brad Brach who owns a 17.69 K/9 with a 0.22 FIP was just called up on May 16 and should sit on your radar/watch-list.
Houston Astros – Chad Qualls still remains the “top” option for the ‘Stros, but with Anthony Bass hitting the DL, Josh Fields makes his way back into the conversation. Tony Sipp remains a very dark horse.
Cleveland Indians – Not really sure how or why the Tribe’s closer situation wasn’t bumped down the red with the removal of John Axford, but it’s there right now. Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen still lead the committee, but there’s been no change in the situation.
New York Mets – Man, does this situation continue to stay ugly. Kyle Farnsworth has been released and while only a few days ago, manager Terry Collins said that Jeurys Familia was moving closer to being the team’s closer, the fickle manager is now leaning toward Jenrry Mejia as his new ninth-inning specialist. Daisuke Matsuzaka continues to lurk as well, but if you’re putting a gun to my head…and you would have to in order to get me to use anyone from this team…I would say Mejia is the guy to won. Of course, I’m still holding out hope that Vic Black fixes his command issues and gets back with the big club soon. As soon as he’s worth bringing up, he’ll be worthy of an add as a soon-to-be closer.
*denotes on the DL but returning soon