Fantasy owners can breathe a little sigh of relief here as the amount of change from Sunday to Wednesday has been relatively minimal given the usual volatility at the position. The Closer Grid below has been completely updated to reflect all managerial decisions and roster changes and once again, we will go through some of the more malleable situations in a little bit more detail. The reliever road is going to be pretty bumpy for many of you, so bluckle up and hold on tight. Here’s what we’ve got for the mid-week report:
Boston Red Sox – On Monday, the Sox activated Koji Uehara from the disabled list and immediately re-inserted him into the closer’s role. Uehara picked up his first save Tuesday with a perfect ninth inning and two strikeouts and looked fantastic while doing so. Edward Mujica falls back into his set-up role, but keep him on your radar as Uehara isn’t exactly the perfect picture of health.
Detroit Tigers – There are still no updates on the timetable for Joe Nathan’s return, so it’s still all about Joakim Soria in Motown. Nathan could be back by the end of the month and manager Brad Ausmus could possibly try to reinsert him into the ninth-inning, but if an experienced arm like Soria’s is lighting it up in the bullpen, there may not be a change back.
New York Yankees – While I’ve changed the grid to reflect Andrew Miller running the ninth right now, I still stand by the belief that Dellin Betances will be the closer for the Yankees at some point in the season. Manager Joe Girardi is waiting on Betances’ velocity and general approach to come around in full, so in the meantime, Miller will handle the saves work. But long-term, Girardi would prefer to have Miller’s talent in the seventh and eighth innings to give him more flexibility with the lefty.
Oakland A’s – No saves for Tyler Clippard through the first week of the season apparently has some folks reeling right now. But stay the course and hold tight to Clippard as his ninth-inning services will be needed shortly. For how long? Well that obviously depends on Sean Doolittle’s recovery and rehab and so far, from everything manager Bob Melvin has said, we’re looking at a late-May return right now. That means there are plenty of chances for Clippard to start racking up the stats for you.
Tampa Bay Rays – While Brad Boxberger should still be considered the lead dog here, it looks like Kevin Cash isn’t opposed to mixing things up. Perhaps it’s because of the heavy workload Boxberger has recently undertaken, but both Kevin Jepsen and Ernesto Frieri have gotten a taste of some saves action. It could fall into a full-blown committee until Jake McGee is ready to return, but Cash might be inclined to singling out one over the others at some point just to have a more established bullpen hierarchy. For now, I’d still rather own Boxberger than the other two.
Toronto Blue Jays – It’s a closer-by-committee still as manager John Gibbons has now used Miguel Castro in a variety of situations. He was even used in the seventh inning Tuesday and was left in the pith the eighth. Is that your definition of a full-time closer? I think not. Castro, Brett Cecil and possibly both Roberto Osuna and Aaron Loup will see the late-inning work. However, I still believe Cecil gets the job back.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Don’t panic by seeing them listed here as there has been no change. Addison Reed remains the closer. But I was asked about the next-in-line on the Colton & the Wolfman Show Tuesday night on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and thought I would add it here as well. Rick Wolf asked about the prospect of Evan Marshall taking over the job for Reed and while I like Marshall as a pitcher from a stuff-standpoint, I worry about his prospects of taking over the job. I believe he can, but I still think Brad Ziegler is the next in line there. Marshall just might be the better pitcher, but manager Chip Hale loves using him in the seventh and eighth innings where he can thwart rallies and mix and match against hitters. If he’s closing then he’s locked into the ninth. I think Hale prefers the flexibility he has now.
Colorado Rockies – After five earned runs in 1 2/3 innings and a pair of blown saves, manager Walt Weiss has seen more than enough. LaTroy Hawkins has been bumped from the closer’s role and officially replaced with Adam Ottavino. When Weiss announced that Hawkins wouldn’t be the closer on Monday, he actually named Rafael Betancourt the temporary ninth-inning man but said that he would turn to Ottavino in the future. That’s exactly how it went down as Betancourt got the save Monday but Ottavino nailed it down Tuesday. Boone Logan may still get one of those rare lefty mix-ins, but for now the job is all about Ottavino.
Los Angeles Dodgers – While Chris Hatcher may have looked decent during Tuesday’s 1 2/3 scoreless innings appearance, his five earned runs in one-third of an inning (two appearances) was all manager Don Mattingly needed to put the kibosh on his days as the temporary closer. Instead, that honor has been bestowed upon Joel Peralta who was our “guess” before the season opened and this Hatcher nonsense began. Kenley Jansen has just started working off a mound this week and seems to be progressing nicely, but he’s still not likely to return until mid-May. Peralta should be the guy until then.
New York Mets – Just an update here as we’re all well-aware that Jeurys Familia is the team’s closer. Bobby Parnell and Vic Black have both started their rehab appearances at High-A Port St. Lucie and both remain on-target for an end-of-April return. Manager Terry Collins has discussed reinserting Parnell into the ninth inning, but frankly, that may have to wait. It will be dependent on how his rehab goes, how he looks on the mound and how Familia has done as the team’s temporary closer. If Familia is killing it, then Parnell might start as a set-up man and simply have to wait his turn. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Now let’s hit the new and improved Closer Grid…
#Closer-by-Committee in play