“Closers are vital to your fantasy success and investing in at least one high-end elite is the smartest move you can do while building a championship team.”
“The closer position is the most volatile of all positions, so there is no need to waste big auction dollars or a high draft pick in one when saves are so readily available throughout the season.”
We here at Fantasy Alarm understand the differing opinions. Hell, we have them ourselves. Just read my Closer Conundrum in the Fantasy Alarm MLB Draft Guide and then flip through to our strategy session pages and find Ray Flowers’ opposing view. There is no one way to win a fantasy baseball championship and you have to figure out which strategy works best for you in your particular league.
But, in truth, it doesn’t matter on which side of the fence you sit in this ongoing debate. You want to invest? By all means, please do. You want to wait on them and use your FAAB budget to fish for them later? Go right ahead. You should have plenty of opportunities to do so. But the one thing we can all come together on is that owning closers can be extremely beneficial to your goal of winning a championship.
Whether your league uses saves, holds or even ‘saves + holds,’ points are scored in a fashion where closers and set-up men are necessary. Punting even one category has a negative impact on your team and starting your season in the red only means that you have to work at least twice as hard at dominating a few of the other categories just to break even. So whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em is irrelevant. You still need to fish in that pond.
While closers are obviously the most coveted of the relievers, identifying which relievers could be in line for saves should the regular need a day off or gets hurt. That’s why we use the Closer Grid below so that you have a one-stop shop for figuring out who’s who in the bullpen world. Keep in mind that not every one of these are in line with each team’s official depth chart. These are my estimations as to who will be the next one to get saves should the guy before him go down. Sometimes it’s about lefty/righty options the team has in the bullpen and sometimes it’s a sleeper pick of mine such as Colorado’s Jairo Diaz.
Also, the color-coding is based on both talent level and job security. Nothing worse than a bullpen continuously in flux, so when you’re fishing in the bullpen pond, try and stay in the green and yellow.
In addition to this grid being a valuable tool throughout the season, as you're getting ready for your last-minute drafts, continue to check back here for continuous updates on each and every bullpen situation.
Boston Red Sox -- With Koji Uehara dealing with a hamstring injury, he is not going to start the season on -time. Edward Mujica has been named the closer. We'll leave them in the regular spots on the grid for now as Uehara is expected to return to the job once he is healthy.
Oakland A's -- No one expected Sean Doolittle to be ready for Opening Day, but manager Bob Melvin made it official this past weekend when he named Tyler Clippard the closer to open the season. Similarly with the Boston situation, we will leave the grid as is with the expectation that Melvin will give Doolittle the opportunity to close games once he returns in late-April.
Houston Astros -- While manager A.J. Hinch still hasn't committed to picking a closer, Chad Qualls is having an outstanding spring and is currently listed atop the Astros official bullpen depth chart. UPDATE: Luke Gregerson was officially named the closer Tuesday.
Tampa Bay Rays -- With Jake McGee expected to miss most, if not all, of April, manager Kevin Cash finally broke his silence and said that Brad Boxberger would be his guy for the ninth inning once the season opens. It was an expected move, but fantasy owners always feel better when the manager actually makes an announcement. They stay where they are on the grid for now as McGee is expected to be back within the month and return to his duties as the closer.
Colorado Rockies -- My super-sleeper Jairo Diaz has been sent back to Triple-A for now, but put that name on your watch list. That Rockies pen is going to be hurting this year and he could still return in the second half to save the day.
Washington Nationals -- Deep breath, fantasy owners. Deep breath. Drew Storen left Monday's game with a toe blister. Nothing more. It's not even worth an annotation for an injury. His set-up man, Casey Janssen, however, is a different story as he's been diagnosed with shoulder tendinitis, more specifically, in his rotator cuff. Aaron Barrett makes a temporary jump over him and if he's out for any real length of time, we'll talk more about Blake Theiren.
Chicago White Sox -- We've got a potential change in the set-up situation as Jacob Petricka is currently dealing with arm soreness. He is likely to be held out for a few days and re-evaluated after that. As a result, he may start the season on the DL which bumps up Zach Putnam for the time being.
*starting season on DL