Welcome to the 2020 Fantasy Baseball season. It has been a crazy road to get here, but tonight there will be two games that count. Between cases of Covid-19, injuries due to a short “summer camp”, or managers having “short leashes” due to a condensed 60-game schedule, the closer carousel could spin more often, and faster than we have ever seen before in fantasy. I also wonder if we will see more managers start to listen to analytics more and start to put their best relief arms in high leverage situations in the seventh or eighth innings if a situation arises rather than wait until the ninth inning to close door. I don’t think anything we see happen in the next two months can surprise us as all teams try to navigate their way through this season between trying to win and keep everyone healthy and on the field. 

Another thing to consider when going through the season, is how many closers will work on back to back days, or three in a row? There aren’t many off days in this schedule for teams as they try to cram 60 games into 66 games. That is not even one day off per week. How managers will handle their bullpen, especially early on, will be fascinating to watch. Leagues with saves and holds as separate categories or lumped together will make the 2020 fantasy season a little less nerve wracking, but for those of you who are still in leagues that only reward saves, this one is going to be a stress filled season. 

Stable Situations

This one is going to be a short list, but I think there are a number of guys that you should feel good about. While the Brewers have options, there is no reason for them to go away from Josh Hader . And even if he was to falter a little closing and he was moved back a little in the bullpen, his ability to get strikeouts and potentially wins keeps him relevant. The return of Corey Knebel makes this a small possibility. Kirby Yates is rock solid in San Diego. Liam Hendriks , while not having a long track record of closing, should get some leash to work with. Ken Giles looks strong in Toronto, unless they do very poorly out of the gate and consider trading him. The Twins seem fully in on Taylor Rogers . Honestly, those are the only guys that I feel fully comfortable with that I would be very surprised if they lost their jobs. 

Covid Impact

Right now, there are a number of teams dealing with issues having to deal with the coronavirus. The Yankees are certainly in the forefront of that with Aroldis Chapman dealing with the virus. We have not gotten concrete news on his condition, but the latest is that he is not to be expected for Opening Day. This pushes Zack Britton into the hot seat. Chapman is not done for the year by any stretch, but this hurts his value. In Philadelphia, Héctor Neris did have Covid-19, but was back at the park over the weekend, which would have you believe he will be ready. Roberto Osuna was very late to Astros camp and still hasn’t thrown off a mound. We know nothing of any injury, so Coronavirus is suspected as the culprit of his absence. Dusty Baker has already said that Ryan Pressly is likely to start the season as the closer. If and when Osuna is ready, he should get his rightful place in the ninth inning back, even if Pressly is successful. Finally, in Pittsburgh Keone Kela hasn’t been in Summer Camp, and has been placed on the IL. We haven’t been given any insight if this is Covid related, but Kyle Crick could start closing games at the start. 

Unstable situations

Now, I could go and list about 25 teams here, but I am not going to touch on the teams we already know are potentially up in the air like Miami, Baltimore, and Seattle. These are guys that I would have a real short leash with if they were on my fantasy team. First would be Mark Melancon in Atlanta. We know that the Braves should contend for a division title, and they have a great second option in Will Smith . Melancon doesn’t have overpowering strikeout stuff and has had an ERA over 3.50 the past two seasons. José Leclerc in Texas is another one. He lost the job last year before getting it back towards the end of the season, so I see no reason why he holds it all season again. He walks way too many guys, and that often leads to trouble. Don’t drop him if you draft him before the season even starts but keep a close eye. Alex Colomé is another guy to keep a watch on. He really had one dominant season for the Rays a few years back, but just doesn’t have the closer feel. He doesn’t throw overly hard, and he doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts. He didn’t finish the season overly strong allowing runs in six of his last ten appearances but does have the job to start. It is a bit of a long shot but keep an eye on young Aaron Bummer here. 

Next In Line

We have already talked about Will Smith , Kyle Crick and a couple other guys in waiting, but the final piece of this bullpen preview will feature a few other pitchers that could be closing soon. The first is Tyler Rogers in San Francisco. Taylor Rogers is the closer in Minnesota, but his brother Tyler could unseat Tony Watson if the presumptive closer for the Giants falters at all. Rogers has some nasty stuff and deserves a shot. Scott Oberg in Colorado should be closing over Wade Davis now, but I don’t expect that one to take long to materialize. I am honestly not sure how Davis still has this job, but if he blows two games early that should be it. James Karinchak is a popular name to keep an eye on. Brad Hand was solid last year, but I don’t think he has a real strong hold on that job. I didn’t draft Hand in one league this year. Karinchak has filthy, filthy stuff, and deserves this job and can get it if Hand doesn’t start well. Finally, we go to the nation’s capital in Washington. Sean Doolittle is far from the picture of health, nor is he the most consistent guy. Hudson was great when he was traded to the Nationals, and sometimes relievers figure it out later in their careers. The Nats are certainly looking to repeat and can’t have a leaky bullpen. 

To get you ready for the season, I am including the current closer grid that you can find constantly updated on Fantasy Alarm here. Good luck, stick with the #Family and you’ll go far. You can find me on Twitter @fightingchance if you have questions.