It’s time to start talking closers. We’ll talk relievers in general once we get a little further into spring training as there will be plenty of names emerging that aren’t even on the fantasy radar. However, nearly every major league team has its ninth inning man pegged right now and with saves being a primary 5x5 category and keeper league deadlines for protects coming soon, we should probably take a look at where these guys are going in drafts, as well as who is rising up the ranks and who might be falling. The position itself tends to be pretty volatile throughout the year and we’ll note those whose job security may not be the best, but if the season were to start today, these are the guys who will be racking up the saves and this is where they’re going in drafts.
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Drafting closers is kind of a double-edged sword. On one hand, they are incredibly easy to obtain. Looking at their ADP, you can see that there is certainly no rush to grab one as the majority of them don’t start coming off the board until the 136th pick which, in the NFBC, is around the ninth round, but in most standard home leagues which tend to run between 10 and 12 teams, you’re not going to have to worry much until the 11th or 12th. However, given the volatility at the position, many people don’t even want to take that kind of a risk. They’d rather continue to build their outfield than take a guy who could conceivably lose his job within a month. But unless you’re either punting saves or just determined to spend the majority of your free agent budget fishing for saves guys on the waiver wire, you’ve got to make some sort of a move on them. And more often than not, the earlier they go, the greater their job security.
Jose Veras, HOU (+34.46%) – As you can see by his ADP, Veras is still pretty much the forgotten man here despite showing the greatest increase in ADP. No one expects much out of Houston this season, especially with their move to the AL West, and it’s not like he has some great track record as a ninth inning specialist. But even bad teams win their share of games each year and thanks to their lack of true talent, those games will likely be close. Veras has a consistent double-digit K/9 which is always helpful, but you certainly can’t expect him to be lights-out so expect some runs in there as well.
Jason Grilli, PIT (+24.82) – When the Pirates traded Joel Hanrahan to Boston, there was an assumption that Grilli and his 13.81 K/9 would step in as the team’s closer and then GM Neil Huntignton made it nice and easy on everyone and immediately announced it. Since then, he has become a very trendy pick in mock drafts and is likely to continue his meteoric rise through the ADP ranks for the next couple of months. He is most certainly not going to be a “hidden gem” by the time we get to Opening Day.
Bruce Rondon, DET (+7.93) –Early in the offseason, it was announced that Rondon would be given a chance to close for the Tigers this year which is why you see him climbing up the ADP ranks. However, the team has recently backed off of such statements and is now kicking the tires and checking the availability of several relievers who may be in line for a new address. Nothing has come to fruition just yet and Rondon still remains in line to close, but a last-minute move could be in the works.
Ryan Madson, (+6.77%) – Yes, Ernesto Frieri was light-out last season, but the Angels still signed Madson to a one-year, $8.5M deal in the offseason and they did it with the intent to have him close out games. Now Madson is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and there is the possibility that he misses the first week or so of the season which keeps Frieri on the radar, but when it comes down to who has the job, or at least the leg up right now, you have to go with Madson.
Glen Perkins, MIN (+6.12%) – The Twins reliever did a solid job finishing out their season with 16 saves, a 2.56 ERA and a fantastic 4.88 K:BB. He was just a hair shy of a double –digit K/9. He walks into this season with his first starting gig as a closer and while the Twins aren’t expected to do a whole helluva lot this year, he will still see ample opportunities.
We’re actually going to skip the Fallers section here since there really hasn’t been many who have dropped in the ADP ranks. The one with the most notable drop is Brandon League and that’s only at -2.58% right now. The reason, incidentally, is that the Dodgers bullpen is looking just as it did last season and while some of the names have changed, the situation remains the same.
Most people are clamoring for Kenley Jansen to return to the closer’s role much in the way they were singing his praises last season when it was announced that Javy Guerra would be the ninth-inning specialist. Jansen eventually did take over the job, but it wasn’t as immediate as most thought – more of a late second half thing. This year, instead of Guerra it’s League and frankly, the Dodgers didn’t pony up a three-year deal that could reach as high as $33.5M for him to play a set-up role. Most would agree that Jansen has the better stuff, but last year’s heart problems certainly put him in a different light. Despite this slight drop in ADP, expect League to be the man this season and while the Dodgers may have him on a leash, consider it a long one.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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