Sunday, February 25, 2018

Fantasy Focus: Chasing Saves

Saves is a category that is kind of "out there" by itself.  MLB's practice of relying on a single "Closer" to get the lion's share of Saves is starting to break down a bit as teams are starting to allocate their best relief pitcher to more high leverage situations.  On the other hand, at any given time, there are still just 30 guys out there getting the vast majority of the Saves.  The problem with the category is the position has become so volatile, unless you "punt" the category entirely, you will likely be "chasing Saves" all season and spending a great deal of your time reading daily reports of the Closer status of all 30 teams.  If you don't, you may wake up one morning to find the 3 solid Closers on your team are now not Closing anymore!  With that in mind, her is a list of RP's who are at the top of their team's depth chart right now with the number of Saves they got last year.  I will also post an estimate of how secure their position is on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the most secure.  Warning:  At least a 3'rd of these could change by Opening Day, so be on your toes.

Giants:  Mark Melancon, 11, 3.  Secure if healthy, but far from certain to be healthy coming of pronator muscle surgery.

Padres:  Open.  Brad Hand is their best reliever, but the Padres may prefer Hand back in his multi-inning, high leverage role. Their only obvious alternative is Carter Capps who has an injury history and a very controversial delivery.  Also,  Hand could be traded before 7/31.

Dodgers:  Kenley Jansen, 41, 1.  You'll pay a lot, but he's as close to a sure thing as you'll get in the category.

Rockies:  Wade Davis, 32, 2.  There's been some slippage of his numbers and hints of health concerns.  The move from Wrigley Field to Coors Field should be kept in mind too.

D'Backs:  Open.  With Fernando Rodney moving on, Archie Bradley is their best RP by a wide margin, but he's too valuable in his multi-inning role.  The D'Backs are hoping Brad Boxberger or Yoshihisa Hirano grab the role.

Cardinals:  Luke Gregerson, 1, 4.  Gregerson is probably just a placeholder until the Cardinals can find a hard-throwing young RP who steps up and grabs the role.  They could also still sign Greg Holland or make a trade.

Pirates:  Felipe Rivero, 21, 3.  Rivera could solidify his hold on the Closer job and move into elite status, or the Pirates may decide they need him more in another role, or he could be traded.  He would have a lot of value on the trade market.

Brewers:  Corey Knebel, 39, 2.  Appears solidly entrenched in the role, but beware of a high walk rate.

Reds:  Raisel Iglesias, 28, 2.  Appears solid but Reds could see a different role for him longterm.

Cubs:  Justin Wilson?, 13, 4.  Brandon Morrow(2) or Steve Cishek(1) could also factor in here, or the Cubs could still sign Greg Holland or make a trade?  The Cubs bullpen is surprisingly unsettled and weak for a contending team.

Nationals:  Sean Doolittle, 24, 3.  Some injury history and Ryan Madson is waiting in the wings.

Phillies:  Hector Neris, 26, 3.  See Felipe Rivero above.

Mets:  Jeurys Familia, 6, 4.  It's been a rough year for Familia on and off the field.  Is he ready to reclaim the Closer role and be back to elite status?

Marlins:  Brad Ziegler, 10, 5.  Ziegler is not a lock to make it to Opening Day as the Marlins Closer.  He could be traded or they could find a younger, harder thrower they want to develop in the position.

Braves:  Arodys Vizcaino, 14, 4.  Another potential trade candidate and an injury history.

Rangers:  Alex Claudio, 11, 4.  A lefty who is Closer by default.  Could grab the position and make it his or go in any number of other directions.

Mariners:  Edwin Diaz, 34, 2.

A's: Blake Treinan, 16, 3.  Was much better after this trade to the A's last year.  Can he keep that up?

Angels: Open.  Blake Parker(8), Jim Johnson(22) and Cam Bedrosian(6) are the contenders.

Astros:  Ken Giles, 34, 2.

Twins:  Fernando Rodney, 39, 3.  The Twins also signed Addison Reed(19), but will likely use him in a setup role.  Still, Rodney is getting old and has always been maddeningly inconsistent.

Royals: Kelvin Herrera, 26, 3.  Prime trade candidate.

Tigers:  Shane Green, 9, 3.  Another trade candidate.

Indians:  Cody Allen, 30, 2.  Allen at Closer with Andrew Miller in a multi-inning, high-leverage role seems to be a stable arrangement.

White Sox: Open.  Joakim Soria(1) and Nate Jones appear to the the main contenders.

Blue Jays:  Roberto Osuna, 39, 1.  Osuna was surprisingly solid last year and does not have any obvious rivals.

Rays:  Alex Colome, 47, 2.  With the Rays selling off assets, Colome is a prime trade candidate, although he would likely also be the Closer for the team he is traded to.

Yankees:  Aroldis Chapman, 22, 2.  Some injury risk here, otherwise should have more Saves in 2018.

Red Sox:  Craig Kimbrel, 35, 1.  Undisputed elite closer for the BoSox.

Orioles:  Brad Brach, 18, 3.  Picture somewhat unsettled, but Brach looks like the guy for now.  Britton could reclaim the roles when he recovers from his latest injury.


  1. Oh no, you got me concerned about Melancon's health, but that's reality. I guess if Melancon is not healthy, they go With Dyson and Watson to finish the 9th. It's surprising contenders like the Cubs and Cards don't have closets yet. The Cards signed Bud Norris who was Halos closer for part of 2017. I have 3 closers on my roster.


  2. Melancon is a BIG if!
    There are NO guarantees with the surgery he had -- why? Has it ever been done before?
    That signing has the potential of being, well, the WORST ever.
    Why hasn't he pitched?
    Is it any wonder that the Giants held onto Dyson, maybe overpaying, but he's the only Melancon insurance they got!