Fantasy Baseball 2014: Closer and Bullpen chart, news and notes (5/15)

The Tommy Hunter Closing Era is likely coming to an end. 

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Last summer I had an ongoing segment titled “PENdemic!” in which I assessed the latest developments with bullpens across baseball. This device was constructive on two fronts:

– Relief arms were going down at an alarming rate, with injuries or demotions transpiring on a weekly basis, making it vital to keep our fantasy owners informed.

– As loyal readers can attest, I’m on the shallow end of the creative pool. Can’t express the importance of having guaranteed weekly content loaded in the chamber.

However, I entered 2014 with hopes that this closer contagion had rescinded. Through most of spring training, that aspiration seemed reached. Not only were firemen staying relatively healthy, but there were few of the dreaded “closer by committee” camp battles. In truth, only Houston seemed poised to commence Opening Day without an unquestioned pitcher to shut the door, and no one seemed to mind since, you know, it’s Houston. As a fantasy community, it seemed we had weathered the storm.

Alas, like the Plague of Justinian or the Backstreet Boys reunion tour, this hell is upon us once again.

Throughout the 2014 MLB season, we will be updating the reliever hierarchies across the league, so make sure to bookmark this page for all your fantasy baseball bullpen news.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Closer: Addison Reed

Contenders: J.J. Putz, Brad Ziegler

Security: Medium – He has 11 saves, but Reed’s 5.50 ERA and 1.27 WHIP waves a BIG red flag.

Atlanta Braves

Closer: Craig Kimbrel

Contenders: Jordan Walden, David Carpenter

DL: Jonny Venters

Security: HIGH – A career-best 17.6 K/9 rate and 0.88 FIP for Kimbrel. Nothing to see here, move along.

Baltimore Orioles

Closer: Tommy Hunter

Contenders: Darren O’Day, Ryan Webb

Security: LOW – Hunter has been a disaster as the ninth-inning man. Look for O’Day and Webb to start getting looks at the end of ballgames. 

Boston Red Sox

Closer: Koji Uehara

Contenders: Edward Mujica, Junichi Tazawa

Security: HIGH – Uehara’s perfect LOB percentage won’t last, but man is unquestionably best closer on the Junior Circuit. 

Chicago Cubs

Closer: Hector Rondon

Contenders: Jose Veras

Security: LOW – Rondon’s status is somewhat tenuous since he was recently promoted, yet has the makings of a long-term asset for the Cubbies. 

Chicago White Sox

Closer: Matt Lindstrom

Contenders: Daniel Webb, Ronald Belisario

DL: Nate Jones

Security: LOW – Lindstrom leagues the lead with 17 games finished, yet only has six saves to show for it. Don’t be fooled by decent 3.50 ERA, as 1.50 WHIP gives warning to his feats. 

Cincinnati Reds

Closer:  Aroldis Chapman

Contenders: Sam LeCure, Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton

Security: LOW – The Cuban Missile is back, ending our national nightmare of watching Jonathan Broxton walk the tight rope (his 1.00 ERA was a façade, illustrated by a 4.30 xFIP). Don’t have any apprehension of inserting Chapman into your RP position despite his devastating injury

Cleveland Indians

Closer: Bryan Shaw

Contenders: Cody Allen, John Axford

Security: Medium – Axford is out as closer. Who saw that one coming? Oh yeah, everybody. Look for Shaw to get the save opportunities in the short term, with Allen as the better dynasty investment.

Colorado Rockies

Closer: LaTroy Hawkins

Contenders: Rex Brothers, Matt Belisle

Security: Medium – Hawkins hasn’t been bad, but he owns a terrible 3.4 K/9 rate and 4.01 FIP. Just a matter of time before Brothers takes the reins.

Detroit Tigers

Closer: Joe Nathan

Contenders: Joba Chamberlain, Al Alburquerque

Security: Medium – After a rough start, Nathan has submitted nine scoreless outings, holding the opposition to a .111 batting mark.

Houston Astros

Closer:  Anthony Bass

Contenders: Chad Qualls, Josh Fields

DL: Jesse Crain

Security: LOW – Crain is expected to get off the DL around Memorial Day, and will likely see work as fireman immediately.

Kansas City Royals

Closer: Greg Holland

Contenders: Kelvin Herrera, Aaron Crow

Security: HIGH – Holland and Herrera might be the best one-two punch in the game. Even in standard leagues, Herrera’s high strikeout rate justifies a roster spot.

Los Angeles Angels

Closer: Ernesto Frieri

Contenders: Joe Smith, Kevin Jespen

DL: Sean Burnett

Security: Medium – After a brief respite from the closer role, Frieri is back in the saddle for the Halos. But with Smith putting forth a solid effort (2.65 ERA, 1.00 WHIP in 18 games), Frieri’s rope is short.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Closer: Kenley Jansen

Contenders: Chris Perez, J.P. Howell

DL: Brian Wilson

Security: HIGH – Jansen continues to be a punch-out machine (14.9 K/9) but is allowing a startling 10.1 hits per nine innings.

Miami Marlins

Closer: Steve Cishek

Contenders: Mike Dunn, Carlos Marmol

Security: HIGH – He has just seven saves, but Cishek (1.67 FIP, 10.7 K/9 mark) has been one of the more dependable relievers in the NL this year.

Milwaukee Brewers

Closer: Francisco Rodriguez

Contenders: Jim Henderson, Brandon Kintzler

Security: Medium – Folks keep waiting for K-Rod to come back to Earth, but the advanced metrics (1.89 FIP, 2.19 xFIP) state the hot start is legit.

Minnesota Twins

Closer: Glen Perkins

Contenders: Jared Burton, Casey Fien

Security: HIGH – In his last 14 games Perkins owns a 1.26 ERA and a .137 batting average. Won’t get a ton of save chances, but remains a top-10 closer.

New York Mets

Closer: Jeurys Familia

Contenders: Scott Rice, Gonzalez Germen, Jose Valverde

DL: Bobby Parnell

Security: LOW – Classic Mets, cutting Kyle Farnsworth for fiscal reasons rather than performance. Not sure this is the guy you want to upset.

New York Yankees

Closer:  David Robertson

Contenders: Matt Thornton, Shawn Kelley

Security: LOW – Robertson has been sharp since returning from injury, meaning his owners can stop holding Kelley as a precaution.

Oakland A’s

Closer:  Sean Doolittle

Contenders:  Jim Johnson, Ryan Cook

Security: HIGH – Doolittle is the guy for now, but with Johnson’s recent steady showings, look for the former Orioles’ closer to reclaim the ninth-inning gig.

Philadelphia Phillies

Closer: Jonathan Papelbon

Contenders: Antonio Bastardo, Justin De Fratus

Security: Medium – Bastardo is worth the grab, if only because Papelbon is close to pulling a Costanza in order to get traded.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Closer:  Mark Melancon

Contenders:  Tony Watson

DL:  Jason Grilli

Security: LOW – Even when Grilli returns, Melancon merits a roster spot, as Grilli’s health and aptitude are highly questionable.

St. Louis Cardinals

Closer: Trevor Rosenthal

Contenders: Carlos Martinez, Kevin Siegrist

DL: Jason Motte

Security: Medium – Rosenthal has experienced more problems than expected (5.19 ERA, 1.50 WHIP), but not in danger of losing job…yet.

San Diego Padres

Closer: Huston Street

Contenders: Joaquin Benoit, Alex Torres

Security: Medium – The offseason acquisition of Benoit put Street’s status in doubt, yet the All-Star closer has shown no cracks in his foundation with a 0.82 WHIP, 0.53 ERA in 17 innings.

San Francisco Giants

Closer: Sergio Romo

Contenders: Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez

Security: HIGH – Romo’s 2.45 ERA doesn’t quite convey his excellence (0.65 WHIP, .148 batting average). 

Seattle Mariners

Closer: Fernando Rodney

Contenders: Danny Farquhar, Charlie Furbush, Tom Wilhelmsen

Security: LOW – Rodney hasn’t been a disaster, but after surrendering four hits and two runs for a blown save against Tampa on Tuesday, the venerable arm is now on the hot seat.

Tampa Bay Rays

Closer: Grant Balfour

Contenders: Heath Bell, Joel Peralta, Jake McGee

Security: Medium – Balfour’s relatively cheap contract could mean an exodus around the trade deadline. If that comes to pass, look for Peralta or Juan Ovideo to get a chance to shine.

Texas Rangers

Closer: Joakim Soria

Contenders: Alexi Ogando, Neal Cotts

Security: Medium – A rejuvenation that’s going under the radar has been the feats of Soria, who enters Thursday play with a commendable 0.57 WHIP and .125 average. He’s due for slight regression, so not the worst time to dangle him in the trade market.

Toronto Blue Jays

Closer: Casey Janssen

Contenders: Steve Delabar, Brett Cecil

DL: Sergio Santos

Security: LOW – Holy Moses, was Santos struggling. Enter Janssen, who’s coming off an injury of his own. If Janssen goes down, look for Delabar as next in line.

Washington Nationals

Closer: Rafael Soriano

Contenders: Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Craig Stammen

Security: Medium– Clippard and Storen are enticing names on the waiver wire, but Soriano (1.13 ERA, 1.06 WHIP in 16 games) is not losing this job anytime soon.


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