Kelley, Rivero two fantasy baseball replacements for Papelbon (DL)
Update: Manager Dusty Baker would not commit to just one temporary closer, but did mention the team would be careful with Kelley's workload (Tommy John surgery TWICE).
The Nationals have placed Jonathan Papelbon on the 15-day disabled list with an intercostal strain. Fantasy owners of the mild-mannered closer had enjoyed 16 saves over the first two-and-a-half months. With the Nats atop the National League East standings, Papelbon on the shelf creates a small window of opportunity for those chasing roto saves.
Here are the top two options: Shawn Kelley and Felipe Rivero. The 32-year-old Kelley picked up a five-out save on June 13 and currently carries a 2.70 ERA and 13.11 K/9 in 23 innings pitched. The 24-year-old Rivero finished the 2015 season with a 2.79 ERA (3.44 xFIP) and 8.01 K/9. This year his ERA has inflated to 5.46, but the xFIP is 2.93 with an 11.89 K/9 and team-high 12 holds in 28 innings pitched. Popular opinion is Kelley will get first crack and I would tend to agree, but in deeper mixed and NL-only leagues, I think Rivero is worth a shot, too. It's not that I'm on the fence, it's that I truly believe the Nationals want to see what the young arm can do in pressure situations.