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Closer stability may sound like an oxymoron, but it's something we've had in Fantasy for much of this season. That has changed of late, with the Astros and Twins changing course by dethroning Luke Gregerson and Kevin Jepsen from that role. In both cases, the manager has avoided naming a single closer, though Astros skipper A.J. Hinch dropped a hint specifically for those of us with Fantasy staffs to manage.
Hinch not naming closer but says of Will Harris, "get him in fantasy baseball and see what happens."— Julia Morales (@JuliaMorales) June 9, 2016
Even without Hinch's prodding, owners in CBSSports.com leagues have made Harris the most-added reliever. (Danny Duffy is currently the most-added RP-eligible pitcher, but he won't be closing out games anytime soon.) Given that Harris has been terrific in a setup role and then nailed down his first two save opportunities, it would have been an upset if owners didn't go gaga over him.
Even though Harris is still owned in only 37 percent of our leagues, you may have already missed out on him in your league. There is also the possibility that, as good as Harris has been, there is an even better closer out there for the taking. As it turns out, at least in shallower leagues, there likely is one.
Among relievers who are owned in fewer than 65 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com, there are 10 who are particularly primed to help with saves this season. Six of them can help you right now, but in deeper leagues, you may have to settle for someone who could get saves down the road. Even in standard and shallow leagues, it's a good idea to put closers-in-waiting on your radar now, while you still have a chance of picking them up.
I've ranked these 10 potential saves sources in terms of my preference for adding them now. In general, I have given preference to the relievers who are at least currently in the mix for saves, but I also considered their long-term value.
1. Fernando Rodney, Padres (59 percent owned)
Now that we are more than two months into the season, it's time to give Rodney his due. He still has yet to give up an earned run or an extra-base hit. I've been slow to trust Rodney, given his history of control issues, but given that he is available in more than 40 percent of our leagues, I'm clearly not alone. If you need to add a closer, Rodney should be the first one you target.
2. Will Harris, Astros (37 percent owned)
Control is one thing you don't have to worry about with Harris, and he has given up one run all season, just like Rodney, but his happened to be an earned run. Harris has done everything you want to see from a closer, getting whiffs, called strikes and lots of ground balls. I have ranked him behind Rodney only because Hinch has refused to name a closer. If Rodney is unavailable, you should have no reservations about adding Harris to your staff.
3. Jake McGee, Rockies (64 percent owned)
McGee's season-to-date stats are not impressive, and he is the only reliever in the majors with more saves than strikeouts. Add in the Coors Field Factor, and it may be surprising that he is as popular in Fantasy as he is. However, he is still overcoming a poor start to the season, which masks the good stats he has accumulated over the past month. In his last 12 appearances, McGee has pitched with much better control and has allowed only one run, resulting from an Adam Duvall solo shot at Coors Field. If that's the only damage that McGee has allowed in a month, I think it's time to trust him in standard mixed leagues.
4. Arodys Vizcaino, Braves (45 percent owned)
Vizcaino's availability can be tied to one thing: being a Brave. With any other club, he would be close to universally owned, because that's what happens to closers with a 35-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 25 innings. Our fears of Vizcaino not being Fantasy-relevant were confirmed when he received only seven save opportunities more than two months into the season. However, he has already received two in the Braves' last two games (though he blew the first one). As bad as the Braves are, Vizcaino is due for a serious uptick in save chances.
5. Brandon Kintzler, Twins (6 percent owned)
Kintzler is the right-handed half of the Twins' new closing tandem, which also includes southpaw Fernando Abad. However, Abad has served mainly as a lefty specialist (aka LOOGY) over the past several years, so it's hard to see him getting many save chances. Kintzler isn't much of a strikeout pitcher, but his control and ground ball tendencies should be good enough for him to succeed in the role.
6. Hunter Strickland, Giants (11 percent owned)
The Giants don't have a closer controversy, even though Strickland saved their Wednesday win against the Red Sox with a single pitch. It was an unusual situation that's unlikely to be repeated, but one has to wonder why current closer Santiago Casilla wasn't trusted to stay in the game to face David Ortiz earlier in the inning and get the save. Casilla has already blown four saves this season, and should he continue to get into trouble, Strickland would seem to be the obvious choice to replace him.
7. Sean Doolittle, Athletics (36 percent owned)
Two season ago, Doolittle was a highly effective closer for the A's, and he seems to have put last season's shoulder injuries behind him. If given the chance, Doolittle could be a dominant closer again, but so far, Ryan Madson has been good enough to fend him off. Madson is currently on a downswing, having blown two of his last three save chances, and batters have hit .391 against him over his last seven appearances. Doolittle is clearly the next in line, so Madson's next few outings should be watched closely.
8. Tony Cingrani, Reds (24 percent owned)
Cingrani has stuck as the Reds' closer because he is their best option, but that is very faint praise for the former starter. Picking up a reliever because he has an apparent lack of competition doesn't always work out, as owners of Jepsen have recently learned. Now that Raisel Iglesias has been ticketed for bullpen duty once he comes off the disabled list, Cingrani's days as a closer could be numbered. In fact, if Iglesias weren't already owned in 72 percent of our leagues, he would have been included in these rankings, ahead of Cingrani.
9. Luke Gregerson, Astros (59 percent owned)
Given that I have ranked Gregerson behind Cingrani, it should be apparent that I don't think he has a good chance to reclaim his closer's job. But I am saying there's a chance. Gregerson has been an effective late-inning reliever for a long time, and if entrusted with the closer's role again, I think he'd be fine. He just needs Harris to falter, and that's not all that likely.
10. Shane Greene, Tigers (7 percent owned)
Greene is making the transition from starter to reliever, and manager Brad Ausmus told the Detroit Free Press that he may eventually be used in the eighth inning. Francisco Rodriguez is locked in as the Tigers' closer, but he's in his walk year, so he could be traded if the Tigers fall out of contention. Counting on Greene for saves is a highly speculative move, but he's widely available, and he would seem to have a path to closing if Rodriguez is out of the picture at some point.