Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: On Kenley Jansen, Corey Knebel and Fernando Rodney and who might replace them at closer
Three closers are at risk of losing saves for very different reasons. Scott White looks into their replacements and some emerging power sources on the waiver wire.
We don't know exactly when Kenley Jansen will pitch again.
We know it won't be during a four-game series that began at Colorado Thursday. Seems like the high altitude there may be contributing factor for the irregular heartbeat that sent him to the hospital Thursday seeing as it wasn't the first time he encountered that issue at that particular locale. Buster Olney of ESPN reports that it'll be about a month, and that makes sense. In his previous two bouts with it, Jansen missed a month, actually having surgery in 2012.
A month? Yeah, that'll send you scrambling for a replacement. And while your Fantasy team is obviously secondary to his long-term health, losing a top-five player at any position hurts.
But it's easier at that position than most any other. Anytime a quality reliever inherits the ninth-inning role, there's a chance he accumulates saves at a rate in line with the big boys.
Kirby Yates is still just 61 percent owned in CBS Sports leagues, and Jose Leclerc is still just 45 percent owned. They both have big potential in the role. If you're looking at Dodgers bullpen specifically, lefty Scott Alexander, who recorded a save Thursday, would appear to be the favorite to replace Jansen for however long he's out. Alexander doesn't have the strikeout rate we'd prefer to see from a closer, but he's competent.
Of course, he's not the only reliever who suddenly finds himself in a prime position for saves ...
Brewers closer Corey Knebel allowed four earned runs in the ninth inning of a tie game Thursday, continuing a recent trend of failures, which inspired manager Craig Counsell to say he wanted to find an "easier spot" to use him. It's all with an eye on returning him to the closer role at some point, but Knebel would have to show he deserves it first. This could be Jeffress' chance to take the job and run with it.
This one's kind of a long shot since we don't know exactly who will replace Fernando Rodney, who the Twins dealt to the Athletics Thursday, but the lack of an obvious heir allows us to use our imagination. Trevor May, recently back from Tommy John surgery, throws hard and has had no trouble missing bats so far. His arsenal would seem to fit the closer profile, so I'm prioritizing him over more conventional choices like Addison Reed and Trevor Hildenberger.
Mallex Smith has been making the most of his speed all of a sudden, swiping seven bases in his past eight games. Not only has it moved him up to seventh on the steals leaderboard for this season but it has also moved him up to the leadoff spot for the Rays, where he has batted in four straight games. So what we have here is a near-.300 hitter making a significant contribution in the scarcest category while enjoying all the advantages of a leadoff hitter. Seems like he needs to be owned in more than 45 percent of leagues.
You may remember Randal Grichuk was a laughingstock just a couple months ago, his batting average sitting at .099 on June 2. But with another home run Thursday, he's now the 16th-best outfielder in points leagues since June 3, a span in 55 games — and with a BABIP right around .300, suggesting it's not a fluke. He's only 28 percent owned.
Franmil Reyes already got a shout-out in Thursday morning's Waiver Wire, but with another three hits and another home run Thursday night, he's deserving of even more love, especially given his 9 percent ownership rate. Strikeouts were a major issue in his previous stint in the majors, but they weren't bad at all in the minors, where he obviously dominated. He has toned down his leg kick since his return, giving him three home runs to just two strikeouts in his past four games. The opportunity and upside are both there.
Reyes' teammate has been making headlines himself, homering in four straight games, and while the overall ceiling may not be as high for Hunter Renfroe, he certainly has the look of a slugger. His hard contact rate would rank among the top 15 hitters if he had the at-bats to qualify, alongside other home run hitters like Khris Davis, Justin Upton and Joey Gallo. Good fly ball rate, too. If you need help in that one category, he's widely available, owned in just 11 percent of leagues.
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Scott White is an award-winning Fantasy Baseball analyst
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Scott White is an award-winning Fantasy baseball analyst