National League closers giving Fantasy owners food for thought
Some NL closers save, but others seem destined to lose their jobs
There's no more fluid role in major league baseball than closer. On some teams, the period in which a closer remains in that position is akin to the life span of your average house fly (15-30 days ... I looked it up).
The retirement of Mariano Rivera shrunk by one the small number of closers that have thrived long-term with one team. So it's prudent every so often for Fantasy owners, especially those seeking to bolster their closer spot, to closely examine the situation club-by-club. How safe in that role is each individual currently holding it down? Who is breathing down their necks as possible replacements?
Let's examine that now, starting Wednesday with the National League (American League on Thursday):
Addison Reed (Arizona): Reed has 17 saves in 19 opportunties, but a closer look reveals problems, such as eight home runs in 31 1/3 innings and a 4.02 ERA. The Diamondbacks seem content, however, using Brad Ziegler as their short-inning right-handed specialist and Oliver Perez as the lefty out of the bullpen. Safe-o-Meter: 7
Craig Kimbrel (Atlanta): Kimbrel has proven himself mortal in 2014 with four blown saves and has given up at least one earned run in three of his last nine appearances. But he remains one of the most effective closers in the game and his resume buys him plenty of time. Safe-o-Meter: 9
Hector Rondon (Chicago Cubs): Remember that line about the house fly? Many assumed Neil Ramirez was destined to take over the closer role when Rondon gave up three earned runs in the ninth on June 6 and didn't pitch again for nine days, but the latter has kept the job long enough to yield five more runs in one inning Monday. Keep a sharp eye on Ramirez. Safe-o-Meter: 1
Aroldis Chapman (Cincinnati): One blown save and 41 strikeouts and eight hits in 20 innings? Enough said. Safe-o-Meter: 10
LaTroy Hawkins (Colorado): For a 41 year old on a team fading from playoff contention, Hawkins is in pretty good standing. He is 14 of 15 in save chances because he throws strikes. Rex Brothers had been considered a threat, but hasn't performed well enough. Hawkins appears set at least for the time being. Safe-o-Meter: 7
Kenley Jansen (Los Angeles Dodgers): When Jansen has a hiccup, it's one heck of a hiccup. The result is 23 saves in 26 opportunties despite a 4.23 ERA. Chris Perez and Brian Wilson have been terrible - and that strengthens the lock Jansen has on the closer job. Safe-o-Meter: 8
Steve Cishek (Miami): One of the most underappreciated closers in the game has been a huge factor in a surprisingly strong season for the Marlins. Cishek is 18 for 19 in save situations and has fanned 40 in 31 2/3 innings with just one home run allowed. Safe-o-Meter: 10
Francisco Rodriguez (Milwaukee): Rodriguez has been far more vulnerable since mid-May, after which he has surrendered nine earned runs in 18 1/3 innings. But he still leads the majors with 25 saves in 27 chances and has no real threats behind him. Safe-o-Meter: 10
Jenrry Mejia (New York Mets): Closers averaging more than four walks per nine innings aren't closers for long. Neither are those that yield more than a hit per inning. Translation: Mejia is not long for this job. He has given up six runs in his last 7 1/3 innings and Jeurys Familia is hot on his trail. Safe-o-Meter: 1
Jonathan Papelbon (Philadelphia): This 33 year old continues to roll merrily along and could wind up in the All-Star Game at Target Field. He has yielded just five earned runs all season and is 18 of 20 in closing out games. Only age and the threat of a trade at the deadline prevents him from getting a perfect grade. Safe-o-Meter: 9
Mark Melancon (Pittsburgh): For a guy who just wrested the job away from Jason Grilli, he has done little to maintain it. He has three saves in his last three appearances, but has given up three earned runs on five hits in those games. The battle with Grilli is likely not over and Tony Watson, who has pitched far better than both of them, is also waiting in the wings. Safe-o-Meter: 2
Huston Street (San Diego): Trade rumors are swirling in regard to Street, who could wind up as a setup man for a contender with an established closer. Street, however, has been as effective as any closer in the National League this season, as his perfect mark in 20 save opportunities and 0.96 ERA attests. He is completely safe as a Padre, but his uncertain future can't make him a 10. Safe-o-Meter: 8
Sergio Romo (San Francisco): Romo has been outpitched by Santiago Casilla and Jeremy Affeldt, but Brucy Bochy loves those guys in setup roles and Romo has some security. That won't last long if he continues to struggle, as he did when he recently allowed seven earned runs in a two-appearance stretch. Safe-o-Meter: 6
Trevor Rosenthal (St. Louis): Rosenthal is rolling after a shaky start in his first season as closer. He has nine consecutive scoreless appearances. His ability to fan batters (46 in 36 innings) allows him to work around occasional bouts with control problems and has resulted in 22 saves in 26 chances. Jason Motte has been getting rocked, which lessens his threat. Safe-o-Meter: 9
Rafael Soriano (Washington): The Nationals have a few problems, but short relief is not one of them. Soriano has surrendered just 17 hits in 32 innings and has converted 17 of 19 save opportunities with a 1.13 ERA. Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen have also excelled, so the Nationals are happy with the status quo. Safe-o-Meter: 9
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