Fantasy baseball 2015 – The Closer Scramble

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Joakim Soria

There was a moment in our 14-team (in-person) “home draft” this year that caused the loudest roar I have yet to hear in any offline mancave competition. It will live on as the most memorable back to back pick in our history. 

The softest-spoken member of our league had received the dreaded 14th pick. On the turn, at the end of Round 5 and the start of Round 6, he took Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel. It was a move of gargantuan cajones. And it was a complete and utter, in your face, defiance of my advice.

If you’ve been reading any of my draft strategies, you know how I am not a fan of taking closers early. Wait until after the 10th round… blah blah blah. The revolving door at the closer position will permit you to snag a closer off the waiver wire who may end up being your best… blah blah blah. Now, I won’t “waiver” from this school of thought, but we all should have thrown him a $1 bill for the entertainment alone.

The first two weeks of April always bring on a scramble for closers, as the managers themselves are just establishing who might be the closer for their team in temporary or even permanent roles.

Let’s take a look at recent developments at the position:

Miguel Castro – (32% owned in Yahoo Leagues)  is the early favorite to be the new closer for the Blue Jays. The 20 yr.old (Yes, that’s right, he turned 20 on Christmas Eve) made the jump from ‘Single A’ last year to closer for the Blue Jays in their third game of the year. His numbers from 3 Single A teams last season: 80IP / 50H / 25R / 24ER / 78K / 2.68ERA / .178BAA / .99WHIP ) Get to the waiver wire and grab him if you need a closer. 

Joakim Soria – (58% owned in Yahoo Leagues)  has now become the team closer with Nathan on the DL. We told you to keep your eye on this situation, and included Soria in our Sleeper post. He fit into our Comeback article, as well. Congrats to all you who listened. Soria has twice reached the 40-save plateau. I really wouldn’t be surprised if Nathan announces his retirement very soon.

Brad Boxberger – (62% owned in Yahoo Leagues)  is a strikeout specialist who might gain the confidence of new Rays Manager, Kevin Cash, while Jake McGee heals. The 26 yr. old had an impressive line last season: 64.2IP / 34H / 104K with stingy percentages: 2.37ERA / .155BAA / 0.84WHIP. At worst he’s a good temporary replacement while you wait for McGee, Jansen or Doolittle to return. At best, he could be that elite closer that you snagged off the waiver wire. You know, the one I told you you could get in General Draft Strategies.

Koji Uehara – (90% owned in Yahoo Leagues)  The 40 yr. old is expected to return early next week after a hamstring injury. It’s important to point out that it’s not arm-related. If you grabbed a replacement, like I did (Boxberger) in my “home Draft”, check out who needs a closer in your league. Make an offer before you consider dropping him outright, or keep him if you have the room.

                                       Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller – (66% owned in Yahoo Leagues)  Joe Girardi made his first choice of the year for closer and he may stick with it. Miller was lights out last year and the Yanks shelled out a fortune to acquire him. Follow the money. I would hang on to that backup plan for now, however.

Dellin Betances – (95% owned in Yahoo Leagues)  Hope all you owners out here have a backup plan, because right now it doesn’t look great for this native New Yorker. He’s elite, but he may not have the job. Even if this turns out to be a platoon situation, it’s not what you planned.

Jason Grilli - (71% owned in Yahoo Leagues)  May own the closer role for the Braves after Kimbrel’s departure to San Diego. He does have 2 saves already, but nothing is written in stone yet. Is it ever? Just keep in mind that the experienced Jim Johnson is in the Braves bullpen, as well.

Luke Gregerson – (75% owned in Yahoo Leagues)  He’s probably the best of the 3 that are contending for the closer role. the other two are Pat Neshek and Chad Quails, last year’s closer for the Astros. It’s a little unstable, but again, follow the offseason deal – follow the money. 

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