Living the Fantasy: Always, always be closing
We are just two months into the season, and already 40 different players have multiple saves.
Jason Grilli, a 36-year-old that’s never closed before, leads the league with 21 saves. Edward Mujica didn’t even start the season with the gig, but already has 16. Even “sure things” Joel Hanrahan and J.J. Putz have been bitten by the injury bug.
The point is that the active owner is the one that dominates the saves category. We don’t need to prioritize them on draft day, but we do need to follow the ebbs and flows of bullpens closely.
Ray of desperation
Fernando Rodney has a 5.48 ERA and has blown five saves already. But the Rays need him to snap out of it and be their closer, simply because they don’t have anyone else. Logical replacement Jake McGee has given up four homers in 20 innings, an unacceptable rate for a closing candidate. Don’t drop Rodney no matter how bad it gets.
Brewing a mess
Jim Henderson was poised to run away with Milwaukee’s closing job, but a pulled hamstring has landed him on the disabled list. It speaks volumes that the Brewers have chosen to go with Francisco Rodriguez, a guy who got no sniffs on the open market until Milwaukee gave him a minor league deal. John Axford can be left on waivers.
Owners of Matt Kemp realize that the Dodgers aren’t scoring runners or getting leads, so the closing situation isn’t all that interesting right now. That could change quickly once the bats come around. Brandon League continues to hold the gig ahead of Kenley Jansen, but it’s close. Both fireballers are worth riding for their peripheral stats.
We’re less than 100 days away from the start of the NFL season. Some sleepers to keep an eye on:
1. Josh Gordon, WR, CLE — The Browns are installing an aggressive, vertical offense. It’s a perfect fit for No. 1 wideout Gordon.
2. Dennis Pitta, TE, BAL — Now that Anquan Boldin is gone, Pitta will function as the Ravens’ physical pass-catcher over the middle.
3. Chris Ivory, RB, NYJ — The Jets have a good run-blocking offensive line and are awful at everything else. Enter Ivory, a physical beast.
Over the final nine games of last season (including playoffs), Michael Crabtree saw 89 targets. Now he’s out until Week 12 at the earliest after tearing his Achilles’ tendon. Downgrade Colin Kaepernick slightly, upgrade Vernon Davis significantly, cross Crabtree off your lists and keep an eye on second-year wideout A.J. Jenkins.
Yasmani Grandal, C, SD: The 50-game ban is finally over. Grandal will quickly take the No. 1 catcher job away from Nick Hundley.
Michael Wacha, SP, STL: One of the best pitching prospects around, Wacha has been promoted to the Show. Boasts a 1.71 ERA in the minors.
Vinnie Pestano, RP, CLE: A nasty setup man that’s getting a chance to close with Chris Perez (shoulder) sidelined.