Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
      
Fantasy Football Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Gameday Inactives
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Red Zone Stats
Teams
Schedules
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Teams
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Bullpen Report: Planning for the future

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

This week's Bullpen Report may look a little different than last. Get used to it.

We're going to mix up formats frequently to keep things fresh and deliver as much helpful information as possible. One week it may be a straight ranking of closers. The next, an update on bullpen depth charts. But with 75 percent of bullpens free of the crazy volatility we saw in the season's first two weeks, it doesn't make much sense to drone on about ranks and shuffling of positions every single week.

Check out our Fantasy Baseball podcast!
Stay a step ahead of your competition in 2014 by checking out our popular Fantasy Baseball Today podcasts. Adam Aizer, Scott White and Al Melchior will entertain you and help you dominate all season.
Latest episode | Subscribe!

So for the second Bullpen Report, we give you the most likely depth charts for closers around the league. You'll see the closer, his backup, and then a stab at the third person in line for those in very deep leagues, based on a few factors (skill, background, chance to be slotted into that role, history of closing, etc).

While the first two are pretty solid and widely-accepted guesses, the third closer option requires a little creativity [NOTE: some "wildly speculative" guesses may be far less wild than others]. And before you dismiss that notion of the darkhorse, remember that current Pirates closer Jason Grilli --currently fifth in MLB for saves (with three) -- entered last season with a 4.55 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, and 6.9 K/9, playing for six different teams in his career and never getting close to regularly getting saves.

Closers are quirky characters; pinpointing them may require a little outside-the-box thinking.

American League East

Orioles

Current closer: Jim Johnson
Next in line: Pedro Strop
Wildly speculative dark horse: Tommy Hunter

Red Sox

Current closer: Joel Hanrahan
Next in line: Andrew Bailey
Wildly speculative dark horse: Koji Uehara

Yankees

Current closer: Mariano Rivera
Next in line: David Robertson
Wildly speculative dark horse: Joba Chamberlain

Rays

Current closer: Fernando Rodney
Next in line: Joel Peralta
Wildly speculative dark horse: Jake McGee

Blue Jays

Current closer: Casey Janssen
Next in line: Sergio Santos
Wildly speculative dark horse: Ricky Romero

Joel Hanrahan's ugly blown save against the Orioles on Wednesday was actually preceded by a two-hit/one-run performance two games earlier; in fact, the Red Sox closer has given up three home runs in the last 1 2/3 innings. Over the two previous seasons, however, Hanrahan has been pretty solid, with a 2.24 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 76 saves in 128 1/3 innings. And, for his career, Hanrahan has been nothing short of ugly in March and April, with a 5.59 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in 56 1/3 career innings. The silver lining for his owners? Hanrahan bounces back quite handsomely. If John Farrell gives him a long leash, you'll likely reap the benefits of having a pitcher with a 2.76 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 72 1/3 May innings.

Tommy Hunter was the other player brought over in the Chris Davis deal with Texas. While he was marginally impressive for one season as a starter, Hunter has been really impressive since being moved to the bullpen late last season. His velocity jumped from about 91 to 95 mph after the switch, and his K/9 went from 4.7 as a starter to 8.5 in the bullpen last season (so far this year Hunter has three strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings). We're talking deep leagues here, but if all other options are off the table, Hunter could be a nice, sneaky add.

American League Central

Royals

Current closer: Greg Holland
Next in line: Kelvin Herrera
Wildly speculative dark horse: Aaron Crow

Tigers

Current closer: Joaquin Benoit
Next in line: Jose Valverde
Wildly speculative dark horse: Drew Smyly

White Sox

Current closer: Addison Reed
Next in line: Jesse Crain
Wildly speculative dark horse: Donnie Veal

Twins

Current closer: Glen Perkins
Next in line: Jared Burton
Wildly speculative dark horse: Anthony Slama

Indians

Current closer: Chris Perez
Next in line: Vinnie Pestano
Wildly speculative dark horse: Bryan Shaw

Let's go back about 13 months, when Aaron Crow was going to be in the rotation, Greg Holland was the next best thing, and a nation couldn't wait for Jonathan Broxton to be traded. Fantasy owners were stashing Holland and railing against Broxton as washed up and inferior in skill. Holland was coming off a sparkling 2011 campaign in which he went 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, sporting an 11.1 K/9. When Broxton was sent packing, Holland responded with 16 saves from August 1 on.

Holland's minor league track record is solid, and he hasn't seen a significant drop in velocity from last year (it's down a little over one mph through four games). He's given up four runs this season, all coming in interleague games against the Phillies. So we're willing to wipe away a nice data set of success just because he had a few bad games to start the season? For the Holland haters, I will note that while his velocity may have been down in the spring, he still had a 3.86 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings. And his control is a little off right now.

And this isn't meant to dump on Herrera, who has been stellar this year, but his 2012 numbers (2.35 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 8.2 K/9) are sub-par compared to Holland's in 2011. It just seems a little too impatient to have this wave of owners running to pick up Herrera (owned in 40 percent of leagues) without remembering how good Holland was in 2011 and 2012.

American League West

Athletics

Current closer: Grant Balfour
Next in line: Ryan Cook
Wildly speculative dark horse: Sean Doolittle

Rangers

Current closer: Joe Nathan
Next in line: Jason Frasor
Wildly speculative dark horse: Michael Kirkman

Mariners

Current closer: Tom Wilhelmsen
Next in line: Charlie Furbush
Wildly speculative dark horse: Oliver Perez

Astros

Current closer: Jose Veras
Next in line: Hector Ambriz
Wildly speculative dark horse: Wesley Wright

Angels

Current closer: Ernesto Frieri
Next in line: Ryan Madson
Wildly speculative dark horse: Scott Downs

The most enigmatic closer in all of baseball? Jose Veras. He has pitched four games so far this year, but has yet to get a save, as the Astros have managed to win their games in blowout fashion. In fact, the only save for Houston this year has gone to Erik Bedard, who got that quirky four-inning save on opening night.

Veras puts Fantasy owners in a weird spot. On one hand, he is in no real danger of losing his job, and his grip on saves was only tightened when Rule 5 pick Josh Fields went on the DL with a forearm strain. On the other hand, Veras is pitching for a team that will not produce many save opportunities for him. And he's never really been tested as a closer, with five saves in 331 career appearances. So where does that leave a Fantasy owner looking to gauge his value? Unfortunately, you end up pretty lost.

Veras has never finished a season with an ERA below 3.50. But his 9.4 career K/9 (which has jumped to 10.3 the last three years) is an asset. He doesn't offer the most impressive resume, but Veras does have job security, and will likely see a relatively long leash in a rebuilding season for Houston.

National League East

Braves

Current closer: Craig Kimbrel
Next in line: Jordan Walden
Wildly speculative dark horse: Eric O'Flaherty

Nationals

Current closer: Rafael Soriano
Next in line: Drew Storen
Wildly speculative dark horse: Tyler Clippard

Mets

Current closer: Bobby Parnell
Next in line: Brandon Lyon
Wildly speculative dark horse: Frank Francisco

Phillies

Current closer: Jonathan Papelbon
Next in line: Antonio Bastardo
Wildly speculative dark horse: Phillippe Aumont

Marlins

Current closer: Steve Cishek
Next in line: Jon Rauch
Wildly speculative dark horse: John Maine

As a whole, this collection of NL East backup closers is pretty seasoned. Drew Storen saved 43 games and Jordan Walden saved 32 in 2011. Jon Rauch saved 21 and Brandon Lyon saved 20 in 2010. And Tyler Clippard saved 32 in 2012. I won't count Francisco because if his elbow was fine, he'd probably be closing for the Mets. But this is a division full of safety nets, and the most interesting pitcher here is one who has finished four games in his career.

John Maine was, almost a decade ago, one of the top prospects in baseball. He has an eight-year major league career, split between the Mets and Orioles. It's always a little intriguing when a pitcher with decent strikeout rates as a starter tries to reinvent himself as a reliever.

Maine used to hit 94 with his fastball, but his career was pretty much decimated by arm injuries. While he's probably not going to hit the mid-90s on the radar gun, Maine could let loose a little more as a reliever pitching 65 innings than he'd be able to as a starter trying to throw 170.

Ryan Webb and Mike Dunn are probably behind Rauch for saves if you wanted an exact depth chart right now, but I'm keeping an eye on Maine for a few weeks to see if he maybe found a niche as a reliever. It's a wonderful longshot, but worth checking out just in case.

National League Central

Reds

Current closer: Aroldis Chapman
Next in line: Jonathan Broxton
Wildly speculative dark horse: J.J. Hoover

Cardinals

Current closer: Mitchell Boggs
Next in line: Trevor Rosenthal
Wildly speculative dark horse: Edward Mujica

Cubs

Current closer: Kyuji Fujikawa
Next in line: Carlos Marmol
Wildly speculative dark horse: Shawn Camp

Pirates

Current closer: Jason Grilli
Next in line: Mark Melancon
Wildly speculative dark horse: Jared Hughes

Brewers

Current closer: Jim Henderson
Next in line: John Axford
Wildly speculative dark horse: Mike Fiers

This division has quickly become just an awesome mess. The Cubs, Brewers and Cardinals all have issues at closer, with Mitchell Boggs being the only closer for the three teams left with a job -- and he took it over from an injured Jason Motte.

The interesting thing with this group is that both John Axford and Carlos Marmol could be great closers (Boggs scores an incomplete so far). But Axford has extended his slow implosion from 2012 into 2013, while Marmol just insists on doing this weird dance with consistency.

Still, they have their bright spots.

Marmol had a 1.52 ERA with 12 saves and 39 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings after the All-Star Game last year. Axford had a 1.95 ERA and 46 saves in 2011. There is skill there, but the two of them seem to have that whole "figuring it out" thing dangling just out of reach.

Both teams' staffs have said publicly that they want the pitchers to straighten themselves out in middle relief, then return to the closer role. Granted, a lot of managers and coaches say a lot of things to the press and don't follow up. But based on the success each of these pitchers has found in the past, I'm willing to hold onto them for as long as I can in deeper (12-team mixed Roto) leagues. Axford stays on the bench longer than Marmol, but I'd rather both get straightened out in the next couple weeks and re-claim their jobs.

National League West

Giants

Current closer: Sergio Romo
Next in line: Santiago Casilla
Wildly speculative dark horse: Heath Hembree

Diamondbacks

Current closer: J.J. Putz
Next in line: Heath Bell
Wildly speculative dark horse: David Hernandez

Dodgers

Current closer: Brandon League
Next in line: Kenley Jansen
Wildly speculative dark horse: Ted Lilly

Rockies

Current closer: Rafael Betancourt
Next in line: Rex Brothers
Wildly speculative dark horse: Wilton Lopez

Padres

Current closer: Huston Street
Next in line: Luke Gregerson
Wildly speculative dark horse: Andrew Cashner

Just to clarify, I fully believe Andrew Cashner is in the San Diego rotation by Memorial Day. I think his demotion to the bullpen is partially a way to hold back his innings a little bit early on (his career high in innings pitched is 111 1/3) and a result of him being sidelined over the winter with a hunting-related hand injury. He'll start before he closes, but if some strange set of circumstances warrants it, I think he maybe leapfrogs Dale Thayer in the pecking order, assuming he's still working out of the bullpen at the time.

Heath Hembree makes for an interesting third-string saves candidate later in the year. At 24 years old, he's already saved 58 minor league games, with a 2.61 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, sporting an 11.7 K/9 in 110 1/3 innings. Additionally, his high ERA in the PCL last year was partially due to a mid-summer elbow strain, which took him out for about a month. The fun twist with Hembree is that, while the Giants may be stacked at reliever, Hembree represents a trade chip for the Giants, who have not been afraid to trade away solid prospects at the deadline (Zack Wheeler, Tommy Joseph, Seth Rosin) for a late-season veteran push. If Hembree is traded to a team with an opening at closer, he could walk right into the saves mix.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Charlie Morton tosses five scoreless innings in win vs. Red Sox
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:17 pm ET) Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton earned a win Tuesday, allowing four hits and two walks in five scoreless innings while striking out six in his team's 4-0 victory over the Red Sox.

Morton (6-12) was already at 92 pitches when his spot in the batting order came up in the bottom of the fifth, so the team decided to go the rest of the way with the bullpen, which did an admirable job protecting the lead. Morton owns a 3.72 ERA and 126:57 K:BB ratio in 157 1/3 innings. He's scheduled to face the Brewers Sunday.


Anthony Ranaudo allows three runs in loss vs. Pirates
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:16 pm ET) Red Sox pitcher Anthony Ranaudo took a loss Tuesday, giving up three earned runs on four hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings while striking out three in his team's 4-0 defeat against the Pirates.

Ranaudo (3-3) surrendered a two-run blast in the second inning and a solo shot in the sixth inning, giving him 10 home runs allowed in his six starts with the team. Until he can keep the ball in the park on a regular, he'll continue to have trouble delivering quality performances. Ranaudo owns a 5.29 ERA and 13:15 K:BB ratio in 32 1/3 innings. He's scheduled to face the Rays next Tuesday.


Drew Hutchison strikes out 11 in loss vs. Orioles
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:12 pm ET) Blue Jays pitcher Drew Hutchison took a loss Tuesday, giving up six earned runs on five hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings while striking out 11 in his team's 8-2 defeat against the Orioles.

Hutchison (10-12) had double-digit strikeouts in his previous start as well, but that was about the only similarity his loss Tuesday had to his win last week, as the starter served up a three-run home run in the first inning and a solo blast in the second before getting charged with two more runs on a bases-clearing triple surrendered by the bullpen in the seventh. Hutchison owns a 4.51 ERA and 170:56 K:BB ratio in 175 2/3 innings. He's scheduled to face the Yankees Sunday.


Ubaldo Jimenez strikes out six in win vs. Blue Jays
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:11 pm ET) Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez earned a win Tuesday, allowing two earned runs on two hits and four walks in five innings while striking out six as the Orioles clinched the AL East crown with a 8-2 victory over the Blue Jays.

Jimenez (5-9) was making a spot start after moving to the bullpen in August, and he delivered five solid innings after the team jumped ahead with a three-run home run in the first inning. Jimenez owns a 4.90 ERA and 110:74 K:BB ratio in 119 1/3 innings. The Orioles take home the team's first division title since 1997 with the win.


Bartolo Colon strikes out seven in win vs. Marlins
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:00 pm ET) Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon earned a win Tuesday, surrendering one earned run on 12 hits in 7 2/3 innings and striking out seven in his team's 9-1 victory over the Marlins.

Colon (14-12) allowed a run to come home on an infield single in the third inning, but though the Marlins offense continued to rack up hits, they couldn't answer the Mets' offensive outburst in the middle of the game. Colon owns a 4.02 ERA and 143:25 K:BB ratio in 190 1/3 innings. He's scheduled to face the Nationals next Tuesday.


Nathan Eovaldi rocked in loss vs. Mets Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:59 pm ET) Marlins pitcher Nathan Eovaldi took a loss Tuesday, allowing six earned runs on six hits and two walks in 4 1/3 innings while striking out two in his team's 9-1 defeat against the Mets.

Eovaldi (6-12) first ran into trouble in the fourth inning, when the Mets were able to plate four runners. He then watched the two runners he left on base in the fifth come home on a three-run blast. Now 0-6 over his last seven starts, Eovaldi owns a 4.48 ERA and 133:40 K:BB ratio in 186 2/3 innings. He's scheduled to face the Nationals Sunday.


Drew Storen slams door Tuesday, Nationals earn NL East crown
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:53 pm ET) Nationals closer Drew Storen earned his seventh save Tuesday, pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning to slam the door on the team's 3-0 win over the Braves and give the Nationals the team's second division title in three years.

Storen needed just seven pitches to make quick work of the Braves in the ninth inning Tuesday, and he's now delivered 15 scoreless innings since giving up his last earned run at the beginning of August. Storen owns a 1.23 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 42:11 K:BB ratio in 51 1/3 innings.


Aaron Harang strikes out eight in loss vs. Nationals
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:50 pm ET) Braves pitcher Aaron Harang took a loss Tuesday, giving up two earned runs on five hits and two walks in seven innings while striking out eight in his team's 3-0 defeat against the Nationals.

Harang (11-11) delivered five scoreless innings before serving up a two-run home run in the sixth, and it would be all the scoring the Nationals would need to win the game and clinch the NL East title. Harang owns a 3.68 ERA and 149:67 K:BB ratio in 190 2/3 innings. He's scheduled to face the Pirates Monday.


Tanner Roark leads Nationals to division-clinching win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:50 pm ET) Nationals pitcher Tanner Roark earned a win Tuesday, giving up just five hits in seven scoreless innings while striking out four and walking none as the Nationals clinched the NL East crown with a 3-0 victory over the Braves.

Roark (14-10) had given up a home run in each of his four starts since tossing seven scoreless innings on Aug. 20, but he was able to keep the ball in the park and duplicate the excellent line Tuesday. He owns a 2.85 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 137:39 K:BB ratio in 192 1/3 innings. Roark is slated to face the Marlins Sunday in what should be penultimate start of the regular season.


Juan Lagares hyperextends elbow Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:37 pm ET) Mets outfielder Juan Lagares left Tuesday's game against the Marlins with a hyperextended right elbow, the team announced.

Lagares went 0 for 2 at the plate and had to come out prior to the beginning of the fifth inning. The hitless performance gives him a .281/.321/.382 line with four home runs, 47 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 416 at-bats.


 
 
 
Rankings