Ah it’s time for the closer/relief pitcher rankings. It is incredibly hard to predict the success of a closer. It is the most volatile position on a baseball team. At the lower end of the rankings, there will be so much jockeying that half the guys listed will be passed by another half of players that may or may not even be ranked. In 2012 we saw even the most stable closers like Mariano Rivera falter.
We also saw some of the most amazing relief performances in MLB history from Craig Kimbrel and Fernando Rodney. It is a craps shoot. Some will say to draft roles. I like to draft skills. Neither is founded in more validity than the other. Most experts will agree on one thing, don’t pay for saves. I believe Matthew Berry was the first to really preach this principle. Whether you abide by it or not, is irrelevant and is probably has little effect on your success. Just know that the position is unstable and very risky.
Spend and draft wisely.
Guys I Like:
Aroldis Chapman RP CIN- Oh hallelujah! Praise the Lord that Chapman has officially been named the Cincinnati Reds closer moving Broxton to the set-up role. Chapman was made to be a closer. He’s a flame throwing lefty that has devastating movement on his pitches. Maintaining command, he’ll pepper the zone with unhittable stuff.
There is no doubt in my mind Chapman eclipses 100 strikeouts and 40 saves. I only have him ranked ahead of Kimbrel because I think he’ll strikeout more batters. You could do no wrong with either. Chapman is special. Kuddos to the Reds for being smart about this, and kuddos to Chapman for not going after the money he would have received by being a starter instead of reliever. It will work out for him.
Tom Wilhelmsen RP SEA- Wilhelmsen passes my eye test. I used him a lot last year in my daily leagues when League went down, and he never disappointed me. He struck out 87 batter in 2012 and closed out 29 ball games. It’s not crazy to think he saves 30+, but we could see that ERA creep up a bit from the 2.50 he had in 2012. I’m not worried about the fences or the dominant lineups of the AL West. Draft skills, and Wilhelmsen is filthy.
Steve Cishek RP MIA- Cishek goes back to the whole draft skills strategy. He has a great sinking fastball that is really hard to hit. When he’s on and keeps his pitches in the zone, he’s dominant. I don’t know how many save opportunities he’ll get closing for the Marlins, but I think he should garner 30 plus and strikeout more than a batter per inning.
Cishek is one of the last relievers off the board and should be solid there. The only thing concerning about Cishek is the trade cloud that surrounds all Marlins players. If he gets traded out of his closer role, his value disappears.
Guys I Don’t Like:
Addison Reed RP CHW- For some reason every expert and their mama think that Reed is going to be absolutely amazing this year. I’m not one of those guys, and my mama doesn’t like the White Sox. Reed seems very hittable to me. I’m going to go next level here for a second. He threw more pitches in the strike zone than any reliever in baseball (55.1 percent). He also had the second lowest swinging strike percentage of all 2013 opening day closers (9.3 percent). What that means is that Major League hitters don’t miss his pitches.
Combine the not missing pitches with the fact that he throws pitches in the strike zone says to me he can be hit and probably hit hard. You’re welcome.