Yes the closer position is once again causing havoc in fantasy baseball circles with the injuries to Brian Wilson, Frank Francisco, and to a much larger degree Brad Lidge causing much angst already with the season not even underway yet. Today I will identify further turmoil to come, specifically speaking the top five closers who will lose their jobs this season due to poor performance. Be sure to get yourself familiar with who is next in line so that you can snatch up the replacements before the rest of the league gets wind of it.
1. Fernando Rodney (Angels): This one is almost too obvious. Rodney is not even a decent pitcher but yet the Angels are entrusting him to serve as the team’s closer. This has disaster written all over it as Rodney has been blasted all spring and there are solid alternatives that could take over and do a nice job here. Hisanori Takahashi would figure to get first crack since he did well in a short stint as the Mets closer last season. He has a nice K rate and has been much tougher to hit than he was as a starting pitcher. Another name to keep an eye on is rookie Jordan Palmer who racked up insane strikeouts in a late season call-up with the club last season. He walks too many guys but he has the classic makeup of a power stopper.
Expected Demotion: April
2. Drew Storen (Nationals): This might already have started taking place as Storen is coming off a 4 ER, 2/3 IP horror show in Tuesday’s spring outing. Storen has gotten hit all spring and there is a ready made replacement in the form of Sean Burnett who picked up some saves in splitting duties with Storen last season. Burnett was very impressive in his first full season as a setup man and has been unhittable this spring. In fact Storen has a chance of not even making the team due to how poorly he has pitched this spring training.
Expected Demotion: April
3. Kevin Gregg (Orioles): Gregg is quite possibly the worst closer in the game and his dreadful spring is more evidence of this. He will be facing an uphill battle to keep his job with Buck Showalter favorite Koji Uehara getting healthy. Uehara did a nice job as the team’s closer the second half of last season but injuries and the gopher ball have held him back from getting the gig full time. Still Uehara is the much better pitcher and its likely he only has to show he is healthy for Buck to make the change in the lineup.
Expected Demotion: May
4. Francisco Cordero: Cordero has seen a steady drop in almost all of his stats the last three seasons and he has a certain 105-mph flamethrower waiting behind him to steal the job for the next decade. Aroldis Chapman of course is the man in question but he has struggled a bit this spring to think this will happen right away. Still the Reds didn’t pay him all that money to be a setup man and Cordero’s rising walk rate and declining strikeout rate could thrust him into the money bullpen spot in short order.
Expected Demotion: June
5. Brandon Lyon: Lyon is the epitome of the visually unimpressive closer. He doesn’t have the power fastball that most closers have and relies on location to get outs which is always dicey. Wilson Lopez is a young power arm who profiles as the team’s closer of the future and if the Astros are out of it by the trade deadline, Lyon could be easily dealt.
Expected Demotion: July
As always you got to keep a close eye on everything that has to do with closer’s in fantasy baseball. It seems like there is a change taking place every week and thus its further evidence you don’t need to chase saves in drafts.