You shouldn’t have to read tea leaves or do a sneaky scroll down to see who I am talking about in this week’s closer report.  If you are new to this guessing game and word association type stuff, it is Brad Hand.  Why Brad Hand, I say why not?  I hear what you are all saying closers on losing teams are not that fantastic fantasy options, and for the most part you are right.  Because the stats behind that prove that… mostly,  But we can get into that a little later with handy-dandy stats and percentages and such.  So all Brad Hand did last year is basically his job, which in most instances gets you paid.  Which he just did by inking an extension this offseason.  The stats are all there for him to be a legit closer numero uno, with flair.  The flair that I am talking about is kinda like the buttons worn on suspenders at Shenanigans, but only with fantasy intrigue. He boasted a 11.8 K/9 rate last year, amassed 21 saves and 16 holds.  All stuff we can read on any fantasy bio sheet. Dig deeper though, and he does have a few kinks in the armor, namely a HR/FB rate that is not what you are looking for in a an elite closer, but he’s being drafted as a number two.  He falls just outside the elite though, because he is capped by being on the Padres and their expected win totals… or is he?

What I love about B-rad is that he is left-handed.  Did you know that 6 of the last 12 presidents were lefties? Now how were they with runners on and nobody out?  Am I right?  Back to the lecture at Hand, because of the misconception of LH not being good closers and such, he gets knocked down a peg, then add in the Padres thing and the new closer thing and he basically has three proverbial strikes against him.

I disagree with all three of those factors.

Win expectancy and closers only correlate if the team doesn’t score either enough or too many runs to create save opportunities.  Secondly, left handed stuff is just ludicrous as the neutralization of a pitcher’s effectiveness versus RH/LH batters is what dictates their own success as pitchers.  Hand versus RH batters? .206 BAA, league average for left-handed relievers against right-handed batters is .252.  Just for matters sake, he ranked in the top-15 of all relievers against opposite handed batters. Don’t even get me started on LH versus LH because he is even better, try top-7.  That is in all of baseball for relievers.

Lastly, the win expectancy.  The Padres won 71 games last year, and their save-to-win percentage varies only slightly from year-to-year and usually hovers between 50.5 and 52% of saves/wins.  So out of that 71 wins, the Padres should have saved 36 games. Surprise, surprise, they saved 45 games last year.  That percentage is the second best for saves/win in MLB last year only the Rays, under the likes of an established closer like Alex Colome can boast as better. Every year their are 2-3 closers on win-retardant teams that outdo the projections as it relates to saves and team success.  In 2017, it was the Padres duo of Brandon Maurer and Brad Hand with 41 saves combined.  The year before it was Alex Colome again with 37 saves for a 68 win Rays team.  In 2015, it was Aroldis Chapman, Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford all over the 25 save plateau yet their teams never won more than 70 games.  The list of guys that achieve success in the end-game of savedom happens every year.  So don’t turn a blind eye to the Padres possible bullpen success…

I love the possibilities that could evolve for Hand as the day one closer for a team that is expected to win a few more games this year and grow into their youth.  He is borderline top-8 closer for me right now and can say that I fully expect him to maintain his 11+ K/9 rate and give you a 34-38 save season.  Cheers!



BAL  Brad Brach Darren O’Day  Mychal Givens
BOS Craig Kimbrel Matt Barnes  Carson Smith
CLE Cody Allen Andrew Miller  Tyler Olson
CWS Juan Minaya Joakim Soria Nate Jones
DET Shane Greene  Alex Wilson  Daniel Stumpf
HOU Ken Giles Will Harris  Chris Devenski
KC Kelvin Herrera Brandon Maurer   Wily Peralta
LAA Blake Parker Cam Bedrosian  Keynan Middleton
MIN Fernando Rodney Addison Reed  Gabriel Moya
NYY  Aroldis Chapman David Robertson Chad Green
OAK Blake Treinen   Liam Hendriks  Chris Hatcher
SEA Edwin Diaz  Juan Nicasio David Phelps 
TB Alex Colome  Dan Jennings  Andrew Kittredge 
TEX  Alex Claudio Keone Kela José Leclerc
TOR  Roberto Osuna  Ryan Tepera  Carlos Ramirez



ARZ Archie Bradley Brad Boxberger Jimmie Sherfy
ATL Arodys Vizcaino Jose Ramirez A.J. Minter
CHC Brandon Morrow Carl Edwards Jr. Steve Cishek
CIN Raisel Iglesias Michael Lorenzen Kevin Shackelford
COL Wade Davis Jake McGee Adam Ottavino
LAD Kenley Jansen Josh Fields Scott Alexander
MIA Brad Ziegler Kyle Barraclough Drew Steckenrider
MIL Corey Knebel Jacob Barnes Josh Hader
NYM Jeurys Familia A.J. Ramos Anthony Swarzak
PHI Hector Neris Pat Neshek Hoby Milner
PIT Felipe Rivero Daniel Hudson George Kontos
SD Brad Hand Craig Stammen Kirby Yates
SF Mark Melancon Sam Dyson Cory Gearrin
STL Luke Gregerson Tyler Lyons Dominic Leone
WAS Sean Doolittle Ryan Madson Brandon Kintzler
  1. Ralph Lifshitz

    Ralph Lifshitz says:

    Killed it Smoke! I love me a Hand job!

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:

      @Ralph Lifshitz: saves and OTPHJ’s. What could be better.

  2. Bill Lumbergh says:

    Smokey: Long time listener, first time caller. So great to have you back & dropping that bullpen knowledge! Which 5 of your “sleepers” do you think have the best shot at saves this season? I’ll take your answer off the air…thanks man!

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:

      @Bill Lumbergh: in no order; Minter, Steckenrider, Leone, Nate Jones and Andrew Kittredge.

  3. Steve Stevenson says:

    10 team AL-only, keep 10, $320 salary cap. Crazy to keep $7 Brach, $2 Greene, $1 Parker AND $1 Kela? To keep all 4 I’d have to throw back either a $20 Beltre or $3 E. Escobar, but it’d give me a lot of auction $ to play with for SP and bats (not surprisingly, my team was bad last year), as well as decent trade chips.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:

      @Steve Stevenson: not crazy at all. League only saves are slim pickings even if it you say you have 2 1/2 closers the whole year out of those 4 it’s worth it because they will get more saves than paying 30 plus for Chapman/Allen/Kimbrel elite group

  4. Chucky says:

    Great job…as always as usual. Will you be posting a RP list for those of us playing in Holds Leagues? Many of us punt either Saves or Holds as each has its own categories. A list of RPs who’s best ratios ERA, WHIP, Ks would be much appreciated.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:

      @Chucky: Thanks Chuckles… Def will. Have some more player previews, a top P and than a holds only post

  5. pdo says:

    Thoughts on Robertson this year? Same sort of numbers as last year?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:

      @pdo: sorta. Won’t get 13 saves like last year unless an injury to Chapman happens. But mid 2 ERA 12 plus K/9 rate

  6. pdo says:

    Time to draft me some MR/Closers… Have 6 spots with these people currently available: AJ Minter, Drew Steckinrider, Tyler Lyons, Nate Jones, Brad Boxberger, Carl Edwards Jr., Darren O’Day, David Robertson, Chad Green, Kirby Yates, Josh Hader, Mychel Givens, Tommy Kahnle, Brandon Morrow

    Any 6 jump out higher than the rest and are there any that you’d stay away from?

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