Not everyone loves the buy-early and coast theory of closers.  I am not a full on component of it, but I don’t like to be left without, at worst, a top-12 option to anchor my save chase. So for those that procrastinate, there is nothing wrong with y’all.  Every theory has a proven outcome, whether it be wrong, backwards, or completely made up by several fortune cookies.  The wait game for saves can still be fortuitous, the only problem is being right when it matters most.  The last rounds of relievers needs to be decisive.  After all, we don’t have 4-5 rosters spots designated for save speculation.  Lucky for you, your ole’ pal Smokey is here to give you several options for late game options that you can try and strike it rich with late in your drafts.  These guys are in situations that are either committee based, the closer is in jeopardy (yeah already), or I can just foresee a change of the imminent.  So hold tight my fellow SAGNOF’ers and cast your fishing pole into the deep waters that I reside.  Just for the people that skimmed this whole intro, this post is about the guys who aren’t closing currently and could net you saves on cheap.

Carter Capps – By the time your draft rolls out, he will unfortunately be breathing in the Raisel Iglesias-type helium.  Early indications from the Marlins hierarchy is saying that it is an open competition for the closers role.  A.J. Ramos had to do something wrong.  Date the GM’s daughter/son, didn’t pay his portion of the bill at Sonic, or can it be that Capps is that good that they feel the need to push him?  Capps has a sick and maybe repeatable 16 plus K/9 rate and a tiny .165 BAA that make him like a shiny new wheat-penny.  If the Marlins stumble out the gate, they could capitalize on Ramos value and net a handsome return.

Zack Weiss – In the NL Central, it is the haves and the Brewers and Reds.  Both clubs seem to be trying to go rebuild.  Last season the Reds broke the record for starts made by rookies, that alone should tell you that it’s looking very young again.  The remaining pen pieces of J.J. Hoover and Jumbo Diaz lead me to believe that it is a temporary at best situation, and they need to tinker with the same effect that they did with the starters last season.  Weiss in the minors posted 31 saves and 101 k’s in 72 innings.  Best part is; he is basically not being discussed… until now.

John Axford – If I gave you 10/1 odds that Sean Doolittle stayed healthy all year, how fast would you reach in your wallet for a double sawbuck?  Shoulder injuries are a scary business, and granted, he was peaking velocity wise at mid-90’s near the end of the season I am still skeptical.  Axford was brought in to Oakland as a in-case-of-emergency-break-glass-type reliever.  Madson got the loot, but Axe is going to net the saves if Doolittle inevitable falters.  His way early ADP is non-existent.

Jon Edwards – While everyone else is speculating on the Padres closer (after Fernando goes all typical Fernando) in Maurer and maybe Pomeranz, grab the guy who is like the post-hype sleeper of closers this year.  Old, but not used up. He got a late start after being drafted in 2006, and bounced around three different clubs and Indy ball.  His K-rate and four consecutive seasons over a 11 K/9 rate in the minors lead me to believe that a bad team is exactly where he needs to make a name for himself.

Corey Knebel – Who doesn’t like high K relievers on losing teams?  Nobody’s hand should be raised.  Saves are saves.  Once the Brew-haha’s relieve themselves of the more expensive save options, Corey with one “E” is the man for the job.  Constant K-rates in the minors, and last year, in a brief stint, he was over the reliever magical line of 10.  If you can stomach the 50 games of just a reliever and not closer, then he is your guy.

Silvino Bracho – Quick question; would you rather gamble on drafting Brad Ziegler or gamble on him failing?  I am normally not a mean person when it comes to closers, but honestly, I hate B-rad.  The snakes, in all honesty, and for anyone that pays attention to deeper closers have the deepest bullpen prospects in baseball.  They are a few years away except the guy who sounds like a gondola driver at the Venician hotel in Vegas.   He has closed at every level and early indications in limited showing shows it may not be a smoke and mirror show

Dynasty Choices:

 

 

  1. GhostTownSteve says:
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    Really good, Smoke. I’m in agreement with all of these. I think looking at second and third man up is the key. I’ll end up drafting at least 3 of these guys in the RCL…depending on who is reading.

    • J-FOH says:
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      @GhostTownSteve: Im watching you on draft day in our league…and as an A’s fan that has predicted they wont be as bad as people think, do you really see Axford ahead of Madsen? My feeling is Madsen is insurance for Doolittle and Axford is insurance for Madsen. If Madsen is rock solid again this year then that is great for any inning but Axford is like putting three lugnuts on the wheels of your hellcat, if you dont know what a hellcat is, its a 700 plus horsepower dodge engine they have been putting in the Challengers and Chargers.

      • GhostTownSteve says:
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        @J-FOH:

        I tell you what, I wouldn’t be super super surprised if Doolittle holds it down for awhile. Early word out of the Cactus is velo is up and he learned a pretty nasty split change from his brother in the off season.

        But I agree with Smoke it’ll Axford first man up.

        • J-FOH says:
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          @GhostTownSteve: to borrow a term from you, my spidey senses, when I saw the signing, say that the Ax deal was done not to help the team win, okay maybe a little, but as a guy to flip to a contender if the season derails. Billy loves those under the radar deals

      • Smokey

        Smokey says:
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        @J-FOH: I don’t disagree that Madsonwas brought into be a high level reliever. I just think A ford gets first shot at closing gig and Madson flourishes in setup role

  2. Scooter G says:
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    Any setup men on winning teams you could see winning a closer job and becoming a top 12 closer?

    A Chapman, K Jansen, and k rod come to mind as players who quickly won closer jobs and went on to dominate after being drafted outside of the top 250 in March.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Scooter G: Benoit, Hunter Strickland

  3. Sammy D says:
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    Wouldn’t Tyler Clippard be a better sleeper for saves then Bracho? Or is Bracho higher up in the bullpen then I thought?

    • knucks says:
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      @Sammy D: daniel hudson is there too and was sniffing closer role at end of the year if i remember correctly

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Sammy D: oh Clippatd is definitely in the picture but will be drafted as such, the D backs have such a dearth of young bullpen arms cing in the next year it’s ridiculous. Bracho has closer type stuff. May want to keep him in set-up role, where he was a little shaky last year. Hudson Chafin also in the mix for a very underrated bullpen.

      • Xavier says:
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        @Smokey: Are Burgos and Marshall still under consideration, or did they blow their chance?

  4. Baseball Fan 2000 says:
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    Thanks for the article. I know he’s not a late round pick, but what are your thoughts on Zach Britton as being in the same elite tier with Davis, Jansen, Chapman, and Kimbrel?

    Here are the five pitcher stats, without their names. Britton’s peripherals are in my opinion just as good as the other 4.

    Pitcher A: 10.43 K/9, 2.67 BB/9, 3.90 K/BB, GB% 38.4%, Soft Hit % 20.9%, Hard Hit % 17.7%
    Pitcher B: 10.83 K/9, 1.82 BB/9, 5.64 K/BB, GB% 79.1% Soft Hit % 34.0%, Hard Hit % 19.5%
    Pitcher C: 13.20 K/9, 3.34 BB/9, 3.95 K/BB, GB% 46.1 %, Soft Hit % 17.8%, Hard Hit % 25.6%
    Pitcher D: 13.76 K/9, 1.38 BB/9, 10.0 K/BB, GB% 35.2% Soft Hit % 25.5%, Hard Hit % 28.2%
    Pitcher E: 15.74 K/9, 4.48 BB/9, 3.52 K/BB GB% 37.1% Soft Hit % 26.6 % Hard Hit % 20.2%

    A: Wade Davis
    B: Britton
    C: Kimbrel
    D: Jansen
    E: Chapman

    Britton’s strikeout rate is higher than that of Wade Davis (albeit a notch below everyone else). In every other category, he is at least 2nd, with a BB/9 rate lower than everyone else’s but Jansen (same with K/BB). He combines his excellent ratios with an otherworldly groundball rate that was higher even than second place finisher Brad Ziegler by 7%. His contact control is insane as well, allowing over twice as much soft contact as hard contact, which is also far superior to anyone else. Only Davis and Chapman allowed more soft contact than hard contact. Britton struck out more and walked fewer than Davis, and walked nearly 3 fewer batters per 9 than Chapman.

    In many ways Britton is the best pitcher in this tier in my opinion. Maybe he doesn’t get the save numbers of the others, but saves are pretty unpredictable/fluky anyway, Four of the top 10 closers in terms of saves last year pitched for teams that were .500 or worse, including Britton. The Orioles also figure to at least a little better this year with the addition of Gallardo, Trumbo, Hyun-Soo Kim, better health from Hardy and Wieters, and a potential breakout from Schoop, whom Grey is high on. They also resigned their main free agents (Davis and O’Day), so they figure to be at least a little better than last year.

    Sorry for the long post. But just wondering if I did enough to convince you that Britton at least belongs in that elite tier with the other four guys. If I didn’t, I would love hearing your thoughts on that as well.

    Also one more question:
    In head to head points leagues with fairly standard scoring but no limits on games started, would it make sense to have all your bench players be high-upside starters and then play them all when they start week-in week-out?

    Thanks for everything

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Baseball Fan 2000: oh I love Britton. He is one of the first 2 closers I’m drafting with familia.

      No bench bats one rp to rotate and all sp. that’s my strategy.

      • Baseball Fan 2000 says:
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        @Smokey: Thanks Smokey!

  5. WHAT DOES SAGNOF MEAN?

  6. Teamdrew says:
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    Smoke….
    One name missing on your dynasty rankings….Dillon Tate. From what I’ve read and seen dude throws smoke and could be a top five closer if he doesn’t win a starting gig in the future.
    Also a name I’m into is Keone Kela. Should Tolleson faulter, which by the end of last year he started to, Kela seems next in line.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Teamdrew: Tate looks like he is going to get every chance to start, I mean from the 9 innings he got last year and they reports from Ranger guys it seems that way. He has the arsenal to close though, good call

      • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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        @Smokey: damn, d.tate was in MLB last year and i didn’t stash him! he wasn’t ranked like is now for sure if that’s the case.

        • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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          @Aubrey Plaza’s Pillow: and ain’t yahoo lovely, when i try to hit tate’s name to check on the 9 innings it sends me to bung hole park’s page. (copyrighted by me)

  7. Wilson says:
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    Soria isn’t defined as a closer now and Hoover is in committee.
    I need to make a room so I need to drop one of them.
    Hoover is worse than Soria even though he can get SV. Somehow, Soria is on beck to close the door as well and he can contribute K with more stable WHIP.
    How should I choose him to stay? Thanks.

    10-team 5×5 league (no HD)
    I got closers already: papelbon, Britton, Ziegler, Perkins

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Wilson: You are covered in closers, need a ratio guy Soria is probably the better pick

  8. Luvdarooks says:
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    Live auction NJ Mixed keeper league 4/3 two spots.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Luvdarooks: I think I already have a live draft that day, but I can ask around. Buy in?

  9. IndyGuy says:
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    Wondering if I should keep Francisco Rodríguez in my 20 team H2H Yahoo league? – cost 7th round pick (135). Already keeping Shawn Tolleson with my 24th round pick. How many closers do I need in a 20 team league? Hesitant to use a 7th round pick? But, even an “employeed” or “brain freeze” will take an 8th to 10th round pick unless some fall through? I can usually use late rounds to pick up holds guys who end up with saves. What should I do bullpen guru?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @IndyGuy: 7th round is a little rich for a closer like K-Rod, but if you have a feel for the draft and can get a closer in the rounds you said I would go that route instead, in a 20 teamer you should rock with 2.

      • IndyGuy says:
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        @Smokey: Thanks. Didn’t consider Will Smith as an option after reading your earlier rankings, but I could keep him with a 16th round pick (around #320.) Does that make sense? Thanks again for your reply and articles.

        • Smokey

          Smokey says:
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          @IndyGuy: My pleasure… I would attack the draft and hope for the best

  10. Eric Felsten says:
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    My go to RP guy right here..love this type of article. With the year to year swings of RP this is the type of article that helps you fill in a spot without overspending. I added Bracho, Barraclough, Edwards, and Barrios in a deep dynasty league after Smokey’s last article…someone outbid me on Weiss, must be another fan of Smokey :)

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Eric Felsten: I bet you he is really really good looking

  11. And Now The Jon Lovitz Dancers! says:
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    with capps’ projections in a league with both holds and saves and 5 RP slots to use, you still have him behind perkins?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @And Now The Jon Lovitz Dancers!: Caps is a 20/15 guy holds and saves I have Perkins about the same at 37. Capps has far better k potential, I would lean Capps.

      • goodfold2 says:
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        @Smokey: with this new capps news though, sounding like go back to perkins.

  12. goodfold2 says:
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    nice, 6 of the dynasty guys and weiss/edwards not owned at all in my 30 man dynasty with 30 man minor slots.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @goodfold2: good for you if no else reads my stuff

      • goodfold2 says:
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        @Smokey: you’ve mentioned some of those last year and still only about half gone.

  13. Yaomiiiing says:
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    Who are some good set up RPs to either keep and eye on or target in the later rounds of a deeper league, guys who played the Wade Davis and Dave Roberston 8th inning high K/inning role in the past?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Yaomiiiing: Putnam, Mike Morin, Mychal Givens, Carson Smith

  14. jon says:
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    Hey Smoke,

    So I draft Wade Davis well before my league’s closer run and was able to capitalize while they were going nuts on the middle guys. Now I’m wondering whom to pair off Davis with. We have 3 RP slots so I’ll want to get up to that number. Here’s who is likely to be available to me.

    Storen, McGee, Miller, Rodney and then – ARI guys, MIL guys, CIN guys, ATL guys.

    How would you rank them in terms of targets for me? We’re a 12-team, 5×5 H2H league with daily moves. Ks, Ws and SVs as standard.

    Thanks!

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @jon: McGee Storen Miller Ziegler then blah on the rest

  15. Eli Man Penguin Boy says:
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    got room for 3 RP in 13 team dynasty roto with K/9, relief wins and holds added. i already have seigrist, kenley, osuna, and rondon, so could maybe use 1 more at most closer. rather just get best overall guys, esp if osuna does close be better off with holds guys. this ranking look about right:
    kelley, jumbo D, jones, hatcher, madson, knebel, lowe, bastado, yimi, hendriks, hudson, salas
    , baez, caminero, colome, j.wilson, cedeno, diekman, robles, avilan, geltz, neshek

    • Eli Man Penguin Boy says:
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      @Eli Man Penguin Boy: also, with 100 FAAB budgets, bid about what, 3-5 for each of these, or less since they are so close?

      • Smokey

        Smokey says:
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        @Eli Man Penguin Boy: I would focus on Kelley, Lowe, Justin Wilson Madson, Colome all the rest look like middle of the road waiver fodder bullpen guys. 5 would be tops

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