I’ve gone over potential strategy for wins, ERA & WHIP, strikeouts, batting average, steals, runs & RBIs, and home runs. Today, it’s, betcha can guess from the title, Saves! How many saw that coming? Terrible secret keeping when writing titles that are so descriptive. Like steals, saves actually do change pretty dramatically in a 60-game season. Unlike steals, not sure if they’re going to be quite as easy to find on waivers, or if those on waivers will be as worthwhile. It would be a weird year for someone to just discover fantasy baseball. Imagine this was someone’s first season. “So, you don’t always punt starters completely? You don’t think Oscar Mercado could be as valuable as Mike Trout? Was it all lies?!” That’s a 1st time fantasy baseballer screaming into the pounding of rain in a torrential thunderstorm. That person seems slightly unhinged. Come in from the rain, man. So, with a 60-game season, what is a fantasy baseball strategy for saves?
1. Set in the role: This doesn’t mean you have to draft a top closer like Josh Hader. Honestly, I’m not even sure he’s set in the role. If I were Counsell, I’d use Hader as much as I could any time after the 7th inning. No, what I mean by ‘set in the role’ is closers, who if healthy, have no competition. Hector Neris, for unstints, has no one behind him in that bullpen. Joe Jimenez is going dirt cheap still, and who’s behind him, pressuring him? Ugatz, that’s who. With Covid running rampant in the world like Hulk Hogan in 1985, it’s hard to trust any closers, but guys in the role with no real competition? Sign me up.
2. Solid starters in the rotation: This seems like an oddball left turn, but hear me out. Not to pick on Josh Hader, but if starters are not good in front of a guy, the closer is going to be asked to throw way more than just the ninth inning, and might not even see the ninth. If you had to throw Brett Anderson and Eric Lauer for 50 IP each, how tied would you be to keeping Hader in the 9th? If I were Counsell (I’m role-playing as him a lot today. I may as well be typing these words with my elbows over my head.), I’d give Freddy Peralta, Hader, Corey Knebel and Brent Suter more IP than three of my five starters. I like the White Sox offense a lot, but their rotation is going to be a mess, after their top two. Colome is their set closer (that checks rule #1), but he might have to do more than pitch the 9th. So, that sorta thing could influence saves a lot this year.
3. Forget setup men: That’s not to say forget setup men if you can’t find a decent SP streamer and want to try to vulture a win or save or a few Ks. Then it’s totally fine. Owning a setup man all year like some kind of loon who thinks it’s going to net them saves is a waste of roster space. I’m happy you like Steve Cishek. I liked him too when Missy Elliott was rapping his last name twenty times in a row, but owning him all year for vulture saves in most mixed leagues is so meh. Pick him up for a game or two? Sure. Owning him from July until September for saves is goofy. He’s got a set closer in front of him.
In summation: ADP for top closers has moved up draft spots since the restart of draft season. I get it. People want a sure thing. However, some top closers, as I keep mentioning with Hader, might actually be in the bad position of being so good that teams will abuse them much earlier in games. Everything is on the table for teams on how to use their pitchers. Many teams have said they don’t know how they’re going to get through the season from a pitching standpoint. Position players will be pitching a lot. This also means that your closer on a team with bad starters might just be throwing in the 7th and 8th. Notice how I didn’t say at any point in the numbered draft strategy that you should look at a stat for a closer. Aroldis Chapman and Joe Jimenez in a 60-game season are that different? Not especially. The only difference this year is I want a closer who will actually be a closer and not a multi-inning beast, because Hader in 30 innings with only 5 saves is not doing me any good for saves, when someone else has, say, Mark Melancon and his 14 saves, i.e., Hader’s Ks in 60 games won’t outweigh the lack of saves.