This is the Saves Ain’t Got No Face “eff the team managers” edition which will give me a chance to both vent and try to deflect blame for bad calls I’ve made. I’m starting with the Cubs where Joe Maddon decided to go a different route on his closer situation by removing Hector Rondon from the role. For like three days. And I make the call that Pedro Strop had a good chance to take over as closer. Eff Joe Maddon. Then in Tampa (Joe Maddon’s old team.. coincidence??) the following sequence happened: 1. Brad Boxberger gets dinged, Kevin Jepsen becomes the interim closer, (arguably) leapfrogging Jake McGee in the process. 2. Boxberger came back, blew a save. 3. Jake McGee (seemingly) takes over as closer. 4. Kevin Jepsen notches a (random) save. 5. Brad Boxberger (seemingly) regains closer role. As of Sunday, the last 15/30 days for Rays Saves is 2/4 for Jepsen, 3/3 for McGee, 3/6 for Boxberger. Last week I claimed Jake McGee was the new closer. He gets zero save attempts this week. Keep reading folks because this is really just the beginning of the latest twist and turns which will leave you wanting to pull out your hair. (Plus recommendations to follow…)
I was first tipped off waaaayyy back on April 27th about Trevor Rosenthal by a reader going by the handle Crapshoot Kershaw, who commented “…when mysteriously rosie was called “tired” after having only pitched once in last 3 days”. His comment was related to Jordan Walden’s value, a player I actually liked a lot relative to other next in line players. In next week’s “next in line relievers to own” rankings Jordan Walden was bumped up and came in at 6th although several of the players he was behind were either already 100% owned or closing on a temporary basis. As far as players not near 100% owned he ranked only behind A.J. Ramos. Walden’s been injured for a while now and I’ve had a slight lapse in not talking about who might be the next in line, particularly because injury speculation became really real (as opposed to just speculatively real?) about a week ago (unfortunately the injury news came down right after my last SAGNOF Special hit, that’s just one reason you have to check out Smokey’s work as well). Well it turns out the next in line is Kevin Siegrist, who I assume is owned everywhere right now. He should be, but don’t expect 20 Saves because it looks like Rosenthal’s injury might be managed and played through. Oh and there’s also the fact that if things go as expected (although when it comes to pitcher injuries they often don’t) Jordan Walden could be back in as early as two weeks.
Last week my belief was that Brett Cecil was a candidate to regress because he had outperformed his peripherals and talent. Well, he had a terrible week so now it’s my belief that he will regress to the mean in a good way, however, that doesn’t really matter because he’s probably already lost the closer role. In fact last week I speculated that the Blue Jays would bring in a closer by the trade deadline to replace him. Now that speculation has been legitimized because there are reports that the Blue Jays have shown interest in various closers. Various closers being Francisco Rodriguez (primarily) and also Jonathan Papelbon, Tyler Clippard and Aroldis Chapman. The next in line players to these 4 gentleman are all worth owning right now. They (probably) are: Will Smith, Ken Giles, Evan Scribner, and J.J. Hoover. Of course this also means we should speculate on which Toronto reliever is next in line for Cecil. Unfortunately speculation is about all I can give you. It looks like Roberto Osuna, Steve Delabar and Aaron Loup could all be in the running for saves chances and that’s the order I’d own them in. Long term, I’d rather own one of the next in lines to the closers which have a chance to be traded than anyone in the Blue Jays bullpen. For short term saves Osuna may be the way to go, just until the situation gets sorted out.
Koji Uehara and Joakim Soria are two closers that have put up good overall numbers and been relatively reliable but have ban bad recently. Soria has given up runs in his last three outings and Uehara has in two of his last three. The next in line for Uehara is probably Junichi Tazawa. For Detroit it’s probably Joba Chamberlain (ick) or Al Alburqerque (ick again). I wouldn’t touch the Detroit next in line players until a move appears imminent and that’s not something I actually believe will happen. And don’t worry because I’m (eventually, in this post) going to attempt to rank all of these next in line players.
Before going on to this week’s recommendations I want to give some general advice. Managers are going to eff with you. Sometimes you may be given bad advice (from me or others). I think the place where I haven’t been wrong is in my general philosophy. I attempt to identify the bullpens with the best chance for change and identify the player who will be the beneficiary of that change. Usually that means looking at closers that lack in skill or are injury risks and finding the next in line players that have skill to spare. If you’ve followed SAGNOF Special from early on you’ll know that the bullpens in Detroit (Nathan -> Soria), Seattle (Rodney -> Smith), Colorado (Hawkins -> Ottavino -> Axford) and LA Anaheim (Street -> Street) were the ones to watch and stash next in line players from. Now there’s been a change in all of those except LA Anaheim where Street is still the closer (plus I checked way back then and he may actually be more durable than his perception, that was true for me and my perception). For Seattle I originally identified the wrong guy (Farquhar, although he was in fact the next in line until he wasn’t). More recently I thought that Strop was likely to take over for Rondon. So sometimes the details will be wrong. But the general philosophy of holding on to next in line players behind shaky current closers has worked. And even for the situations I didn’t immediately identify to be highly volatile (Feliz -> Tolleson in Texas and Cishek -> Ramos in Miami) I still made recommendations on the next in line players that were virtually unowned at the time that are now closers. The point is sometimes you just need to stay patient and stick to the philosophy of trying to predict what will happen and who will have value long term rather than going with the flavor of the day. That way hopefully you can keep from pulling out your hair.
This week’s recommendations for Saves Ain’t Got No Face, roughly in the order I would own them and their RCL (Razzball Commenter Leauge) ownership: Roberto Osuna (55% owned, for short term saves only as I do think they eventually make a trade), Kevin Siegrist (80%, with Walden coming back soon could also be short term only), Will Smith (9%), J.J. Hoover (32%), and Evan Scribner (22%). To clarify on short term versus long term, I think the short term guys have a better chance than the other guys to get maybe 2-4 saves in the next few weeks, but some of the other players provide more value ROS (rest of season), it’s just a matter of which ones. Ken Giles, Brandon Boxberger and Jake McGee are already owned in most leagues and should stay that way. I’m fairly sure that all or most of the other names I mentioned are for deeper leagues only but this is how I would order them: Steve Delabar, then Junichi Tazawa. I don’t want a part of Chamberlain or Alburquerque even in deeper leagues.
Now for some quick Steals Ain’t Got No Face notes and recommendations. If Byron Buxton was dropped in your league, put in a claim. His slow start has done little to deter the Twins desire to use him and he could put up 7-ish home runs and 16-ish stolen bases in what’s left of the season and that’s quite good.
SAGNOF Speed recommendations for stolen bases: I’ve beat the drum for a long time on various players. The three I’ve been most consistent on liking are Kevin Pillar (97% owned means his 2015 stat line must be looking pretty good right, so I hope you acquired him sooner rather than later), Ender Inciarte (67%) and Rajai Davis (79%). Will Venable (43%) is worth owning if none of these are available and if you want a more balanced stat line he’s probably better than Inciarte, if not also the other two.