Last week I recommended Shawn Tolleson, a player that seemed on the cusp of closerdom. The closer’s role is now his and even though they have a player in Keone Kela that is being groomed for the role (thanks for the tip, Smokey!), it is my belief that Tolleson will stay the closer until he loses the job by blowing saves, but that could be said of just about any closer. This week it’s time to turn our attention to the happenings in Seattle, where Fernando Rodney has an ERA of 6.23 so far this year. I’ve previously recommended Danny Farquhar but he’s been almost as bad as Rodney. Both of them sport BABIPs of about .350 so it’s been some bad luck in addition to bad pitching. Your answer: Carson Smith. Some of you have caught on already because his RCL ownership is up to 39% but it should probably be near 100%. His ERA is 0.90 but his FIP and xFIP are 2.40 and 2.36 because his BABIP (.182) and LOB% (95.6%) are unsustainable. So now you know where all of Rodney and Farquhar’s luck went. The sustainable part is the solid 23:5 K:BB in 20 innings. That’s closer material. He could, in theory, be named the closer any day now, but unfortunately Rodney has been given a long leash so it’s not likely to happen until after the next blown save or two.
It has also become paramount that the next in line in Houston is identified because Luke Gregerson has hit a rough patch. His last 7 days stat line: 2.2 IP, 4:2 K:BB, 10.13 ERA, 2.25 WHIP. For the season his ERA is 4.12 and his WHIP is 1.12. The WHIP tells me the ERA should regress to something lower but his FIP of 4.72 might suggest otherwise. In the preseason Chad Qualls (88% owned in RCLs) and Gregerson battled it out for the closer role while Pat Neshek (43%) was basically left out of the competition. Qualls has to be considered the favorite for the closer role should they make a change because it looks like they prefer to keep Neshek’s role more flexible. Perhaps it’s because the sabermetric savvy Astros know that the best role for their best reliever (aka Neshek) is a flexible one, for use in high leverage situations. If you choose to show interest in Qualls it helps to be aware that his ERA last year was only 3.33 and his ERA projections are 3.46 (Steamer) and 3.99 (ZiPS) for ROS (Rest of Season).
Last week the situation in Arizona was cloudy but the skies have cleared in time for Memorial Day BBQs. Brad Ziegler (98% owned) has the upper hand over Enrique Burgos (88% owned) after Burgos allowed a 3-run home run to Anthony Rizzo on Saturday in the top of the 9th of a tie game at home — which means he was pitching in the closer’s normal spot. It is my guess that Brad Ziegler will now have closing duties to himself. He’s been too good this year not to. In the past, however, he’s been more like “just good enough”. His K rate is very low by closer standards and so far this year his K:BB sits at 14:6 in 21 innings. His Steamer projection for ERA is 3.32. Enrique Burgos has a massive K rate so far with a K/9 of 16.46, which should regress to around 12 K/9 Innings but he walks too many hitters. His projected ERA is 3.50. I hate to tell you this, but these pitchers are (arguably) no better than Addison Reed.
Now it’s time for some Steals Ain’t Got No Face coverage. My two new recommendations are Cameron Maybin and Brandon Guyer. Maybin has been starting everyday for Atlanta and the last time he was a full time starter (in 2012 for the Padres) he stole 26 bases and hit 8 home runs. Guyer is set to receive a boost in playing time due to a wrist injury to Steven Souza. It’s an injury for which we do not know the extent of at the time of this writing. Maybin or Guyer could be your replacement for a struggling Jake Marisnick. I think Marisnick can still be solid, but if he’s not in the lineup everyday he is probably not worth owning and he’s been losing playing time to Preston Tucker. Before looking to Guyer, however, I would look first to previous SAGNOF Special recommendations like Ender Inciarte (91%). Or just pick up Rajai Davis (78%) so you can play him whenever he’s in the lineup. He has 11 stolen bases, which is tied for 7th in MLB and he’s only needed part time playing to get there.
This week’s SAGNOF stolen bases recommendations: Cameron Maybin, Brandon Guyer. Previous recommendations, still available in some 12 team leagues: Ender Inciarte, Rajai Davis, Kevin Pillar (struggling so he’s been dropped a lot), Jose Iglesias (when he gets healthy), Odubel Herrera, or even Jose Ramirez. Some of these names I don’t like very much, but if you can own Danny Santana you can (or maybe should) own Jose Ramirez instead. As far as truly elite speed goes, Billy Burns may have been the last every day player with elite speed that was once readily available, that is until we get some help in the form of top prospects.