My old boss used to have a sign in her office that read “If you failed to prepare, prepare to fail.” This quote also applies to fantasy bullpen management. At a moment’s notice, your top closer can find himself on the outs and you’ve got to adjust! 

I’m going to take a look at some of the closers who have been disasters so far and help you prepare if the worst is to happen! And I’ll be doing it with the Department of Homeland Security color warning level system!


Blue: Nothing to see here.

Green: Maybe something to see here. 

Yellowing: I’m definitely seeing something here. 

Orange: What am I seeing here?!

Red: Oh god, my eyes!


Liam Hendriks: My top closer at the beginning of the season has been shaky since the jump, as the kids say, allowing 2 ERs in his first appearance on April 2nd. He’s allowed 4 HRs in 9.1 IP already this year after only allowing 5 in 85 innings in his breakout 2019 season and 1 in 25.1 IP last year. Concern level: Yellow. I’m not completely in panic mode about Hendriks, but I’m looking around at the other options in the White Sox bullpen to see what inning they’re pitching in and how they’re doing. Watch List: You might be thinking Aaron Bummer, but he is the premier lefty in that pen and has the splits to show for it (.875 OPS vR; .558 OPS vL.) You might be hoping for Michael Kopech, but I just can’t imagine Tony LaRussa putting Kopech into that prominent role so early in the season when Kopech hasn’t pitched after the 7th inning yet this year. That leads me to think you should be watching…Garret Crochet! The man who don’t need no stinkin’ minor leagues, making his major league debut the same year he graduated college! “But Kerry! He’s a lefty too!” Yes, but he doesn’t have the same split issues as Bummer (.532 OPS vR; .558 OPS vL.) I don’t love the 5:8 BB:K rate, but he’s shown a bit more swing and miss in the past. I’m not saying Crochet is a 100% must-buy right now, but I could see him being the next man up if Hendriks doesn’t chill with the goferitis. 

Raisel Iglesias: 6.75 ERA? Oh my, is this 2019 all over again? The season he finished with 12 losses and a 4.16 ERA? Not yet. Concern level: Yellow. The bloated ERA comes from allowing 6 ERs in only 3 appearances. His 6 other appearances have been quite solid allowing only 4 baserunners. His K% is pretty close to what he showed last year and he’s actually got his BB% down to a career-best number so far. It seems like people are really doing some damage off his fastball. In 2019 it had a .209 xBA, in 2020 it had a .205 xBA. 2021: .347. My advice? Throw more sliders and changeups. These two pitches have xBA about the same as in recent years. Watch List: Mike Mayers. I’ll admit, Mayers isn’t exploding onto the scene as he did in last year’s breakout short season, but he’s still doing a solid job of keeping runners from crossing the plate. In fact, if you take away his 0 IP, 3 ER implosion last week his ERA would be sitting at a shiny 0.82. 

Alex Colome: Here’s what I said last week about the Colome/Taylor Rogers situation in Minnesota: “He’s in the bottom 7% in the following stats: Average Exit Velocity, HardHit%, xwOBA, xERA, xBA, xSLG, Barrel%. Rogers has been his same old reliable self with a .228 xwOBA and 1.89 xERA. If things start going as eXpected — Colome could be out of a job. “ Since then he’s allowed 6 runs in 1.2 IP. Concern level: BLOOD RED. Watch List: Taylor Rogers obviously, but he’s probably already owned in your league. After Rogers, I’d watch Tyler Duffey. My biggest concern with Duffey right now is that he’s already allowed more walks this season than 2020 in 17 fewer innings. Since Duffey has a career 2.3 BB/9 — I’m not too worried. 

Jake McGee: McGee started the season with 8 straight scoreless appearances with only 4 base runners allowed. In his last 4 appearances, he’s allowed 5 runs (only 3 earned.) Only one of those appearances counted as a blown save so that leads me to… Concern level: Blue. I’m not shvitzing this just yet. Every closer every year has a period of mishegas. Watch list: Tyler Rogers. The other Rogers brother has been lights out as the 8th inning guy down by the bay, where the watermelons grow. What do you expect when every pitch looks like an elevator pitch from Backyard Baseball? 

Amir Garrett: Despite all his bloviating this off-season about how he wants to be the guy at the end of every Reds game the results have been underwhelming, to say the least. He’s allowed runs to score in 5 of his 8 appearances and in one of his scoreless games he allowed 2 hits in and two walks in another. Concern level: CRIMSON. Watch list: Tejay Antone is the obvious name, but in the leagues I’m in he’s already owned more than Garrett. Instead, I’ll tell you to keep an eye on Lucas Sims. Where should I start? Top 3% in K%, top 5% in xERA and xwOBA, top 1% in xBA and my heart. 

Jordan Romano: Last week I told you to grab him if some impatient owner dropped him while he was on the IL. This week, in his first appearance back he — allows 2 BBs, 2 hits, and an earned run while only registering one out. Concern level: Yellow for now. It was only his first appearance back from the IL so maybe he’s got to shake off some of his sillies. Watch list: Rafael Dolis is still out there, but for a deeper option take a look at David Phelps. Yea, remember him? He’s still around. You know, the old failed starter, turned reliever chestnut. Next time I play MLB 2K I’m going to create myself as a crappy starter with 1 great pitch that my team knows could be useful out of the pen. Then I will play 10 seasons of only throwing 1 inning every 4-5 games as a middle reliever. Saddest career mode ever. For Phelps that pitch this year is his cutter. It’s been his most used pitch and it’s only permitted 1 single so far. He has holds in each of his last 3 appearances and in the last 2 he’s pitched in the 7th and 8th innings. 

Daniel Bard: The jolly Bard started the season off strong keeping his opponents scoreless over his first 4 appearances and notching 6 strikeouts, but he’s allowed runs in 3 of his last 4 games now. Concern level: Blue. I wish I could pinpoint what’s happening with Bard in his recent games, but I just can’t seem to crack this nut. His velocity is about the same as last year — his changeup isn’t dropping as much, but he doesn’t throw it that much — his slider so far has about 2.5 more inches of horizontal movement which you think would benefit him. Watch list: No one. That’s why my concern level is blue. Your surface-level eyes might say “Wow! Robert Stephenson’s 2.89 ERA don’t stank!” But lean a little bit closer, see his ERA really smell like poo-poo-ooh. His xERA is sitting at 6.15. Just tough it out with Bard, because the other option, Mychal Givens — more like givens up so many runs amirite?!

Stefan Crichton: Here’s something crazy about Crichton — there’s only been 1 game where he hasn’t allowed a baserunner in 10 appearances this season. I’ll say this in his defense though, his 5.63 ERA is actually a bit inflated. His FIP is sitting at a much more palatable 2.85. Concern level: Blue, but also yellow, and somehow also red. Blue – I think Crichton will be better than his ERA currently looks. Yellow – but the Diamondbacks are currently .500 so there might not be too many saves to go around. Red – especially since there really isn’t a #1 closer on this team. Watch list: I’ll say it once and I won’t say it again because I can’t pronounce it: J.B. Bukauskas. He checks all my future closer boxes: fastball that can touch upper-90’s, crazy slider, failed starting pitcher! Again, my only issue here is that this is a committee situation in Arizona. Wait — let me correct that. Committee implies that a select few of them were chosen for a certain purpose. This is less like a committee and more just a group of guys waiting to get off a train. They’re all out there just waiting for the doors to slide open, whoever gets out last is anyone’s guess.