We are over half way done with April but haven’t played a whole lot of games yet thanks in large part to Mother Nature. Even dome stadiums aren’t safe from the elements. We’ve had one significant injury among closers to Corey Knebel of the Milwaukee Brewers, and some shaky late inning bullpen situations. Here are three teams to monitor for a potential change before they cause any grief to your fantasy baseball team.
Tampa Bay Rays
Alex Colome Current Closer Sergio Romo Waiting
Although I don’t see Colome necessarily losing his role as closer, mainly because Romo isn’t really a valid option, he’s blown two saves already raising some red flags in Tampa. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times discusses why Colome has been struggling this year.
Kevin Cash said out loud what others have been suggesting, that opposing hitters know Colome is going to rely on his cutter much more heavily than his fastball, and they are able to take advantage of it.
According to FanGraphs, Colome is throwing his cutter 75% of the time so far this year. This is up from 67% in 2017 and 52% in 2016 (Topkin). Teams are indeed sitting on the cutter and much like you would teach a young hitter: sit fastball and adjust to everything else.
Ken Giles Current Closer Chris Devinski, Brad Peacock Waiting
Giles hasn’t really been setting the world on fire so far this year. He has one save and has been shaky at best during his outings. As of April 8th, manager AJ Hinch committed to Giles as the closer. Since then, Peacock (one save) and Devinski (two saves) have picked up the saves that Giles normally would have earned.
From Astros beat reporter Brian McTaggart, Hinch made comments after the April 13th game that the schedule, matchups and way the games have played out resulted in opportunities for Peacock and Devenski. Hinch added, “I think that at the end of the season Ken Giles will have the most saves, but I don’t know”.
Astros closer role is evolving, but don't forget about Ken Giles.https://t.co/1YVgczOYUF
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) April 14, 2018
If you trust Hinch, and more importantly Giles, then you have nothing to worry about. I, on the other hand, don’t necessarily like the tone of Hinch and his overall feelings towards keeping Giles in his current role. I prefer Devinski over both Peacock and Giles.
Committee Current Closer Josh Hader Waiting and Willing
The good news is Corey Knebel is progressing from his hamstring injury, estimated six weeks recovery from April 5. Speaking from experience, hamstrings are always tough to judge because they can pop or get tweaked again if you step just right or if not warmed up properly.
That being said, the Brewers are using Matt Albers and Jacob Barnes extensively, but Josh Hader is leading the Brew Crew in saves, holds and strikeouts (stats). What this tells me is that Hader is arguably the most valuable relief pitcher the Brewers have.
If you are into sabermetrics, you could argue the reason for the high number of holds is that manager Craig Counsel is using Hader in important situations. If you’re an old school stat person, it might tell you Hader is your prototypical set up person. It tells me Hader is their best pitcher and he will have the full time closer job soon.
Discussion – Cleveland Indians
I thought about everything that I’ve written this season about closers and potential changes that may occur sooner rather than later. I’d like to throw this out there and see what other people think: Is Cody Allen a better closer than Andrew Miller?
Miller is a hard throwing lefty with a wipe out slider. Miller also comes three-quarter delivery and is a beast against lefties. Allen is a righty that depends very much on his curveball as his fastball is 93-95. Although Allen is the current closer, would Tito ever go to Miller?