While there is no doubt that saves are over-valued in fantasy baseball, having effective closers on your roster can make the difference down the stretch.
Several closer roles in fantasy baseball are suddenly up in the air. Who you add or drop to rack up saves in the next few weeks can be the difference maker in playing for a fantasy baseball championship… or giving your fantasy football some extra September attention.
Consider some of the players in these “up in the air” closer situations.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Owned in just 38% of ESPN leagues, John Grabow has been outstanding in save situations in August. In three save opportunities, he has pitched three scoreless innings, picked up three saves, and only allowed one hit. Incumbent closer Matt Capps is ahead of schedule in his return from the DL, but Grabow is worth a pickup. Any person with a legitimate save chances in August should be owned.
Cleveland Indians: Jensen Lewis, owned in just 12% of ESPN leagues, has been superb since the All-Star Break and picked up two saves recently. Since the break, Jensen has allowed only 4 earned runs and struck out 8 in 15 innings. August has been even better – no runs in 6.3 innings and 2 saves. The Indians have been looking for a closing option all season – incumbent Joe Borowski failed, then “got hurt.” Rafael Betancourt and Masa Kobayashi have been sharing the load since then. Wedge has now made it clear that Lewis will be a closing option, and he looks like the leader of the committee.
Here are a few more highly-owned options, that are the closers for teams that just recently had the closers job change hands.
Oakland Athletics: Brad Ziegler, owned in 90% of ESPN leagues, is now the leading man for saves in Oakland. After Houston Street blew a few saves, the A’s had enough, and gave their “lights out” submariner a chance to show his stuff. If Ziegler isn’t owned in your league, something is wrong, unless you play in a league where saves don’t count. Even so, Ziegler has posted an ERA of 0.23 so far this season, and he will help keep your ratios down. Pick him up.
Detroit Tigers: Joel Zumaya has hit the shelf for possibly the rest of the year. Fernando Rodney is now the closer in Detroit and has pitched well since his last blown save. In 5.7 innings of work since his last blown save (a span of three games), Rodney has picked up 2 four-out saves, striking out 8 hitters. With Todd Jones set to return soon, Rodney should be owned in all standard leagues. Rodney should still be even when Jones returns, but keep an eye on this situation.