No position causes more ulcers in fantasy baseball than the relief pitcher. The constant jostling for position for closers makes even the worst pitcher (looking at you Fernando Rodney) worth a roster spot. With situations changing seemingly daily, and pitchers going down to injury almost as frequently, it’s important to stay on top of things. Below you’ll find three closer battles worth monitoring in your fantasy baseball leagues, alongside options for pickups in those battles.
Incumbent: Fernando Rodney (64% owned)
Potential Usurpers: Archie Bradley (18% owned), J.J. Hoover (4% owned)
If the world made any sense, then Rodney’s 9.95 ERA wouldn’t go alongside nine saves already this year (tied for fourth). But the world is cruel and senseless, so the D’backs continue to trot Rodney out there with a seemingly 50/50 shot to implode. Rodney converted his last three save opportunities, but not cleanly. Things will catch up with Rodney because he’s a bad pitcher. There’s no way around that fact.
Bradley is far better than Rodney and will close at some point this season. Bradley has 23 strikeouts in 17.2 IP and his WHIP is half of Rodney’s. Hoover is a Proven Closer™ from his time in Cincinnati, so he might leapfrog Bradley, but Bradley is the better option. Things will catch up with Rodney because he’s a bad pitcher (sorry, had to be blunt there). Bradley is far better than Rodney and will close at some point this season. He has 23 strikeouts in 17.2 IP and his WHIP is just about half of Rodney’s.
Incumbent: Corey Knebel (44% owned)
Potential Usurpers: Neftali Feliz (66% owned), Jacob Barnes (6% owned)
The preferred pickup here is Knebel, but his ownership does not reflect that. Craig Counsell said that Feliz would get “a break” from closing duties for now. There was much speculation, but Knebel had the first save opportunity. He is the man to own in that bullpen for now but could lose grip on that quickly if he falters and Feliz performs well.
Incumbent: Mark Melancon (93% owned – 10 DAY DISABLED LIST)
Potential Usurpers: Derek Law (32% owned), Hunter Strickland (9% owned)
Melancon hit the DL with an arm issue late last week, and they boys by the bay are confident that he will return when eligible, but we already saw with Zach Britton that a return doesn’t mean permanence. Law has five appearances since Melancon’s last save on May 3, including the last two save opportunities. Law’s worth snatching just in case, and he should keep the closer role until Melancon returns. Strickland was all promise that never materialized, and his 1.58 WHIP means his 1.42 ERA can’t hold up. Neither is a long-term solution but should be snatched up in nearly all fantasy baseball leagues.