The Closer Carousel v.1 – Bye, bye, birdy.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to accumulating saves in fantasy baseball. Some managers won’t draft a single closer. They’ll simply wait until somebody inevitably loses the job and then grab his successor. Others grab as many closers as they can, viewing saves just as importantly as homers, RBI, or strikeouts.

I think there’s a happy medium. When I draft, I tend to grab one guy who is in no danger of losing his job. I’m talking about someone in the first tier of closers: Jonathan Papelbon, Mariano Rivera, Joakim Soria, Joe Nathan, Francisco Rodriguez, and the like. If someone falls to me after that tier, I’ll pick them up, but if they don’t, no sweat off my back. Closers will be dropping like flies within the next few months.

And so begins a section of this blog aptly named the Closer Carousel. Who’s warming the seat for so-and-so? Who’s going to be the first to go?

In the first Closer Carousel, we’ll look at how the mighty have fallen.

Bye, bye, Birdy.

B.J. Ryan‘s as good as gone as Toronto’s closer. After a miserable Spring Training, which saw Ryan’s velocity dip into the mid 80’s, Toronto has finally decided to go with the hot hand and turn the reigns over to lefty counterpart Scott Downs. The move definitely hurts optimistic fantasy owners who drafted Ryan high, expecting a repeat of 2006, or those in keeper leagues who decided to take a chance on the big lefthander.

While Ryan looked real good in his return from Tommy John surgery last year, it was no real secret that his fastball was all of a sudden not-so-fast, only hitting about 90 mph instead of the usual 91-92. All the warning signs were there, and some were calling for a change in Toronto as early as last June when it became apparent that Ryan wasn’t completely himself.

Over the past two years, Downs has become the most consistent of the possible closers in Toronto’s bullpen. He’s pitched a boatload of innings and remained healthy while compiling ERAs of 2.17 and 1.78. In addition, Downs closed out a few for the Jays during Ryan’s absence.

I’d look for this as a temporary move until Ryan works out the kinks. However, if he’s still not right a couple weeks into the season look for this to become a more stable closer situation.

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2 responses to “The Closer Carousel v.1 – Bye, bye, birdy.

  1. For head to head, I like your strategy better than one that goes out and grabs a lot of closers, but I stick with the not taking them strategy. I don’t think closers really affect whip and ERA enough to take them that high up, so I’d rather get a hitter with those top 100 picks.

    In roto I’ll usually take closers with bad ERA/whip later on. I’ll try to trade one of the closers at some point, but for the first month or so in roto I like to stack up saves then get rid of my closers and do the scrounge for saves thing.

    • I think an elite closer can have a great impact on a team. They reduce overall staff ERA and WHIP and usually add at least a couple K’s per outing. Over the course of a year (Roto) or a week (H2H) they have a major effect on a staff. Unfortunately, these things work both ways and they sometimes kill you, especially in H2H, so I can see why you feel my strategy is better suited for that game.

      It doesn’t seem like this would work on your teams, but I sometimes draft mid-relievers with great ERAs and WHIPs just for their lowering affects on those ratios. Someone like Joba in previous years was great for bringing down overall ERA and WHIP, and he usually added about 4 K’s, depending on how long his outing was. Compared to some 5th starters, sometimes he was a better option.

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