Week 1 Closer Depth Chart
Shawn Childs examines some of the more volatile closer situations in Major League Baseball while providing his Week 1 Closer Depth Chart!
The closing job remains wide open even with Archie Bradley poised to be the long-term option. He’s clearly the best arm. His biggest obstacle could be his ability to pitch multiple innings. Bradley allowed for runs over 8.1 innings this spring with four walks and eight Ks. Brad Boxberger looked sharp in his five appearances in March (one run over five innings with five Ks). He has closing experience with K ability, but health and HRs have been his downside over the last couple of seasons. I’m not a fan of Yoshihisa Hirano even with plenty of saves in Japan. He allowed six runs over eight innings with no walks and nine Ks in spring training.
Scout Fantasy Outlook: Bradley will be the best option in 2018 while Boxberger may get the first chance for saves in March. My best advice would be to buy Bradley at a discount due to the cloudiness of his opportunity while making sure to invest in the insurance card in Boxberger.
With Zach Britton expected to miss a couple of months of the season, Baltimore has yet to name their closer. This job looks wide open in April between Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, and Mychal Givens. O’Day pitched the best this spring (one run over seven innings with ten Ks). Brach has the most closing experience while Givens appeared to be the most talented arm ending 2017.
Scout Fantasy Outlook: I’ll give Brach the early edge with Givens being the most attractive option. I also see Britton returning quicker than expected.
Chicago White Sox
Joakim Soria and Nate Jones remain in the mix for the closing job for the White Sox. Jones won the spring training battle (6.1 shutout innings with eight Ks) over Soria (four runs and nine hits in four innings with four innings).
Scout Fantasy Outlook: In most cases, I would lead on the arm with the most experience in the 9th. In this situation, Jones appears to offer much more upside. Both options have a chance, and they are tough to pair together on draft day. My bet goes on Jones in 2018 if he can stay healthy.
All of the option to close for Miami pitched well in March. Brad Ziegler tossed five shutout innings with six Ks. Kyle Barraclough threw six shutout innings with one hit, one walk, and six Ks. Drew Steckenrider didn’t allow a run over seven innings with six Ks.
Scout Fantasy Outlook: Ziegler is the worst closing option in baseball. He has an 83 mph fastball with no K ability and fading value in his walk rate. His only edge is experience, which may give him at least the first shot at saves. Barraclough is the arm with the most upside in this bullpen if/when he gets his walks under control. His success late in 2017 would point me in his direction this season.
St. Louis Cardinals
It appeared that Luke Gregerson was in line to earn the early saves in St. Louis, but a hamstring injury pushed him to the DL. Dominic Leone started to gain momentum late in March in the high-stakes drafts. He pitched well in March (one run over nine innings with 12 Ks) to put his name on the top of the sleeper list for saves for the Cardinals.
Scout Fantasy Outlook: I don’t like the long-term value of Gregerson even with some closing experience. I’m intrigued by Leone if he can keep his walks under control. His price point is just about free, and I expect him to get the first save chance in St. Louis.
Fantasy owners still don’t know who will emerge as the closer in Texas. Alex Claudio did a nice job closing late in 2017, but he doesn’t have the skill set to keep the job long term. Claudio allowed two runs over 8.1 innings in spring training with eight Ks. Keone Kela has the best arm, and he’s pitched well in March (two runs over seven innings with 12 Ks).
Scout Fantasy Outlook:
Keone Kela has electric upside with an elite closer skill set. He needs to stay healthy. Kela is a gift in drafts in all formats and well worth a flier. I expect him to be a top ten closer in 2018.
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