Fantasy Baseball: 2017 Sleeper Closers
[the_ad id=”693″]Every Fantasy Baseball year we’re faced with the difficult task of having to fill that relief pitcher spot on our fantasy rosters. Dominant, guaranteed closers are a rarity in today’s game, and outside of Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Zach Britton, no one’s a sure thing. Of course, some closers have more room for error than others, but there’s no doubt that we’ll be seeing a ton of new guys getting save chances this season.
Whether you’re in a categories league, points, or rotisserie, saves can make or break your season, and what do you do when all the big names are off the board? You can either draft a shaky closer for a bad team that could lose his job at any time, looking at you Huston Street, or you could take a guy waiting in the wings for his chance at taking over the closer role. Here are a few of those guys that’ll I’ll be looking to scoop up late in drafts.
Kyle Barraclough, Miami Marlins
The 26-year-old has shown an incredible ability to miss bats, to the tune of a 13.3 K/9 rate throughout his first two seasons. He overpowers hitters with a fastball that sits in the high 90s, and a complementing wipeout slider, his signature pitch. Currently, he’s third in line behind A.J. Ramos and Brad Ziegler, who saved 40 and 22 games in 2016, respectively. While Ramos has been perfect for the Marlins the past two season, it shouldn’t be long before Barraclough, and his strikeout abilities jump over Ziegler and challenge Ramos for his job.
Cam Bedrosian, Los Angeles Angels
Out of everyone on this list, Bedrosian is the most likely to start the season with the closer role. Earlier this month, veteran reliever Huston Street went down with a right lat strain, and won’t be throwing for three to four weeks. Even if he hadn’t gotten hurt, his job has been in question the past two seasons. This is where Bedrosian comes in. The 25-year-old has come a long way since being called up in 2014, posting personal bests across the board last season. In 40.1 innings he posted a 1.12 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP, with an impressive 11.4 K/9 rate. Despite being shut down prematurely with a blood clot in his arm, Bedrosian’s breakout season is sure to land him a high number of save chances in 2017.
Sean Doolittle, Oakland Athletics
A member of this list for the third year running, Doolittle may finally get his chance to secure the closer role that we’ve all been waiting for. When healthy, he’s had lights out stuff, posting a 0.95 WHIP and strikeout out 6 batters per walk throughout his career. Except staying healthy has been his problem. He’s missed large amounts of time over the past two seasons, and there’s no guarantee that he’ll stay off the disabled list in 2017. His talent is undeniable, the question is whether he can stay healthy. Doolittle should be able to work his way back into the closer role.
Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves
If you can imagine, Jim Johnson is still around. Yes, the same Jim Johnson that saved 50 games in two straight seasons back in 2012 and 2013. It’s hard to call two 50 save seasons a fluke, but Johnson isn’t the dominant closer we saw in his time with the Orioles. He’ll falter, and when he does, the hard-throwing Vizcaino will be ready to take his place. He was great in the first half of the season, collecting 10 saves over 32 ⅔ innings, and owning an 11.6 K/9 rate. However, he was bitten by the injury bug late in the season, which hurt his overall numbers. He has a great chance at getting save opportunities for the Braves, and if flying well under the radar in fantasy leagues.
Carter Capps, San Diego Padres
This wouldn’t be a list without the man, the myth, Carter Capps. Despite missing all of 2016 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and a rule change that was indirectly pointed towards him, Capps is still one of the most dominant bullpen arms in baseball. His unorthodox delivery and overpowering fastball led him to posting an eye-popping 16.8 K/9 over 31 innings in 2015. Since then he was traded to the Padres, insert “Padres are bad” jokes here, but has yet to throw a pitch for his new team. However, he’s fully recovered, and will open the season second in line for the closer role, if he doesn’t win it in spring training. Say what you want about Capps, but funky delivery or not, he’s got the kind of stuff that could make him one of the top closers in baseball. He’s my favorite guy on this list, and I think we’ll be talking about him even more as the season progresses.
Joe Jimenez, Detroit Tigers
I included Jimenez on this list as more of a “super sleeper” if you will, and more as an appeal to all of you dynasty leaguers. Jimenez has absolutely dominated the minors since being signed in 2013. He’s pitched in two Futures Games, has earned multiple minor league awards, and has every sign of being able to succeed at the Major League level. He has a fastball that sits in the high 90s, and a plus slider that misses a ton of bats. He’s just 22-years-old, but with Francisco Rodriguez on the decline, Jimenez looks to be the future closer for the Tigers. It’s a long shot sure, but don’t be too surprised if you see him getting save chances as early as 2017.
Drafting closers is a tough, but necessary part of fantasy baseball. You never truly know what you’re going to get, and you have to really dig deep to strike gold. I don’t expect all of these guys to end up as bonafide closers by the end of the season, but there should be plenty of saves to go around among them.