Its fantasy baseball 101, don’t over pay for a closer. It is by far the most volatile position in baseball. The closer position has become the “running back by committee” that depresses running back values in the NFL. My take on relievers in general is to not worry about whether they are a “closer”, I just chase the K’s. There is always constant movement in the closer roll; therefore, there are plenty of opportunities to nab some great high K relievers, late in the draft or pick up as a FA.
Kenley Jansen- Last year Jansen set the MLB record for K/9 with a min. 50IP at 16.1K/9. In 53.2IP, he had 96K’s. Broxton is now a Royal, so all he has to do is beat out Javy Guerra (7.33K/9, 21 saves last year). He should have this job in the bag as soon as May.
Vinnie Pestano- In his rookie season, Pestano struck out batters at a great rate of 12.19K/9IP in 62 innings of work. If the Indians are out of it come the trade deadline, they could be looking to move Chris Perez (5.88K/9 in 2011). Well, my cousin Vinnie comes out of the pin with three plus pitches Fast Ball, Slider, and Cutter. He should have this job wrapped up at the deadline whether they move Perez or not.
Rex Brothers- The Rockies traded former closer Houston Street to the Padres during the winter meetings. Currently, they are set to run Rafael Betancourt out as their opening day closer. Betancourt has had his days filling in for closers (27 career saves in nine years), but he has never held onto the job. The sleeper in this pen is Rex Brothers. In 40.2IP, he posted 13.06K/9. He comes out of the pen with some serious heat from the left side FB (95.3mph) and some scouts have compared him to Billy Wagner. Look for career trends to continue for Betancourt and Rex Brothers will be the closer by year end.
Greg Holland- With oh-so steady-options Joakim Soria and Jonathan Broxton in front of him, Holland could easily blow by these inconstant an injury prone speed bumps. Holland has the K rate (11.10K/9) and the stuff (Swstr 16.6%) to be the closer in KC by seasons end.
Here are a couple of minor leaguers to watch out for. If they get called up, grab them in a hurry.
Addison Reed- In a 7.1 inning cup of coffee performance in September, Reed dazzled with a 12.00K/BB ration. With Chris Sale joining the rotation and Sergio Santos traded off to the Jays, its Reed’s job to lose in spring training.
Miguel De Los Santos- The leader in strike outs during the 2011 Arizona Fall League with 40K’s in 30.1IP (MiLB K rate of 13.87/9). The Rangers left-hander should begin the year in AAA. From there, he will only be a phone call away should Joe Nathan happen to struggle.
Juan Abreu- We all know the Astros are a mess and will be rebuilding this year, and that means opportunity for young players. Do you really believe Brandon Lyon, Wilton Lopez and David Carpenter will be able to hold down the job? With a brief appearance in 2011 (6.2IP), Abreu posted a K rate 16.20K/9. We know that that number will come down, but his minor league rate of 10.6K/9 and his 95 mph fast ball should help him if he gets the chance.
In the 1970’s the term fireman was used to describe a team’s best reliever regardless of the situation whether it was the 7th, 8th or 9th inning. When you are drafting you team this year instead of selecting a reliever simply because he wears the “closer” title, take the best option on the team. Remember forget about wins, losses, and saves and chase the K’s.
Aaron Price, follow me on twitter @baseballrantman