Tampa Bay Rays closer Fernando Rodney was one of the most surprising players in all of baseball in 2012, with 48 saves ( in 50 opportunities), a 0.60 ERA and a 76:15 K/BB ratio on his way to winning American League Comeback Player of the Year. Certainly fantasy baseball owners did not see that kind of performance coming, but anyone that took a chance on him during their draft or added him via the waiver wire early in the season benefited greatly.
Rodney did have some success as a closer previously, saving 37 games for the Detroit Tigers in 2009, but last season was the first season since 2006 that he had an ERA below 4.00 and his BB/9 rate (1.8) was by far the lowest of his career. He will obviously be hard-pressed to repeat his 2012 success, and count me among those who are skeptical Rodney can even keep the closer role for the Rays all season in 2013. So who could replace him if he reverts back to his previous form?
Jake McGee had a fantastic 2012 season as a primary setup man for Tampa Bay, posting a 1.95 ERA and a 73:11 K/BB ratio over 69 appearances (55.1 innings). The young left-hander was used frequently against left-handed hitters, as could be expected, but he was also very tough on right-handed hitters (.098 batting average against). Since he looks to be a step above being just a situational reliever, it’s easy to envision McGee transitioning well to a role as Tampa Bay’s closer.
McGee is only draftable in AL-only or very deep mixed leagues at this point, but he can at least bolster the strikeout total of his fantasy owners and would also carry extra value in leagues that count holds (20 last season). If he gets save opportunities at some point, presumably due to Rodney being injured or ineffective, McGee could quickly become a top tier fantasy closer in 2013 and for many years to come.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.