In an unsuspected move, the Los Angeles Angels and Pittsburgh Pirates traded closers Jason Grilli and Ernesto Frieri. The two teams to shake things up in the closer position because both pitchers have fallen off the wagon in recent weeks. With Grilli going to the American League, he could be in line to regain closer status and, in turn, fantasy value.
Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle decided to temporarily remove Grilli from the closer position in favor of Mark Melancon. Grilli has struggled for most of the 2014 season. He has a 0-2 record, 11 saves, four blown saves and 21 strikeouts with a 4.87 ERA and 1.62 WHIP. Those last two stats are what forced the change. Allowing almost two base runners per inning as a closer won’t have many benefits.
Grilli entered the season at 37 years old. The big question is — How much does he have left in the tank? While I can’t predict the future, I think Grilli will finish out the year as the Angels closer. He has a better chance to bounce back than Frieri in Pittsburgh. Joe Smith is currently the Angels closer, and is doing good with seven saves and a 3.03 ERA, but isn’t a true closer.
Grilli will see an increased ownership with the help of AL-only leagues, especially if he becomes the closer. In standard mixed leagues, owners should be in a “wait-and-see” mode. There are plenty of closers and set-up men available that Grilli can remain on the waiver wire for now. He’s still owned in 58.3 percent of ESPN.com leagues, so there are owners who believe.
If someone dropped him in your league, keep an eye on him in the upcoming days for any change in his role.