On-Base Perception

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Closer chaos continues

This has been one of the craziest months ever for closers in fantasy baseball. There have been season-ending injuries and ineptitude all over the place from ninth-inning pitchers.

Kenley Jansen was drafted ahead of Javy Guerra in many leagues before the season. Jansen certainly has the better arm, but Guerra was very successful last season when he was the closer converting 21 of 23 saves. Jansen had a 16.10 K/9, a 2.85 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP last season. He picked up his second save today, allowing two walks and struck out three.

Is he the new closer? Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he chose Jansen because he had the fresher arm. Guerra didn’t pitch Thursday or Friday after struggling Wednesday and Saturday. Guerra actually has been plagued by some bad luck. He’s giving up line drives at an insanely high 42 percent rate and has a .448 BABIP. He has a 12/4 K/BB ratio in 10 1/3 innings.  

Guerra converted his first five chances of the season before blowing a save on April 17. He converted his next two saves before allowing a run in a non-save situation. On Wednesday, he blew another save while getting one out and got struck by a ball in the jaw and stayed in the game. He allowed five hits and three runs. In his next outing Saturday, he got two outs and allowed two hits, one run, with a walk and one strikeout. Jansen has thrown 8 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings. All signs point to a change in closer. Jansen should be owned in all leagues, while Guerra should be held on to for now.

The Angels have already made a change at closer. Jordan Walden has been temporarily removed from the position and Scott Downs will take over. I don’t get this one. Walden hasn’t been good, but we are talking about 4 1/3 innings. He has blown one save. He has pitched in six games and allowed runs in two of them.

The Angels had high expectations and have been awful so far, so that can tend to cause drastic changes. Downs is a soft-tossing lefty, who has pitched eight scoreless innings with a 4/2 K/BB ratio. Fernando Rodney was removed from the role last season by Mike Scioscia and replaced by Walden and he never relinquished the role. My guess is Walden gets the job back. I’d add Downs, especially those desperate for saves, but I wouldn’t spend a lot of FAAB money.

All spring I thought Matt Thornton or Addison Reed would get the closer’s job for the White Sox. Of course, Robin Ventura shocked everyone by giving the job to Hector Santiago, who hasn’t even pitched above Double-A. Santiago has allowed four home runs in 6 1/3 innings and 11 hits and a 10/1 K/BB ratio. Santiago last pitched on April 25 and allowed five hits and three runs while getting just one out. The White Sox had a 4-1 lead today against the Red Sox. Thornton got the last out of the eighth inning and he started the ninth and retired the side in order for his first save.

Ventura said after the game that Santiago will still get work in the ninth inning, but he felt Thornton had a good track record against Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz. It’s tough to figure out what Ventura will do since he is a rookie manager. I do know he really likes Santiago. Thornton should still be owned in most leagues and I wouldn’t be surprised if Reed enters the mix at some point too. Hold on to Santiago as well. He does have good stuff and the White Sox like him and that has to be taken into account. It's not always the best pitcher that gets the job. It is who the manager prefers.

If you’re looking to stash a possible closer down the road, consider Ryan Cook of the A’s. Grant Balfour is likely to be traded and Cook would likely take over. He should be owned in AL-only leagues.

Tags: fantasy baseball , Javy Guerra , Kenley Jansen , Jordan Walden , Scott Downs , Matt Thornton , Addison Reed , Hector Santiago , closers , Grant Balfour , Ryan Cook

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