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Fantasy baseball: Early closer carousel gets interesting

Jeanmar Gomez #46 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws

Jeanmar Gomez #46 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds on Opening Day for both team at Great American Ball Park on April 3, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Credit: Getty Images / Andy Lyons

All 30 MLB teams have a game in the books after the Tigers beat the White Sox, 6-3, Tuesday afternoon. Fantasy owners can’t put too much stock in one game, but it’s never too early to reassess, especially when it comes to relief pitchers. The closer carousel already is turning.

On Day 1, when there were only three games, two of the game’s top closers — the Giants’ Mark Melancon and the Cardinals’ Seung Hwan Oh — blew save opportunities. (Oh was bailed out by Randal Grichuk’s walk-off single to earn a win.)

Melancon and Oh have nothing to worry about as far as job security. They’re both locked in for now.

Fernando Rodney, however, is someone to monitor. The Diamondbacks closer gave up an earned run on two hits and two walks despite getting the win against the Giants on Sunday.

While Rodney didn’t get hit with a blown save, he’s not an elite closer such as Melancon and Oh. He recorded 25 saves last season, but his career 3.70 ERA and 1.37 WHIP make him replaceable. It could be worth stashing Randall Delgado, who’s next up for the Diamondbacks’ closer role. Delgado, 27, has had his fair share of struggles. The righthander had a 4.44 ERA and 1.507 WHIP last season, but if Rodney loses his job sooner rather than later, there aren’t too many other immediate options for Arizona with Jake Barrett on the 10-day disabled list and Archie Bradley lacking bullpen experience.

Monday also brought some clarity, or lack thereof, to teams’ closing situations.

Phillies righthander Jeanmar Gomez recorded a save against the Reds, but it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. Gomez, who entered with a 4-1 lead, allowed a two-run home run to Scooter Gennett before retiring Billy Hamilton for the final out. Despite recording 37 saves last season, Gomez has very low job security with Hector Neris and Joaquin Benoit behind him. Neris, who pitched a perfect eighth inning Monday, had an 11.4 strikeout per nine rate and 2.58 ERA last season. His strikeout stuff makes him a viable option to take over the closer’s role. Benoit has ninth-inning experience with 51 career saves and also recorded a perfect inning and two strikeouts Monday.

The Blue Jays’ bullpen took a blow when they announced Sunday that closer Roberto Osuna was headed to the 10-day disabled list with a back injury. Osuna’s velocity took a dip during the spring, but the young righthander told reporters he wasn’t concerned. Veteran closer Jason Grilli, who was owned in just 38 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 14 percent of ESPN leagues as of Tuesday evening, is expected to get the ball in the ninth while Osuna’s out.

In their opener, the Jays turned to Grilli with two outs in the bottom of the 10th. He got Adam Jones to ground out to end the inning and recorded the first two outs in the 11th before giving up a walk-off home run to Mark Trumbo, last season’s home run leader. Still, if you’re desperate for saves in the short-term, he’s worth owning until Osuna returns.

Athletics manager Bob Melvin said he could start the year with a committee consisting of Ryan Madson, Santiago Casilla and Sean Doolittle. The threesome combined for two scoreless innings in their opener against the Angels, but it was Casilla who closed it out in the ninth. Again, it’s just one game, but Casilla, who has recorded more than 30 saves each of the last two seasons, seems to be the favorite for the job.

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