I wrote about this last season and it held true so I am going to bring it up again this year. Closers that open as the guy do not often end the season as the closer for their respective team. Due to this fact the relief pitchers that are elite are worth early consideration but do not reach for closer in the middle rounds simply since you have not drafted one, there are gems that can be found later in the draft or even picked up off the waiver wire during the year.
Look at Koji Uehara, he was not drafted in any leagues a season ago yet provided elite numbers for whatever owner was lucky enough to scoop him. Personally, I normally grab an elite closer, pass on the middle tier closers, and grab multiple closers in the later rounds. The challenge with this is you must be disciplined not to immediately start all of them for you team as a bad closer can do more harm than good for a fantasy team.
When deciding on drafting a closer please do not just look at saves, too often does an owner draft simply on saves and do not look at the rest of the pitching stats. Also a common error is completely avoiding a closer on a “bad” team. All teams are going to win games during the year and a closer on a team that plays small ball might have more opportunities to get saves than a team that is going to win 100 games this year (might is key word of the sentence but more wins does not always mean more saves).
Second Best at Position – Greg Holland
Clearly, Craig Kimbrel is the best closer any team can have in fantasy or real-life but, there was a big debate at number two overall. Personally, I love Kenley Jansen of the Dodgers but he lost out to Greg Holland in our rankings. Holland ran with the closing duties in Kansas City and was only 3 saves short of 50 a season ago. We always say you cannot bank on saves but Kansas City has a pretty good team and plays the type of small ball that should give Holland a good amount of saves chances this year.
Must Have Sleeper – Neftali Feliz
Neftali Feliz is not even a lock to be the opening day closer for the Rangers but due to his upside the whole fantasy community is hoping that he is. He has a great arm and the perfect stuff for a closer but injuries have proven an issue for Feliz. Two year ago Neftali Feliz was looking like the best closer out there so if the injuries are behind him and he wins the job you might get a top 10 closer after pick 200 this year and that is worth the investment
High Upside Potential – David Robertson
David Robertson is set to take over the closer duties for the New York Yankees and we feel he can be one of the best in the business. The issue is there is some Yankees fan in your league that will take him way too early. If he falls to the spot in your draft then there is good reason to believe David Robertson will return a great draft day value. He has always been solid in the set-up role (33 holds last year) but the one knock on him is the fact he has had opportunities in the past to be the closer and for whatever reason did not live up to his standards. It might be a mental thing so buyer beware when drafting him but if he can overcome that, he could set-up to be a top five closer.
Overvalued – Aroldis Chapman
Aroldis Chapman is currently going as the second closer off the board but his numbers do not warrant it. Sure, he is fun to watch and he does throw the ball 100 miles per hour but he also had a 2.5 ERA and a WHIP over 1 last year. Don’t fall into the hype of Aroldis Chapman and let someone else pay the steep price this year.
Draft Day Advice
The one fact you must take note of is the fact that most opening day closers will not be the entire season. So this means you can draft one good closer, then a few late, then ensure you play the wire all year and your team should be set in the saves department.