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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: UPHEAVAL EVEN IN OFFSEASON

Already this winter we have seen a slew of changes among the various closer spots across Major League Baseball.  With trades and free agents signings doing their chaotic thing, let's discuss some of the new faces as we continue to gear up for 2016 fantasy baseball.

1.  Steve Cishek to Close For Seattle:  This is a bit of a surprise as it was assumed veteran Joaquin Benoit would get the gig since he continued to pitch at a dominant level in 2015.  However Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto publicly endorsed new signee Cishek as the team's closer in a conference call Monday.  Cishek of course lost his closer role amid drastically reduced velocity in 2015 for the Miami Marlins and was so bad he was sent to the minors.  In his defense, Cishek came back up and pitched well which included his stint with the St. Louis Cardinals after he went there via a trade.  It looks like Cishek's experience won out here despite the fact Benoit has closer stuff.  Once again Benoit gets shafted like he was last spring when a near Opening Day trade for Craig Kimbrel cost him the closer spot with the San Diego Padres.  Cishek is still quite scary though considering how bad he was in the ninth inning a year ago so have him as one of the lower-ranked stoppers in your cheat sheet.

2.  Ken Giles Moves To Houston:  The Philadelphia Phillies have no use for a closer since they are expected to be one of the worst teams in baseball in 2016 and hence the deal to Houston for fireballing Ken Giles.  We all assumed Giles would close for the Astros but not so fast as management still won't commit to that since Luke Gregerson was solid there in 2015.  Still Giles has mass upside and is the better pitcher so he should end up with the gig.  On stuff alone, Giles is a top 5-7 closer.  Meanwhile in Philly, there should be an open competition at closer with no clear name emerging yet.  If we had to guess based on who is left, we would side with Hector Neris who average a K per inning last year and pitched to a 3.71 ERA. 

3.  Craig Kimbrel to Boston:  The Boston Red Sox wanted to get right back into the thick of the AL East race and they helped that cause by completing a deal with the Padres for Craig Kimbrel.  Kimbrel of course has been the consensus number 1 closer in fantasy baseball the last four years and he should dominate yet again with his crazy K rate.  Truth be told Kimbrel's hit rate was its highest ever in 2015 but he was back to being unhittable the second half of the season.  He should once again be the top closer off the board in 2016.  The flip side is that right now Kevin Quackenbush should be the favorite for saves in San Diego.  While he struggles with control, Quackenbush strikes out guys at a very high rate which is perfect for the gig.  Decent upside value play.

4.  Milwaukee Deals Francisco Rodriguez to Detroit:  The Tigers hope they finally solved their ongoing late inning relief issues after they completed a deal for closer Francisco Rodriguez.  Rodriguez has been terrific over the last two years in reinventing himself on the fly after losing velocity.  Whatever he did is working and he should be in the 8-12 range when ranking 2016 closers.  On the flip side, look for high-K Will Smith to get a long-overdue chance to close.  Smith has put up some big strikeout totals over the years and he looks like a very intriguing sleeper. 

Of course things are likely only going to get more nutty as the season approaches so be sure you keep checking back here all throughout 2016 in order to stay on top of things. 



 

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