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Sunday, February 21, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: THE BATTLE IS OFFICIALLY ON BETWEEN WILL SMITH AND JEREMY JEFFRESS IN MILWAUKEE

On the heels of the open competition underway in Miami for the team's closer role between Carter Capps and A.J. Ramos, a similar battle is underway in Milwaukee between righty Jeremy Jeffress and lefty Will Smith.  Manager Craig Counsell said as much in terms of it being a pure competition between the two and this of course should have the attention of the fantasy baseball community in terms of trying to forecast who comes out ahead.  With that said, let's dig in more on the two and see who has the edge. 

Jeremy Jeffress:  Jeffress is yet the latest example of a guy who failed royally as a starting pitcher but whose seems to be an excellent fit as a reliever.  With a fastball that can touch the high 90's, Jeffress pitched very well out of the bullpen in 2015 in registering an ERA of 2.56 while striking out 67 batters in 68 innings. Clearly being able to dump his poor secondary pitches and instead being able to lean on his potent fastball has helped unlock the potential in Jeffress' arm and that puts him in a good spot to challenge for the closer role.  Now what could help separate Jeffress from the equally excellent Will Smith is the fact he is a righty which we all know gives a reliever a leg up against a lefty counterpart for strategic reasons.  With managers wanting to use their precious and rare lefties to work in the seventh and eighth innings for matchup reasons, Jeffress could be considered the slight favorite on that aspect alone.  Overall, Jeffress seems to have the power stuff to be a solid sleeper closer this season if he does get the nod but he is in for a battle. 

Will Smith:  On paper alone, it would seem Smith was the slam dunk replacement for Francisco Rodriguez this season, especially when you see how utterly dominant he was in 2015 when he pitched to a 2.70 ERA while striking out an insane 91 batters in just 63.1 innings.  Smith has some of the most overpowering stuff among any reliever in all of baseball last season and clearly the strikeout stuff works tremendously in the ninth inning.  However the lefty issue is a sizable one when it comes to these matters but Smith has to be owned in all formats due to his tremendous ability. 

This is a very tough situation to predict and we were originally all in on Smith until Counsell began hinting at a competition.  Jeffress only has one season as a good reliever to his name unlike Smith who has been very good for awhile but again the righty/lefty deal makes this a tough one to call.  Draft Jeffress ahead of Smith but try to nab both. 


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