Monday, February 15, 2016


On Monday we learned and did a piece on the Miami Marlins confirming that a closer battle is on tap between Carter Capps and incumbent A.J. Ramos to fill the ninth inning spot for the team to begin the 2016 season.  While this battle figures to get the most attention (as well as one in Toronto), there are other closer battles that seem to be on tap this spring as well which need to be monitored.  So with that said let's check in on the non-Miami battles.

Toronto (Drew Storen/Roberto Osuna):  We did a piece on this battle a few weeks ago which can be found here:  The theme remains the same so no need to go into this in more detail then we already have but this is about as dead a heat as one can get, with perhaps Storen having the slight edge due to experience and the Jays having an itch to see Osuna work as a starter.

San Diego Padres (Kevin Quackenbush, Fernando Rodney):  We anointed the hard-throwing and youthful Quackenbush as the easy hedge to replace Craig Kimbrel at closer this season for the Padres but then the team goes out and signs retread veteran Rodney in free agency.  By now it seems like Rodney is forever going to haunt us in the ninth inning and the Padres are dumb enough to possibly consider him as a closing option due to his vast experience (a lot of it not good).  2015 saw Rodney look completely shot as he utterly threw away the Seattle Mariners closing gig with a hideous 5.68 ERA before the team released him outright.  Rodney got a life jacket from the Chicago Cubs and actually pitched well in his 12 innings with a team by posting a 0.75 ERA and striking out 15 batters.  The Padres came calling after dealing away Kimbrel and here we are.  Prior to that move, Quackenbush was clearly looking like the guy as he can reach the upper 90's with his fastball and rack up K's in a hurry.  He has control problem but has sizable upside.  Of course the whole "experience" factor could play in Rodney's favor and his strong finish with the Cubs might actually get him a chance to open the season as the closer.  That says more about how pathetic the Padres are then anything else.  Even if Rodney were to get the closer job there, I would not touch him even if I had not one stopper on my entire team.  Meamwhile Quackenbush is a very good sleeper at closer if he gets the gig.

Philadelphia Phillies (David Hernandez, Hector Neris):  There is no sense trying to figure out what the woeful Phillies are going to do here.  Hernandez is the veteran guy who at one time was one of the best setup men in the game before arm trouble and lost velocity have made him just an average veteran who posted a 4.28 ERA in 2015.  The other possible option could be youngster Hector Neris who was decent as a rookie last season in posting a 3.79 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 41 K in 40.1 IP.  Flip a coin here and hope Neris gets the gig as he has some upside. 

Milwaukee Brewers (Will Smith, Jeremy Jeffress):  We have gushed all over Will Smith this winter since the trade of Francisco Rodriguez opened up a possible ninth inning opportunity for the strikeout maestro.  While he is a lefty (and you know how manager don't like using lefties in the closer role), Smith was insanely good in 2015 to earn the job with an ERA of 2.70 and punching out 91 batters in only 63.1 IP.  On stuff alone Smith is the guy.  However we also have to keep an eye on failed starter turned into good reliever Jeremy Jeffress who rang up a very good 2.65 ERA and struck out 67 batters in 68 innings.  Jeffress was an abomination as a starter but as a reliever he has been very effective.  We have seen countless cases of failed starters turning into top closer many times before but this one doesn't feel like such a scenario.  The best bet is to go heavy on Smith as he simply is the better pitcher. 

Cincinnati Reds (J.J. Hoover, Tony Cingrani):  Aroldis Chapman now in a New York Yankees uniform, J.J. Hoover likely gets the first crack at the closer role for the Cincinnati Reds for 2016.  There are also not many good options behind Hoover, with Tony Cingrani struggling terribly the last couple of seasons.  Hoover is the guy. 


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