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Friday, February 19, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: LUKE GREGERSON TO FIGHT FOR CLOSER JOB

Spring training is underway in both Florida and Arizona and already there has been a slew of closer-related news items worth discussing.  Let's get right to it all.

-Already we learned that on the verge of the Houston Astros starting spring training, incumbent closer Luke Gregerson complained of soreness in his oblique which will have him being held out of some early workouts.  Gregerson of course is trying to hold off new fireballing acquisition Ken Giles who the Astros acquired over the winter from the Philadelphia Phillies.  While he is not 100 percent physically, Gregerson did vow to "fight" for the closer job he held for all of a generally successful 2015 season.  In his first full season as a closer after some short stints in the ninth inning previously with the San Diego Padres, Gregerson registered a 3.10 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and nailed down 31 saves in 36 opportunities.  Overall Gregerson was very good and on paper should have remained the closer for the Astros.  But then the Giles trade came down and the youngster already looks to be as potent a potential stopper as a team can get.  While no one in management and in the front office has confirmed who will be the closer, insiders have consistently said Giles will be the guy which means he is the one you want to draft.  Also Gregerson being less than 100 percent doesn't help his chances.

-San Diego Padres veteran reliever Fernando Rodney reported to spring training on Thursday and said his previously injured left hamstring is at "85 percent" efficiency.  Rodney was signed by the Padres over the winter despite his awful 2015 when he lost his closer job with the Seattle Mariners and then was released.  Meanwhile Kevin Quackenbush continues to be talked up as a potential closer option but it seems like he may have to earn it over Rodney which on paper is ridiculous.  Even if Rodney were to somehow win the job, Quackenbush is the much better long-term hedge.

-The Detroit Tigers inked former New York Mets closer Bobby Parnell to a minor league deal.  Parnell has not been the same pitcher since undergoing Tommy John surgery a few years ago and in fact is the more rare case of a guy whose velocity was WORSE after the procedure.  Parnell will have a decent shot to make the team in a setup role but Francisco Rodriguez has a very long leash at closer in front of him. 

-Speaking of Rodriguez, he is still waiting for a visa to come to spring training, a process that often bogs down countless foreign-born players on the eve of spring training.  Nothing to worry about there though as Rodriguez will be the team's closer from the jump and again has a long leash after a few terrific renaissance campaigns. 

-If a suspension is handed down on New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, an appeal will be filed right away.  Chapman was cleared of any criminal charges in the case by Rob Manfred could still levy a suspension for the case it self as a violation of personal conduct.  It has been rumored Chapman could get between 10 and 15 games but the appeal would likely slice that number to around half that.  There is not a better closer for 2016 fantasy baseball than Chapman no matter if any suspension sticks .

-Confirming our thoughts, J.J. Hoover was named the closer to begin 2016 for the Cincinnati Reds by manager Bryan Price.  Nothing to see here as Hoover was the best option to replace Chapman due to his decent K rate and solid secondary stuff.  He makes for a very good sleeper closer option this season. 

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