Wednesday, April 25, 2018


We are a day behind schedule but didn't forget about our weekly staple Closing Time where we look at the world of the ninth inning so that you can stay ahead of the saves game.

-The Baltimore Orioles have had a tough time in the ninth inning seemingly since the start of the season as fill-in closer Brad Brach has not been able to reprise the very good job he did while filling in for an injured Zach Britton a year ago.  Sitting with a 5.19 ERA as of this writing, Brach may even yield saves to Darren O'Day before Britton returns.  With regards to Britton's possible return, he was able to throw a bullpen session off the mound on Tuesday and if all goes well, a late May or early June return is possible.  Britton is making his way back from a torn Achilles tendon but he struggled to live up to his 2016 levels a year ago when on the mound.  Either way, Britton is a much better option than either Brach or O'Day so his return will be nothing but a boost to his patient owners.

-It seems like the new thing that is en vogue now with managers in 2018 is to use their closers for more than one inning to secure a save.  Whether it has been Josh Hader, Jeurys Familia, Edwin Diaz, or Raisel Iglesias, all of those stoppers and more are seeing more multi-save chances than in recent memory.  While this is not such a concern early in the season, by the time summer arrives fatigue and/or injuries could rear their ugly heads as a result.  This is something to keep a close eye on going forward.

-A change seems to be afoot in St. Louis as Cardinals manager Mike Matheney flip flipped Greg Holland and Bud Norris this past weekend.  With Holland throwing in the ninth following Norris in the eighth, it seems the former will now begin getting saves which the latter had been doing prior.  Perhaps it was Norris giving up a run in each of his last two secured saves that gave Matheney the opening to make the change but hold Norris if you are an owner as Holland has looked nothing but shaky since his debut a few weeks ago.

-If Hector Neris hits the skids are some point (not an outlandish thought), Victor Arano now needs to be considered the possible replacement.  Arano has been terrific with a 0.00 ERA and 0.29 WHIP in 10.1 innings with 11 strikeouts this season and his power arsenal seems like it would be a good fit in the ninth inning.

-Archie Bradley was a popular sleeper pick in 2018 fantasy baseball drafts among closers as he had a terrific 2017 campaign in setup and there was no obvious answer to fill the team's ninth-inning gap. Well, Brad Boxberger wound up getting the gig and it looked like the right call early on as he was dominant for most of early April.  Boxberger has hit the skids of late though and Bradley was called on to secure his second save of the season this past weekend. While Boxberger is not officially out yet, Bradley should be added where available just in case.

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