Each Week, Closer Monkey will update this page with a discussion of the closers on the hot seat — those who would likely lose their jobs with two blown saves — and the relievers in line to replace them.
April 16, 2015
Since last week, LaTroy Hawkins has lost his job, and Chris Hatcher and Dellin Betances are no longer the head of their committees. Who else is in danger of losing their job and what’s going on with all those committees?
Fernando Rodney, Seattle Mariners
It’s probably not a good sign for a closer when your local newspaper is running a poll asking whether or not they are concerned about you. Rodney has given up 7 hits and 6 runs in his last 2 outings. Manager Lloyd McClendon has already said that Rodney is still the guy. However, the Mariners have other options with Yoervis Medina, who already has a save this season, and Danny Farquhar, who had 16 saves just two seasons ago.
Miguel Castro, Toronto Blue Jays
Miguel Castro has converted both of his save opportunities since Brett Cecil was removed as closer. He also has given up zero earned runs on the young season (though he did give up an unearned run and took the loss on Tuesday). So why is he on this list? One reason is Cecil has pitched well since his opening night struggles, throwing two scoreless innings with three strikeouts. The other reason is Castro entered in the 7th inning the other night, which is not typical for a traditional closer. Castro has pitched well enough so far to keep the job, but the Blue Jays might want to give Roberto Osuna and Cecil some save chances as well.
Andrew Miller, New York Yankees
After David Robertson left in the off-season, most people figured Dellin Betances would slide right in and dominate hitters in the 9th inning, like he did in the 7th and 8th inning last year. Unfortunately for Betances’ fantasy owners, that has not happened. Betances has struggled to throw strikes, as he has 6 walks against 5 strikeouts in only 4.1 innings. Andrew Miller, on the other hand, has picked up right where he left off last season. Miller has made three scoreless appearances, earning two saves, and has yet to give up a hit. Betances had an encouraging outing last night as he threw a scoreless inning with two strikeouts, and more importantly, no walks. Miller is the better bet to get saves in the short-term, but Betances could still factor in long term, especially if he can get his walks under control.
Jeurys Familia, New York Mets
The Mets have already changed closers once this season, after Jenrry Mejia got hurt (and then suspended). Jeurys Familia has stepped up and recorded three saves, while only giving up a couple runs in five outings. The Mets could have a new closer returning from injury soon. Bobby Parnell, who saved 22 games for the Mets two years ago, has started a rehab assignment. Manager Terry Collins said before the season that the closer’s role would be Bobby Parnell’s to lose once he returns from injury so if he sticks to that, Familia’s days as closer could be numbered.
April 10, 2015
After elbow injuries to Joe Nathan and Jenrry Mejia and the recent demotion of Brett Cecil, three of the shakiest closers in the game have already been replaced. Who starts the season on the hot seat? And who stands to benefit if they falter?
5. Miguel Castro
Koji Uehara‘s impending return means that we didn’t even consider Edward Mujica for this spot. Instead it goes to the putative head of the brand-new Toronto closer committee: 20-year-old future starter Castro, whose right elbow (and its single tendon) was expected to start the season at Class A Dunedin. Castro’s rapid rise makes for a great story, but if he falters, it’ll be simple for the Jays to try out fellow youngster Roberto Osuna or return to Cecil.
4. LaTroy Hawkins
The 42-year-old already has his first blown save of the season, and PECOTA predicts that he’ll give up almost as many runs this year (36) as he earns strikeouts (43). Not exactly a recipe to lower a manager’s blood pressure. Walt Weiss can turn to Adam Ottavino, John Axford, or (when he gets back to the majors) perpetual “closer of the future” Rex Brothers.
3. Jason Grilli
Stepping into Craig Kimbrel’s golden cleats is the 38-year-old Grilli, who has an extensive history of injuries, and an apparently revitalized Jim Johnson lurking behind him. The Braves will give him the first shot at the job, but they’ll move on in a hurry if he performs like he did last season in Pittsburgh.
2. Dellin Betances
Betances, one of the breakout stars of 2014, struggled all through spring training, and hasn’t been much better now that the games count. Although the righty seems to have regained his missing velocity, control problems continue to plague him. He’s already in a platoon situation with lefty Andrew Miller, who’s a real threat to take the job and make it his own.
1. Chris Hatcher
Converted catcher Hatcher got the Dodgers’ first save of the year, but he might not be in line for too many more after getting blasted in a tied ninth inning on Tuesday. Joel Peralta, Hatcher’s main competition for the job in Kenley Jansen‘s absence, may have had a rough 2014, but he’s posted a consistently above-average WHIP and K rate over the last five years — and his first two outings so far this year have been scoreless, earning him a win and a save.