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.
With Addison Reed and Neftali Feliz now stuck in committees behind more effective pitchers, who’s left to discuss on the Hot Seat? You (and your leaguemates) already know Sean Doolittle is on a rehab assignment, giving up hard singles to Josh Hamilton, and planning to return as soon as this weekend. It’s no secret that Brett Cecil and Jason Grilli can’t be trusted, or that A.J. Ramos, Brad Ziegler, and Shawn Tolleson are the best guys to own in less-than-perfect situations. So today, let’s dig a little deeper — and find some possibly overvalued closers you might be able to flip for a profit. It’s the Selling High(-ish) edition of the Hot Seat.
1. Greg Holland
We know Holland has been phenomenal ever since he seized the closer’s role in Kansas City in July 2012. But this season, he has as many walks as strikeouts (6) and, given his history of stints on the disabled list, the stiff neck that kept him out on Tuesday looms ominously. Holland’s 0.90 ERA might look fantastic but, as Bill James once wrote, there are lizards hiding in the cellar: namely, a Jeremy Guthrie-esque K-rate, a .154 BABIP, and a 14% increase in batter contact that, together, scream reversion. Yes, he’s pitched only 10 innings this year, and he could always bounce back and make us look silly, but if you can score a superstar return from a guy with the sixth-highest FIP among closers, do it — and don’t ever look back.
2. John Axford
Okay. Not quite as exciting as the last guy. Not quite the same history of recent success. Not quite the same expected return. But if you’re in a league with an owner in thrall to the surface stats, and you’re okay rolling the dice with Closer Monkey for the next exciting new option, why not let Axford’s “proven closer” status and delightful 1.13 ERA speak for itself? After all, his K-BB% ratios for the last five years are 20-17-13-11-9 — and friends, you don’t want to be the one depending on the Ax Man to keep that neat little disappearing act profitable.
3. Mark Melancon
We mentioned Mark last week, and all he’s done since is further lower his K rate, make three more appearances (including 50 pitches last weekend), and have his pitching coach defend him as “a winner.” True enough; we just think the best way he can help you win is by turning himself into a quality infielder. Same goes, to a lesser extent, for Joakim Soria, whose numbers aren’t on the verge of collapse, but do look unsustainable. He even blew his first save today (sorry we didn’t post this sooner!).
Just remember — if you don’t want to pay for saves (and you shouldn’t), then you don’t want to overvalue them either. Keep track of your closers and hang onto the truly dominant — but don’t be afraid to flip a guy before luck (or mediocrity) catches up to him.