Blind Faith with Four Suspect Closers

In Tout Wars this year, have been graced with four suspect closers but they’ve caused me to ponder how to handle the “riches”. The issue is that they are not stable and I’d not be surprised if all four were out of a job next month. I polled my Twitter followers to see which one they had the most faith in.

With the volatility, I decided to go all in at this point for Saves before they start losing the role. For reference, here are the current standings:

Rolling out four closers helps the rate stats and kills the Strikeout total. I plan on keeping up with the strategy. The main reason is that I don’t have to get involved in bidding on Saves even if I lose one or two of them. So much FAAB is spent chasing Saves, I can focus on starters and hittters.

As can be seen above, I have a decent cushion and got seven Saves last week and one already this week. If one closer was more stable, I might only go with two or three closers each week. One isn’t so leaving my comfort zone.

They key is to find the final Saves target number and since Tout Wars keeps historical information, I have past precidence. Here are the four year Saves standings with the Tout Wars league total, MLB’s total, and percentage captured by the league.

Tout Wars Mixed & League Save Totals
Place 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
1st 108 100 90 88 30
2nd 105 88 90 84 26
3rd 98 87 83 82 23
4th 95 86 82 75 22
5th 94 83 82 73 22
6th 93 77 81 71 19
7th 91 74 75 67 19
8th 89 73 69 64 18
9th 78 69 68 62 16
10th 74 67 63 60 15
11th 57 66 59 59 15
12th 32 58 53 58 15
13th 23 52 26 43 12
14th 21 27 17 39 10
15th 15 17 11 6 1
League Total 1073 1024 949 931 263
MLB Total 1292 1276 1179 1244 360
% Captured 83% 80% 80% 75% 73%

Before I get to my league strategy, two overall trends need to be discussed.

First, the overall number of Saves has dropped some. While there could be several narratives behind the decline including just noise, I believe the league’s talent disparity has caused more blowouts and fewer chances for Saves. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it until proven otherwise.

The second trend, a lower percentage of Saves captured, can be attributed to teams not caring about who gets the Save. Instead, teams want their best pitchers facing the other team’s best hitters. To help clarify this trend, here are the pitchers recording at least one Save over the past few seasons.

Pitchers With At Least One Save
Season Count
2009 124
2010 125
2011 125
2012 141
2013 130
2014 134
2015 145
2016 148
2017 162
2018 165
2019 96

This distribution makes it easier to find some Saves on the waiver wire but those elite closers may see their price jump. In fairness, owners may start focusing on top arms by using a couple fifth to seventh-round picks for two studs. Instead, I like to gamble at the end of the first closer run and then take two to four later darts on guys. That’s how I ended up in this situation.

Getting back to the original question, all the indicators point the league’s final Save totals being at or lower than the 2018 totals. I’m hoping to be able to get into the 80 to 85 level and then start rolling out nine starters. I may be slowly weaned from my closers once Smith gets traded, the Twins sign Kimbrel, Doolittle gets hurt, and Kapler does Kapler things. There is a small chance all four keep it going and I blow past the 85 Saves. The best part of Tout Wars is that it’s a trading league where I can move the closers for starters later in the season.

Now, if the situation arises that six or even seven of my starters have great matchups, I’d bench some closers. I’ve already done it once this season and sat the closer who had only five games.

The hardest part so far is seeing my Strikeouts and Wins placing drop as I focus on these closers. I must have faith I can make up ground when I use six, seven, eight, and even nine starters. I’d prefer a more balanced approach but I was given lemons and I’m making lemonade. I’ll update the situation in a couple of months to see how it plays out.

We hoped you liked reading Blind Faith with Four Suspect Closers by Jeff Zimmerman!

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Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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carter
Member
carter

Eh, those are suspect closers? Smith is going to get traded, but he is a top of the line closer so if you back him up with Moronta you will be fine. I can see Parker being called suspect, but Neris? The only part that is suspect is his manager. He was the most dominate relief pitcher in the entire MLB second half of last year after returning from minors. 0.05 fip (Yes, the zeroes are in the right place) with a 50.7 K %.. Some regression seems obvious, but I don’t get how he is considered a suspect relief pitcher. Ditto Doolittle.

rustydude
Member
rustydude

When I saw “suspect closers” I was sure Shane Greene was one of them. I can’t figure how he has had this success so far, with his limited stuff. I do think Parker and Neris are on the edge closers. Doolittle I owned in ’17 and ’18. Traded him this year ’cause I didn’t want to own him as he falls of the cliff, which I believe will happen soon.

Ryan DC
Member
Member
Ryan DC

For Doolittle I think the only concern is health

docgooden85
Member
Member
docgooden85

It could be Moronta after Will Smith. He has allowed a ton of base runners though. It could also be Melancon, who they said would get save chances at some point and had some high leverage innings in the early season. It could be Watson, who is better than Melancon (who I do not think is good at all but doesn’t like to load the bases as much as Moronta). Or a Committee of Death. Good luck to us all chasing saves in the modern game.