If closer drama is what you’re looking for, you can find all you need in St. Louis, where the Cardinals are hosting the Brewers. For the second night in a row, the teams went into extra innings after both bullpens floundered in the ninth inning. In Tuesday night’s affair, Bud Norris was entrusted to keep the Cardinals knotted in a 1-1 tie, with Greg Holland apparently being given the night off. Norris yielded a two-out RBI single to Domingo Santana. That set the Brewers up with a save situation, and fantasy owners everywhere waited anxiously to see who would get the call.
It turned out to be Taylor Williams, who had struck out the side in the eighth inning in his second appearance of the season. However, he was removed after walking Tommy Pham and allowing a sacrifice bunt to Greg Garcia. A more familiar face, Jacob Barnes, came in to face Dexter Fowler, and he promptly unleashed two wild pitches that allowed Pham to tie the game.
There are no indications that Craig Counsell will take Barnes out of the closer mix, but he could get a breather due to a heavy recent workload. Counsell’s willingness to send Williams back out for the ninth with a one-run lead could be an indication that the 26-year-old rookie is now a part of the closer committee. For now, I’m leaving him out of the closer grid, but that could change soon.
Tuesday’s late-inning thrills weren’t limited to the Cardinals and Brewers. At AT&T Park, Hunter Strickland was one out away from his third save of the season, but a Paul Goldschmidt solo homer gave the Diamondbacks a 4-4 tie to take into the bottom of the ninth. With Brad Boxberger and Archie Bradley both apparently unavailable, Jorge De La Rosa came out to start the bottom half of the inning. He walked the bases full, and with one out, Andrew McCutchen stroked a walk-off single into shallow left center field.
Having had back-to-back games off, Boxberger should be back for the Diamondback’s next save opportunity. As for Strickland, the Goldschmidt homer was the first run he had allowed this season, and there is no reason to think he is on shaky ground as the Giants’ closer.
Alex Colome may not be in danger of losing his job either, but the rocky start to his 2018 season continued on Tuesday against the White Sox. He inherited a four-run lead from Ryan Weber in the ninth inning but also runners on first and second with one out. A three-run homer from Jose Abreu brought the Sox within a run, but Colome escaped with the save.
If Colome continues to struggle, one name to consider as a potential successor — along with Sergio Romo and Jose Alvarado — is Matt Andriese. The former starter pitched a scoreless eighth inning on Tuesday, and this was his second straight eighth-inning appearance.
Brad Ziegler dropped to 0-2 on Tuesday night by allowing a go-ahead, two-run double to Yoenis Cespedes, and even though only one run was earned, the Marlins’ closer was left with a 7.94 ERA. However, Ziegler’s job should be safe for awhile, and not just because Kyle Barraclough coughed up a pair of home runs in the eighth inning. Ziegler had allowed runs in only one of his previous four appearances, and he did not get much help this time around. Amed Rosario got on base with one out due to a throwing error by Brian Anderson. Then after Ziegler walked Michael Conforto, Cespedes hit a ball down the third base line that just eluded Anderson. According to Statcast, Cespedes’ batted ball had a 6 percent chance of becoming a hit.
As with the Rays’ situation, any speculation on the Marlins’ next closer should be done with the long term in mind. The 38-year-old has had success as a closer in the past, even with a low strikeout rate, and he is doing what he typically does well. Ziegler is sporting a 73.9 percent ground ball rate, and he has yet to allow a home run. Aside from Barraclough’s performance on Tuesday, both he and Drew Steckenrider have performed well in setup roles. At this early stage, it’s too hard to tell who might have the edge as a possible successor to Ziegler, should one be needed, but most fantasy owners have the luxury of being able to monitor the situation before having to make a move. In CBS leagues, which tend to have higher ownership rates, neither Barraclough nor Steckenrider are owned in as many as 30 percent of leagues. However, Barraclough is already owned in 54 percent of Fantrax leagues.
For the first time this season, Buck Showalter called on Darren O’Day to pitch the ninth inning, but he was not able to keep the Orioles in a 1-1 tie with the Blue Jays. Curtis Granderson’s solo home run proved to be decisive and gave O’Day his first loss of the season.
Craig Kimbrel‘s fastball velocity has been hovering around 96 mph over his first five appearances of 2018. Over a comparable span a year ago, Kimbrel’s average fastball velocity ranged between 97.4 and 98.2 mph. That drop helped the Red Sox’s closer to earn a spot on Jeff Zimmerman’s list of pitchers with the lowest year-to-year drops in velocity so far this season.
Quick hits: Don’t look for Felipe Rivero in the saves column anymore. He’s still the Pirates’ closer, but he has legally changed his name to Felipe Vázquez…Ryan Madson got a two-out save against the Braves, with Sean Doolittle apparently getting the night off…Zach Duke has been moved into the third spot in Twins’ portion of the closer grid. He has been pitching in high-leverage situations, setting up for Fernando Rodney in both of his save opportunities. On Tuesday night, Duke was brought in for the top of the eighth inning, even though the first two batters due up were righties (Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa).
|ARI||Brad Boxberger||Archie Bradley||Yoshihisa Hirano|
|ATL||Arodys Vizcaino||A.J. Minter||Jose Ramirez|
|BAL||Brad Brach||Darren O’Day||Mychal Givens||Zach Britton|
|BOS||Craig Kimbrel||Matt Barnes||Joe Kelly|
|CHC||Brandon Morrow||Carl Edwards Jr.||Pedro Strop|
|CWS||Joakim Soria||Nate Jones||Danny Farquhar|
|CIN||Raisel Iglesias||Jared Hughes||Kevin Quackenbush||David Hernandez|
|CLE||Cody Allen||Andrew Miller||Zach McAllister|
|COL||Wade Davis||Jake McGee||Bryan Shaw|
|DET||Shane Greene||Alex Wilson||Drew VerHagen|
|HOU||Ken Giles||Chris Devenski||Brad Peacock|
|KC||Kelvin Herrera||Justin Grimm||Brandon Maurer|
|LAA||Keynan Middletonn||Blake Parker||Cam Bedrosian|
|LAD||Kenley Jansen||Josh Fields||Scott Alexander|
|MIA||Brad Ziegler||Kyle Barraclough||Drew Steckenrider|
|MIL||Jacob Barnes||Matt Albers||Jeremy Jeffress||Corey Knebel|
|MIN||Fernando Rodney||Addison Reed||Zach Duke|
|NYM||Jeurys Familia||A.J. Ramos||Hansel Robles||Anthony Swarzak|
|NYY||Aroldis Chapman||David Robertson||Dellin Betances|
|OAK||Blake Treinen||Ryan Buchter||Chris Hatcher|
|PHI||Hector Neris||Luis Garcia||Adam Morgan||Pat Neshek|
|PIT||Felipe Rivero||George Kontos||Michael Feliz|
|STL||Greg Holland||Bud Norris||Dominic Leone|
|SD||Brad Hand||Craig Stammen||Jordan Lyles||Kirby Yates|
|SF||Hunter Strickland||Sam Dyson||Tony Watson||Mark Melancon|
|SEA||Edwin Diaz||Juan Nicasio||Nick Vincent|
|TB||Alex Colome||Sergio Romo||Chaz Roe|
|TEX||Keone Kela||Kevin Jepsen||Chris Martin|
|TOR||Roberto Osuna||Ryan Tepera||Seung Hwan Oh|
|WSH||Sean Doolittle||Ryan Madson||Brandon Kintzler|
Al Melchior has been writing about Fantasy baseball and sim games since 2000, and his work has appeared at CBSSports.com, BaseballHQ, Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster and FanRagSports. He has also participated in Tout Wars' mixed auction league since 2013. You can follow Al on Twitter @almelchiorbb and find more of his work at almelchior.com.