Arizona Diamondbacks: The team announced Tuesday that Brad Boxberger and not Archie Bradley will open the season as the team’s closer. This is somewhat of a surprise as Bradley was the favorite to win the job at the beginning of spring training. It appears that the Diamondbacks came to the conclusion that having Bradley available to pitch multiple innings on game day is more beneficial than having him pitch a single inning. This won’t be the last time we talk about the Arizona closing situation this season.
Atlanta Braves: There is nothing wrong with Arodys Vizcaino as he will begin the 2018 MLB season as the Atlanta closer but a player to keep an eye on in deeper leagues is A.J. Minter. He may be the closer of the future and that future may come sooner than you think if Vizcaino’s performance slips or if he is dealt at some point this season. Minter has value even if he’s not closing as he can be a ratio protector who will add some strikeouts, even in a relief role.
— MLB (@MLB) March 29, 2018
Chicago White Sox: The Sox have decided to split the closer role between Joakim Soria and Nate Jones. This is terrible news for Fantasy owners as it decreases the value of both pitchers. With Soria being right-handed and Jones a southpaw it’s logical that the White Sox would play matchups and choose a closer based on who is batting in the ninth inning. Of course, this assumes that neither reliever is used earlier in the game. Jones was the better pitcher in spring training but he missed time early in the spring and his injury history could be the reason Chicago is holding off on naming a single closer. If I had to choose between the two, Jones would be my guy, but this is probably a situation to avoid if possible.
Miami Marlins: If there is one current closer that almost has no chance to keep the job all season, it’s Brad Ziegler. He will pick up saves for Miami in the early going but let’s face it; if he’s pitching well, he will be traded at some point, and if he’s not pitching well, Kyle Barraclough and Drew Steckenrider will be there to push him aside. How many saves do we expect Miami to gather this season anyway?
New York Mets: Yes, new manager Mickey Callaway has stated that he won’t be afraid to use Jeurys Familia or A.J. Ramos earlier than the ninth inning if the situation calls for it. This should not deter you from using Familia. If Ramos was left-handed, this would be more worrisome, but both are right-handers, so there isn’t much difference in using Familia earlier than Ramos. Plus, with the control problems that Ramos can have at times, it’s probably beneficial not to have him pitch the 9th inning on a permanent basis.
Philadelphia Phillies: While Hector Neris is expected to be the Philadelphia closer come Opening Day, Gabe Kapler has also let it be known that he isn’t against playing the matchup game in the ninth inning. In all honesty, this is the smart thing to do. Every game isn’t necessarily “saved” in the ninth inning. Sometimes the most important outs are gathered in the seventh or eighth inning. Still, not having one closer rarely works. Neris is still the reliever you want.
St. Louis Cardinals: With Luke Gregerson expected to open the season on the disabled list due to a hamstring injury, Dominic Leone is expected to be the team’s primary closer for at least the first half of April. What happens when Gregerson returns will likely depend upon how well Leone pitches. Gregerson is far from a lock to regain the closer role if Leone is pitching well. It’s also safe to wonder if this is the team that will eventually make a run at free agent Greg Holland. He is likely better than either Gregerson or Leone.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.
Brad Boxberger Photo Credit: AP Photo/Carlos Osorio