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2017 Fantasy Baseball: Preseason Closer Report

In Fantasy Baseball, the closer landscape is constantly in flux. Fantasy Triple Threat Adam Ronis makes sense of a handful of situations to keep you abreast of the latest developments.

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Ken Giles The Likely Closer in Houston

After the Astros had acquired Ken Giles in a trade last season from the Phillies, the majority thought he would be the closer for Houston. It didn't happen to begin the season, and eventually, Giles got the job in August and finished with 15 saves.

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Giles will enter 2017 as the closer and is a Top 10 closer. Manager A.J. Hinch did say that he will consider using the closer before the ninth inning if the situation calls for it. The Astros have depth with Luke Gregerson, Will Harris, and Chris Devenski.

Giles allowed three home runs over two years with the Phillies spanning 115.2 innings and allowed eight last season with the Astros in 65.2 innings. Four of the home runs came in the first month of the season. In his first ten innings, Giles allowed ten runs, After a slow start, Giles was dominant.

In 28.2 innings in the second half, Giles struck out 52 and walked 14 in 28.2 innings. He did allow 12 earned runs, although six came in one appearance where he recorded one out. Giles is much better than his surface numbers and could come at a discount.

Giles had a 4.11 ERA, but a 2.67 xFIP. Giles had a 35.7 percent strikeout rate and an 8.7 percent walk rate. Giles was also hurt by a .349 BABIP. He had a 14.5 percent HR/FB rate and his career average is 7.2 percent. Giles averages 97.2 miles per hour on his fastball and just needs to command it better since his slider is great. Giles had a swinging strike rate of 19.9 percent.

Giles has all the ingredients to be a dominant closer so draft him with confidence.

Jeanmar Gomez Enters As Closer

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Jeanmar Gomez would enter the season as the closer. Don't count on Gomez holding on to the job. I didn't think Gomez would keep the job all season last year and he kept getting the job done before unraveling in a major way.

Over the last 20 innings, Gomez allowed 35 hits, 22 earned runs and walked 10. While Gomez saved 37 of 43 games, he doesn't have the skills to close long term. Gomez had a 6.16 K/9 and had a low 7.3 swinging strike percentage.

Hector Neris and Joaquin Benoit are better bets to closer. Let someone else take Gomez first and take Neris and Benoit a few rounds later. Benoit is the veteran and has some experience closing and managers tend to lean in that direction.

A's Closer Cloudy

If you want to know who will close for the A's, manager Bob Melvin did you no favors. He said spring performances will have no impact on the decision and said multiple guys could get opportunities to close games. This is not ideal for fantasy.

Ryan Madson saved 30 of 37 games last season, but had a 6.82 K/9 and clearly didn't do enough to win over Melvin. The A's signed Santiago Casilla to a two-year, $11 million contract and he has closer experience. He saved 31 of 40 games for the Giants last season but lost his job late in the season.

Sean Doolittle has the best arm, but can't stay healthy. He pitched 39 innings last season and 13.2 innings in 2015. He had a labrum injury in his throwing shoulder that cost him two months last season. Doolittle had a 10.38 K/9, 1.85 BB/9, averaged 94.8 miles per hour with his fastball and had a 15.6 percent swinging strike percentage. He allowed a 54.7 percent fly ball rate and 1.38 HR/9.

The A's also have John Axford, who has closer experience. If you're drafting early, you can't invest much in any of them. It's worth taking a shot late in the draft or spending a few bucks in an auction on Casilla and Doolittle. Someone will likely overpay for Madson and with Melvin not naming him closer when he had the job last season doesn't express he's confident about Madson being the answer.


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