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2017 Fantasy Baseball: American League Closer Battles

Senior Fantasy Baseball Expert Adam Ronis reviews some turbulent bullpens as relievers fight for the closing job in the American League!

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The chase for saves is a constant struggle in most leagues. There is constant turnover at the closer position and getting a jump start and speculating early can save you FAAB money or keep a high spot in the waiver wire order.

As we get closer to the start of the season, some of the battles will clear up. If you draft early and have several bench spots, then stashing the bench with potential closers makes sense. If one of those pitchers is named closer by Opening Day, you have a potential gem.

Here are some American League relievers that have the potential to get saves at some point. Not all of them should be drafted depending on the depth of your league, but keep an eye on them.

RP Cameron Bedrosian, Los Angeles Angels


Huston Street might start the season as the closer since he's the veteran with more experience. He turns 34 in August and is coming off a knee injury. Street was hit harder than ever and his strikeout percentage dropped from 22.4 percent to 13.3 percent while his walk rate went from 7.8 percent to 11.4 percent. The swinging strike rate decreased from 13.2 percent to 8.7 percent. Street only pitched in 22.1 innings so we are dealing with a small sample and it could have been all health related. Bedrosian is a better pitcher right now and the closer of the future. The one issue Bedrosian struggled with in the minors was walks and it improved in the majors last season. In 40.1 innings, Bedrosian had a 1.12 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and a 51:14 K:BB ratio, allowing only one home run. He averages 95 miles per hour and 83 miles per hour with his slider. Bedrosian had surgery to remove a blood clot in his throwing arm and had a sore groin early in the spring, but he should be the closer at some point.

RP Matt Bush, Texas Rangers

Sam Dyson will open the year as the closer, but he doesn't have the typical dominant profile one wants from a closer. It doesn't mean he can't succeed. He has good control and induces a lot of ground balls, but he had a 1.22 WHIP and doesn't get a lot of swings and misses. After off the field issues, Bush made his major league debut at age 31 last season. In 61.2 innings, Bush had a 2.48 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and a 61:14 K:BB ratio to go with a 13.2 swinging strike rate. Bush can be drafted in deeper mixed leagues.

RP Santiago Casilla, Oakland A's


The A's job is up for grabs. Ryan Madson saved 30 of 37 games last season, but had a 6.82 K/9 and the fact that Bob Melvin has not named him closer yet is worrisome. The A's signed 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 is the best arm of the three, 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 and missed 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. My guess is Casilla opens the year with the job, but based on what we know now, all three are worth a shot late in drafts.

RP Joe Jimenez, Detroit Tigers

Francisco Rodriguez looks shaky at times, but he gets the job done. He saved 44 games last season, but saw his lowest strikeout percentage at 22.1 percent and the walk rate jumped from 5.1 percent to 8.9 percent. Jimenez is a deep sleeper and could start the season in the minors. He's a good pick in the 50-round draft champions leagues and possible reserve pick in AL-only leagues. He throws in the mid to upper 90s and pitched at three levels last season showing good strikeout ability.

RP Nathan Jones, Chicago White Sox

It's clear the White Sox are rebuilding and David Robertson could be traded whether it's before the season or before the trade deadline. Jones was excellent last season and is someone to draft late. In 70.2 innings, he allowed 48 hits, walked 15 and struck out 80. He had a 2.29 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and a 14.3 percent swinging strike rate. Even if he doesn't close right away, his strong ratios help in deeper mixed leagues.

RP Trevor May, Minnesota Twins

May is competing for a spot in the rotation, so keep a close eye on what the Twins do with him. Brandon Kintzler is slated to open as the closer, but doesn't have the best profile to close and Glen Perkins is coming off a shoulder injury. Don't be surprised if May closes at some point.


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