A Closer Tried Called Quest
First off I would like to dedicate this article to one of most underrated rap groups ever, A Tribe Called Quest. As a youngsta, wanting to be a gangsta, I used to listen to almost every gangsta rap cassette tape available. Yeah, notice I said cassette tapes which means I am getting old. I also watched every thug/mob type movies that existed during that time frame. Those of you close to my age know what I am talking about and for all you youngsters out there, you need to ignore this because it’s for “Grown Folks.” Some of these movies included: Boyz n the Hood, Juice, New Jack City, South Central, Menace II Society, A Bronx Tale, Good Fellas, Scarface, and The Godfather.
Anyways, the point that I was trying to make was that I listened to the wrong music. Let me re-phrase that comment slightly, 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. do not count because they are and will always be legends in the Rap/Hip-hop community. I use to always have this energy in me to be a bad guy, gangsta or wise guy. Well I am 5 foot 7 inches and don't look very tough, so you see how far that went. I keep digressing to the real point of this, and that is the older we get the more our tastes change. For instance, I don’t really even listen to rap music anymore. I get bored easily and I was getting bored with the current music that I was listening to and decided to reminisce on the past. I broke out every album made by A Tribe Called Quest. Music has changed a lot since “Back in the days when I was a teenager,” but I must say that A Tribe Called Quest is very good. The older I get the more I appreciate certain things especially individuality and uniqueness. What I am trying to explain is that closers are like cassette tapes in that they can only last so long and that you have to be ready for change. In the first two weeks of the MLB season there has been many colossal changes at the end of the game. Let’s take a look at the “Scenario” of the first two weeks.
Be sure to reference RotoBaller's awesome MLB Closer and Saves Depth Charts for up-to-date closer statuses.
A Closer Colossal Called Quest
Jose Veras: Let’s get right to the point - whether you have watched him pitch or peaked at the box scores, Veras has been terrible, and now he's out at closer. The problem is that Pedro Strop has not been much better, so what do you do? Grab Hector Rondon immediately. My dark horse sleeper, Arodys Vizcaino is in the minors developing his skill set. Blake Parker is also in the minors so the best sleeper for saves right now is Hector Rondon.
Jonathan Broxton: Apparently Jonathan Broxton is the man while Aroldis Chapman is on the DL. Broxton did pitch the 9th inning on Friday in a non-save situation, walking one and striking out two in an inning of work. While Broxton might be considered the closer, I have a feeling that Bryan Price will use a certain closer based on situations. What I mean by that is I think that Broxton will be the main closer with Manny Parra being used in situational spots.
Jose Valverde: Valverde took over by default as closer when Bobby Parnell went out for the season with an injury (Tommy John’s Surgery). So far so good for Valverde, but many experts do not think that he can keep the job. I disagree and only because of the limited competition he has to face. Looking at this bullpen the only two threats I see are Gonzalez Germen and Carlos Torres. I think that Germen is the most intriguing because his change-up is absolutely nailz.
Jonathan Papelbon: In my opinion, which admittedly doesn’t mean much, there are only two reasons why Paperboy is still closing out games in the MLB. And they are because of money and lack of competition. Phillippe Aumont can you please start fulfilling your potential?
Huston Street: Huston Street has looked pretty good so far on the young season but how long can it last. When do we see Joaquin Benoit closing out games for Sahn Dee-aaahh-go, my guess is by the All Star break.
Francisco Rodriguez: Rodriquez has been lights-out so far this season, striking out 11 batters in only 6 innings with a pristine 0.00 era. He is also 4 for 4 in save chances so it does not look a changing at the guard will happen anytime soon.
Trevor Rosenthal: Rosenthal has been far from elite in this young season so hopefully his velocity increases and he gets back on track, as I think he will. The good news is that he is 4 for 4 in save chances so for now his job is safe. Carlos Martinez is most likely next in-line with Siegrist following Martinez at least until Jason Motte returns from the DL. Motte should return at the end of April or beginning of May and would probably be the pitcher to keep an eye on if Rosenthal continues to spiral.
Rafael Soriano: This is one that I did not see coming, Soriano is off to a great start this year. Soriano’s K rate is up a bit from last year but with about the same velocity. Assuming that he keeps pitching like this then I do not see a reason for concern at the moment. Tyler Clippard is getting bombed early and often so Drew Storen might be the best hand-cuff.
Tommy Hunter: As of right now Tommy Hunter’s job is safe, and my guess is that he has a decent size leash. I am worried about him being prone to giving up the long ball which could come back to haunt him. Darren O’Day is probably next in-line but I’d rather own stock in Evan Meek if Hunter can’t get it done.
Koji Uehara: Uehara is dealing with shoulder stiffness which is never a good thing. The team is stating that this is not serious but anytime the shoulder, forearm or elbow is involved, I get nervous and look at the other options. Edward Mujica has been temporarily anointed the closer’s role until Uehara’s shoulder gets better. Mujica hasn’t exactly pitched that well in the early going so a speculative add of Junichi Tazawa would not be a bad idea.
Matt Lindstrom: I really do not understand this move, making Lindstrom the closer but I’m not the manager. I guess the reasoning behind it is because he has closing “experience”, really, when? Oh, I see in 2009 and 2010 he saved a combined 38 games. That would be kind of impressive but the rest of his numbers do not shout out closer, but hey at least he has "experience". Ronald Belisario looks to be the next man up if Lindstrom falters but I’d rather take a chance on one of these younger fellows: Daniel Webb or Maikel Cleto. The problem with either of these two is that they both throw hard but they also walk a lot of batters.
Joe Nathan: Nathan is dealing with a “dead arm” at this present time, some may worry about this but I’m not just yet. Nathan has always been a great closer and I believe that he will work this out and get back to being a good game finisher for the Tigers. Al Alburquerquequerquequerquequerque and Joba Chamberlain would be the stop-gap options if Nathan needs a break.
2014 Houston Astros Pig Pen: Someone please explain to me how this happens. How do you enter a baseball season without a legitimate closer? In my experience of following closers, I have never seen a time when the “Closer-by-committee” actually works especially with the type of pitchers in this gem of a pig pen. Here is the best advice that I can give at this moment and that is to choose one of these five pitchers using the, “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” method because that is what I think Bo Porter is doing. Here are the five pitchers to pick from: Anthony Bass, Josh Fields, Matt Albers, Chad Qualls and Kevin Chapman. Ugh, that was exhausting just writing it, what a mess. If I had to choose one without doing the above method then I suppose Anthony Bass would be the guy because he has the most saves and that is 2. Good luck.
Shawn Kelley: This is only a temporary move because David Robertson is on track to return when he is supposed to on April 22nd. If for some reason Robertson suffers any type of setback then hold onto Kelley or if you are desperate, Dellin Betances could steal a few saves.
Jim Johnson: On April 10th and only 10 games into the season Johnson was removed as the Athletics closer. His confidence looked shot from the word go. This could be a temporary move and I say temporary because he is making $10,000,000. If this is a short-term move then Luke Gregerson, Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle could all receive save chances. In my mind, Ryan Cook is the best of the three but he just came off the DL and probably won’t pitch on back to back days. Doolittle just got his first save and has been dominant, so he and Gregerson are the best bets going forward.
Joakim Soria: Soria hasn’t exactly been sharp in the early going. I am going to keep this brief because I don’t think his job is in danger yet. If he were to continue to pitch ineffectively then I would hold shares of Alexi Ogando or Neftali Feliz if he were to get called up from Triple-A.
Sergio Santos: Casey Janssen is currently out with a back injury with Santos closing out games in his place. Janssen should get his job back when activated but Santos has pitched well in his absence and I’d like to see him keep the job.