The American League Central features the AL Champion Cleveland Indians, then a pair of if-everything-goes-right possible contenders in the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals, and rounded out by the rebuilding Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox. Of course, the "good" teams have good fantasy options, but there is some value to be drawn from the "bad" teams as well. Fantasy baseball is never about only drafting the players on good teams, and oftentimes good players on not-so-good teams can make the difference in fantasy.
Today we are here to discuss the closer depth chart for the AL Central, including fantasy baseball items like closers, saves, and holds. To read about the other divisions, just click here.
Here's a look at the back of the bullpen depth charts for the division.Editor's note: Get 50% off any MLB Premium Pass. Draft guide, cheat sheets, 200 days of DFS access, and over 20 premium tools. Dominate your leagues all year long! Sign Up Now!
Chicago White Sox
Closer: David Robertson
Volatility Rating: Volatile
Other Relevant RPs: Nate Jones
The Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time in basically forever. Meanwhile, the Chicago White Sox are rebuilding, trading away key players including their best pitcher this offseason. Still, there could be fantasy value in the White Sox bullpen, but where that value comes from could change greatly if players move to new teams. The current White Sox closer is David Robertson, and although the Volatility Rating says "Volatile", he is certain to begin the year as the team's closer if he is on the team.The reason for the "Volatile" listing is due to the fact that Robertson has been mentioned in several trade rumors throughout the offseason. The Washington Nationals were said to be interested, and presumably still are. Other clubs were also looking at the right handed closer as a late inning option. Despite a low projected win total for the White Sox, Robertson is a high strikeout guy who can provide plenty of fantasy value. He saved 37 games last season while striking out 75 batters in 62 1/3 innings. If he stays in Chicago or gets traded to a team where he will close, he is absolutely worth owning in all formats, however, as a setup man, he would only be worth rostering in holds leagues.
Nate Jones is another solid arm in the Chicago bullpen. Last season, he picked up 28 holds while striking out 80 in 70 2/3 innings. His ERA and WHIP were both great too, at 2.29 and 0.89, respectively. Jones is certain to take over the ninth inning if Robertson is traded at any point in the season, and he would make a great fantasy closer if given that chance. Even without a set closer role, Jones is a great setup man and should have plenty of value in any leagues that count holds.
Fantasy must-own: David Robertson (if in a closer role)
Closer: Cody Allen
Volatility Rating: Solid
The Cleveland Indians were so close to a World Series Championship last year, so what did they do this season? They went out and got better, signing 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion to the largest free agent contract in team history. The Tribe is set for another excellent season and should be World Series contenders once again. The bullpen is a definite strength, and it's led by closer Cody Allen. Despite one of the best relievers in baseball, Andrew Miller, residing in the bullpen, manager Terry Francona has already named Allen his closer. Miller will work as a setup man and reprise the role he played so well in last year's playoffs. Back to Allen for a bit: while he's no Andrew Miller, he's a great closer in his own right. Last season, he saved 32 games and posted a 2.51 ERA with an even 1.00 WHIP. He struck out 87 batters in 68 innings. He's worth a spot on any fantasy team, but of course the small concern is Miller nipping at his heels if he struggles a bit.
Andrew Miller has become a well known name to anyone who follows baseball. If he were given a clear-cut ninth inning role, Miller would be a top-three closer in fantasy and real baseball. Instead, he's probably the best setup man in the game. Last season, Miller had 12 saves and 26 holds, a 1.45 ERA, and a 0.69 WHIP. He struck out an unbelievable 123 batters in 74 1/3 innings. That strikeout upside and minuscule ERA/WHIP numbers make him worthy of a spot in deep leagues and AL-only leagues even where holds don't count, and make him an absolute must-own in any holds leagues.
Worth fantasy consideration: Bryan Shaw (in holds leagues)
Closer: Francisco Rodriguez
Volatility Rating: Solid
The Detroit Tigers will enter the 2017 season with "K-Rod" Francisco Rodriguez as their closer. There were some rumors early in the offseason that he would be available "for the right price," but the Tigers must not have found any enticing enough offers. K-Rod is only 35, despite seemingly having been in the league forever. While he's not the flamethrower he once was, he's still a very solid ninth inning option. Last season, he saved 44 games, posting a 3.24 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. He struck out 52 in 58 1/3 innings. He's likely to be available in the later rounds of fantasy drafts, and while he won't provide the value a top-tier closer will, he won't be a problem on a fantasy squad and can be relied on for saves and strikeouts day to day.
Also in the Tigers bullpen and worth a look in fantasy leagues is lefty Justin Wilson. He had 25 holds last season and struck out 65 in 58 2/3 innings. His ERA was a bit disappointing at 4.14, and his 1.33 WHIP wasn't much better. Still, he's likely to enter the season as the clear cut setup man for the Tigers, and those holds are a valuable commodity in certain leagues.
Fantasy must-own: Francisco Rodriguez (all formats)
Worth fantasy consideration: Justin Wilson
Kansas City Royals
Closer: Kelvin Herrera
Volatility Rating: Solid
Other Relevant RPs: Joakim Soria
The Kansas City Royals traded elite closer Wade Davis this offseason for high-upside outfielder Jorge Soler. That means last year's setup man, Kelvin Herrera, gets promoted to the closer's role. He got a taste of it last season, saving 12 games and earning 26 holds as well. He put up a 2.75 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP. He also struck out 86 over 72 innings. Herrera has always had the upside to be one of the better closers in baseball, and now he'll have a chance to prove it. Because of his relatively low key ascension into the ninth inning, Herrera may be had in the later rounds of fantasy drafts and will certainly bring back excellent value.
Joakim Soria had a disappointing 2016 season, posting a 4.05 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP, but he's still likely to enter the 2017 season as the team's primary setup man. He may bounce back and be a solid eighth inning guy for Ned Yost and the Royals, but there are more consistent, higher-upside options available in leagues that count holds.
Fantasy must-owns: Kelvin Herrera (all formats)
Worth fantasy consideration: Joakim Soria (deeper holds leagues)
Closer: Brandon Kintzler
Volatility Rating: Volatile
Other Relevant RPs: Glen Perkins
For years, the Minnesota Twins closer role belonged to Glen Perkins. He was solid, it was not a volatile rating at all. Lately, however, Perkins' shoulder has been volatile, allowing him only two appearances in 2016 and likely causing him to start the 2017 season on the disabled list as well. Perkins hopes to take over the closer role once he's healthy, and he's a great closer when healthy, so fantasy players in deep leagues with DL spots may want to consider taking him with their last draft pick, or perhaps keep an eye on him on waivers once he starts a rehab assignment.
In the meantime, Brandon Kintzler is the Twins closer this season, as he was for a large portion of last season. He saved 17 games and posted a 3.15 ERA with a 1.23 WHIP. He's not a strikeout pitcher by any means, as he punched out only 35 in 54 1/3 innings last season, but he's a solid reliever in a valuable position. Kintzler is worth a late pick because he will provide saves, but owners shouldn't expect much more and should be prepared for him to possibly lose his spot when (if?) Perkins returns.
Fantasy must-owns: Brandon Kintzler (for saves only)
Worth fantasy consideration: Glen Perkins (leagues with DL spots)