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2017 MLB Closer Depth Chart: National League East

It's still early to talk baseball. Spring Training hasn't started yet. The Super Bowl buzz hasn't even died down. But it's never too early to talk about baseball, especially when it comes to the critical, sometimes-obnoxious category of saves and the closers who earn them.

Today we are here to discuss the MLB closer depth chart for the NL East, projecting closers and setup men mos likely to rack up saves and holds in the 2017 fantasy baseball season. To read about the other divisions, just click here.

The National League East is a top-heavy division in terms of overall teams, and that holds true in the bullpens as well. Let's dig in team by team.

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Atlanta Braves

Closer: Jim Johnson

Volatility Rating: Questionable

Other Relevant RPs: Arodys Vizcaino, Mauricio Cabrera

Veteran reliever Jim Johnson signed a two-year, $10 million extension with the Braves and is expected to serve as the team's closer. Arodys Vizcaino filled that role for a while last season and would be first to step back in if Johnson falters or is hurt. Cabrera is a hard thrower who needs to learn to pitch, but he has some upside if things fall his way. Still, this is the 2017 Braves and 2017 Jim Johnson we're talking about, so there's not a huge amount of fantasy value in this bullpen despite Johnson's solid 9.46 K/9 and 3.06 ERA in 2016.

Fantasy must-own: none

Worth fantasy consideration: Jim Johnson (should be owned in deep leagues)

 

Miami Marlins

Closer: A.J. Ramos

Volatility Rating: Questionable

Other Relevant RPs: Brad Ziegler, Kyle Barraclough

A.J. Ramos is locked in as the team's closer to start the season, but the team re-did most of the bullpen, signing veterans Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa, so Ramos' metaphorical leash may not stretch too long this season. He was great last season, but showed some concerning control issues at times (4.92 BB/9). He's a worthwhile fantasy closer, but players in deeper leagues (especially where holds count) would do okay to handcuff him with Ziegler or Barraclough just in case Ramos' severe 2014 control problems (6.05 BB/9) show up again.

Fantasy must-own: A.J. Ramos

Worth fantasy consideration: Brad Ziegler (should be owned in deep leagues and all holds leagues), Kyle Barraclough (should be owned in deep leagues and in all leagues that count K/9)

 

New York Mets

Closer: Jeurys Familia

Volatility Rating: Volatile (at least to start the season)

Other Relevant RPs: Addison Reed, Hansel Robles

Mets closer Jeurys Familia was easily one of the top closers in fantasy baseball last season (9.73 K/9, 2.55 ERA, and 51 saves). This season, however, he will likely face a suspension stemming from a domestic violence incident that occurred in the offseason. It has yet to be determined what exact discipline he will face, but it is possible he misses a significant number of games. In that case, Addison Reed becomes an excellent pitcher to own in saves/holds leagues. He will start the season off as the team's closer and likely slide back into his setup role once Familia returns, even though he had a better season (outside of saves numbers) last year than Familia. Reed has been excellent lately and will be able to hold his own as a closer as long as necessary, ideally building on his 2016 10.55 K/9 and 1.97 ERA (backed up by an identical 1.97 FIP).

Fantasy must-own: Jeurys Familia/Addison Reed (pending MLB disciplinary action)

Worth fantasy consideration: Addison Reed (if Familia does not start the season suspended, Reed should still be considered in deep leagues and is a must-own in holds leagues)

 

Philadelphia Phillies

Closer: Jeanmar Gomez

Volatility Rating: Highly Volatile

Other Relevant RPs: Hector Neris, Joaquin Benoit

The Phillies made something out of nothing last year in their bullpen, but this season they went out and signed a more experienced late inning arm in Joaquin Benoit. Nonetheless, the Phillies announced yesterday that Gomez would be the closer. Gomez did have 37 saves last year, but he is simply not a great pitcher, and is bound to lose the role soon enough. Benoit has only 51 career saves, but he's been a mainstay near the back of the bullpen for various teams for 10 years now. He will almost certainly serve as the team's closer soon enough. Hector Neris is a very interesting name because of his strikeout upside too (11.43 K/9), and he can be rostered in Holds leagues or very deep mixed or NL only leagues. The smart money is on Neris topping 20 saves and taking over the role by mid-summer.

Fantasy must-owns: Gomez (sorta)

Worth fantasy consideration: Jeanmar Gomez (should be owned in deep leagues), Hector Neris (should be owned in leagues that count K/9 or holds)

 

Washington Nationals

Closer: Shawn Kelley

Volatility Rating: Solid

Other Relevant RPs: Blake Treinen, Sammy Solis

The Nationals bullpen doesn't have a lot of big names, but it has a lot of big arms. Kelley is an excellent relief pitcher who has worked mostly as a setup man. He's never entered a season as a team's closer, but has posted K/9 rates over 11 for four consecutive seasons. Barring a late-offseason change, he will get a chance to enter the season as the clear cut closer for the first time. Due to a lack of name recognition, he may be had in later rounds than his talent and production imply. Keep an eye out for him in the later rounds, as he's almost sure to bring back more value than other relievers drafted around him.

Fantasy must-owns: Shawn Kelley

Worth fantasy consideration: Blake Trienen (for holds leagues and as Kelley's handcuff)

 

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