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David Marcillo's Bold Predictions for Closers

Fantasy sports can be just as frustrating as they can be fun, and few positions encompass that more than a fantasy baseball relief pitcher. A reliever can go from a fantasy darling to a completely meaningless name in your lineup overnight. And that's without an injury causing the issue.

With the recent trend of not naming a closer and instead going with matchups, it's getting even harder to predict bullpens for fantasy baseball. While the matchup/committee approach is the better strategy on the field, it sure makes for some headaches in the virtual world of fantasy sports. Even a set, every-save-opportunity closer can be frustrating because he depends so much on circumstance to be fantasy relevant. The best closer in the world won't be that significant in fantasy if his team wins games by more than three runs or, even worse, if his team just doesn't win games. Through no fault of his own, an elite fantasy closer can have a week where he is almost completely irrelevant.

Given all that, bold bullpen predictions should be fun because not only can they be a little more "out there" but also it'll be easy to hide from a totally wrong prediction at the end of the season. So, let's jump in with some Bold Bullpen Predictions for 2019.

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Kirby Yates Will Be a Top-Five Fantasy RP

This prediction has been swirling around some other articles, but it's still a bold prediction: Kirby Yates has 14 saves in his entire career. The Padres closer will have the job from Opening Day this year, giving him a chance to settle in for a season-long job in the ninth inning.

Yates posted an excellent 36.0 K% last season to go with his low 6.8 BB%. His biggest issue in the past has been his fly ball tendency, but he's done a great job in developing a splitter that induces plenty of ground balls. In 2017, he got just 28.9% ground balls, but that number shot up to 42.8% last season.

Playing in spacious Petco Park in San Diego, a few fly balls now and then won't be the death of a guy with otherwise excellent peripherals. Draft Yates as a top-10 closer before your league mates figure out who he is.


Shane Greene Keeps His Job Until the Trade Deadline

Already left for dead by many, Shane Greene will keep his closer's role until he is traded at the trade deadline. Joe Jimenez looks ready to step in right away, but the Tigers will have no reason to yank Greene from the job. Instead, he will get as many save chances as possible in an attempt to build his value before the trade deadline.

Teams will certainly check in on Jimenez as well, but this seems like it could finally be the "future" that Jimenez's "closer of the future" title has been harping on for years.


Cody Allen Loses His Job Before May 1

The Angels signed Cody Allen to be their closer, but Cody Allen posted a 4.70 ERA last season and lost his job as closer in Cleveland. His 27.7 K% is good enough, but the 11.4 BB% that comes with it creates some concern. He is by far the most experienced closer in the Angels bullpen, so he may end up with a longer leash than he deserves.

If new Angels manager Brad Ausmus is smart, however, he'll hand the ball over to Ty Buttrey sooner than later. Buttrey is a ground ball specialist (56.8% GB) who can get a strikeout when needed. 2018 was his rookie season and he posted a 28.6 K% with a 7.1 BB%, both solid numbers for a closer. Buttrey almost certainly won't start the season with the closer's role, but it shouldn't be long before he finds himself in the ninth inning with a small lead.


Tayron Guerrero Is the Most Valuable RP in the Marlins Bullpen

Drew Steckenrider and Adam Conley will both almost certainly get the chance to close as the season gets underway for the Marlins, but it's Tayron Guerrero who will make the biggest impact. Steckenrider is a fly ball pitcher who will start the season as a main part of Miami's ninth-inning committee, but without much of a secondary pitch and a penchant for allowing hard contact, he's unlikely to stick at the end of the game. Conley, a converted starter who has found himself in his new role, has good swing-and-miss stuff, but he's more of a "solid" reliever than he is anything approaching elite.

In steps Tayron Guerrero. Now, to be fair, Guerrero hasn't done much in his big league career yet. He posted a 5.43 ERA last season and walked 11.2% of the batters he faced. He had several outings where it looked like he'd be walking guys even if the strike zone were six feet wide. But...the upside. Guerrero throws 100 mph and has a brutal slider when it's working.

That will be the challenge for Guerrero this season. If he can get more consistent with his secondary pitch and command his fastball better, he could be one of the top relievers in the league. That's a huge if, but this is the stuff bold predictions are made of, right?

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