Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

Save Risers: 2018 MLB Season Recap


The 2018 season has now come and gone (so sad!), so it is now time to dive into trends and projections for next season! A tough statistic to find trends on is saves, as a lot of success for closers comes from success from teams. There are also a lot of bullpens by committee these days, further stifling the value of closers.

That being said, only four of the pitchers that ranked in the top-10 in saves in 2017 followed up in 2018. One of those pitchers had a huge jump in saves, but Wade Davis, Craig Kimbrel, and Kenley Jansen were all relatively in similar positions for saves in each of the last two seasons. While pitchers like Alex Colome and Greg Holland fell off of the leaderboard from 2017, new closer depth charts added new names for 2018.

Here is the list of the top save breakouts from 2018.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

 

SV Breakouts of 2018

Edwin Diaz (RP, SEA): SV Increase 2018(57)-2017(34) = +23

Starting with the best closer of the 2018 season, Edwin Diaz is one of four holdovers from the 2017 leaders. While the remainder of the players in this article will be those that had their situations change to make a leap as closers, Diaz was already entrenched as the fireman in Seattle prior to the season. Even though he was the closer, he was also coming off of a 2017 season where he had a 4.02 FIP, allowed 1.4 home runs per nine, and walked 4.4 batters per nine. 34 saves were nice, as were his 12.1 strikeouts per nine, but he did take a step back from his electric 2016 season.

Turning the page to 2018, Diaz did better than his 2016 season, where he struck out 88 batters in 51 2/3 innings while posting a 2.79 ERA, putting up one of the most dominant seasons from a relief pitcher ever. His 57 saves were the eye catcher for sure, but he also had a 1.61 FIP to go along with his 1.96 ERA and struck out 124 batters in 73 1/3 innings. He allowed just 41 hits in 2018 and posted a 0.79 WHIP, slashing his walk rate by more than half to 2.1 per nine.

Diaz is the top closer leading into the 2019 season, as the Mariners will continue to put him in the position to save 40 or more games. Even if the walks do return, he has walked three batters per nine throughout his professional career, Diaz's strikeout potential will mitigate any walk issues.

Blake Treinen (RP, OAK): SV Increase 2018(38)-2017(16) = +22

Continuing our journey through AL West closers that had huge 2018 seasons, many should have known that Oakland Athletics closer Blake Treinen would be a breakout player this season. After a woeful start to the 2017 season with the Nationals (5.73 ERA in 37 2/3 innings), his season (career?) turned around when he was traded for Sean Doolittle. Treinen became the closer for Oakland after the trade, saving 13 games and posting a 2.13 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 38 innings.

While Treinen's 2018 season seemingly came out of the blue, he did have a 2.28 ERA in 67 innings in 2016, albeit those were less high leverage innings and his FIP was 3.62. In 2018, Treinen pitched to an 0.78 ERA and 1.82 FIP, striking out 11.2 batters per innings and posting a 0.83 WHIP. His nine wins were a cherry on top of the huge season that included 38 saves and he allowed just 46 hits in 80 1/3 innings.

It will be tough for the 30-year-old to duplicate his efforts from 2018 in 2019, but the Athletics were a 97-win team this season and do have a young core that will put him in a position to save a lot of games. He should be considered with Craig Kimbrel as the 2nd closer off of the board leading into next season.

Brad Hand (RP, SD/CLE): SV Increase 2018(32)-2017(21) = +13

The addition of Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Brad Hand to this list was mainly to illustrate the ups and downs for closers. Hand was one of the most lockdown relievers of the 2017 season (posting a 2.16 ERA in 79 1/3 innings), but only saved 21 games with the Padres. He then saved 24 of his 29 opportunities with the Friars in 2018 before he was traded to the Indians.

With his trade to Cleveland, Hand was put in a better position to win, but only received 10 save opportunities, saving eight games and earning seven holds. He also saw his ERA drop (from 3.05 in 44 1/3 innings with San Diego to 2.28 in 27 2/3 innings with the Indians) while seeing his strikeout rate drop and WHIP rise. He still struck out 100 batters, for the third consecutive season, and saw his save tally jump double digits to 32 in 2018.

Even though he had somewhat of a roller coaster 2018 season, his stock is hot leading into 2019, as both Cody Allen and Andrew Miller are free agents for the Tribe. There is still a chance that one of the two could return to the AL Central champions, but, for now at least, it can be assumed that Hand is the closer leading into 2019. If that is the case, there is absolutely top-five RP upside for Hand and he could be a mid-round steal.

Shane Greene (RP, DET): SV Increase 2018(32)-2017(9) = +23

After looking at three relievers that were among the best in baseball, we will now go to one that saw his ERA jump by nearly 2.5 points. After a 2017 season where he struck out 73 batters in 67 2/3 innings and pitched to a 2.66 ERA, Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Shane Greene was a hot name as a sleeper closer this season. He had no pedigree leading into 2017, he was a failed starter both with the Yankees and Tigers, but he was also the only reliever in place for saves in Motown.

Fast forward to the end of the season, Greene did see his save tally jump from nine at the end of 2017 to 32 for the 2018 season, but he regressed in most other ways. He did his walk rate drop from 4.5 in 2017 to 2.7 in 2018, but he also saw his strikeout rate drop from 9.7 to 9.2 and his HR rate more than double from 0.8 to 1.7. While his 4.61 FIP shows that his 5.12 ERA was a bit unlucky, Greene was really just useful for the saves.

Whatever issues that Greene has, a closer is a closer and most leagues still have saves as a category. That being said, do not forget about Greene on draft day, hoping that he stays the closer in Detroit and could help his homer issues from last season.

Brad Boxberger (RP, ARI): SV Increase 2018(32)-2017(0) = +32

For our last closer on the list, we go to the 2015 American League saves leader. Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Brad Boxberger had 41 saves for the Rays in 2014, but had saved just three games in his other five seasons coming into 2018. With Archie Bradley in tow, it appeared that, at a minimum, Boxberger was holding the closer's role warm for the fireballer.

While Bradley may be the future for the Snakes, Boxberger was the present in 2018 and saved 32 games while striking out 71 batters in 53 1/3 innings. Sadly, that ends the good things that we can say about the Box, as he walked 32 batters, allowed 44 hits, and continued his trend of allowing at least one home run per nine. His 4.39 ERA was even a bit lucky (he had a 4.55 FIP) and his 1.42 WHIP fully shows how questionable he was as a closer.

There is very little reason to consider Boxberger as a closer option for 2019, but, much like Greene, saves are still a category and the Diamondbacks may want to lean on Boxberger as the closer to give Bradley the opportunity to pitch for longer periods. This also assumes that Boxberger is the most reliable option to finish games in the desert, which will likely not be the case, as the team will likely look for a better option in free agency.

More 2018 MLB Year In Review Articles




More Recent Articles

 

Running Back Start/Sit Advice - Week 15

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the running back position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 15 of the 2019 NFL season. They decide who to start or sit among those in RB3 or flex consideration. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest... Read More


Offensive Line Rankings Analysis: Week 15

Week 15 saw the game of the season in New Orleans, another statement win from the Baltimore Ravens, and rare back-to-back losses for the New England Patriots. It was quite a week, and generally a very high scoring and fun week for fantasy football as well. If you survived the first week of the fantasy... Read More


Week 15 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More


WR/TE Leaderboards After The First Playoff Round - NFL Next Gen Stats

Things finally got serious. If you're here, it's only because one of two reasons: 1) you have followed the series all along and want to keep reading just so you don't feel bad with yourself, or 2) you won your first round of the fantasy playoffs and are still on the lookout for the smallest... Read More


Week 15 Warning Signs: Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Julio Jones

You made the playoffs. Awesome. Now you have even won your first game. That is even better. But now what? There are many players, some of whom performed in the first round, who may not be so fortunate this week. Whether it is a bad matchup or injuries to key players around them, this could... Read More


Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery: Sit Your Studs?

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should... Read More


The Tape Tells All - Robby Anderson Fantasy Outlook

Welcome to another edition of "The Tape Tells All," where I break down some film of an NFL's player performance and try to draw some fantasy football conclusions from that film. This week, I'm looking at New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson, who's shaken off a slow start to the 2019 season by going... Read More


Fantasy Football Risers, Fallers - Zach Ertz, Emmanuel Sanders, Robert Woods

Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement.... Read More


Deeper League Free Agent Pickups for Week 15

The first week of the fantasy playoffs is in the books, and hopefully you're still writing another chapter in it. Week 14 was absolutely brutal from an injury perspective, with several big name players getting carted off the field and burying multitudes of fantasy teams in the process. Mike Evans, Calvin Ridley, Devante Parker, Alshon... Read More


Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 15 Le'Veon Bell (flu) is back at practice and should return for TNF. Bilal Powell (ankle, flu) is likely... Read More


Week 14 Surprises? We Must Overreact Immediately!

In Week 14, the quarterback position was littered with surprises. Drew Brees dropped over 40 fantasy points on a 49ers Defense that's given up the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks on the season and Jameis Winston hung 456 yards and 5 touchdowns on a Colts Defense that's been solid against the pass all year. Mitch... Read More


The Cut List - Players on the Chopping Block (Week 15)

This is your weekly list of players to drop. I will do my best to limit this list to injured players and players you might consider holding. If you roster pure handcuffs or backups, obviously you can let them go at any time. The players on this list will, ideally, be guys that aren't clearly... Read More


Week 15-16 Playoff Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Still doing things a little differently this week--for those of you who are still alive. I want to take a look at the playoffs as a whole (and in this case we are considering Weeks 14-16) and determine which DSTs you can ride all the way through and which ones you should stream this week.... Read More


Week 15 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Week 15 is here and for those of you that won the first week of your fantasy playoffs, congratulations. If you had a bye week, good luck to you this week. Kicker lives still matter, and three different kickers had 15 or more points last week. Three different kickers outscored Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick... Read More


FAAB Bidding - Week 15 Waiver Wire Targets

Assisting our famous waiver wire pickups list, and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB). As a caveat, these prices do not by any means indicate how much these free agent players will... Read More