by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
For those who didn’t see our closer tweets this morning, I tweeted:
#FantasyBaseball Frieri finally completely pitched his way out of closers role w/3 ER last night. Smith to see opps, but look for a trade
— Rotoprofessor (@Rotoprofessor) June 27, 2014
I just didn’t think it would happen this quickly. Multiple sources have reported that the Pirates and Angels have swapped their recently demoted closers, as Jason Grilli has been dealt for Ernesto Frieri. How the closer situations play out in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh is a bit of a mystery, though here’s my best guess.
Mark Melancon has proven that he can handle closing duties over the past two seasons, racking up 30 saves in the process. With that type of success, while Ernesto Frieri has been yo-yo’ed in and out of the role, it’s hard to imagine the Pirates making a change. If Melancon struggles than Frieri would be next in line, but for now I just don’t see it.
This one is a little bit trickier. The Angels have moved Joe Smith into the closers role, with Frieri struggling, but is he really a closer? He has been pitching well thus far, but he does have a dramatic split:
- vs. Righties – .185/.236/.288
- vs. Lefties – .271/.354/.400
That’s a bit more extreme than it has been throughout his career, but he has always fared significantly better against righties than lefties. Is that really what you want from your closer? If you can’t trust him, regardless of who is coming up, then he’s not really a closer.
That should give Grilli an opportunity, maybe not initially but before long (unless he struggles in his first few appearances). He’s had problems with walks (4.87 BB/9) and home runs (1.77 HR/9) in 2014, so hopefully a change of scenery gets him back on track.
The fact of the matter is that this is purely conjecture on my part and both teams could go either way with their new closing situations. Monitor both closely to see what the managers ultimately decide, though long-term it’s likely that Melancon and Grilli are the best bets to earn saves.