Fantasy Fallout: Francisco Rodriguez Returns to Milwaukee, But Is He A Trustworthy Closer?

by Ray Kuhn

It is not even March yet and our closer rankings already need significant revising. After how things have been going the past few seasons, should anyone really be surprised? Rafael Soriano is still unsigned and trade rumors continue to surround Jonathan Papelbon. In reality this is the next of many events that will cause turmoil to fantasy bullpens throughout 2015.

If anything, the shock should be that it took this long for the inevitable reunion of Francisco Rodriguez and the Milwaukee Brewers. So now, let’s take a look at the fantasy impact of the move.

For those of you that have already drafted, that sound you heard was Jonathan Broxton’s value crashing. He does have past experience with the job, three seasons of 20-plus saves, but at this point in his career no one is going to confuse him with Wade Davis and other top set-up men.

In each of the past four seasons Broxton has struck out 7.5 batters or less per nine innings, so that eliminates the majority of his value if he is not getting saves. Additionally, the difference between his ERA of 2.30 and his expected ERA of 3.74 can’t make fantasy owners feel good. You can also expect to see his 24% hit rate to rise in 2015 which will hinder his value.  Unless he suddenly moves in line for saves again, it is safe to cut bait with him and eliminate him from your draft boards.

Rodriguez on the other hand now should slide right into draft boards as a mid-tier Closer 2 in mixed leagues.  Last season he saved 44 games in 49 chances for the Brewers, and while I am not banking on a repeat of that total it is possible based on some of his underlying skills.

If you are looking for a reason to bet against Rodriguez, it would be the luck he experienced last season with a hit rate of just 23% after an average hit rate of 31.5% over the past four seasons. However he can expect to see his 23% HR/FB rate decrease, as it was 15% and 12% the previous two seasons. Additionally the 33-year old’s ERA appeared to be spot on, 3.04, compared to an expected ERA of 2.99.

With a Swing Strike Rate remaining relatively constant around 12%, there is no reason not to expect a repeat of last season where Rodriguez struck out 73 batters in 68 innings.

After struggling in 2012 and 2013, it appears Rodriguez has once again found his groove, and should continue to return value at the closer position as a mid-level option.

Source: Baseball HQ

Make sure to check out all of our 2015 rankings:

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