Obviously the unknown of when the season will start has to change the perspective we put on moves made by MLB organizations. Just because someone is demoted today doesn’t mean they won’t be on the active roster when or if the season starts, especially since we don’t know when Opening Day will be or what rules will be in place in terms of roster size/construction.
That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t surprise when the news broke late in the week that Shaun Anderson had been demoted to Triple-A. Many believed that he had the inside track to open the year as San Francisco’s closer, but instead that job would appear to be going to someone else. Who is the favorite as of today? Who should we be focusing on? Let’s take a look, putting them in order as to who should be considered the best stash for fantasy owners:
Tyler Rogers (RHP)
Over 17.2 innings in the Majors Rogers showed a skillset that would lead you to believe that he could thrive in the later innings:
- Strikeouts – 8.15 K/9
- Control – 1.53 BB/9
- Groundballs – 69.4%
The control appears to be a bit misleading, considering his 4.06 BB/9 at Triple-A prior to his recall (62.0 IP). At the same time he had a 3.06 mark the year before at the level, so it’s not like he’s going to be a 4.50-5.00 BB/9 type pitcher.
He’s a sinker (67.06%) and slider (32.94%) pitcher, and while that caps the strikeout rate (think of him more as a 7.00-7.50 type, at best) the potential is there to evolve into a Zack Britton type threat. He was a career minor leaguer for a reason, but there’s enough here to think that he could succeed.
He was impressing this spring, with 7 K vs. 1 BB over 4.1 IP, and that puts him squarely on radars with the potential to run with the role if given the chance.
Tony Watson (LHP)
At this point it would appear that Watson is the favorite for the role on Opening Day, as the 34-year old veteran has proven capable of handling it before (he had 25 SV between 2016 and 2017). There are questions about the actual upside he brings, considering he’s posted a K/9 of 7.71 or worse in three of the past four seasons (and a poor 6.83 K/9 in ’19). Sure he has good control (2.00 BB/9 in ’19), but he has struggled to generate groundballs (43.9% in ’19) and that has led to home run issues (1.50 HR/9 in ’19).
You can argue that there’s more upside in his strikeout rate, considering his 12.7% SwStr% and 39.7% O-Swing%, but is that enough? Even if the strikeout rate returned to the 7.75-8.00 range, the results have been rather lackluster and he should be seen as a short-term fill-in until a true long-term alternative emerges.
Trevor Gott (RHP)
The owner of a 4.56 career ERA, it seems odd that he’d be on radars for the role. However over 52.2 IP last season he showed an intriguing skillset:
- Strikeouts – 9.74 K/9
- Control – 2.91 BB/9
- Groundballs – 43.1%
He posted a 10.8% SwStr%, though he also leans on his fastball quite a bit. Last season he threw his fourseam fastball 66.85% of the time, and you have to wonder how much success he’ll be able to have with it long-term though the pitch was impressive in ’19 as opponents hit .197 with a .287 SLG on it. It’s developing that secondary pitch that will be key, and if he can’t do that he’ll never be able to assume the role.
When he signed a free agent contract with the Giants the assumption has been that he’d transition back to the rotation. Is that a given, though? He appeared to find himself coming out of the bullpen in ’19, having thrived in the role:
- Starter – 6.37 ERA
- Reliever – 3.10 ERA
He did it with impressive strikeout stuff, generating an 11.95 K/9, as well as strong control (though he was solid at avoiding walks as both a starter and reliever). Home runs are going to be an issue (37.5% overall), but that’s not enough. If the Giants make the decision to move Gausman back to the bullpen he’d be the instant favorite to assume closing duties.
Sources – MLB.com, Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 Fantasy Baseball preseason rankings: