Closers of the Future: Identifying Two Sleepers Who Could Emerge In 2017

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It’s not easy for a prospect to make the leap all the way to the closers role shortly after arriving in the Majors.  Teams tend to want some type of experience at the back of the bullpen, though there are times that pitchers have been able to force the issue (assuming the back of their team’s bullpen is in shambles).  There are a few relievers that are in situations where they could arrive quickly (due to recent injuries), so let’s take a look at who we should be watching:

 

Jimmie Sherfy – Arizona Diamondbacks
The questions are growing regarding Fernando Rodney, and while the Diamondbacks already have an alternative in the Majors (Archie Bradley) this is his first season operating in a relief role.  That’s not necessarily a knock, but the team is lucky enough to have a potential late inning reliever blossoming at Triple-A.

Over 32.1 IP in ’17 Sherfy has 41 K vs. 3 BB, with the strikeouts coming courtesy of a 12.6% SwStr%.  Those numbers have led to a 1.39 ERA and 0.74 WHIP, making you think that he’s a lock to produce upon reaching the Majors.  That said, there are some questions that need to be answered:

  1. Can he maintain this type of control?  He posted a 5.01 BB/9 over 23.1 IP at Triple-A in ’16 and has been extremely inconsistent throughout his career.
  2. Can he keep the ball in the ballpark? Pitching in Arizona, that could be a significant issue.  He’s allowed 4 HR this season, thanks to a 34.2% groundball rate (0.56 GO/AO).  He’s been better than that throughout his career, but it’s something we’re going to have to watch closely.

He certainly has the repertoire to thrive, as MLB.com described his stuff by saying:

“He does it with a fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper 90s with a ton of life and an above-average slider that is unhittable at times. His changeup is clearly his third pitch, and he’s started using it more, throwing it with splitter action. He can miss bats with all three and has shown he can throw multiple innings without losing any of his stuff.”

We’ll have to watch Sherfy closely, as once he gets his shot he could quickly move to the back of the bullpen.

 

Jimmy Herget – Cincinnati Reds
We spoke about Herget earlier in the season, and since then he’s moved to Triple-A and continued to thrive:

  • Double-A – 2.73 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
  • Triple-A – 1.80 ERA, 0.70 WHIP

If the results weren’t enough, he’s shown a lot of the skills that we want to see from a pitcher with a 12.48 K/9 (courtesy of a 13.7% SwStr%, which has jumped to 14.0% upon arriving at Triple-A) and 3.18 BB/9.  The concern is going to be in terms of home runs, as he’s posted a 31.5% groundball rate (33.3% at Triple-A).  It hasn’t been a problem as of yet, but it’s something we’ll have to watch closely.

There have been rumblings of a Raisel Iglesias trade, which we’ll believe when we see, but that could instantly open an opportunity for Herget (who is 20 for 23 in save opportunities in the minors this season).  With strikeouts and control, he’s a potential closer to watch.

 

Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Fangraphs

Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

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