Searching For Saves: Spring Training News & Notes: The Closer Carousel Is Turning (Wade Davis To Close For Colorado & More)


During the Spring Training we’ve grown accustomed to clichés and role rumors being thrown around fairly liberally.  In the past few days, as pitchers and catchers have been reporting, there’s been quite a bit of chatter surrounding closers.  Let’s take a look at who is expected to close and who may not have the role:

Colorado Rockies
Wade Davis confirmed as closer

Of all the closer news we’ve gotten over the past few days, this one may be the most surprising.  Davis completely washed out as closer in ’19, posting an 8.65 ERA over 42.2 IP as all of his “skills” took a step backwards (and were unimpressive):

  • Strikeouts – 8.86 K/9
  • Control – 6.12 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 38.3%

His velocity continued to regress, averaging 93.2 mph (at his best he averaged 95.9 mph in ’15), and he was consistently hit hard (39.8% Hard%).  He does have a track record, and that appears to be why he’ll get the first opportunity, but even in ’18 he was hardly dominant (4.13 ERA, 6 BSV).  Don’t downgrade Scott Oberg, who will work as the primary setup man, because Davis will likely have a very short leash.

Draft Day Decision – Davis is worth the flier, but continue to target Oberg

Boston Red Sox
Brandon Workman confirmed as closer

Workman earned 13 saves after the All-Star Break, so this one seemed fairly obvious.  That said there are a few red flags that can’t be overlooked:

  • Strikeouts – His 12.7% SwStr% doesn’t justify his 13.06 K/9
  • Control – He struggled with a 5.65 BB/9
  • Home Runs – Regardless of his groundball rate, does anyone believe his 0.13 HR/9
  • Luck – Workman benefited from a .209 BABIP, so there’s little doubt he regresses

Put that all together and would it be surprising if early season struggles lead to him pitching his way out of the role?

Draft Day Decision – Grab Matt Barnes and wait for his inevitable opportunity

Pittsburgh Pirates
Keone Kela confirmed as closer

Considering the status of Felipe Vasquez, as well as Kela’s success in the role with the Rangers in 2018 (24-for-25 in SV opportunities), this seemed like the obvious result.  He thrived when healthy in ’19 (2.12 ERA), and while that’s not the only question (home runs and a regression in luck loom) it’s not enough of a red flag.  The upside is there to be a solid CL2, and he’s a borderline Top 15 closer.

Draft Day Decision – Target Kela as a CL2

Source – Fangraphs

Make sure to check out all of our 2020 preseason rankings:

PositionLast Updated
First Basemen02/13/20
Second Basemen02/18/20
Third Basemen02/21/20
Starting Pitchers03/09/20
Relief Pitchers03/03/20


    • I do like Anderson, but given Tampa Bay’s history I’m not sold that he’s going to be the closer all season long. I’d say he is the best guess, but not a lock for the full season


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