Brad Johnson

Saves and Steals

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Entering the Stretch Run

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

We're getting to the point in the season where the slow motion symphony of closer upheaval is running out of time. For the most part, the closers you see today will retain their jobs throughout the remainder of the season. The obvious exception is with injury and those few locations with season long problems like Detroit and San Francisco.


Fantasy trade deadlines are also fast approaching. Since the prospect for finding saves on the waiver wire is bleak, now is the time to swing a deal. Saves are one of the easiest categories to control in fantasy baseball, and they can be pretty easy to acquire from the right owner. Owners in keeper leagues can look down the standings for that rival with three good relievers and no hope for victory. A modest keeper might be all that is required to net two or more saves specialists.


Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball League for Wednesday night's MLB games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:10pm ET on Wednesday. Here's the FanDuel Link.


Tier 1: Elite (5)


Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves

Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds

Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals

Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers

Koji Uehara, Boston Red Sox


The elites are doing their thing. Kimbrel performed the best. Over three appearances, he saw nine batters and retired them all en route to two saves. Jansen was a close second, he required 10 batters to record nine outs in his three appearance week. He also saved two.


Holland picked up four saves. He allowed a run and seven base runners over his four innings of work, so it wasn't a flawless week.


Uehara was most busy of the elites. He appeared five times and recorded four saves. The elder statesman of the group might get a day of rest soon, so think about rostering Junichi Tazawa.


Chapman came in for just one non-save situation. He allowed a hit and a walk, but he also struck out two batters.


Tier 2: Nearly Elite (4)


David Robertson, New York Yankees

Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins

Sean Doolittle, Oakland Athletics

Huston Street, Los Angeles Angels


For the second week in a row, this tier saw very little action. Perkins was the busiest with three appearances, one save, and a blown save. There's no story here, he walked a guy and then allowed a hit. It happens.


Robertson and Doolittle each appeared once in the last calendar week to pick up an easy save. Street appeared twice – both times in non-save situations.


Tier 3: Rock Steady (6)


Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians

Steve Cishek, Miami Marlins

Fernando Rodney, Seattle Mariners

Joaquin Benoit, San Diego Padres

Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles

Francisco Rodriguez, Milwaukee Brewers


What an ugly week for Cishek. The righty allowed five runs in 3.2 innings. Luckily for the Marlins, he did not blow a save or take a loss in that period. In fact, he locked down three saves during the rocky week. The team decided to give him the day off yesterday, so they turned to Bryan Morris to lock down the ninth. Morris wasn't quite up to the task, and lefty specialist Mike Dunn came on to finish off left-handed hitter Matt Adams. Cishek's job is safe – that's why he's only moved down one spot. If something does happen, it looks like the pecking order is Morris then A.J. Ramos, with Dunn taking the occasional tough lefty.


Rodney pitched in three straight games against the White Sox. He saved the first, took the loss in the second on an unearned run, and allowed three hits and a run in the third en route to the save. He locked down another save last night. Needless to say, it was a busy and eventful week for Rodney. The story remains the same. So long as he keeps a handle on his walks, he should be an above average closer.


The Padres handed Benoit three save opportunities, and he converted them without incident. His 1.68 ERA overstates his talent, but only slightly. He'll probably allow a run every fourth inning or so.


Britton got spanked around in his latest appearance. A walk, a hit, and a home run led to three runs. I warned you last week that Britton could occasionally get dinked to death. Like many sinker ball pitchers, he has a very high HR/FB ratio. Theoretically, sinker ball pitchers throw more cookies when the occasional pitch doesn't sink enough. Since his ground ball rate is at 76 percent, he doesn't allow enough fly balls to worry about his home runs.


These past two weeks, I was very close to pushing Rodriguez down a tier. He's given me no cause to do so with three more saves. He's up to seven appearances without a run allowed.


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Brad Johnson is a baseball writer for Rotoworld, FanGraphs, The Hardball Times, MLBTradeRumors and The Fake Baseball. He can be found on Twitter @BaseballATeam.
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