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Week That Was

Week That Was: Closer Carousel

by Nick Nelson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

JJ Hoover opened the season as Cincinnati's closer. He didn't last long.


Hoover has a big arm, but his wild ways have gotten the best of him so far, leading to a hideous 2.25 WHIP through seven appearances. Reds manager Bryan Price announced this week that he has removed Hoover from the role and will move forward with a committee approach.


That's not necessarily great news from a fantasy perspective, but Hoover wasn't trustworthy anyway, so now perhaps someone will emerge that is.


Tony Cingrani and Blake Wood should both get some opportunities, but neither has looked great up to this point. Caleb Cotham, a 28-year-old righty acquired from New York in the Aroldis Chapman trade, has been the most effective member of the Reds bullpen, but he doesn't really have the stuff or pedigree of a shutdown ninth-inning guy. It's tough to predict which way this one will go.


The closer situation in Oakland is only slightly less ambiguous. Both Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson have recorded saves for the A's and skipper Bob Melvin doesn't seem too concerned with having a designated guy.


Madson is going to get most of the chances, and he's certainly the one to own. The veteran righty was signed to a surprising three-year, $22 million contract during the offseason and has experience as a quality closer. It's frustrating to see a few of his saves get siphoned away but if Madson keeps pitching the way he has I suspect that will happen less.


Finally, the closer situation in Philadelphia is another to monitor. Jeanmar Gomez has done a fine job filling the role, but a .241 BABIP and a 83 percent strand rate aren't going to last. He will inevitably become a liability, and at that point the door is open for Andrew Bailey.


The Phillies called up Bailey on Wednesday after a few impressive outings in Triple-A. The former star Oakland closer has been mired by injuries, limiting him to 52 total innings since 2011, but he looks healthy now. He's a sneaky pick-up in deep leagues.


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* Jake Arrieta threw a no-hitter. Ho-hum. It speaks to his sheer excellence that this might not even cause you to raise an eyebrow. Arrieta has been almost unhittable ever since the halfway point last year so it comes as no big shock that he was able to stymie a mediocre lineup for nine innings. He issued four free passes in the outing, his most since walking six Indians on June 16th of last year, but it didn't matter. The Reds stood no chance.


Since that aforementioned 2015 outing against Cleveland, Arrieta has gone 20-1 while allowing 17 earned runs over 178 innings (0.86 ERA) with a 0.68 WHIP over 24 starts. That is some kind of crazy run. He shows no signs of slowing down so the numbers at the end of this year could be historic if he stays healthy.


* Drew Smyly is no Arrieta, of course, but he's been on a noteworthy run himself. The lefty threw a gem on Tuesday, striking out 11 over eight innings of one-hit ball at Fenway, and that's nothing new for him. Dating back to the start of 2015, Smyly has as 3.06 ERA and is averaging 10.6 K/9 over 15 starts.


He missed a big chunk of last season with a partial labrum tear in his shoulder, making him a bargain pick in many drafts his spring, but Smyly is the real deal. He's got dominating strikeout stuff and good command. He needs to be owned in every league.


* Chris Colabello was suspended 80 games after testing positive for an anabolic steroid. As a Twins fan, this news made me sad. Colabello was a heck of a story, achieving his lifelong dream of playing in the majors with Minnesota at age 29 after spending time playing in an independent league. He signed with the Blue Jays after leaving the Twins, and was a big part of Toronto's dominant offense last year, but was off to a sluggish start this season. Now, he'll be out until July.

 

The bad news does have a bright side for Justin Smoak, who should now get an opportunity to start every day. In that ballpark, he can put up some numbers. His improved plate approach this year has been promising.


* Lonnie Chisenhall was activated by the Indians this week after spending much of April on the DL. He was a decent sleeper coming into his age 27 season and is worth a glance in deeper leagues. He probably won't play much against lefties, at least initially, but could play his way into a regular role if he returns to 2014 form.


It sounds like the Indians are viewing him as an option in center field, which helps his case.


* On Monday, Hector Santiago struck out 10 and allowed only two hits over seven shutout innings in a dazzling start against the White Sox. The left-hander has a 2.61 ERA and he has pitched at least into the seventh each of his three times out.


Santiago was of course an All Star last year before falling off in the second half. Whatever afflicted him then doesn't seem to be an issue right now. He looks strong and healthy, and has displayed a nice uptick in velocity that suggests the early strikeouts may not be a mirage.


The 28-year-old is available in one out of every two Yahoo leagues.


* One pitcher whose early success I am not buying is Mat Latos. The veteran, signed by the White Sox to a $3 million deal in February, has given early indications of a bounceback year, winning each of his first three starts while allowing only a single run on six hits in 18 innings.


He has done this while throwing all of his pitches at career-low velocities, and striking out only 16 percent of batters faced. Latos has a .118 BABIP, which suggests that he's been enjoying very good fortune on batted balls. That can happen when your opponents are the Twins, A's and Angels.


Chicago's schedule is about to get a whole lot tougher. That won't bode well for Latos, whose luck is bound to run out.


* Trevor Plouffe grabbed at his side while running the bases on Sunday, and wound up landing on the disabled list with an intercostal strain. It's unfortunate timing for him as he was just heating up with a .435 average in his past six games. He will probably miss about a month.


The Twins have been opposed to temporarily moving Miguel Sano back to his natural position, so Eduardo Nunez should see the majority of the action at the hot corner while Plouffe is sidelined, but Sano did get his first start of the year there on Saturday. Nunez has been fantastic in limited action so far with a 1049 OPS, but he's always been pretty streaky so this isn't the time to climb aboard.

 

* In his first two starts, Joe Kelly issued eight walks over eight innings. In his third start on Tuesday, he walked two of the first four batters he faced and then came out with an arm injury. Kelly was diagnosed with a shoulder impingement and quickly placed on the DL. Fortunately, an MRI revealed no structural damage, but it's never good to see a guy go down this early. He's out indefinitely.

Nick Nelson
Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to Rotoworld's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.