Collette Calls: Finding Next Year's Closers

Collette Calls: Finding Next Year's Closers

This article is part of our Collette Calls series.

Thirty-six pitchers have earned at least 10 saves this year. The single-season record happened last year when 39 pitchers did so, and that is unlikely to be matched unless a few guys go on a tear in the final weeks of the season.

This marks the 19th consecutive season that at least 30 relievers have earned double-digit saves in a season as the streak actually began one year prior to the league's last expansion. That number has never been lower than 33 in that time or higher than 39. The 39 that did so last year? Only 21 have repeated that at this point in 2015. Given that the burn rate on closers is not showing any signs of improving, it behooves us to start looking for the next crop of new relievers to join the double-digit saves club if your keeper league allows you to grab players in September on the cheap. Here are some pitchers to look at who have earned fewer than 10 saves this year but could improve on that total with the right opportunity in 2016.

Alex Colome, Tampa Bay -
Ignore the overall numbers because he was miscast as a starting pitcher out of necessity earlier in the season. He had a 4.70 ERA, a 1.41 WHIP and a 5.7 K/9 as a starting pitcher. Once the team put him into the bullpen, he's roared with a 1.15 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP and a 9.8 K/9 over 31.1 innings. Colome is following the

Thirty-six pitchers have earned at least 10 saves this year. The single-season record happened last year when 39 pitchers did so, and that is unlikely to be matched unless a few guys go on a tear in the final weeks of the season.

This marks the 19th consecutive season that at least 30 relievers have earned double-digit saves in a season as the streak actually began one year prior to the league's last expansion. That number has never been lower than 33 in that time or higher than 39. The 39 that did so last year? Only 21 have repeated that at this point in 2015. Given that the burn rate on closers is not showing any signs of improving, it behooves us to start looking for the next crop of new relievers to join the double-digit saves club if your keeper league allows you to grab players in September on the cheap. Here are some pitchers to look at who have earned fewer than 10 saves this year but could improve on that total with the right opportunity in 2016.

Alex Colome, Tampa Bay -
Ignore the overall numbers because he was miscast as a starting pitcher out of necessity earlier in the season. He had a 4.70 ERA, a 1.41 WHIP and a 5.7 K/9 as a starting pitcher. Once the team put him into the bullpen, he's roared with a 1.15 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP and a 9.8 K/9 over 31.1 innings. Colome is following the same path Wade Davis blazed for him when he was with Tampa Bay, and Colome is now doing what Brad Boxberger did last year behind Jake McGee. McGee is getting pricy while Boxberger has struggled this season.

Carter Capps, Miami -
Yes, he's hurt on the disabled list, but he also has struck out the highest percentage of batters of all relievers this season - 49.2 percent! The delivery is borderline illegal and baseball may do something about it in the offseason, but anyone that is striking out essentially half of the batters he faces and gets a swing-and-miss with 25 percent of his pitches just needs the opportunity.

Hunter Strickland, San Francisco -
Santiago Casilla is in the final year of his deal, which opens up the door of opportunity if the Giants decide to stay in-house. Strickland has struck out 28 percent of the batters he has faced, is tough to square up and doesn't have a splits issue as he is good against righties and amazing against lefties this season. High velo, high swing-and-miss, and no splits -- the skillset is here.

Zach Putnam, Chicago -
David Robertson's name was on the trade block in July and August, so who knows what happens at the Winter Meetings in San Diego. If the team does trade the closer they just signed to a four-year deal a season ago, Putnam has some of the skills you like to see in a closer. He has struck out 31 percent of the batters he has faced this season and has stranded 81 percent of his baserunners. The two issues to worry about -- a high walk rate and a high home-run rate this season.

Daniel Hudson, Arizona -
Hudson said he'd like to go back to the rotation, but given his injury history, it seems unwise to let him do that. His velocity has been better in the bullpen than it ever was in the rotation.

Additionally, he struck out 22 percent of the batters he has faced and has stranded an above-average amount of runners. The walk rate is a bit on the high side as is his home-run rate, but that is to be expected from a guy coming off such an extended time off as command is the thing to return for guys coming off Tommy John surgeries, let alone two.

Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta -
He and Hudson are brothers from other mothers. Vizcaino has also had multiple Tommy John surgeries but has returned as a hard-throwing reliever. His strikeout rate and swinging-strikeout rate are above league average, but the walk rate is below league average. Atlanta has used more relievers than any team this season, or in any season, but they may have a sleeper closer here if Vizcaino's command improves another year removed from surgery.

Brett Cecil, Toronto -
Yes, I know I recommended him for this role before this season, but an awful spring around an injury got him off to a poor start. That said, he has a 29 percent strikeout rate, a 7 percent walk rate, keeps the ball in the yard and has a 85 percent LOB rate. He has the skillset for the job again, even if it doesn't happen with Toronto. After his poor start, his numbers are right in line with where they were last season. He does have to fight against the left-handed bias, but the overall numbers that made him attractive prior to this season are still there.

SEASONIPK%BB%LOB%GB%ERAFIP
201453.1331282542.702.34
201546.129779522.912.91

If your league rules permit it, speculating on these types late in the season can be beneficial. Most likely, you have the roster spot to punt if you're not in contention and even if a pickup puts a $10 salary on a guy, he'll go for that in next year's auction if he gets the closer role. The whims of a general manager in the offseason can negate the opportunities for some of these guys, but a small transaction fee shouldn't stand in your way of trying to improve your keeper list on the cheap in the final weeks of the season.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Collette
Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999, and here at Rotowire since 2011. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Sleeper and the Bust podcast every Sunday. A ten-time FSWA finalist, Jason won the FSWA's Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year award in 2013 and the Baseball Series of the Year award in 2018 for Collette Calls, as esd the 2023 AL LABR champion. Jason manages his social media presence at https://linktr.ee/jasoncollette
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