Pitchers and catchers will start reporting to spring training here in the next few weeks. As the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues get ready to begin, we all know what else is on the horizon: fantasy baseball.
Here is a look at 5 familiar faces closing in new places:
Ryan Madson – Cincinnati Reds: With Francisco Cordero now north of the border in Toronto, the former part-time setup man/part-time closer of the Philadelphia Phillies now has the spotlight to himself with the Reds. The Mad Dog signed a one-year deal with the hopes of parlaying that into a future long-term contract.
Prediction: The Reds’ offense is potent and if the starting pitching can be consistent, Madson should get his share of saves. Look for 30+ saves.
Jonathan Papelbon – Philadelphia Phillies: Papelbon is out of the frying pan and into the fire. The Phillies’ starting rotation is better than the Red Sox’s, which should open up plenty of chances for Papelbon.
Prediction: The big three in Philly, along with a move to the National League, will offer a bounty of saves for Jonathan. Look for 40+ saves.
Andrew Bailey – Boston Red Sox: Bailey is about to find out what it’s like to pitch in a pressure-packed environment. Everything is magnified in Boston. Once he takes the mound in the 9th at Fenway for the first time with the Red Sox, Oakland will seem like another world entirely.
Prediction: If he can handle the pressure, Bailey will get his opportunities. Look for high 20s/low 30s in saves.
Heath Bell – Miami Marlins: Bell has a straight fastball in the mid-90s, a curveball, and likes to pitch in the upper half of the strike zone. Fantasy owners are about to find out how much he benefited from pitching in Petco Park.
Prediction: If ace Josh Johnson can return to form and manager Ozzie Guillen gets this bunch hitting again, Heath’s save numbers will rise. Look for low 30s in saves and maybe a higher ERA than in past seasons.
Joe Nathan – Texas Rangers: A year removed from Tommy John surgery, Nathan will be the toughest closer to figure out. Fantasy owners will probably either draft him too early or way too late. Former closer Neftali Feliz is scheduled to move to the rotation to replace C.J. Wilson. If that experiment fails, where will that leave Joe?
Prediction: The Rangers’ offense is lethal and the saves will be there for the taking, but he will have to earn the trust of manger Ron Washington to be the guy. Joe is like a box of chocolates, you don’t know what you’re going to get. Look for anywhere between low 20s/mid-30s in saves.
When selecting a closer for your fantasy team, always do your homework on them. Everything from his team’s offense to the starting staff has to be considered.
Player information from Yahoo Sports – MLB.
I have played Fantasy MLB for over 20 years and Yahoo Fantasy Baseball since 2004. I have managed 22 Yahoo teams in that time, 17 of those teams have finished 1st, 2nd, or 3rd (in traditional 12 teams leagues), with 6 championships.