The closer position is the most unpredictable in Fantasy Baseball.
The primary reason why closers are sought after in fantasy is their ability to provide saves, only one of 10 scoring categories in standard fantasy leagues.
This unpredictability lends itself to many fantasy owners disregarding the saves category during the early portion of their drafts and/or auctions to secure players who will provide stats across multiple categories.
This strategy forces owners either to search and research to find the relief pitcher that will breakout based upon a new opportunity either due to trade or the failure of the current closer.
The savvy owner would have a list of potential closer breakouts during their draft. Last season, the top pitcher to break out as a closer was the Tampa Bay Rays’ Alex Colome.
Alex Colome established himself as the Rays’ closer with incumbent Brad Boxberger sidelined for much of 2016. All Colome did was earn his first All-Star nod and finished with career marks in ERA (1.91), saves (37) and an 11.3 K/9 rate.
Who will be the next relief pitcher to break out and become 2017’s Alex Colome?
Let’s take a look at the top four candidates.
This Year’s Alex Colome
Cameron Bedrosian, Los Angeles Angels
Given the recent struggles and prolonged injury histories of Andrew Bailey and Huston Street, Bedrosian should emerge as the Angels’ closer for the 2017 season.
After his call-up last season, Bedrosian made significant strides. He started using a new grip on his slider that led to racking up more ground balls and strikeouts, before being shut down with a blood clot in his arm late last season.
Bedrosian threw 40.1 innings, in which he recorded a 1.12 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP, along with a personal-best 11.38 K/9.
He is a difference maker for your fantasy team, do NOT sleep on Cam Bedrosian.
While the Angels will probably not be a more than a .500 team this season, Bedrosian will nail down the closer role and notch 35-plus saves this season and WILL be this year’s Alex Colome.
Greg Holland, Colorado Rockies
Holland missed all of 2016 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The Colorado Rockies signed him this off-season to challenge Adam Ottavino to be their closer.
Holland is two years removed from two consecutive seasons with at least 46 saves and a sub-1.50 ERA for the Kansas City Royals.
The initial spring training reports showed that Holland is throwing well. He is hitting 95 mph and will be named the Rockies’ closer for this season. He will be in a great situation with the Rockies as they should be in the thick of a playoff race.
Holland will reestablish himself as one of the top closers and notch 30-plus saves this season. Greg Holland will provide fantasy owners a generous amount of cheap saves.
Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies
Neris posted a 2.58 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, with an 31.1 percent K% in 80.1 IP last season. He was one of just eight full-time relievers to top 100 strikeouts in 2016.
He evolved into an elite reliever last season by throwing a nasty splitter nearly 50 percent of the time. This led to an impressive strikeout rate of over 11 batters per nine innings.
The closer’s job is wide open. The current Phillies’ closer Jeanmar Gomez’s numbers in his final 19 appearances of 2016: seven saves in 10 opportunities, 13.20 ERA and a 2.47 WHIP.
Gomez was removed from the closer’s role late last season and there will be definitely a competition this spring.
Hector Neris could impact four categories when he takes over as the closer on a increasing improving Phillies’ team. He will record 25-plus saves for the Phillies and be one of the top candidates for this year’s Alex Colome.
Nate Jones, Chicago White Sox
Nate Jones was quietly one of the most effective relievers in the American League. He posted a 2.29 ERA with 80 strikeouts and 15 walks in 70.2 innings last season.
Jones looked great in the second half last season after making his way back from Tommy John surgery. Jones averaged 98 mph with this fastball which ranked among the top-10 in all of MLB. He pairs that mostly with a 89 mph slider, creating a lethal two pitch mix.
Nate Jones is tough to hit thanks to his unconventional delivery and his velocity. He was effective against both lefties and righties too last season, posting .184/42 K versus RH and .200/38 K versus LH.
The 31-year-old is expected to open ’17 in a setup role. It is widely known that current closer David Robertson has been on the trade block all off-season and that will not change. He will be moved at some point this season, opening the door for Jones to be a second-half closer at least.
The only obstacle is not if he takes over the closer role but when. Once Jones is appointed closer, look for Jones to post 20-plus saves. Nate Jones is the dark horse to be this year’s Alex Colome.
Be sure to check out our Rankings, Position Preview and much more in the 2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit.