Reliever Roulette: Is Jeanmar Gomez the guy to own in Philly?

(Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

If you’re still reluctant to accept the importance of saves in our imaginary game, perhaps the recent buzz surrounding Jeanmar Gomez will finally be enough to convince you otherwise. This is a journeyman reliever with a career 4.13 ERA and 1.40 WHIP – hardly the profile of someone you’d expect to come across the fantasy radar. However, Gomez has received and converted the last two save opportunities for the Phillies and that alone is enough to make him one of the most popular adds in recent days.

Now Pete Mackanin has to yet officially name him the team’s closer, but for our purposes we have to assume the job is his until he fails – a concept that clearly did not work out well for his predecessors, Dalier Hinojosa and David Hernandez. Still, that role is the only reason Gomez has any fantasy relevance in the first place. Aside from the ugly ratios I mentioned earlier, he also owns a Zeigler-like K/9 of 5.4. The question here isn’t if an implosion is coming, it’s when. And yet, if you’re chasing saves you have no choice but to close your eyes and take the risk.

In addition to the Phillies, there are a few other teams who’ve had some noteworthy developments in their bullpens during this first week. Below are my thoughts on those situations.

Houston

The Astros surprised many, including myself when they named Luke Gregerson the closer over Ken Giles. That said I now expect Gregerson to hold on to that role for the remainder of the season. He was more than competent closing games last year and his swinging strike rate would indicate that his peripherals could very well improve. I still view Giles as a top 10-reliever option among non-closers so I would keep him rostered if you’re in a deep enough league where that has value or if you’re a Gregerson owner.

Oakland

Ryan Madson grabbing a pair of saves last week has made Sean Doolittle owners a little nervous, but I still believe the latter has security in the role. The first Madson save came when Doolittle was unavailable while the second was a matchup based decision. Specifically, Doolittle came on in the 8th inning of a tie game to face a series of left-handed hitters and actually earned the win. Still I wouldn’t be surprised to see Madson receive more save chances than your average setup man and would treat him as a top 5 option among non-closers.

Texas

I was a big believer in Tolleson heading into this season so his early struggles are particularly frustrating. That said I don’t think he’s been as bad as the box score would lead you to believe. His disastrous outing against the Mariners started with 3 consecutive bloop hits while the Angels game saw him enter with the bases loaded and only one out. The Rangers do have some talented young arms in their pen so I would think Tolleson is on a short leash, however it’s not exactly clear who the replacement would be. Sam Dyson would be my guess based on his usage in last year’s playoffs as well as his current 8th inning role, but Keone Kela actually profiles better as a future closer. Both are worth speculative adds if you have the bench space, though neither is a sure thing.

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