Reliever Roulette: Jonathan Papelbon Panic Time?

Nationals Jonathan Papelbon

Jonathan Papelbon hasn’t actually been an elite fantasy closer for several years now so I admit the term panic might be a bit dramatic here. That said, many of us play in leagues where every single save counts and everyone with a 9th inning gig is already owned. Anyways, the point is the Nationals placed Papelbon on the 15-day DL with an intercostal strain early Tuesday morning, making Shawn Kelley a must-add for all you handshake chasers out there.

Kelley has already been outperforming Papelbon so far this season and by a wide margin, but we all know by now that experience means more to Dusty Baker than stats ever will. Still, Kelley has a K/9 of 13.1 right now and has been in double digits in that category every year since 2013. Pair that with the fact that he’s significantly less hittable than his predecessor and we’re talking about a major upgrade here in terms of fantasy production. Kelley should be treated as a top 12-15 closer during Papelbon’s absence, which given the nature of his injury, could be a lengthy one.

Is Brandon Kintzler Minnesota's new closer? (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Is Brandon Kintzler Minnesota’s new closer? (AP Photo – Jim Mone)

In other closer news, it appears the Twins have finally concluded that Kevin Jepson and his 5.61 ERA is not the answer to their 9th inning question. Well done Minnesota, well done. Brandon Kintzler converted the team’s latest save opportunity last week against the Marlins and manager Paul Molitor indicated that he will share the closer duties with Fernando Abad moving forward.

If picking between these two I would expect Kintzler to receive the lion’s share of save opportunities. Aside from being a righty, he’s also got a heavy ground ball tendency that bodes well in high leverage situations. Conversely, Abad has struggled with control issues in the past and was extremely homer-prone last season.

For more help winning your fantasy baseball league check out Fake Pigskin’s 60 Feet 6 Inches podcast on iTunes and Stitcher

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>