Every year, I talk about how fantasy owners need to wait on closers. If you look at the top-10 closers at the end of the season and compare them with their ADP, the majority of them were drafted after the 13th round. Another reason I say to wait is because of injuries. Just look at the Kansas City Royals. The team began with Greg Holland, but finished the regular season and entered the playoffs with Wade Davis as the closer. With Holland likely out for 2016, is Davis a top-10 closer next season?
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Holland had 93 saves and 1.32 ERA in the last two seasons. He was going strong in this first couple months of the season, 11 saves, 1.76 ERA from April 8 to June 9.
As the temperature went up, so did Holland’s numbers. From June 15 to Sept. 18, Holland had 21 saves, which is nice, but also had a 4.91 ERA and .296 opponent batting average. He had five outings in which he allowed two or more runs. Holland struck out 36 batters and walked 17 in that span.
Turns out, there was an injury from last season that made its return. Holland was diagnosed with an elbow ligament tear and needs Tommy John surgery. Luckily, the team had someone waiting in the wings in Wade Davis.
While he was used as a starting pitcher during his time with the Tampa Bay Rays and first year with the Royals, he found his role as the set-up man. In 71 games, Davis finished with a 1.00 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 4.74:1 K:BB ratio. Those are great numbers, but Davis would somehow improve on that this season.
Wade Davis pitched in 69 games and finished with a 0.94 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 17 saves. He recorded saves throughout the season, even with Holland still in the role. He took over the closer role Sept. 18 and made his first appearance on the 23rd. He recorded four straight saves to end the regular season.
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This could have happened at a better time for Davis. Holland gets hurt and the Royals hold a team option on Davis’ contract for the next two years. Unless the team can find someone on the market, Davis will have this spot locked up for the 2016 season.
Kelvin Herrera and Ryan Madson will have increased roles next season, and the latter had three saves this season, but this looks to be Wade Davis’ job to lose. With some teams going with the committee approach, finding a clear-cut closer is becoming harder to find when drafting.
Wade Davis obviously moves up on draft boards. The little job competition around him, easy AL Central and run support make Davis a potential top-10 closer. Looking at the top 10 that finished the season, there are two closers I can see him supplanting next year on the charts. His numbers have improved over the last two seasons in the Royals bullpen and has proven he can perform in the ninth inning.
Projections: 0.95 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 33 saves, 85 strikeouts
Draft: Round 12