Cardinals made a big change at the closer position last season, giving the reigns to Seung-hwan O. If he starts as the team’s closer, he is a deep sleeper.
The St. Louis Cardinals had a changing of the guard at the closer position. After a couple successful seasons with Trevor Rosenthal, the team transitioned ninth-inning duties to 33-year-old rookie Seung-hwan Oh. If he is the team’s closer at the start of the season, he is a deep sleeper.
Oh’s success comes from the disappointing summer Rosenthal had. At the end of May, he had a 2.12 ERA, 1.65 WHIP and eight saves in nine chances. Not bad, but things would get a lot worse. At the end of June, his ERA ballooned to 5.00 as he blew two more saves.
That is when Oh took over the closing job. He recorded his first save on July 2. Before that, he had a 1.58 ERA, 0.875 WHIP and 14 holds in 40 innings. In the final three months, Oh had a 2.27 ERA, 0.958 WHIP and 19 saves in 22 chances.
For fantasy purposes, Oh finished as the No. 9 relief pitcher on the Player Rater. Rosenthal finished at No. 170.
Since he took over the closer role, Oh had 50 strikeouts in 39.2 innings. He had multiple outings with more than two strikeouts, including back-to-back four strikeout games.
Oh was great out of the Cardinals bullpen. He allowed 0.6 HR/9, 2.0 BB/9 and 6.2 H/9. Simply put, he did not allow many hitters to reach base or score.
While I do expect the Cardinals to give Rosenthal another shot as the closer, I think the leash will be a little shorter.
Oh surprised a lot of people and performed well down the stretch. If fantasy baseball has a handcuff rule, Oh would be Rosenthal’s handcuff.
The only downside to Oh is the work he’s already put on his arm. Like I mentioned, he is 33. Oh recorded 646.1 innings in Korean and Japanese baseball leagues. With that workload already on his arm, the window for a long, successful MLB career is closing.
In deeper or NL-only leagues, Oh is a must-draft relief pitcher. In standard leagues, he is also worth drafting, but not until the later rounds. That does change if it announced that he is the Cardinals Opening Day closer.
If that is the case, he will be a top-15 closer. If not, I still like him as a top-30 relief pitcher.