Here are the June Rankings. Players are ranked for the remainder of the season based on how I believe they’ll perform in 5x5 leagues. Players are also listed at the positions where they’re most valuable, so if you don’t see that third baseman you’re looking for, he’s probably listed at second or short.
Relief pitcher Rankings
|8||Koji Uehara||Red Sox||5||10|
|20||Casey Janssen||Blue Jays||25||22|
|21||Jenrry Mejia||Mets||105 SP||108 SP|
|33||Daniel Webb||White Sox||40||36|
|34||Ronald Belisario||White Sox||181||NR|
|48||Junichi Tazawa||Red Sox||41||47|
|57||Neil Ramirez||Cubs||285 SP||NR|
|59||Jake Petricka||White Sox||180||NR|
|66||Juan Carlos Oviedo||Rays||170||NR|
|68||Brett Cecil||Blue Jays||121||50|
|69||Nate Jones||White Sox||23||74|
|71||Andrew Miller||Red Sox||89||NR|
|72||Aaron Loup||Blue Jays||60||76|
- I still think Nathan bounces back from this and rates as a top-10 fantasy closer the rest of the way. The modest drop in his velocity is natural and doesn’t seem to be related to any sort of injury. The fact that he’s given up four homers in 20 1/3 innings this year appears to be just as much of a fluke as him allowing just two homers in 64 1/3 innings last year. He wasn’t as good as that made him appear to be in 2013, just like he isn’t as bad as the homers make him appear to be now. If Nathan has another bad week right off, then maybe the Tigers will go to Chamberlain in the closer’s role for a little while. Still, I don’t expect it to come to that.
- Balfour, on the other hand, hasn’t looked right at any point, and my guess is that he would have lost his job already had the Rays generated more leads to protect. He ended up getting just five chances in May (converting four, the last coming when he got one out in a three-run game). Maybe his stuff will improve, but I’m skeptical. I’m also not sure whether to recommend McGee, Peralta or even Oviedo as his heir. McGee is the Rays’ best reliever, but it’d drive up his arbitration salary if he’s used in the ninth and I expect the Rays will take that into consideration. Plus, he might be more useful coming into jams in earlier innings anyway. Oviedo would be a more attractive alternative if his velocity comes back up the more he works, though he’s been very effective so far even with his fastball down about three mph post-Tommy John surgery. Peralta would be the safer fallback.
- The Orioles will get Hunter back from a groin strain in about a week, but it should remain Britton’s job until there’s reason to go to someone else. Britton has been Jim Johnson-like with his extreme groundball percentage and modest strikeout rate. His 0.91 ERA oversells him, but he’s a legitimately excellent reliever. What I’m not so sure about his whether his arm will hold up. He’s never been used as a reliever before, and the Orioles currently have him on an 87-inning pace. That will come down now that he’s working the ninth, but he’s still an injury risk, which is why Hunter and O’Day remain in the top 50 in the rankings here.
- If the Indians still want Axford to reclaim the closing gig, they’re going about it oddly. He was left unused in the bullpen for a fourth straight day Saturday, with Allen picking up a second consecutive save as the last of four Indians relievers used. Axford has allowed runs just once in his last eight appearances, and his ERA is back down to 3.74. Allen hit a rough patch in the middle of May while contending with Shaw for save chances, but he’s now getting the nod over Shaw anyway and he made the most of it over the weekend. I was quite a bit more optimistic about Axford’s chances of getting the job back a week ago than I am now.
- I debated about whether to list Betances at all. He’s been tremendous, but he seems destined to break down with the way Joe Girardi has used him.