Cody Allen is one of the better closers available, posting sub-3 ERAs with plus strikeout stuff each of the past three years. He started closing in the middle of 2014 and hasn’t looked back. The kicker here is that he isn’t usually anyone’s first, second, or third thought when it comes to top relieving options after the elite group.
Don’t be thrown by the “ballooning” 2.99 ERA after he posted a 2.07 ERA in 2014, as last year he had an outrageous .342 BABIP and 71.1 percent strand rate (though a 0.26 HR/9 is very low), which are quite a bit off from his career norms. He brought his walk rate down a tick and took another sizable step forward with strikeouts (going from 29.2 K percent in 2013, to 32.6 percent in 2014, and last year it was 34.6 percent).
Bryan Shaw has been a solid setup man for Allen and great source of holds in the three years he’s been with Cleveland. He doesn’t have the greatest strikeout stuff (hovering around 7.60 K/9), but his control is solid as he relies on a cutter that hums in at 92 MPH. What is troubling is the loss in velocity since 2013, where that was being thrown at 93.2 MPH, 2014 saw it drop to 92.7, and obviously it took another step back to 92 even last year.
Could this be partly responsible for the increase in home runs he gave up? The skill-based ERAs didn’t like him last year, with a 4.01 FIP behind that 2.95 ERA. Don’t pay for the ratios, but if you need holds and want a guy who is clearly next in line behind Allen, here you go.
Jeff Manship may give plenty of you pause, and rightfully so, considering he “broke out” in his age-30 season after kicking around with Minnesota, Colorado, and Philadelphia before landing with Cleveland. So what gives? What do you need to know? Well, Manship used his slider at a career-high rate (39.1 percent) while scrapping his changeup. He brought his walk rate down to a 2.29 BB/9, which he hadn’t done since 2010, and brought his K/9 (7.55) and swinging strike rate (10.7 percent) to career highs.
Don’t get ahead of yourself though, as he is not an elite reliever and won’t be posting another 0.92 ERA. His BABIP was .192 on the year, and his career-best outside of that was a .301 figure in 2013. He is a good option for holds going into 2016 and can provide decent ratios without killing your strikeout count, but that’s all you should expect.