Fantasy baseball: Oakland Athletics remove Jim Johnson from closer role, Luke Gregerson a must add?

By Brian Flood ( @briansflood
on Apr 10, 2014 07:29 PM EDT
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A’s closer Jim Johnson has been among the most frustrating players in the league for fantasy owners. His early-season struggles are enough to have Athletics manager Bob Melvin making a change at the closer position less than two weeks into the season.

"We're going to give Jim a break," Melvin told Jane Lee of on Thursday.

Johnson has an 18.90 ERA and 4.50 WHIP in five outings thus far. You really know a pitcher is struggling when their WHIP resembled a poor ERA. He's allowed nine hits, seven earned runs and six walks while only recording 10 outs.

Fantasy owners shouldn’t drop Johnson just yet, as he has the tools to turn things around and Melvin didn’t mention anything about the move being permanent. The word “break” is key for fantasy owners. Johnson led the majors in saves in each of the past two seasons and is making $10 million this season.

Among the players that Lee mentions as possible replacements, my preference would be Luke Gregerson. I was extremely high on Gregerson as a potential source of saves when he pitched for San Diego the last few seasons. He was backing up the fragile Huston Street and has the stuff to get the job done. Gregerson posted a 2.73 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with a 64/18 K/BB ratio in 2013.

While Gregerson would be my initial choice if fantasy owners are looking to pick up a member of the Athletics’ bullpen, it’s probably a situation to avoid in most leagues. The dreaded closer-by-committee is the most likely scenario.

Obviously, owners desperate for saves in deep AL-only formats will look to add Gregerson or possibly Sean Doolittle or Ryan Cook. But the truth is that nobody knows who will get the next save opportunity for the A’s and Johnson should be given another chance at some point. It’s a situation to avoid in standard, 12-team mixed leagues.

Questions? Hit me on Twitter @briansflood

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