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MLB Closers and Saves: Fantasy Baseball Depth Charts

Saves are an important component for many fantasy baseball leagues. Closers are one of the most volatile positions in fantasy baseball, and one of the highest turnover positions in MLB. Each year, closers drop like flies and many MLB teams make in-season changes due to injuries or poor performance.

In addition to closers and saves, relief pitchers are becoming increasingly important for fantasy baseball pitching staffs, especially in a volatile season like 2020. Bullpen arms with elite ratios will be relied upon heavily, especially for those in Holds (HLD) leagues or Saves+Holds leagues (SV+HLD) formats. But not to worry, the RotoBaller team is here every day to help you stay on top of all closer depth charts for the AL and NL, and dominate in saves, holds and bullpen arms this year.

We will be updating the MLB Closers & Saves Depth Charts every day, all season and off-season long. Be sure to also check out these quick-hit notes from @DavidMarcillo77 and @NMariano53 looking at the biggest daily bullpen news from around MLB:

  • 9/21: All bullpens updated for (maybe?) the last time in the regular season! Check it out and good luck in the fantasy finals!
  • 9/21: Cesar Valdez is all of a sudden seeing save opportunities in Baltimore and might be a good pickup for the last week of the season. The 35-year-old has earned two saves in the last two save chances the Orioles have had.
  • 9/16: Welp, so much for Ken Giles in Toronto. The closer is back on the injured list with the same injury he suffered before. Giles has dealt with issues in his throwing arm since last season and might not return until 2021. The Blue Jays pen will likely go back to being a committee led by Rafael Dolis.
  • 9/11: The Diamondbacks made it seem like Kevin Ginkel was going to get a chance to close, but today they optioned him back to the Alternate Site, so it certainly won't be him handling any ninth inning leads. Stefan Crichton and Travis Bergen look like the next possible guys up, but it could be a day by day thing in the desert.
  • 9/11: Giovanny Gallegos has landed on the IL with a groin injury. Andrew Miller looks like he's next in line, but it could end up continuing as a committee at least until someone stands out.
  • 9/11: Ken Giles is on his way back and could be activated this weekend. He'll get an inning or two of low-leverage work, but should be in the closer's role before long.
  • 9/11: Giovanny Gallegos was forced to leave Thursday's game with a groin injury. It's unclear if he'll miss extended time, but Andrew Miller, John Gant, and Ryan Helsley should step up if necessary.
  • 9/11: Bryan Garcia looks to be rising to the top of the Tigers bullpen committee. He's worth picking up in most formats for fantasy managers desperate for a few more saves.
  • 9/8: The Mariners bullpen is finally somewhat settled, but closer Yoshihisa Hirano still hasn't pitched in back-to-back days since returning from the IL. So yesterday, Yohan Ramirez saved his third game of the year. It's not quite a committee because Hirano will be in there when he's available, but he might not be as locked in as other closers until he can pitch in consecutive games.
  • 9/7: Almost nothing happened in bullpens for several days! That was a nice respite from this wild season.
  • 9/3: Hoby Milner is on the injured list with back spasms, meaning the recently-returned Cam Bedrosian should log several holds in September. If he looks sharp then he may see a save opportunity or two with Ty Buttrey's shaky 1.34 WHIP and poor 10/6 K/BB ratio over 18 2/3 IP treading water.
  • 9/2: Zack Britton is back in the Yankees bullpen and should continue as the primary setup man. Aroldis Chapman has been suspended for three games, and Britton should close if necessary for the games Chapman misses.
  • 9/2: Emilio Pagan landed on the injured list, so Drew Pomeranz and newcomer Trevor Rosenthal will continue atop the San Diego bullpen with a little less competition.

More Closer and Bullpen Articles

In addition to our bullpen depth charts below, be sure to also read our other articles on closers, relief pitchers, and bullpens:

 

AL EAST: 2020 Fantasy Baseball Closers & Saves

RotoBaller Stability Rating Team Name Current Closer Direct Backup More Holds  Candidates Immediate Waiver Add
Solid Yankees Aroldis Chapman Zack Britton Adam Ottavino N/A
Solid Red Sox Matt Barnes Ryan Brasier Phillips Valdez N/A
Questionable Blue Jays Rafael Dolis Anthony Bass A.J. Cole Rafael Dolis
Questionable Orioles Cesar Valdez Hunter Harvey Tanner Scott N/A
Questionable Rays Nick Anderson Diego Castillo Oliver Drake N/A

 

AL CENTRAL: 2020 Fantasy Baseball Closers & Saves

RotoBaller Stability Rating Team Name Current Closer Direct Backup More Holds
Candidates
Immediate Waiver Add
Solid Tigers Bryan Garcia Gregory Soto Jose Cisnero Bryan Garcia
Solid White Sox Alex Colome Codi Heuer Jimmy Cordero N/A
Solid Indians Brad Hand James Karinchak Nick Wittgren,
Oliver Perez
N/A
Solid Royals Greg Holland Scott Barlow Jesse Hahn, Josh Staumont Greg Holland
Questionable Twins Taylor Rogers Sergio Romo Tyler Duffey, Trevor May N/A

 


AL WEST: 2020 Fantasy Baseball Closers & Saves

RotoBaller Stability Rating Team Name Current Closer Direct Backup More Holds
Candidates
Immediate Waiver Add
Solid Rangers Rafael Montero Jonathan Hernandez Brett Martin N/A
Questionable Angels Ty Buttrey Felix Pena Cam Bedrosian, Mike Mayers N/A
Solid Athletics Liam Hendriks Joakim Soria Jake Diekman, Yusmeiro Petit N/A
Solid Astros Ryan Pressly Andre Scrubb Brooks Raley N/A
Solid Mariners Yoshihisa Hirano Yohan Ramirez Anthony Misiewicz N/A

 

NL EAST: 2020 Fantasy Baseball Closers & Saves

RotoBaller Stability Rating Team Name Current Closer Direct Backup More Holds
Candidates
Immediate Waiver Add
Solid Braves Mark Melancon Will Smith,
Shane Greene
Chris Martin N/A
Solid Marlins Brandon Kintzler Yimi Garcia Brad Boxberger N/A
Solid Mets Edwin Diaz Justin Wilson Jeurys Familia N/A
Questionable Phillies Hector Neris Tommy Hunter David Phelps N/A
Solid Nationals Daniel Hudson Will Harris Wander Suero N/A

 

NL CENTRAL: 2020 Fantasy Baseball Closers & Saves

RotoBaller Stability Rating Team Name Current Closer Direct Backup More Holds
Candidates
Immediate Waiver Add
Solid Cubs Jeremy Jeffress Craig Kimbrel Jason Adam N/A
Solid Reds Raisel Iglesias Archie Bradley Amir Garrett,

Nate Jones

N/A
Solid Brewers Josh Hader Devin Williams Alex Claudio N/A
Solid Pirates Richard Rodriguez Nik Turley Chris Stratton Richard Rodriguez
Questionable Cardinals Andrew Miller Alex Reyes Ryan Helsley Andrew Miller

 

NL West: 2020 Fantasy Baseball Closers & Saves

RotoBaller Stability Rating Team Name Current Closer Direct Backup More Holds
Candidates
Immediate Waiver Add
Solid Diamondbacks Stefan Chrichton Travis Bergen Junior Guerra N/A
Solid Rockies Daniel Bard Mychal Givens Yency Almonte Daniel Bard
Solid Dodgers Kenley Jansen Blake Treinen Brusdar Graterol, Pedro Baez N/A
Solid Padres Trevor Rosenthal Drew Pomeranz Emilio Pagan N/A
Committee Giants Tony Watson Tyler Rogers Sam Selman N/A

 

Previous Closers and Saves News Updates

  • 8/31: TRADE DEADLINE UPDATES! Seattle sent Taylor Williams to the Padres, where he'll settle in somewhere in middle relief. Yoshi Hirano should close in Seattle. Archie Bradley went to the Reds, where Raisel Iglesias should still close, but he'll have much less room for error. Hector Rondon and Junior Guerra should split opportunities in Arizona. David Phelps went to the Phillies, where he might be a good candidate for holds, and Miguel Castro joined the Mets and could get some late inning hold chances too.
  • 8/31: There are sure to be several changes coming throughout the day as the trade deadline approaches, but for now, the Orioles are giving Cole Sulser a bit of a break after he's struggled a bit. There's no clear replacement, but Hunter Harvey seems like a strong candidate if he can get back up to speed and stay healthy.
  • 8/31: For those keeping an eye on committees, Gregory Soto seems to be moving to the top in Detroit, and rather surprisingly, Sam Coonrod got a save for San Francisco. Nothing is determined, but it's something to keep an eye on for managers desperate for saves.
  • 8/30: The Mariners and Padres completed a seven-player trade with some bullpen arms involved. Dan Altavilla and Austin Adams will head to San Diego in the deal. They should both pitch out of the bullpen, but likely won't mix into the late innings now that Drew Pomeranz is healthy and Trevor Rosenthal is a Padre.
  • 8/30: The Orioles traded Mychal Givens to the Rockies, and he should immediately be in the mix for saves in Colorado. Cole Sulser remains the top guy in the Baltimore pen.
  • 8/29: When asked about the closer situation after trading Trevor Rosenthal, Royals manager Mike Matheny hinted at Greg Holland, but also mentioned Scott Barlow and Josh Staumont. The dark horse? Matheny also said Jesse Hahn may get an opportunity. It's a full committee for now, it seems.
  • 8/29: Plenty of news for a Saturday! New closers in San Diego, Kansas City, and Toronto. The Royals traded Trevor Rosenthal to the Padres, making him the top option for the Padres and leaving Scott Barlow and Josh Staumont to likely work the ninth together in Kansas City.
  • 8/29: Drew Pomeranz was activated off the injured list today. He'll rejoin the Padres bullpen, but it's unclear if he or the newly acquired Trevor Rosenthal will work as closer.
  • 8/29: Jordan Romano landed on the injured list, leaving the Blue Jays back to a committee likely with Anthony Bass and Rafael Dolis working the ninth. Romano is expected to miss two to four weeks.
  • 8/29: Hunter Harvey has been on the injured list most of this season, but he'll be activated within the next day or two. He'll probably need time to get back up to speed, but he could work his way into the closer's role before long.
  • 8/27: Keone Kela has only pitched two innings this year and now he's heading right back to the injured list with tightness in his forearm. Richard Rodriguez should pick up whatever save chances the Pirates accidentally end up in.
  • 8/27: Andrew Miller has hit the IL with arm fatigue, which should solidify Giovanny Gallegos as the closer for the time being. This is a bullpen to monitor.
  • 8/26: Shakeup in the Tigers bullpen, as Joe Jimenez will get some time to get things ironed out. In the meantime, manager Ron Gardenhire says he'll play matchups in the ninth inning.
  • 8/24: Daniel Bard got the most recent save chance for the Rockies, and converted it with a perfect ninth inning. The Colorado bullpen is still a committee, but it looks like Bard may be taking over at least as the head of the committee.
  • 8/24: Jordan Romano picked up the save for the Blue Jays and looks to be the new closer in town.
  • 8/23: Nick Anderson is the latest Rays pitcher to hit the IL. He's dealing with a forearm strain, but it's not expected to keep him out for too long. Diego Castillo will probably see the most save chances, but this could be more of a ninth inning closer carousel.
  • 8/23: Just when the Pirates finally got their closer back on the mound, Keone Kela got hurt. He'll be out for a bit, but the Pirates likely won't have too many save chances anyway. If they do, Richard Rodriguez seems like the favorite for the ninth.
  • 8/23: Andrew Miller came in to pitch the eighth inning and Giovanny Gallegos had to bail him out and then pitch the ninth. It's still a committee until we see more consistent usage, but Gallegos seems to be atop the committee now at least.
  • 8/21: TRADE! The Red Sox and Phillies have worked out a trade to revamp the Phillies bullpen. Brandon Workman should immediately become the closer in Philly, moving Hector Neris into a setup role. Meanwhile, Matt Barnes should take over for Boston if they ever accidentally have a lead in the ninth.
  • 8/21: Drew Pomeranz is dealing with shoulder tightness and ended up on the IL, right when he was given the chance to take over the closer's role full time. There doesn't seem to be a ton of concern long term, but any shoulder issue with a pitcher could become a big deal. Emilio Pagan and Craig Stammen figure to fill in for Pomeranz in the meantime.
  • 8/20: Corey Knebel has landed on the IL thanks to a hamstring strain. David Phelps and Devin Williams will move into more prominent roles behind Josh Hader while Knebel recovers.
  • 8/19: Big news out of Queens, as Seth Lugo will be stretched out to become a member of the starting rotation. Edwin Diaz figures to get another shot to lock down the closer's role for the Mets, but Dellin Betances and Jeurys Familia could be involved as well.
  • 8/17: Padres closer Kirby Yates has been recommended for season ending surgery. Drew Pomeranz has been working as closer in his place and should continue to do so, although Emilio Pagan could get some chances as well.
  • 8/17: Andrew Miller got another save in Game 1 of Monday's double header, pitching after Giovanny Gallegos. It's two save situations in a row that have gone to Miller, and he's now listed as the head of the committee. This is all subject to change, of course, especially with the Cardinals playing tons of double headers coming up.
  • 8/16: Turmoil in the Rockies bullpen as Jairo Diaz made a mess on Sunday that got cleaned up by Carlos Estevez. Following the game, the Rockies announced that they would no longer use a designated closer, and that Estevez would be sent for x-rays of his throwing hand after taking a comebacker off his hand in the game. Daniel Bard may suddenly jump into save situations after an excellent start to the season.
  • 8/15: For some reason only Gabe Kapler could know, Trevor Gott was allowed into a game tonight after last night's disastrous outing. Gott was bad again and it's hard to see him having any confidence the next time he climbs the mound. Tony Watson and Tyler Rogers were good and may see the next few save chances for the Giants.
  • 8/15: In the first save situation since the Cardinals shutdown, Andrew Miller was on the mound and earned the save in Game 2 of a double header. It's hard to tell what that means going forward since Giovanny Gallegos pitched in Game 1, but Miller is someone to keep an eye on, all of a sudden.
  • 8/15: Craig Kimbrel had his best outing in a while on Friday, inducing more swinging strikes than he had in the entire rest of the season. It was also the first appearance where he didn't allow a run, after seven straight where he did. Rowan Wick still seems to be atop this committee, but Kimbrel could quickly work his way back in if he's Craig Kimbrel again.
  • 8/15: Trevor Gott got got on Friday night, allowing five runs and giving up the lead (bright spot? no blown save because the lead was so big. Okay, maybe not so bright.) He should still stay atop the San Francisco committee, but another bad outing from Gott could shift things around.
  • 8/15: Devin Williams is ascending in the Milwaukee bullpen, and could soon take over for Corey Knebel as Josh Hader's top setup man. Williams has been excellent and has elite swing-and-miss stuff.
  • 8/15: Huge news out of San Diego, as closer Kirby Yates is heading for an MRI after leaving Friday's game. He threw just six pitches and has seemed hurt pretty much all season. Drew Pomeranz will take over the closer's role and could easily be one of the best closers in the game, much like Yates was last season.
  • 8/13: Edinson Volquez is done for the season (and maybe for his career?) after being placed on the injured list with an oblique strain. Rafael Montero has a hold on the ninth, but Joely Rodriguez will move into a position where he could earn some holds.
  • 8/13: Keone Kela has been activated and will be back on the mound for this weekend's series. He's likely to be the closer right away and although the Pirates may not win a ton, Kela is solid enough to be worth owning in most formats.
  • 8/12: Aroldis Chapman will pitch in a simulated game on Friday and that may be the last step before he's activated. He should take over the closer's role pretty soon, but might get a few lower leverage innings when he first gets back on the mound.
  • 8/11: Padres closer Kirby Yates was unavailable on Monday due to "soreness in his body" which to be honest: same. Drew Pomeranz got the save, but Yates should be back on the mound the next time the Padres have a lead to lock down.
  • 8/10: Cole Sulser still looks like the main guy in Baltimore, but Miguel Castro has been pitching important innings and earned a save on Sunday. It's another committee for the Orioles, with Sulser still holding a slight edge.
  • 8/10: The Mariners bullpen continues to be a day-to-day event, but Taylor Williams has three saves while all of the other options have just one. Williams came in to bail Dan Altavilla out of a rough situation and it looks like Williams has moved into the top spot for right now. With Carl Edwards Jr. now heading to the IL, Williams should have a bit of a leash, but this will be a fluid situation all year long, though.
  • 8/10: Looks like Rafael Montero is the guy in the Texas bullpen. We'll keep it as questionable for now just to be sure, but he's a must-add in most formats at this point.
  • 8/10: Oliver Drake ended up on the IL thanks to biceps tendinitis, so Nick Anderson should be the top choice in the Rays pen once again. Jose Alvarado and Diego Castillo will be in the mix as well.
  • 8/10: Trevor Rosenthal needed a day off so Scott Barlow earned the save on Sunday. Rosie is still the guy here right now, but Barlow may have moved into the top setup role.
  • 8/9: Seth Lugo has taken over as the closer for the Mets, based on usage over the past few games. Edwin Diaz has been much better lately and should get any chances that Lugo doesn't. Lugo needs more days off than most relievers, so this is still kind of a committee, but Lugo is the clear head.
  • 8/9: Trevors around the league have moved into closer's roles, with Trevor Rosenthal taking over in Kansas City and Trevor Gott in San Francisco. Rosenthal is the better fantasy bet thanks to his strikeout upside.
  • 8/8: The Marlins placed Richard Bleier on the injured list on Saturday because of a mild left elbow triceps strain. He was looking like a solid source of holds in deeper leagues, but won't be back on the mound for at least 10 days.
  • 8/8: When Wade Davis hit the injured list for the Rockies, we knew it would be either Jairo Diaz or Carlos Estevez taking over. While it's still likely to be a committee to some extent, it does look like Diaz has jumped ahead and will be the best bet at least until Davis returns.
  • 8/8: We're seeing more and more committees forming in bullpens around the league. The Mets ninth inning will be split between Seth Lugo and Edwin Diaz for now, and the Cubs will go with a combo of Craig Kimbrel and Rowan Wick. There's a chance these committees could be temporary, but if none of the pitchers separate themselves, then it could remain a group effort going forward.
  • 8/8: Taylor Williams and Carl Edwards Jr. seem to be the current best bets for saves in the Seattle bullpen. This has already been one of the most volatile bullpens in the league and should continue to be. There are some decent arms here, but the overall situation makes it a bullpen likely best left alone in most fantasy formats.
  • 8/8: Who knows when the Cardinals will play again, but when they do, it won't be Ryan Helsley taking the ball in the ninth, as he's on the IL with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. It looks like Giovanny Gallegos may end up closer by default.
  • 8/7: Rafael Montero was activated off the IL and immediately picked up a save. He has moved to the top of the Rangers bullpen depth chart. Montero was a promising prospect who dealt with multiple injuries over the years but definitely has the stuff to be a solid closer.
  • 8/7: Trevor Rosenthal picked up the save and has been moved to the top of the Royals bullpen depth chart. Meanwhile, Ian Kennedy continues to struggle after his surprisingly great 2019.
  • 8/5: Shake up in the Cardinals bullpen, as Kwang-Hyun Kim will leave the closer's role and enter the starting rotation. For now, the Cardinals will go with a committee, but Giovanny Gallegos and Ryan Helsley seem to be the best bets for save chances.
  • 8/5: The Pirates placed Nick Burdi on the 45-day injured list, so his season is over. Keone Kela will close as soon as he returns, and the Pirates will probably mix and match until then.
  • 8/5: With Hansel Robles struggling, the Angels will make their way to a committee. Ty Buttrey got the first save of the post-Robles era, and he's the best bet to get the most chances going forward.
  • 8/4: Updates on Astros closer Roberto Osuna show what manager Dusty Baker said to be correct: the team will be without their closer for a long time. Osuna has been recommended for Tommy John Surgery, which would knock him out of this season and likely most of next season as well. Ryan Pressly will work the ninth innings in Houston for now.
  • 8/4: The Pirates confirmed that Keone Kela would be the closer once he was back with the team. Kela has been dealing with COVID-19 but has been cleared to return to workouts and is working his way back. Nick Burdi is currently the closer in Pittsburgh, but that will change soon.
  • 8/4: Astros manager Dusty Baker said about closer Roberto Osuna's injury, "Doesn't look real good, actually." We can expect a long absence from Osuna, leaving Ryan Pressly to serve as closer. Pressly has dealt with his own arm issues, though, so Blake Taylor could be the backup's backup in Houston.
  • 8/2: Astros closer Roberto Osuna was officially placed on the IL with a case of elbow soreness. Ryan Pressly just got back on the mound after dealing with elbow issues of his own, but he's still the best bet to be on the mound in the ninth inning for Houston.
  • 8/2: Big shake up in the Colorado bullpen, as Wade Davis landed on the IL with a shoulder strain and Scott Oberg was transferred to the 45-day IL. Carlos Estevez and Jairo Diaz will likely share save chances until one of them stands out.
  • 8/1: Roberto Osuna had to be removed from a save situation due to an injury later reported to be "discomfort" in his throwing arm. He is scheduled for an MRI, but it appears he will miss some time. Ryan Pressly is next in line, but he's been dealing with his own health issues as well.
  • 8/1: Hansel Robles blew another save in grand fashion on Saturday. Robles was solid and consistent last season, but he's having a lot of trouble getting outs in 2020. It's unclear who'd be next in line in Anaheim, as top setup man Ty Buttrey has been struggling this year as well.
  • 8/1: Cole Sulser has jumped to the top of the Orioles committee. He is extremely effective against lefties, so manager Brandon Hyde may choose to use him more in a fireman role rather than limiting him to the ninth inning, but Sulser is the top of this committee for now.
  • 8/1: The Marlins and Orioles made a trade, with Richard Bleier heading from Baltimore to Miami in exchange for a player to be named later. Bleier will likely work in the late innings for Miami if they play another game this season.
  • 8/1: Dan Altavilla looked like he was taking over the Mariners bullpen, but he got lit up in a save opportunity and Taylor Williams earned another save on Friday. The Seattle bullpen will probably feature a carousel of closers this season, but for now, Williams seems like the top dog.
  • 8/1: Kirby Yates, baseball's best closer by a decent margin last season, is on the hot seat already this season. He's allowed four earned runs after allowing just eight in all of 2019. His biggest issue seems to be control, as he usually keeps his BB% under 8%, and it's at 25% right now. Drew Pomeranz got a save on Friday, and is more than just knocking on the door of the ninth inning.
  • 8/1: The Royals bullpen looks like an all-out committee, we'll say Trevor Rosenthal is at the top for now, but that can change from one day to the next.
  • 8/1: Surprising literally no one in baseball, Wade Davis hasn't been great this year. Scott Oberg has been hurt but is on his way back and would be next in line. For now, it's Carlos Estevez and Jairo Diaz at the end of the Rockies pen, along with Davis.
  • 7/31: Will Smith feels "really really good" according to manager Brian Snitker. He'll face live hitters in a couple of days, then throw in a sim game. After that, he should be activated and quickly become the top setup man in Atlanta.
  • 7/31: Sean Doolittle is working on things right now, making Daniel Hudson the choice for saves in Washington, at least temporarily. A good showing from Hudson could keep him in the ninth inning for a while though.
  • 7/31: The Blue Jays sound optimistic about Ken Giles, saying they hope to have him pitch again "relatively soon".
  • 7/31: Aroldis Chapman was dealing with COVID-19 but has been cleared to rejoin his teammates. He'll probably get a few normal innings to get his feet wet before jumping back into the closer's role full time.
  • 7/31: Mets manager Luis Rojas said "we need to talk" about removing Edwin Diaz from the closer's role. It sounds like Diaz is on extremely thin ice, or that he's lost the job already. The Mets have several closer-type arms to choose from, including Seth Lugo, Dellin Betances, and Jeurys Familia.
  • 7/30: Lots to look at in Thursday night's games. James Karinchak got the save for Cleveland. He may be next up if Brad Hand continues to struggle with his velocity. Trevor Rosenthal got the save for Kansas City, but the Royals bullpen still looks like a committee of veterans, including Ian Kennedy and Greg Holland as well. Daniel Hudson got the save for Washington, and he's been off to a much better start than current closer Sean Doolittle. The two Nationals may switch roles before too long.
  • 7/30: Rangers closer/fireman Jose Leclerc is dealing with the same injury as his teammate Corey Kluber. They both have a Grade 2 strain of the teres major muscle in their throwing shoulders. Neither will be on a mound again likely until the postseason. Nick Goody picked up the save on Wednesday night, but it was mostly due to game circumstance. If Leclerc misses more time, the Rangers could send Jonathan Hernandez or Edinson Volquez to the mound in the ninth innings.
  • 7/29: Oliver Drake looks like he's earned the "hot hand" in the Rays bullpen. He earned his second save in a row on Tuesday night and should continue to get save chances until his hand is less hot.
  • 7/29: Nick Burdi earned his first career save last night and will be the favorite for saves in Pittsburgh, but manager Derek Shelton admitted he'd be careful with Burdi because of his previous injury history. Burdi should still easily have the most fantasy value, but Richard Rodriguez and Michael Feliz will find themselves on the mound in the ninth inning when Burdi is deemed unavailable.
  • 7/29: Sergio Romo earned a save last night for the Twins, and Taylor Rogers still hasn't pitched this season. Manager Rocco Baldelli says that Romo was already up and warm when the Cardinals turned the game into a save situation by adding a run. It's a bit concerning for fantasy owners, but it seems Taylor Rogers is fine and should be on the mound soon.
  • 7/28: More injuries in the Pirates bullpen have led to Kyle Crick joining Keone Kela on the injured list. That leaves Nick Burdi as the favorite for saves in Pittsburgh. He's one of the top relief prospects in the game and should be added immediately.
  • 7/28: Many people expected some turmoil in the Mets bullpen, but maybe not this early. On Monday night, Seth Lugo earned a four-out save, bailing out Jeurys Familia in the eighth then pitching a clean ninth to lock down a 7-4 win. Edwin Diaz has already blown a save and the Mets bullpen could be fully on its way to a committee at this point.
  • 7/27: Blue Jays closer Ken Giles officially landed on the injured list with elbow soreness. It's unclear how long he'll be out, but it could be a while. Toronto figures to go with a committee for now, featuring Jordan Romano, Anthony Bass, and Rafael Dolis. Keep an eye on how Toronto uses their bullpen to see if any of those guys are worth a waiver claim.
  • 7/27: Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel did almost nothing right on Monday, walking four and giving up two runs while getting just one out. He threw 34 pitches, just 13 for strikes. Kimbrel was clearly not right last season, and it seems like he's not much different in 2020. Jeremy Jeffress came in to rescue Kimbrel and earned the save, and would likely be next in line if Kimbrel loses his ninth inning role.
  • 7/27: Astros top setup man Ryan Pressly is dealing with elbow soreness. For now, he's listed as "day-to-day", but it'll be important to keep an eye on him. Roberto Osuna remains at the top of the Astros bullpen, but Chris Devenski will likely move into Pressly's spot.
  • 7/26: The Giants (somewhat surprisingly) had two save opportunities this weekend against the Dodgers. Both went to Trevor Gott. With Gabe Kapler as manager, it's almost impossible to say anyone has a leg up on the ninth inning, but Gott does seem like the early favorite, as he was able to save both games he came into.
  • 7/26: Lots of news today, as Will Smith has been cleared to rejoin the Braves after throwing a side session in Atlanta. He'll likely slide into the eighth inning/fireman role and should be an excellent roster piece in any holds leagues for now.
  • 7/26: Trevor Gott earned the save for the Giants last night. Tony Watson and Tyler Rogers pitched in the eighth inning right ahead of him. It'll likely be a full on committee for San Francisco this season, with recent usage and opposing batters determining the closer's role each game.
  • 7/26: The Mariners pretty much had a bullpen day on Sunday, with seven pitchers pitching against the Astros. When a save situation finally came around, though, Seattle gave the ball to Taylor Williams, who earned the save by striking out three in the inning despite allowing a run.
  • 7/26: Blue Jays closer Ken Giles was forced to leave the game today due to an injury. It's unclear how much time he will miss, but the Blue Jays could choose to go with Anthony Bass in the ninth inning, or with a committee that includes Bass, Rafael Dolis, and a few others.
  • 7/26: Some interesting bullpen usage last night, as Greg Holland earned the save for Kansas City and Oliver Drake earned one for Tampa Bay. Ian Kennedy was used in the 6th and 7th innings, and Nick Anderson came in as a fireman in the 7th and 8th.
  • 7/26: Edwin Diaz blew a save on Saturday, an all too common sight for Mets fans after last season. He was used as the closer in Games 1 and 2, but his leash will likely be very short.
  • 7/23: A couple of bits of good news in the Phillies bullpen, as Tommy Hunter and closer Hector Neris are healthy and ready to go for Opening Day. With Joe Girardi serving as manager this year, Neris should have a more solid role in the ninth inning.
  • 7/23: Astros closer Roberto Osuna will be on the Opening Day roster. He got a late start at Summer Camp, so there was reason to wonder if he'd start the season on the injured list, but he's far along enough in his training that he'll be on the team from the outset. Ryan Pressly will likely still get the first few save chances while Osuna gets up to speed, but it's ultimately Osuna's job once he's set to go.
  • 7/22: Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman is still testing positive for COVID-19 despite remaining asymptomatic. He'll need two negative test results before he can rejoin the Yankees. Zach Britton is expected to handle the bulk of the save opportunities in the meantime.
  • 7/22: Rockies reliever Scott Oberg will begin the season on the injured list. He was set to be the main setup man for Colorado and the handcuff for the volatile Wade Davis. At least for now, it seems like Oberg won't be on the shelf for too long.
  • 7/22: Pirates closer Keone Kela revealed that he has been away from the team due testing positive for COVID-19. He says he has been asymptomatic, but continuously tests positive or inconclusive. He'll need two negative tests before he can rejoin his teammates.
  • 7/22: Orioles rookie reliever Hunter Harvey is "very doubtful" to be ready for Opening Day. He's dealing with soreness in his throwing elbow, although the team is reportedly "not concerned about it at all". Mychal Givens will open the season as the Orioles closer, but Harvey should take over once he's healthy.
  • 7/22: More mess in the Mariners bullpen, as Austin Adams looks like he'll start the season on the injured list. Adams is dealing with a knee injury, but should be right back into the ninth inning mix once he's back on the mound.
  • 7/22: Rays reliever Colin Poche is out for the year and likely most of next year as well. He was diagnosed with a torn UCL and will likely undergo Tommy John Surgery.
  • 7/21: Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said that Hunter Harvey is dealing with, "a little bit of arm fatigue". It's unclear if he'll just need a couple of days off or if he'll need a stint on the injured list to start the season. Harvey should be a ninth inning option for the Orioles this season once he's healthy.
  • 7/21: Just as the Cardinals bullpen seemed to be settling down, manager Mike Schildt announced that lefty Kwang-Hyun Kim would be starting the season in the bullpen and would likely be the primary closer. Kim does not have the kind of "stuff" you usually see in an effective closer, but his role will give him plenty of fantasy value.
  • 7/20: The Astros bullpen has been downgraded to Questionable as closer Roberto Osuna may not be ready to go when the season starts. Manager Dusty Baker has said that Ryan Pressly will "probably" be the closer until Osuna is able to return.
  • 7/20: The Phillies released Anthony Swarzak, presumably so he'd have a chance to pitch elsewhere. He's more of a middle reliever at this point, but he could work his way into fantasy relevance if he signs with a club with a shallow bullpen.
  • 7/19: Astros manager Dusty Baker said that he is "not sure" if closer Roberto Osuna will be ready to go for Opening Day. Osuna is behind after reporting late to Summer Camp. Ryan Pressly is the top option to take his place, but Osuna's job is safe once he returns.
  • 7/18: Cardinals reliever Giovanny Gallegos (undisclosed) is finally on his way to St. Louis to join the team. He hasn't been with the club since Summer Camp opened, so he's unlikely to be ready to go on Opening Day. Still, he shouldn't be too far behind and will play a key role in the Cardinals bullpen this season.
  • 7/17: Pirates manager Derek Shelton said that he plans to mix and match for his closer's role while Keone Kela is away for "undisclosed" reasons. Kyle Crick is the most likely one to get chances, but he's a bit behind in Summer Camp so Nick Burdi could get some chances as well.
  • 7/16: The Royals and Padres have agreed to a trade that will send Tim Hill to San Diego. Hill will be buried in the Padres bullpen, but should provide solid middle relief and situational outings against lefties.
  • 7/16: Phillies closer Hector Neris was activated from the injured list and cleared to return to action. He should be ready to go on Opening Day.
  • 7/14: Astros reliever Joe Smith has opted out of the 2020 season.
  • 7/13: Jordan Hicks was expected to get a late start to the season after finishing his recovery from Tommy John Surgery, but he's chosen to opt out of 2020 all together. Ryan Helsley seems like the the highest upside add, with Giovanny Gallegos slightly safer, although there's plenty of risk there too.
  • 7/13: Diego Castillo was back in Rays camp on Monday and believes he could pitch in back-to-back games right away. He missed three days of workouts due to a "personal matter" but seems right on track and should have a key role in the Tampa Bay bullpen this season.
  • 7/11: Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman has tested positive for COVID-19 and is showing symptoms. Manager Aaron Boone says he is doing okay, but he won't be around for a while of course. The Yankees bullpen is strong enough to take care of things while Chapman recovers, with a mix of Zach Britton and Adam Ottavino likely handling the ninth.
  • 7/8: Cardinals president John Mozeliak was asked about his team's closer role and the first person he mentioned was Ryan Helsley. He also mentioned Giovanny Gallegos, who hasn't joined the team just yet, and Carlos Martinez if he is unable to stretch out into a starting role. Helsley has the most upside and is worth keeping an eye on.
  • 7/7: The Baltimore bullpen looks like it could be a committee between Mychal Givens and Hunter Harvey. Harvey has the higher upside, but Givens has the experience that managers crave.
  • 7/7: Trevor Rosenthal slides into the backup/handcuff role in Kansas City. He was terrible last season in 15 1/3 innings, but now reunited with manager Mike Matheny, Rosenthal should be given the chance to climb up the depth chart.
  • 7/7: Jose Leclerc is the best reliever in the Texas bullpen, which is this case might not be the best thing for his fantasy value. Leclerc may be used in more of a fireman role than in a classic closer role, making him much more valuable to the Rangers, but potentially much less for fantasy owners.
  • 7/7: Austin Adams works his way into the top spot in the Seattle bullpen, but that whole bullpen looks to be a work in progress, with Hirano, Magill, and perhaps even a few more likely mixing in for saves based on matchups.
  • 7/7: Corey Knebel looks set to be the main handcuff for Josh Hader in Milwaukee, but Knebel may get a slightly late start. He's recovering from Tommy John Surgery and has reportedly been throwing well, but he's not a sure thing to be ready for New Opening Day.
  • 7/7: Nick Burdi sneaks into the Pirates bullpen hierarchy and while he'll likely start somewhere in a middle relief/7th inning role, he could have huge upside as closer if the Pirates move Keone Kela before the deadline.
  • 7/7: John Brebbia was a key part of the Cardinals bullpen and was set to be again this year, but he was forced to undergo Tommy John Surgery and will miss all of whatever the 2020 season is, and likely a big part of 2021 as well. Ryan Helsley could have a huge year in a role somewhat like Brebbia's, although he could move up in the pecking order if he pitches well.
  • 7/7: Speaking of the Cardinals, Jordan Hicks should be ready to pitch at some point this season, but he won't be ready to start the year. Giovanny Gallegos should take the closer's role, but he's currently on the injured list as well. The Cardinals expect Gallegos to be ready to go, but if he's not, that bullpen will be mixing and matching to start the season.
  • 7/6: Baseball is back! Maybe? The season is still a work in progress, but bullpen depth charts have been updated to reflect a few recent pieces of news, including a few closers landing on the injured list due to positive COVID-19 tests.
  • 7/6: Key relievers currently dealing with positive COVID-19 tests include Will Smith of the Braves, Giovanny Gallegos of the Cardinals, and Hector Neris of the Phillies. There are reportedly 31 players who have tested positive so far, with more tests and certainly more positives to come. Bullpens could be more of a revolving door than ever before this season.
  • 7/6: New Mets manager Luis Rojas is already making waves, refusing to commit to Edwin Diaz as closer when asked. The end of the Mets bullpen has a lot of great arms in Diaz, Dellin Betances, Seth Lugo, and Jeurys Familia. Diaz should still lead the committee, but may not end up taking the role for himself.



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2020 Fantasy Baseball Advice 2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2020 Fantasy Baseball Undervalued Draft Targets Editor Note MLB Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Biggest Risers and Fallers of 2019 - Relief Pitchers

Welcome back, RotoBallers. I have to admit, I just wrote 3000 words on relief pitchers so forgive me if I get a little brief with the intro and just allow you to jump into the meat.

In this article, I look at 10 relievers whose value skyrocketed or plummeted in the 2019 fantasy season, spend some time trying to dig around to find out why it happened, and then discuss what we can expect from them in 2020.

For a look at starting pitchers who were risers last season in terms of K-rate, click here.

 

Relief Pitcher Risers

Liam Hendriks, OAK ⇑ 

2019: 4 W, 25 SV, 124 K, 1.80 ERA, 0.96 WHIP

Okay, I did not see this one coming. Liam Hendriks has been hanging around the American League since being drafted by the Twins in 2007. Another starter-turned-reliever, he has had some success in the bullpen prior to 2019, such as his 2015 campaign in Toronto where he pitched to a 2.92 ERA across 64.2 IP. But in 2019 we saw a different beast. Enjoying a 1.5 MPH uptick in his fastball velocity, Hendriks rode the pitch hard, throwing the cheese at a 67.9% clip and essentially doing away with his sinker. It resulted in a career-high 37.4 K%, but also a career-high 49.5 FB%. This is where my main concerns start to surface. A 30-year-old pitcher who threw his most innings since 2014, is now throwing 70% cheese and giving up 50% flyballs, yet only surrendered a 5.6 HR/FB% (vs 10.4% career average) last season. The law of averages already started to creep into effect during the second half of last season when he allowed four long-balls and a 2.70 ERA after just one across the first half.

Despite how it may look, Hendrik's stuff actually supported the absurd low HR numbers to an extent. First off, he allowed the seventh-lowest Pull% in baseball. He was especially hard to pull for RHB, where he allowed just a 2.2 HR/FB% despite a 54.1 FB%. Of course, the uptick in velocity contributed greatly, but it was also the near picture-perfect location of his pitches that was the real key. An upper-90s fastball up and away consistently is tough to time-up as a hitter.

Then once he has you sitting on the up and away fastball and you think you're going to jump it, he hits you with a slider that starts at the same height but drops completely out of the strike zone.

That is just unfair. This slider absolutely mowed down batters last season. When throwing his slider Hendriks allowed a .108 BAA while boasting a 56.4 K%, 47.2 O-Swing%, 29.0 SwStr%, and a very much needed 51.6 GB%. The slider is key to sustaining elite fantasy value in 2020. There will without a doubt be more HR this year, there just has to be, but if he keeps throwing the slider to this level of effectiveness the strikeouts will remain and help overcome the ERA regression.

Hendriks is currently being drafted as the RP5 just, outside the top 100. While I don't expect him to end the season in the top five, he absolutely belongs in the top 10 and I won't argue too hard with anyone drafting him after Josh Hader, Kirby Yates and Aroldis Chapman have left the board. For what it's worth, Steamer projects Hendriks with a 3.16 ERA in 2020, which is in the neighborhood of his 3.21 xFIP from this past season, while rocking a 11.82 K/9 which is practically the median between his career average and 2019's 13.13 mark.

 

Taylor Rogers, MIN ⇑

2019: 2 W, 30 SV, 90 K, 2.61 ERA, 1.00 WHIP

Taylor Rogers was a solid relief pitcher for three seasons in Minnesota heading into 2019, but was finally awarded the ninth-inning keys and responded with the best year of his career. Operating as the Twins Glen Perkins-esque southpaw closer, Rogers rewarded fantasy owners finishing as one of only four RP with 30 SV, 11+ K/9, and an ERA under 3.00. Fun fact, the other three were also LHP - Aroldis Chapman, Josh Hader, and Will Smith.

Despite seeing regression in BABIP and HR/FB% from his "breakout" 2018 season, Rogers was still able to lower his ERA due to a career-best 32.4 K%. The secret appears to be a massive increase in his slider usage, 13% in 2018 to 31% in 2019. I see no reason to expect anything different from Rogers in 2020, sitting atop a strong bullpen featuring Trevor May, Tyler Duffey, Sergio Romo, and Tyler Clippard. Rogers is currently being drafted as the RP8 at 126 overall. He represents a safer option than fellow closer Liam Hendricks, who is being drafted a full round earlier. In fact, I predict Taylor Rogers finishes the 2020 season ranked higher than Liam Hendriks.

 

Drew Pomeranz, SD ⇑ 

2019: 2 W, 2 SV, 137 K, 4.85 ERA, 1.43 WHIP

Okay, this may seem a bit odd considering the overall stats look hideous and this guy has Kirby Yates ahead of him on the depth chart, but bear with me because I am excited about this one. Did you even realize Drew Pomeranz was moved to the bullpen last year? Finishing the season as a reliever, Pomeranz threw 28.2 IP with a 1.88 ERA, 15.70 K/9, and a 51.1 GB%. The guy became a southpaw Kirby Yates. He held opposing hitters to a .165 BA and boasted a 1.67 xFIP. The K/9 was good for third-highest among RP with 20+ IP, and only Brandon Workman also had a top-30 K/9, GB% above 50%, and an ERA below 2.00.

Yes, it is a small sample size, but Pomeranz would not be the first SP to flourish after a move to the pen. You may also be worried about the LOB% sitting above 90%, but I mean if you are striking guys out at Josh Hader levels, you are going to have Josh Hader level LOB ability (which was 93%). Speaking of Hader, he was the only RP to have a higher K/BB% than Pomeranz as a reliever.

Even if you are in the business of only using closers in fantasy, Pomeranz makes for a great late-round handcuff to Kirby Yates. But if you are of superior intellect and operate off the JB Bullpen Method (Draft Tip #10), you will join me in scooping up Drew Pomeranz in the late rounds and enjoy the ratio dominance. I haven't even started my 10 Bold Predictions for 2020 yet, but I assure you Pomeranz makes the list.

 

Emilio Pagan, TB ⇑ 

2019: 4 W, 20 SV, 96 K, 2.31 ERA, 0.83 WHIP

Much like Taylor Rogers, Emilio Pagan enjoyed a career-year in 2019 which resulted in earning the closer role. His 12.34 K/9 was a personal best, as was his GB%. Also in tune with Taylor Rogers, Pagan increased his slider usage which resulted in a 7% increase in O-Swing%, 5% decrease in Contact%, and raised his SwStr% to a very impressive 17.6%. His fastball was equally impressive as it gained a slight uptick in velo which led the way with a 42.1 K%.

The bad news for Pagan is some incoming regression after he benefited from a .228 BABIP and monstrous 94.8 LOB%, which widened the gap between his ERA and 3.30 FIP. But even despite some regression in the ERA and WHIP, I expect Pagan to be a more-than-serviceable RP in 2020, especially backed by a top 10 K-BB%.

The real issue I have with drafting him at his current RP16 (168 Overall) range is the massive group of talent nipping at his heels on the depth chart. Diego Castillo was always viewed as the closer of the future in Tampa, but then they go and acquire strikeout machine Nick Anderson too? Not to mention a healthy Jose Alverado and frisbee-slider-slinging Chaz Roe. Even Colin Poche is another under 30 years old with double-digit K/9. I expect Emilio Pagan to lead the Rays in saves, but I will predict he will not reach 20 again in 2020 which makes him a less appealing pick to me than say Jose Leclerc or Hansel Robles who are being drafted a round later.

 

Brandon Workman, BOS ⇑ 

2019: 10 W, 16 SV, 104 K, 1.88 ERA, 1.03 WHIP

It's hard to believe Brandon Workman has been with the Red Sox since 2011. He made his first big league appearance in 2013 but really got his feet wet in 2014 with 87 IP and a wild 1-10 record. He then saw 2015-2016 practically erased due to Tommy John surgery. Fast forward to 2019, and he completes a literal 180 flip by going 10-1 with a 13.06 K/9 and 1.88 ERA, while also taking over Boston ninth-inning duties and recording 16 saves.

One main factor for his success was increasing the usage of his fantastic curveball, up to damn-near 50%, good for third-highest in baseball but still behind teammate Matt Barnes. Due to the increase in offspeed pitches, his FB value climbed and contributed to a career-low Contact% and career-high SwStr%. To top it all off, Workman's .123 BAA was the lowest in all of baseball.

Of course, we are talking about my Red Sox bullpen, so there has to be a downside. The glaring issue is the free passes. Operating with a 15.7 BB% is risky business, but it also comes with the territory when throwing a curveball half the time (unless you are Rich Hill or Tyler Duffey apparently). Workman's career BB% is 10.5%, so I expect the 15.7 to dip a bit towards the mean. The second issue is the minuscule .209 BABIP and 2.6 HR/FB%. Obviously this combo screams regression. But combined with a low LOB% and high GB tendencies, I don't really disagree with his 3.33 xFIP from 2019 as a 2020 ERA estimator. You can certainly do a lot worse than a high strikeout closer in Boston with a 3.33 ERA. Workman is currently being drafted right after Emilio Pagan, which I think is fair as I trust Pagan's peripherals a bit more, but I certainly expect Workman to be in line for more saves in 2020 - if that's your thing.

 

Giovanny Gallegos, STL ⇑ 

2019: 3 W, 1 SV, 93 K, 2.31 ERA, 0.81 WHIP

Coming over from the New York Yankees in exchange for Luke Voit in 2018, Giovanny Gallegos saw his first full season in the bigs last year, and did not disappoint. Like Rogers and Pagan, Gallegos threw a career-high percentage of sliders en route to a 33.3 K% and 16.3 SwStr%. He also boasts impressive command as shown by his 27.6 K-BB%. In order for him to sustain this level of success, I believe a third pitch will need to be added to the mix, as he only threw eight pitches (change-up) last year that were not a fastball or slider. Until that happens, I expect the BABIP and LOB% to regress and for the ERA and WHIP to creep up in 2020.

The best thing Gallegos has going for him to start 2020 is opportunity. With Jordan Hicks recovering from TJS and Carlos Martinez supposedly returning to the rotation, Gallegos should be the guy to see the first crack at the ninth-inning role. He is the most talented option in the pen in my opinion, and you never know how/when Jordan Hicks recovers so I am treating Gallegos like the Cardinals closer in my drafts. He is currently being drafted as the RP26 (244 Overall). I value him higher and would easily draft him ahead of Mark Melancon, Joe Jimenez, and Ian Kennedy based on his floor, and also over Sean Doolittle and Archie Bradley based on his potential.

 

Relief Pitcher Fallers

Chad Green, NYY ⇓

2019: 4 W, 2 SV, 98 K, 4.17 ERA, 1.23 WHIP

The numbers might not look too bad, but after dominating performances in 2017 and 2018, this past season was a big disappointment for Chad Green ratio-hopefuls such as myself.  The law of averages spares no man. There are plenty of pleasantries to take away from 2019 however. The first is the strikeouts remained constant. His 12.78 K/9 fell smack dab in the middle of his 2017 and 2018 totals. His O-Swing%, Contact%, and SwStr% were also all on par. The second positive is Green has remained healthy for three straight seasons and his velocity remains intact. The third positive was a very strong second half of the season which bodes well for his 2020 outlook. Green started the season just about as bad as one could, allowing 14 ER in his first 7.2 IP. But the Yankees got creative, even used him as an opener, and he responded in a great way. After the All-Star break, Green allowed just a 2.89 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, .176 BAA, 0.72 HR/9, and the BABIP dropped drastically.

Despite the rough start and bad luck in 2019, I will be going right back to drafting Chad Green late in my 2020 fantasy drafts to bolster my pitching stats, while enjoying an even greater discount than usual.

 

Edwin Diaz, NYM ⇓ 

2019: 2 W, 26 SV, 99 K, 5.59 ERA, 1.38 WHIP

Talk about a painful draft-day investment, Edwin Diaz was destroyed by the Law of Averages monster in his first year in New York. Despite a career-high in K/9, fantasy owners watched in horror as his HR/9 rose from 0.61 to 2.33, and his  BABIP climb from .281 to .377. He used the same pitch mix with the same velo, but obviously experienced much different results from his first three seasons. We can't blame it all on bad luck though, even though his 3.07 xFIP suggests there was plenty of it, because a 48.8 Hard% is not something you just fall into by accident.

Diaz was pummeled by RHB in 2019. In 33 IP, he surrendered 10 HR and a .299/.358/.569 slash. Again, that's not all bad luck. The below heat maps show us his pitch locations against RHB first in 2018, followed by 2019. Which one would be easier for you to hit? 

The difference between the two may seem minor, but when you are simultaneously being hammered by the HR/FB and BABIP gods, keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate as much as possible is probably the best approach.

The greatest benefit for fantasy owners in 2020 from the Diaz fallout in 2019 is the draft day discount. Despite almost a guaranteed 15+ K/9, the closer role, and incoming positive regression (great article by fellow-Rotoballer Eric), Diaz is being drafted as the RP9 at 130 overall. If the ERA and WHIP are able to dip back down anywhere near the ranges from the previous three seasons, you are getting a sweet deal.

 

Blake Treinen, LAD ⇓ 

2019: 6 W, 16 SV, 59 K, 4.91 ERA, 1.62 WHIP

As if the Edwin Diaz drop-off wasn't painful enough, Blake Treinen was the nail in the coffin. After being converted to a full-time reliever by the Nationals in 2015, Treinen skated through three straight seasons of 3.31-3.57 xFIP and 8 K/9. Then out of nowhere, just like the A's current closer, Treinen busts out of his mold and becomes a freakin wizard on the mound ending 2018 with a 0.78 ERA and 11.20 K/9. The pending regression heading into 2019 was so obvious coming off career anomalies in BABIP, HR/9, and LOB% but I, like so many others, was baited in based solely on how filthy he stuff looked. Of course, you know the rest of the story; the Law of Averages hit, and it hit hard. Treinen's K/9 dropped down to 9.05, his BABIP shot up 86 points, LOB% dropped 10 points, and his HR/FB% quadrupled. Also like his former teammate Hendriks, Treinen's GB/FB ratio was cut in half. For someone that relies on a "once" filthy sinker, that stat definitely sticks out. So obviously I want to dig into the sinker.

In 2019, Treinen's sinker induced 10% less ground balls than 2018, with a 77 point BABIP increase and tripled in HR/FB%. According to his pitch location heat maps, there is a noticeable difference in his sinker locations from 2018 (top), but it actually looks like it was better placed in 2019 (bottom).

If the location is not the issue, it has to be the delivery, right? Well, it just so happens his sinker lost 1.3 MPH in velocity from 2018. There we go. It also just so happens Treinen battled shoulder and back injuries last year, which could certainly help explain the loss in velo. The injuries could possibly also explain why he threw his slider (career 50.3 GB%) 10% less than in 2018.

So I am fairly confident injuries played a large role in Treinen's awful 2019 season, fueled by a rapid increase in fly balls. If fully healthy in Los Angeles this season, I expect the GB% to increase in conjunction with the return of his sinker and slider. The main problem here is I think a return to 2018 is out of the question, there is just nothing to support that statistical output. The HR/FB from 2019 actually lines up with his three-year average prior to the 2018 breakout, so I can't expect a drop in that department, but rather just a drop in the total number of fly balls which will drive the HR/9 down again and help bring his ERA and WHIP down to respectable levels. The days of fantasy relevance are probably over for Treinen, but the Dodgers will still get serviceable innings from their new reliever in 2020.

If you didn't notice, I left the increase in walks out of this blurb. That is because this article by Connor Kurcon on sixmanrotation.com covers it beautifully as does a study on how pitchers who suffer a spike in walk rates in their career respond the following season(s) historically. 

 

Jose Leclerc, TEX ⇓ 

2019: 2 W, 14 SV, 100 K, 4.33 ERA, 1.33 WHIP

Just like the previously mentioned Blake Treinen, Jose Leclerc enjoyed a massive breakout in 2018 with a 1.56 ERA and 13.27 K/9. But as you know, thanks to that big downward-facing arrow next to his name and the fact you probably had him on a fantasy team last season, Leclerc was unable to carry that success over to 2019.

Let's start with the good news. First, the strikeouts remained over a 13 K/9 rate, and his Contact% stayed steady. Second, his velocity increased from 2018. Third, he was still very tough to hit as he allowed just a .205 BAA. Lastly, the batted-ball profile remained relatively the same, but the GB% actually increased. So far so good. So what went wrong? Well, those ridiculously low HR numbers from 2018 regressed towards the mean as expected, but that was mostly thanks to a near-ten point decrease in Soft% and subsequent increase in Hard%. Left-handed batters, in particular, posed a problem for Leclerc and they slugged .483 in 2019 vs just .221 in 2018. The best way to explain his struggles with hard contact to lefties is by looking at his go-to pitch, the splitter.

In 2018, Leclerc's splitter boasted a 58.9 K%, .011 ISO, 37 FB%, 61.5 ZCont%, and a 23.8 SwStr%. In 2019, the same pitch carried a 45.9 K%, .168 ISO, 47 FB%, 83.7 ZCont%, and 16.4 SwStr%. That is quite a considerable drop in effectiveness. Back to the heat maps! First look at 2018 splitter location vs LHB, down in the zone, ain't no way to put that over the fence. Then look below it for 2019 splitter location vs LHB. That's living dangerously.

The relievers with the best splitters in baseball right now are Kirby Yates and Hector Neris. Yates strikes out LHB at a 15.19 K/9 rate, and Neris allows just a .167 to LHB. Obviously righting the ship with his splitter will be a major key to Leclerc returning to his dominant 2018 form. Walks will continue to be an issue (5.63 BB/9 Career), so he will never be a true ratio darling in fantasy. But the Ks are fantastic and we can expect the ERA to slide down towards his 3.59 FIP, and potentially even further if the splitter effectiveness improves. I can't see anyone else from the shoddy Rangers bullpen taking over as the teams closer barring a historic meltdown, so consider Leclerc a high strikeout closer that won't hurt your teams ERA. As I stated previously, I would be comfortable gambling on a bounce-back campaign and taking Leclerc over Emilio Pagan and Brandon Workman in 2020 fantasy drafts.

More 2020 Fantasy Baseball Advice




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Using xwOBA to Identify Breakout Pitchers

Heading into a new baseball season, fantasy owners are looking for any leg up on our competition. We turn over stones looking for any stat or training report that might suggest a breakout that few others can see coming. I’m not here to promise some groundbreaking stat, but I do believe that Expected Weighted On-base Average (xwOBA) can be useful when looking for hints as to how a player might perform.

xwOBA is calculated using exit velocity, launch angle and, Sprint Speed to evaluate the quality of contact that a batter makes or a pitcher gives up. While, as Craig Edwards effectively points out, it is not a predictive stat, it “can help explain how a pitcher has arrived at his runs-allowed total.” More specifically, when comparing xwOBA with wOBA, we can start to see if a pitcher earned the batted ball results he gave up or if the results were due to factors outside of his control. Essentially, did a pitcher deserve better numbers than he wound up with.

The following article will look at some of the pitchers who underperformed their xwOBA. By using the simple equation of [wOBA – xwOBA], we can find pitchers who had an xwOBA that was lower than his wOBA, suggesting that he should have statistically performed better based on the quality of contact made against him.

 

What Do You Expect?

As a point of comparison, some of the best starting pitchers in terms of their xwOBA last year were Gerrit Cole (.238 xwOBA), Justin Verlander (.249) Jacob deGrom (.253), and Max Scherzer (.254). For relievers, some leaders last year were Emilio Pagan (.221 xwOBA), Kirby Yates (.224), and Liam Hendriks (.229).

Below is a table of pitchers who faced at least 100 batters and are intriguing based on how they underperformed their expected results. Some of them are high-end arms who have the potential for a better 2020 season, some are players who have strong statistical numbers that could benefit from a new role, and others are players who could we are simply rolling the dice on in hopes that they become more fantasy relevant.

Player wOBA xwOBA Difference
Mitch Keller .392 .314 .078
Edwin Diaz .344 .277 .067
Darwinzon Hernandez .327 .263 .064
Justus Sheffield .376 .321 .055
Elieser Hernandez .340 .290 .050
Josh James .304 .263 .041
Blake Snell .301 .264 .037
Lucas Sims .302 .271 .031
Matthew Boyd .320 .297 .023
Noah Syndergaard .301 .280 .021

 

Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays

Locked-in SP1

I don’t think there are many people who are shying away from Snell in fantasy leagues, but after his Cy Young Award-winning season, injuries derailed his 2019 follow-up. While his overall numbers may not have been in line with last year’s leading fantasy aces, Snell’s expected stats suggest that he underperformed his overall ability. In fact, his .264 xwOBA is just behind Scherzer and was the 6th best number of all pitchers with at least 350 batters faced (Snell only faced 441 due to injury). His xBA was third-best at .205, as was his xSLG at .327, a whopping .064 points lower than the actual slugging percentage that he gave up last year.

We mentioned that expected stats aren’t predictive, but they are reliable year-to-year, so Snell’s consistency between 2019 and 2018 (.203 xBA, .340xSLG, and .273 xwOBA) suggests that he pitched just as well, if not better, last year and we should see something similar in 2020. With the Rays still putting a strong offense behind him, Snell should remain a safe SP1 in fantasy drafts, and I would draft him over guys like Shane Bieber and Stephen Strasburg, who are currently going ahead of him.

 

Edwin Diaz, New York Mets

Top-Five closer

Edwin Diaz was always likely to be a volatile fantasy asset; however, nobody could have expected last year's meltdown. A 5.59 ERA with a 4.51 FIP and a 1.38 WHIP caused many fantasy owners, and Mets fans, to freak out. Despite his BB% rising and his SwStr% decreasing, his final numbers were still well within his career range and the range of most strong relievers. His 17.8 SwStr% was a drop of 1.1 from 2018, but would have put him 4th in MLB if he had enough innings to qualify, and his 8.7% walk rate was a 2.6% increase, but still well below his 2017 numbers.

For all intents and purposes, it seems like Diaz just had a bad and unlucky season. His home run per nine innings rate was 2.33, which was one of the worst rates among relief pitchers and a ridiculous jump from his 0.61 rate in 2018. He also added to that a BABIP of .377, which was the second-worst in the league. All of that, plus the .067 difference in xwOBA and wOBA tells me that even in this nadir, he still was pitching better than his results. I fully expect a bounce-back to a top-five closer who I'd gladly take over Liam Hendricks, Ken Giles, and Will Smith - all who I've seen go above him in recent mock drafts.

 

Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets

Solid SP2 with high-end SP2 upside

Thor seems to pull people in every year with those long, flowing locks and triple-digit fastball. However, he rarely matched expectations when it’s all said and done. That’s something you can take advantage of. As early ADP indicates, the fantasy public is souring on Thor as the failed expectations become part of the larger narrative. Yet, his underlying skills remain strong. He’s .280 xwOBA was 16th among pitchers who faced a minimum of 350 batters, and he also ranked in the top 20 in the difference between actual slugging percentage and expected slugging percentage, with an XSLG of .366 what would have also put him 16th last season. Part of the explanation for Syndergaard’s poor performance in relation to his expected stats is that the New York Mets ranked second-worst in DRS and seventh-worst in UZR, which means he got no help from his defense.

There were also many reports that he lost a feel for the slider, possibly due to the change in the ball. Thor's slider dropped from a 7.8 Pitch Value (pVAL) to a 1.7 pVAL pitch, which helped his swinging strike percentage (SwStrk%) also drop 1.1 points to 12.5%. However, the ball is reportedly being switched back and could lead to improved results in Thor’s slider, which would then be paired with a change-up that saw a pVAL jump to up 6.8 from 1.4 in 2018. Thor is by no means a sure thing, but his upside is still high enough that I would take him over Yu Darvish, Zack Greinke, and Tyler Glasnow, who are all going before him.

 

Matthew Boyd, Detroit Tigers

Low-End SP3

Boyd’s .297 xwOBA would have put him 33rd in the league, which gives him some room for improvement; however, I’m not as bullish on Boyd as I am on some of the other guys on this list. Boyd’s success and failure last year was heavily tied to his fastball velocity, which jumped from 91.1 MPH on average in 2018 to 92.4 in 2019. That, however, is still below average fastball velocity, and the pitch had a 1.9 pVAL; although that’s an improvement from the -0.5 the year before, it doesn’t give me confidence that he has newfound, consistent success with it.

There is some intrigue in the fact that he saw a jump in SwStrk% from 10.2 to 14.0, which can partially be tied to his improvement in getting hitters to chase outside of the zone. He had a 4.6% jump in O-Swing%, and batters swung at Boyd’s 1550 pitches and missed on 484 of them (31.2%) which is above league average (24.9%). Although his slider was markedly worse in pVAL than it was in 2018, it still has above-average results and movement. Boyd’s slider moves, on average, five inches towards a right-handed batter and drops 46 inches, while the league average horizontal movement is six inches and 39 inches drop. Improvement in 2020 from Boyd is supported by a 3.88 xFIP and those aforementioned jumps from last year; however, I would be cautious of expecting consistent production throughout the whole season, which makes Boyd more of a high floor, low-end SP3 for me.

 

Josh James, Houston Astros

SP3 (if he gets a rotation spot)

Nothing beats a post-hype sleeper. In the middle of last Spring Training, everybody was all over Josh James. He seemed like the next stud to grace the mound for the Houston Astros. Then he suffered a quad injury in spring and began the year in the bullpen, featuring dynamic raw stuff and the potential upside of a dominant arm, only for him to get hurt again in July and be placed on the IL with a shoulder strain. His numbers dipped a bit in July while pitching through the injury, but his overall underlying metrics tell us that his year was likely better than many think. James' .264 xwOBA would put him right in line with Snell, Mike Clevinger, and Stephen Strasburg. He also limited contact to a .171 xBA and a .286 xSLG, despite registering a .374 SLG on the season. His 16.2% SwStr% was near elite and his xFIP of 3.77 paints a much rosier picture than his 4.70 actual ERA.

When you match the numbers under the hood with a fastball that he can run up over 100 MPH, and three positive pVAL pitches, including a slider that has elite spin and above-average horizontal movement and drop, all the pieces are there for a Josh James breakout. With Jose Urquidy and Brad Peacock currently slotted into the number four and five spots in the Astros' rotation, James is not an unrealistic option to slide ahead of them. Urquidy has no Major League success and Peacock's best years came in the bullpen, so if James is able to snag a spot from one of them, we could see the true breakout we all wanted last year.

 

Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates

SP4 with SP3 upside

As it stands right now, Keller appears set to begin the 2020 season in the Pirates rotation. Despite mediocre results in his MLB debut, Keller proved to be a dynamic prospect as he worked his way up through the Pittsburgh’s minor league system. He possesses a strong fastball with elite spin, which tops out at 98, and has elite spin on his curve, which leads to two inches more drop than the league average. He also throws a slider that recorded a 27% SwStrk% and a 50.5 O-Swing%. Since we know he possesses good raw stuff, the fact that no pitcher in baseball underperformed their xwOBA more than Keller immediately jumps out.

When you look closer, you can see a few major culprits. For starters, he allowed a .475 BABIP, despite finishing with a .324 mark in AAA and .366 in AAA the year before and also had a sub-60% LOB rate. Both of these indicate that Keller was particularly unlucky or hurt by poor defense, a scenario that’s supported by his 3.19 FIP and 3.47 xFIP last year. I’d expect an ERA in the high three's with good strikeout numbers, which makes him an intriguing arm to breakout without having to draft him all that high.

 

Lucas Sims, Cincinnati Reds

SP4 (if he gets a rotation spot)

Damn the Reds and their solid addition of Wade Miley. The veteran lefty gives the Reds four locked-in starters: Miley, Trevor Bauer, Luis Castillo, and Sonny Gray, which means Sims could either compete for the 5th spot in the rotation with oft-injured Anthony DeSclafani or be moved back to the bullpen. For the purposes of this endeavor, let’s assume he gets a crack at the starting job in the preseason; there is a decent amount to like. In addition to the noticeable difference in expected stats in the table above, Sims’ improvement last year was borne out by a 4.12 FIP in AAA and the highest K% of his career at 30% during Triple-A and 32.2% in the Majors. He also saw a 12% drop in hard contact rate from 2018 and a drop in his walk rate by 6%.

He has three solid offerings with a fastball that moves 10 inches towards a right-handed batter despite a league average horizontal movement of 7 inches, a slider that has a horizontal movement of 12 inches despite a league average of 6, and a curve that moves 2 inches more horizontally than major league average. The curve also had a pVAL of 5.5 last year, which would have been good for 15th best had he qualified with the right amount of innings thrown. His 14.9% SwStr% would have put him 10th in the league behind Lucas Giolito, which suggests that strikeout upside is real. If he wins the job, he could be dinged a bit by pitching in a hitter’s park, but I see a path to a sub-4.00 ERA with good strikeout numbers despite a high walk rate.

 

Justus Sheffield, Seattle Mariners

End-of-Draft Stash

Once an (over) hyped Yankees prospect, Sheffield posted a 5.50 ERA in 36 innings with Seattle last year but a more concerning 6.87 ERA in Triple-A. However, he dominated AA with a 2.19 ERA, which gave some people cause for optimism. After all, Sheffield is still only 23-years-old, and the large discrepancy in his expected OBA versus his wOBA gives us a reason to dive in again. While a .321 xwOBA seems high on the surface, it puts him in the same boat as Pablo Lopez, Caleb Smith, Robbie Ray, and Chase Anderson. His xBA last year was .245 which came in well below his actual BAA of .303, and the difference in his SLG allowed and xSLG was also a sizable .092. Part of that has to do with him only giving up 16.5% hard contact, but it also feels a little fluky.

Sheffield has strikeout upside with a strong 22% K% during his major league stint last year. He has a 93 MPH fastball that he can get up to 95, which is solid from the left side, and pairs with that a slider that drops two inches more than league average that he throws 35.7% of the time. However, his ceiling is currently limited by only being a two-pitch pitcher. He has some untapped upside to emerge as an SP4 in fantasy leagues, but that’s not the type of upside that you’ll be cursing yourself for missing out on if somebody swoops before the last rounds of the draft.

 

Elieser Hernandez, Miami Marlins

Waiver Wire Watch

The beauty of fantasy baseball is that something we find value in the unlikeliest of places. Coming into the year, many people thought the Miami Marlins would be a glorified minor league team, but we all took turns falling in love with Caleb Smith, Pablo Lopez, and Zac Gallen (until he was traded). Is it time to add Elieser Hernandez's name to that list? Not likely. However, his expected stats can put him on our list of pitchers to watch in the early weeks of the season.

He had an elite exit velocity against, which helped him to an xBA of only .209, sizably lower than his .242 final numbers. He also pitched to a .391 xSLG, which was a full .112 points below the actual slugging percentage he allowed. It was his age 24 season and only his second crack at the major, but he dropped walk % by 2.1 points and raised his K % by a whopping 8.2 points. His slider had a 7 pVAL and has almost double the league average horizontal movement. At the end of the day, he's not going to win you fantasy leagues, but he's a young pitcher with an above-average SwkStrk who induces soft fly balls in a pitcher's park. It's not going to be pretty, but there is a scenario where it is useful.

 

Darwinzon Hernandez, Boston Red Sox

Who Knows?

I have no idea where Hernandez pitches for the Red Sox this season, but his underlying metrics suggest that he needs to be mentioned on this list. He had the fifth-largest discrepancy between xwOBA and wOBA of any pitcher with over 100 plate appearances against, and his .159 xBA trailed only Josh Hader with the same qualifications. What's most impressive is that the average suppressing was done with both of his most frequently used pitches. His fastball registered a .154 xBA, .269 xwOBA, and.205 xSLG), which his slider finished with a .177 xBA,.240 xwOBA, and .277 xSLG. He had a solid 13.7 SwStrk% and saw his K% finish at 38.8% in his first big league stint.

He currently seems slotted to begin the year out of the bullpen, but the Red Sox are also trying to move David Price to clear salary cap, which could free up a rotation spot for the 23-year-old. If he stays in the bullpen, there is a chance that he could work himself into high-leverage situations and perhaps become useful in SV/HLD leagues. Spring Training will be big for him, but he has the tools to be a strong fantasy contributor.

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2020 Early Bullpen Outlooks - A.L. East

Welcome to 2020, fantasy friends. With football season winding down and basketball and hockey in full swing, it's time to start thinking about the 2020 baseball season.

Free agency has been a little more front-loaded this season, leaving fewer questions about rosters heading into Spring Training. Still, there will be changes between now and Opening Day, so keep an eye on our Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Depth Charts throughout the year.

Let's get started with the American League East, where not much has changed since last season, but some things may have settled down a bit. There's a lot of upside in AL East bullpens, and some potential later-round value as well. Let's dive in.

 

Updates

Updated 2/14/20: Pagan no longer on the Rays, Anderson likely closer. Workman confirmed as closer in Boston.

 

New York Yankees

The New York Yankees are World Series favorites heading into 2020. Signing Gerrit Cole moved the needle significantly, but their elite bullpen plays a huge role in their outlook as well. Aroldis Chapman will return as closer after posting 37 saves and a 2.21 ERA/2.28 FIP. His K% went down a bit from 2018, but was still an excellent 36.2%, especially when combined with his improved 10.6% BB%. Chapman should once again be one of the more popular closers on fantasy rosters.

The Yankees will also have Zach Britton, Adam Ottavino, and Tommy Kahnle returning, among others. Dellin Betances moved on to the other New York team, but he hasn't been a factor in the Bronx since 2018 due to injuries. Britton is the early favorite for the main setup/8th inning role, but any of Britton, Ottavino, and Kahnle could be solid holds league options, likely ranked in that order. There is a ton of fantasy value throughout the Yankees pitching staff.

 

Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox went through a rough 2019 in terms of the bullpen and other issues. They finally seemed to figure things out at the end of the season though, and Brandon Workman will head into Spring Training as the main closer in Boston. Workman closed out the season with a 10-1 record, 16 saves, and a 1.88 ERA/2.46 FIP. He struck out a strong 13.06 per inning, but also walked a concerning 5.65 per nine. Workman has nice upside on what could end up being a slightly rebuilding Red Sox team in 2020, but there is a little bit of concern based around his control.

Along with Workman, Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, and Marcus Walden should feature prominently in the Boston bullpen. Barnes would be the best choice in holds leagues, and should also be next in line if Workman were to be hurt or ineffective. Barnes ended 2019 with a 3.78 ERA, but he struck out 38.6% of the batters he faced. He also has some control concerns (13.3 BB%), but showed some flashes of elite upside last season.

 

Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays were generally disappointing last season, but they showed some flashes and should be much improved in the 2020 season. Injuries and constant trade rumors messed with the bullpen north of the border somewhat, but Ken Giles will be entering the season healthy and as the unquestioned stopper in the Jays bullpen. When he was on the mound, Giles was excellent in 2019, posting 23 saves to go with a 1.87 ERA/2.27 FIP. He struck out 39.9% of the batters he faced and only issued walks to 8.2%. Those are elite-level numbers given a better team that should provide more save chances.

The rest of the Blue Jays bullpen is much more of a question mark, but Sam Gaviglio and Anthony Bass should play significant roles. Gaviglio was a solid enough middle reliever last season, posting a 4.61 ERA/4.64 FIP. His control was solid, as he struck out 8.28 per nine while walking just 2.07 per nine. He's not a high-upside arm and will likely be more valuable on the mound than in a fantasy lineup. Bass had similar numbers in 2019 and a similar outlook for 2020: he'll be good enough for the Blue Jays, but likely not good enough for many fantasy lineups. Bass had a 3.56 ERA/3.90 FIP with 8.06 K/9 and 3.19 BB/9. The only standard-league asset in the Blue Jays bullpen will be Ken Giles.

 

Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles had a long, difficult 2019 season and seem almost certain to experience a similar ordeal in 2020. Still, bad teams will win some games, and a lot of them will be close, making a closer a potentially valuable fantasy piece. Mychal Givens spent time as the Orioles closer in 2019 and was okay, although he showed signs of being more than that. Overall, he ended up with 11 saves, a 4.57 ERA/4.50 FIP, and 12.29 K/9. His 3.71 BB/9 wasn't great, but it wasn't as concerning as many other closers with high strikeout rates.

Givens will have competition from Hunter Harvey perhaps as early as Spring Training, however. Harvey only pitched 6 1/3 innings at the big league level, but he posted strong numbers on the mound in Triple-A and could be given a chance to earn a significant role right out of camp. At least, he should be a holds league option in deeper formats. Richard Bleier and Shawn Armstrong should make up the rest of the late-inning bullpen options for Brandon Hyde and the Baltimore Orioles.

 

Tampa Bay Rays

As usual, the Tampa Bay Rays led the charge with creative uses of the pitching staff in 2019. Continued use of the "Opener" strategy made things messy for fantasy purposes in 2019 and will keep the theme going in 2020. Still, the Rays have several high-upside arms on the roster that could make for excellent fantasy assets depending on the way they are used. Emilio Pagan seems locked in as closer right now and ended last season with 20 saves, a 2.31 ERA/3.30 FIP, and 36.0% K%. Combined with a strong 4.9 BB%, Pagan could be one of the better fantasy closers as long as manager Kevin Cash keeps him in the ninth inning.

While Pagan's role seems mostly secure, the rest of the Rays bullpen is more of a free-for-all. Nick Anderson, Colin Poche, and Jose Alvarado will all mix into the late innings, although some will perhaps be featured as openers as well. Anderson seems like the best bet for saves now that Pagan was traded. Anderson was excellent in 2019, posting a 3.32 ERA/2.35 FIP with 15.23 K/9 and just 2.49 BB/9. He split time between the two Florida teams, starting the season with the Marlins before heading to the Rays before the trade deadline. Anderson's only issue was that when he did give up hits, he gave them up HARD. Batters seemed to have a hard time making contact against Anderson, but made hard contact when they did. If he can limit hard contact or induce more ground balls, Anderson could suddenly become one of the most effective relievers in baseball.

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 26 Waiver Wire

Well, it's over. Baseball's regular season comes to a close this weekend, and with it most fantasy leagues will wrap up as well. Daily fantasy will go strong into the postseason, but most standard leagues will be looking toward next season, especially dynasty and keeper leagues. While the vast majority of fantasy players play in redraft leagues, a dedicated few keep their rosters (or at least parts of their rosters) year in and year out.

This week's Closers and Saves Report will take a look at who is most likely to close for each team to kick off the 2020 season. This is very, very far from a science, as players will get injured, free agents will be signed, and trades will reshape bullpens throughout the offseason. But based on what we know right now, assumptions can be made. And you know what they say about assumptions, right? "Go ahead and make them, because we don't know anything else." That's the quote, right?

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 26

Washington Nationals

The only pressing bullpen news this week is that it looks like Sean Doolittle has reclaimed his role. He should be the team's closer for the playoffs and could perhaps nab another save this weekend before the regular season ends.

 

Short Relief- Bullpen Crystal Ball

Baltimore Orioles- Hunter Harvey

Hunter Harvey has impressed enough this season (while all other Orioles relievers have disappointed more than enough) to make it a safe bet that Harvey works as the closer in Baltimore next year.

Boston Red Sox- Brandon Workman

Brasier was supposed to do it. Barnes was supposed to do it. Eovaldi was supposed to do it. None of them did, so Brandon Workman got a chance and actually did it. Workman has been solid and should go into the 2020 season as the Red Sox closer.

New York Yankees- Aroldis Chapman

It's Aroldis Chapman, he's not worried about competition. Ottavino will continue to set him up as part of one of the league's best bullpens again in 2020.

Tampa Bay Rays- Jose Alvarado/Emilio Pagan

The Rays don't really like setting a closer and pigeon-holing him into the ninth inning, so they probably won't do that next year either. A healthy Jose Alvarado will likely pair up with Emilio Pagan to lock down games in 2020. Nick Anderson will have a role as well.

Toronto Blue Jays- Ken Giles

Ken Giles was very much expected to be traded before the deadline this season. He remained in Toronto, however, and will keep the closer's role there assuming he remains with the team through the winter. Next in line would likely be Derek Law.

 

Chicago White Sox- Alex Colome

Alex Colome was also expected to be traded but wasn't and should retain his role if he sticks around. If not, Aaron Bummer would be ready to take over the closer's role and has much more upside than Colome.

Cleveland Indians- Brad Hand

Brad Hand has struggled a bit in the second half this season, but he's still easily the best reliever in Cleveland. Strikeout artist James Karinchak is exciting, but he won't supplant Hand next season.

Detroit Tigers- Joe Jimenez

The Tigers "closer of the future" finally got a chance to close this season after the Tigers sent Shane Greene to the Braves at the deadline. Jimenez will resume his role next season, but isn't a particularly exciting fantasy prospect.

Kansas City Royals- Ian Kennedy

Ian Kennedy, ladies and gentlemen. He came out of the failed starter ranks and dominated (at times) as the closer in Kansas City. He should be right back in there next season and could be a valuable trade chip for the rebuilding Royals at the 2020 deadline.

Minnesota Twins- Taylor Rogers

It took a while and a few committees, but Rogers emerged as the closer for the AL Central Champion Twins and will be right back in there next season. The team may pair him with a right-handed reliever sometimes, but Rogers will be the arm to own in Minnesota for sure.

 

Houston Astros- Roberto Osuna

The Astros bullpen has a ton of talent but hasn't been as good as it should be this season. Osuna should return as closer next season, but Ryan Pressly and Will Harris should be around as well.

Los Angeles Angels- Hansel Robles

Ty Buttrey had some dominant stretches this season and if he can improve his consistency a bit heading into 2020, he could be one of the better relievers in baseball. He was used in a fireman role this season, and should return to that role next year with Hansel Robles, who has been solid in his own right, returning to the closer's role.

Oakland A's- Liam Hendriks

Liam Hendriks took over the ninth inning from Blake Treinen this season and never looked back. Hendriks should return to the ninth inning next year in what will be his first full season as a closer, and he's a safe bet to make the All-Star team again.

Seattle Mariners- Anthony Bass/Matt Magill

The Mariners have relied on a closer-by-committee most of this season and that's unlikely to change going into next year. Barring trades or free agent signings, Matt Magill and Anthony Bass should be the main closers in Seattle next season. Bass gets the slight nod based on usage this year.

Texas Rangers- Jose Leclerc

Jose Leclerc went through some very rough patches this season but was ultimately able to put together a decent year. He'll enter next season as the closer and ideally will be able to keep the job throughout the season. He still has plenty of upside if he can avoid the deep slumps.

 

 

Atlanta Braves- Shane Greene/Mark Melancon

The Braves needed bullpen help at the deadline, so they strengthened their bullpen with Mark Melancon and Chris Martin, and nabbed the closer they wanted in Shane Greene. Then things went awry. Greene's peripherals finally caught up to him while Melancon went 11-for-11 in save chances. Greene is still likely to take over in 2020 based on what the Braves gave up to get him, but if his struggles continue, Melancon would be the next to step in.

Miami Marlins- Jose Urena/Drew Steckenrider

The Marlins have tried Jose Urena in many different roles: starter (failed), ace (laughable), and now closer (failing). He hasn't been good in any of them, but the Marlins seem to think he has what it takes to be a closer. He might head into next season with the job, but Drew Steckenrider should be healthy for the start of the season and could take the job as well. It'll be an awfully unexciting competition in Spring Training.

New York Mets- Edwin Diaz

Edwin Diaz's 2019 was, in one word, bad. But he still showed signs of being the pitcher the Mets thought he was when they traded for him. He should enter 2020 as the closer unless his struggles visibly continue in the spring. Seth Lugo will resume his fireman role or may reportedly even get a shot at the rotation.

Philadelphia Phillies- Hector Neris

The Phillies bullpen went through several stretches of closer-by-committee this season, but Hector Neris ultimately settled into the ninth on his own. He should retain that role next season, although the Phillies are one of the top teams that could look to add to their bullpen in the offseason.

Washington Nationals- Sean Doolittle

Sean Doolittle was the only good part of the Nats bullpen this season for a while, but then he started to pitch like the rest of them. Then he got hurt. But he's back and pitching well again and should have a hold of the ninth inning going into next season.

 

Chicago Cubs- Craig Kimbrel

The Craig Kimbrel signing has mostly been a disaster for the Cubs. But they won't admit that by making Rowan Wick their closer in 2020, right? It would be a shock to see anyone besides Kimbrel named the closer regardless of his stats to start the season, although unless Kimbrel figures things out, he won't stick in the ninth for too long.

Cincinnati Reds- Raisel Iglesias

Raisel Iglesias had some ups and downs this season but was overall a solid closer for the surging Reds. He'll return to the role in 2020 and should have an improved team around him, perhaps leading to more save chances.

Milwaukee Brewers- Josh Hader

Josh Hader is one of the hardest pitchers to hit in baseball, and that, of course, makes for a great closer. Corey Knebel should be back and healthy, but Hader has seemingly graduated from the role of fireman and into the role of closer.

Pittsburgh Pirates- Keone Kela

Kela only recently took over as closer in Pittsburgh but he should have the inside track to the role for the 2020 season. With Felipe Vazquez's playing future unknown, Kela could be the one in 2020.

St. Louis Cardinals- Carlos Martinez

Jordan Hicks won't be back on the mound until late next season, so Carlos Martinez should get more chances to close out games for the Cardinals. Unless he's stretched back out into the rotation, Martinez should keep up his solid but unspectacular ninth innings in 2020.

 

Arizona Diamondbacks- Archie Bradley

After a season where the Diamondbacks tried throwing all kinds of things to make them stick, Archie Bradley was the one who finally did. He's been solid in the ninth inning and should be the team's closer heading into 2020.

Colorado Rockies- Jairo Diaz

The Rockies bullpen was an absolute disaster almost all season, with Opening Day closer Wade Davis posting an ERA close to NINE! Jairo Diaz brought a bit of stability to the ninth inning towards the end of the season and might have the inside track for 2020. Davis will certainly be given another chance, but there's no reason to think he'll suddenly figure it out in the spring.

Los Angeles Dodgers- Kenley Jansen

Kenley Jansen hasn't been nearly as dominant this season as in previous years, but he's been good enough to still have the closer's job in 2020. The Dodgers will likely try to rebuild some of their bullpen in the offseason, but Jansen's job should be safe.

San Diego Padres- Kirby Yates

Kirby Yates has been one of the best closers in the game this season and will continue his role as closer in 2020. He should draw plenty of trade interest in the offseason, but he'd close for almost any other team as well, so his job is in little danger.

San Francisco Giants- Shaun Anderson/Jandel Gustave

Will Smith has been a very solid closer for the Giants this season, but he's an impending free agent. Shaun Anderson has the "stuff" to close but hasn't quite had the results yet. He may be the front-runner for now, but he and Jandel Gustave could battle it out in Spring Training 2020.

 

 

Best of the Season

Kirby Yates, San Diego Padres- 60 2/3 IP, 41 SV, 101 K, 1.19 ERA, 0.89 WHIP

Padres closer Kirby Yates doesn't just lead the league in saves, he's also second in fWAR (3.4) and third in strikeout-to-walk ratio. It's been an excellent season for the 32-year-old, and there's no reason to think he won't be just as good next year.

Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees- 56 IP, 37 SV, 84 K, 2.25 ERA, 1.13 WHIP

Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman was not quite as untouchable this season as he's been other years, but he still racked up almost 40 saves and posted a solid 2.0 fWAR. Much was made of his decline in velocity, but he was still able to be an effective closer all season long.

Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers- 73 1/3 IP, 36 SV, 134 K, 2.58 ERA, 0.79 WHIP

Josh Hader had a very interesting season in that he was very hard to hit, but when he did get hit, he got hit hard. Still, he posted 36 saves and led the league in K% with an astounding 48.2%.

Liam Hendriks, Oakland A's- 83 1/3 IP, 24 SV, 121 K, 1.62 ERA, 0.95 WHIP

A's closer Liam Hendriks took over after Blake Treinen proved ineffective, which limited the number of save chances he was given. Hendriks is on this list because he led all relief pitchers in fWAR with a 3.6 mark. He was seventh in K% and fifth in strikeout-to-walk ratio. With a full season in the closer's role next year, Hendriks should develop into one of the game's best.

 

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 25 Waiver Wire

Another week of head-to-head fantasy playoffs or another week closer to wrapping up in rotisserie leagues. Either way, here's hoping it all went well for you! Everyone's favorite Closers and Saves Report writer made the playoffs in every one of his leagues and got knocked out of said playoffs in every single league last week. In one of those leagues, he was up 9-1-0 up until Saturday afternoon. When he checked in again on Sunday evening, he had somehow lost 5-4-1, just one quality start away from tying 5-5-0 (and he would have won on a tiebreaker). So in retrospect...fantasy baseball is stupid and you should never waste your time on it.

In case you do, for some reason, decide to waste your time on it...Bullpens matter, especially in the fantasy playoffs where teams are trotting out guys no one has ever heard of and routinely using three pitchers to get the three outs in the late innings. The Rays and Dodgers played an 11-inning game on Wednesday night and combined to use 18 pitchers, only one of whom got more than six outs.

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 25

Pittsburgh Pirates

The biggest bullpen news of the week was quite disturbing, as Pirates closer Felipe Vázquez was arrested on a series of disturbing and disgusting charges. He won't pitch again this season and hopefully won't see a big-league mound for a long time. The Pirates don't seem like they're planning on winning too many games for the remainder of the season, but Keone Kela should be the one on the mound if a save situation comes up. Kela has been outstanding lately, giving up just one earned run in his last 19 innings pitched. Richard Rodriguez and Francisco Liriano could mix in for a save chance now and then if Kela ends up in more of a fireman role, but Kela is the one to roster in the Pittsburgh bullpen.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The question, "Is Kenley Jansen good again?" was likely on the minds of Dodgers fans until he blew his career-high eighth save of the season on Wednesday night. Jansen had indeed been good before that, putting together three strong outings in a row, but Wednesday's two runs in one inning blown save changed the question quickly to, "Is Kenley Jansen bad again?" There's plenty to worry about from a bullpen perspective for the Dodgers heading into the playoffs. With most of the rest of their team playing excellent baseball, it's worth wondering what they'll do with the bullpen heading into October. Jansen could get tons of rest going forward, or the Dodgers may want him throwing as much as possible in an attempt to get him right. Either way, he's a risky fantasy option much like he's a risky real-life playoff option.

Seattle Mariners

Matt Magill was the head of the Seattle closer committee for a bit, but then he got hurt. No one really knew what would happen when he came back, but it looks like he's healthy and back on the mound, and also back on top of the Seattle committee. He'll still cede some opportunities to Anthony Bass and Sam Tuivailala, but Magill is the arm to roster from the Mariners bullpen for any fantasy teams desperate for saves.

 

Short Relief

  • Blake Parker has resurfaced in the late innings in Philadelphia. He won't take over as closer, but he could suddenly have some holds league relevance behind closer Hector Neris.
  • Josh Hader was unavailable for a save opportunity this week, so Drew Pomeranz, of all people, closed out the game with two scoreless innings. Pomeranz has actually been incredible as a reliever and could have some legitimate holds league value to close out the year.
  • Giants closer Will Smith missed a little time with a back injury, but he's back on the mound and should get the majority of the save chances to wind down the season.
  • Craig Kimbrel is finally back from the injured list, and with the Cubs needing every win possible to keep their playoff hopes alive, he could end up thrown into high-leverage work right away.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Keone Kela, Pittsburgh Pirates- Kela should be taking most of whatever save opportunities the Pirates have left. He's been almost unhittable lately and could provide fantasy teams with a few saves to wrap up the year.

Matt Magill, Seattle Mariners- Returning from an injury, Magill has reclaimed his throne atop the Seattle closer committee. He's not a must-own but could record a save or two going forward.

 

Drops

Felipe Vazquez, Pittsburgh Pirates- Vazquez won't pitch again this season after being arrested this week. He should be dropped in all redraft formats and could be dropped by Major League Baseball as well.

 

Best of the Week

Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds- 4 IP, 4 SV, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP

Reds closer Raisel Iglesias had a rare four-save week, allowing just two hits while striking out six in his four innings of work.

Roberto Osuna, Houston Astros- 4 IP, 3 SV, 5 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP

Astros closer Roberto Osuna allowed just two hits and a walk in his four innings this week, saving three games and striking out five.

Brandon Workman, Boston Red Sox- 4 1/3 IP, 3 SV, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.92 WHIP

Red Sox closer Brandon Workman worked well this week, recording 13 outs without allowing a run. He struck out six and recorded three saves.

 

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 24 Waiver Wire

Another quiet bullpen week in the fantasy playoffs (for most leagues) leading up to the real playoffs (for both leagues). There were some changes in bullpen hierarchies this week, but they mostly affected setup men and seventh inning guys. Fantasy managers in holds leagues may have seen some things happen this week, but in standard leagues there was really only one big piece of news, and it was an MRI on the arm of a Hand.

Here's hoping all regular readers of this article are killing it in the fantasy playoffs or hanging onto first place in their rotisserie leagues. It's a long season and baseball makes for the most involved fantasy sport, so cheers to all of you who have been here for the ride all along.

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 24

Cleveland Indians

Cleveland had a bit of a scare in their bullpen, as closer Brad Hand had to go in for an MRI on his arm. They received good news, though, as the MRI came out clean. Hand will likely take a couple of games off and will then need to build back up a bit. In Wednesday's game, the Cleveland bullpen used three different pitchers to get the last three outs of the game. Nick Wittgren started the ninth inning and got one out. Oliver Perez then came in and got the second out of the inning. Adam Cimber followed, getting the last out and earning the official save for the game. Hand isn't expected to miss too much time, but there doesn't look like there will be anyone worth picking up in the meantime. The most desperate of fantasy managers would probably be best off with Wittgren if a Cleveland pitcher is the last possible option.

Seattle Mariners

Matt Magill was heading the Seattle closer committee for a while, but Sam Tuivailala got a save chance on Wednesday and was replaced by Anthony Bass when he started to struggle. Bass seems to have perhaps jumped to the committee throne, but despite a much less temporary timeline, the recommendation for the Seattle bullpen is similar to that of the Hand-less Cleveland bullpen: avoid if at all possible.

New York Mets

Justin Wilson earned a save this week, and a four-out one at that. It was only his second save of the year, but he seems like he could mix into the ninth inning for the Mets. Seth Lugo is still the best arm in the bullpen, but he'll pitch multiple innings and needs time off. Edwin Diaz should still factor in as well, but he's shown more than enough for even the Mets to know he can't be relied upon on his own. Wilson makes for a decent desperation grab but isn't anywhere close to a must-own in any format. He's a decent enough grab in holds leagues, though.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies bullpen has been a disaster all season, but it looks like Jairo Diaz has taken his opportunity as a member of a closer committee and turned himself into their full-time closer. There may still be other mixing in on occasion, but it looks like Diaz is the closer in Denver until the end of the season.

 

Short Relief

  • Kyle Crick is done for the season in Pittsburgh after injuring his hand in a fight with his team's closer, Felipe Vazquez. That leaves Richard Rodriguez and Francisco Liriano as the main setup guys to work behind Vazquez.
  • Jose Urena, who was bad as a starter, is surprising no one except Marlins manager Don Mattingly by being bad as a closer. The Fish will likely give him the rest of the season to figure it out, but he's not a reliable fantasy option.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Jairo Diaz, Colorado Rockies - Diaz has seemingly taken over as closer for the Rockies, shedding his committee mates and leaving them all in setup roles. Diaz is the only widely-available option this week who is likely to collect more than a save or two for the rest of the season.

Mariners Relievers?, Seattle Mariners - Fantasy players absolutely desperate for saves should keep an eye on the Mariners bullpen to see if Matt Magill, Anthony Bass, or Sam Tuivailala end up taking over the ninth. If anyone happens to take over, he'd be worth picking up only in deeper leagues.

 

Drops

Rockies Relievers Not Named Jairo Diaz, Colorado Rockies - With Diaz taking over, (see above. Like, seriously right above this.) all other Rockies relievers will slide back into setup and middle relief roles. Diaz is the only Rockies reliever worth picking up.

 

Best of the Week

Jairo Diaz, Colorado Rockies - 5 IP, 3 SV, 4 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.80 WHIP

Diaz is all over this week's article, but he's definitely earned his spot here: a scoreless week with three saves and four strikeouts while allowing just three hits and a walk will do that.

Felipe Vázquez, Pittsburgh Pirates - 3 1/3 IP, 3 SV, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.60 WHIP

Not only did Vazquez presumably win a fight against Kyle Crick this week, but he also saved three games while striking out six and not allowing a run.

Jose Leclerc, Texas Rangers - 4 IP, 3 SV, 6 K, 2.25 ERA, 1.50 WHIP

Leclerc wasn't great this week as shown by the four hits and two walks he allowed, but he earned a save in all three of his chances and struck out six batters while only allowing one run to cross the plate.

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 23 Waiver Wire

A particularly quiet bullpen week leading into- or starting, depending on your league- the fantasy playoffs makes for less drama, but maybe more worry? Kind of the whole "calm before the storm" type of thing. It almost seems like since sort of nothing happened in bullpens this week, maybe everything will happen next week, right in the fantasy playoffs. We'll see.

This week, not a lot happened, but an established closer started to struggle again while a brand new closer who wasn't good as a starter showed that (gasp!) he might not be good as a closer either. Meanwhile, a hurt closer got back on the mound and a few young future closers got their first taste of a save. Also, Edwin Diaz.

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 23

Miami Marlins

Jose Urena returned from the injured list and, as promised, he almost immediately slid into the closer's role. Perplexingly overrated by the team as a starter (they called him their ace), Urena does have velocity going for him. He doesn't miss bats and rarely strikes guys out, but if he was throwing 98 as a starter, maybe he could touch 100 in a relief role and get a few more swings and misses. Not so much. Still sitting between 96 and 98, Urena picked up a save in his first chance, pitching a clean 1-2-3 10th inning. His next outing though? Not so good. Urena was handed a two run lead and before long, the Pirates walked off with a win. Urena is still likely to remain in the closer's role until the end of the season as the Marlins will want to see what he might be able to do in the future. How many save chances they'll have to give him remains the issue, though. He's only worth owning on teams desperate for maybe two or three more saves.

Cleveland Indians

Cleveland closer Brad Hand was awesome. He made the All-Star Game. Then he was awful. For almost two months, he posted an ERA close to seven. He got a vote of confidence from his manager, and then just like that, he was good again. For a little while. This week, however, Hand struggled again. Given a four-run lead, Hand gave up a two run blast before loading the bases and only getting one out. He was pulled from the game and Nick Wittgren was able to close it out and earn a save. Hand owes him...a round of applause. He'll likely get another vote of confidence if necessary, but it's clear that Wittgren is his handcuff and Hand's owners may want to handcuff him if they have the roster space.

Washington Nationals

Sean Doolittle is back from the IL, but with the Nationals focusing on the real-life playoffs, he may not be right back into the closer's role. He seems healthy, but he'll work lower-leverage situations at least for now, leaving Daniel Hudson as the most likely National to earn saves. Doolittle should take over before long, though, making him a solid target for teams planning a deep run in the fantasy playoffs.

Chicago Cubs

Craig Kimbrel is hurt. Again. He'll go on the injured list, leaving closing duties to a mix of Rowan Wick, Pedro Strop, and Steve Cishek. Wick might stay in his setup role, leaving Cishek and Strop as the saves candidates. Neither is a must-add, but either one could potentially help a fantasy playoff team with a couple of saves here and there.

 

 

Short Relief

  • Edwin Diaz learned a new grip for his slider, borrowing some knowledge from Jacob deGrom. Edwin Diaz is no Jacob deGrom, especially not this season. Seth Lugo continues to be the most valuable member of the Mets bullpen.
  • Andres Munoz earned a save this week. He'll probably earn a ton more in his career, but the Padres ninth inning belongs to Kirby Yates for now.
  • Reyes Moronta is out for the year and at least part of next year as well. He's dealing with a torn labrum and while he still may end up as the closer of the future for the Giants, that future just got a little further away.
  • Josh James also earned a save this week. Sure to earn many more throughout his career, he'll work ahead of Roberto Osuna for at least the rest of this season.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Jose Urena, Miami Marlins- Ew, gross. Only the most desperate owners need to target him, but he will at least get the chance to come in for saves for the rest of the month.

Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals- Dropped in many leagues, Doolittle could be a solid contributor in the later games of a fantasy playoff matchup.

Nick Wittgren, Cleveland Indians- Really, really desperate for saves? Wittgren is the Brad Hand-cuff and might jump into some ninth innings if Hand keeps slumping.

Pedro Strop or Steve Cishek, Chicago Cubs- One of these two will be on the mound in save situations for the Cubs. Owners looking for saves can flip a coin and pick either guy for now. Hopefully, there will be a bit more clarity soon.

 

Drops

Ryne Stanek, Miami Marlins- Stanek's time as Marlins closer was brief and brutal. He'll work in a setup or middle relief role ahead of closer Jose Urena, mostly because Marlins manager Don Mattingly is not creative enough to use him in the opener role he excelled in with the other Florida team.

 

Best of the Week

Mark Melancon, Atlanta Braves- 2 1/3 IP, 3 SV, 5 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP

Braves closer Mark Melancon had a perfect week, saving three games and striking out five without allowing a single base runner.

Emilio Pagan, Tampa Bay Rays- 5 IP, 3 SV, 7 K, 1.80 ERA, 0.40 WHIP

Rays closer Emilio Pagan pitched five innings this week, striking out seven while saving three games. He allowed a run on two hits.

 

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 22 Waiver Wire

It was a nice and quiet week for most of the world's bullpens this week, a welcome change in a season that has experienced almost non-stop relief pitching turmoil. With the fantasy playoffs approaching rapidly for most and already arriving for some, every save, hold, strikeout, and ERA fraction could be the difference between a win and a loss.

A closer got a vote of confidence and proved his manager right. Another closer is on his way back from an IL stay that sure did seem like as much a mental break as it did a physical one. A team recorded a save this week that had not recorded a save all month. All that and more, served warm and fragrant right to your screens, next.

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 22

Miami Marlins

The Marlins got a save! Ryne Stanek, who was acquired at the deadline from the Rays, earned the Marlins first save for the month of August this week. The team seems to be trying hard to use him as their closer, even though the results haven't been great so far. Still, it seems he's moved close to the top of the committee. For now. Jose Urena, Marlins opening day starter and Atlanta Braves Super Villain, will reportedly return from the IL in a relief role and the team wants to try him out as a closer. He hasn't ever really been a good starter, but he does seem to maybe have the "stuff" to succeed in a shorter role. He throws hard and tends to fare decently enough the first time through a batting order. He's more than likely a showcase piece for the Marlins, who will hope to move him this winter.

Washington Nationals

Nationals closer Sean Doolittle struggled for a stretch and ended up on the IL with a diagnosis of right knee tendinitis. While that could certainly have been an issue that caused his struggles, the IL stint came at a great time for Doolittle to get a needed mental rest as well. He should come back stronger down the stretch and once again be one of the top left-handed relievers in the game. Roenis Elias is also on his way back from the IL and should strengthen the Nationals bullpen leading up to Doolittle's ninth inning.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies bullpen has been...well, Rocky. not great this season. Wade Davis failed miserably in his second chance after Scott Oberg was forced to the IL. It seems a committee made up of Jairo Diaz, Carlos Estevez, and Bryan Shaw has formed in Denver, and Diaz looks like he has the slightest edge for now. It could be a true committee and lefty Jake McGee might mix in as well, but for now owners completely starved for saves and willing to take a chance on a Colorado reliever should target Diaz.

 

Short Relief

  • Keynan Middleton is back on the Angels roster after a successful recovery from Tommy John Surgery. He won't close, but he could be used in some high-leverage innings and might develop value in holds leagues.
  • Nick Goody looks like he's worked his way to the second spot in the Cleveland bullpen. He's been the main setup man for closer Brad Hand and should have holds league value.
  • Speaking of Brad Hand, he's out of his extended slump and back to dominating ninth innings.
  • Edwin Diaz is allegedly using a new grip: Jacob deGrom's slider grip is now in Edwin Diaz's hands. He struck out the side on Wednesday after a few days off, and maybe it's a sign of good things to come.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Jose Urena, Miami Marlins- Urena is by no means a must-add, but he should be coming back as the closer and he's likely available in most leagues. If you're desperate for saves, he'll at least have the chance to earn a few.

Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals- Some owners thought his injury was season-ending and dropped him. Probably not in most leagues, but if he's available in yours, snatch him up before someone else does.

Jairo Diaz, Colorado Rockies- Only for those most desperate for saves, Diaz looks like he may be atop the Colorado committee and could pick up a save or two now and then.

 

Drops

Nationals Relievers Not Named Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals- Doolittle should be back from the IL and in his closer's role. The committee is done in the capital, and Doolittle will again be the only reliever worth owning in standard formats.

 

Best of the Week

Brad Hand, Cleveland Indians- 3 IP, 3 SV, 2 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP

Brad Hand was BAD for a while, but he got a vote of confidence from his manager and has been excellent since then. He saved three games this week while allowing just two hits.

Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks- 2 2/3 IP, 3 SV, 2 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP

Diamondbacks closer Archie Bradley locked down three games this week, allowing just a walk and a hit while recording eight outs.

 

 

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 21 Waiver Wire

The more NFL rumblings we hear, the closer we are to the fantasy baseball playoffs. With sports news fully engrossed with helmets and frostbitten feet, baseball rumbles along through August. The lack of a waiver trade deadline has made August a bit quieter than usual in the baseball world, but there's still tons going on, especially in bullpens.

One of the best closers of the first half got a vote of confidence from his manager this week after an awful stretch. One of the worst bullpens in baseball added a bunch of guys at the deadline only to...still be really, really bad. A guy who used to be one of baseball's best got a late start to the season then wasn't quite the best anymore, then made it worse by getting hurt and leaving his team's bullpen in shambles. Okay, was that all dramatic enough? Cool, let's jump in.

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 21

Cleveland Indians

Cleveland closer Brad Hand was one of the best closers in baseball for the first half of this season and for most of last season. He was named to the All-Star Team but struggled in his appearance. Hand blew a save on Wednesday to mark three straight blown saves, capping off an awful two-month stretch where he's put up a 7.32 ERA and a 2.03 WHIP. He's looked like the Brad Hand the Marlins gave up on several years ago, not the one who they regretted not trying out in a high leverage role. Still, Hand's velocity seems fine, so it's likely not an injury that's leading to his struggles. It's been mostly his location that has changed, but that's something that he might be able to fix from one outing to the next. Nick Wittgren and Adam Cimber would be alternate options, but Hand is by far the most talented reliever in Cleveland's bullpen. Manager Terry Francona said, "We can't run from Brad," so it looks like he'll hold down the role and should come out of his funk before long.

Colorado Rockies

Okay folks, so the Rockies bullpen...what a mess. Wade Davis struggled all year (at home) and was eventually replaced by Scott Oberg. Oberg did fairly well for a while, but his season is over due to a blood clot issue. Davis got a chance to jump back in and gave up three runs in his first two outings. Not three runs total, but three runs in each of his first two outings. He just cannot get guys out in Denver. Carlos Estevez looks like he's leading the current closer committee for the Rockies, but Jake McGee, Jairo Diaz, and Bryan Shaw might all get some ninth innings looks as well.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners traded two of their top relievers to the Nationals at the deadline, and have had a bullpen in flux since then. Anthony Bass seemed like the logical choice, and he did work out for a bit, earning two saves. But Matt Magill kind of appeared out of thick Pacific Northwest air and earned two saves in two days, quickly taking the throne as head of Seattle's committee. He got a third straight save chance, but three wasn't the charm this time, as he blew a save against the Rays. Still, his usage shows that he should remain atop the committee, at least until he has another bad outing.

Washington Nationals

Sean Doolittle, the only somewhat solid and consistent member of the Nationals bullpen, ended up on the IL this week after a rough four-run outing. It's a huge blow to the Nationals pen, who were already having plenty of trouble getting a lead to the ninth inning. With Doolittle out, Daniel Hudson looks like he might head the committee in the meantime. He's been the most consistent arm in the bullpen since the trade deadline. Hunter Strickland and Wander Suero figure to see some chances as well, along with everyone's favorite: Fernando Rodney.

 

Short Relief

  • Craig Kimbrel is back, so no more Pedro Strop blowing saves for the Cubs. Rowan Wick has worked his way up the bullpen hierarchy and looks like the top setup man to Kimbrel.
  • Not that he was going to take Kimbrel's inning anyway, but the Cubs confirmed that Brandon Morrow will not be back this year and in fact may be done with his baseball career all together. He needs another surgery on his elbow and hasn't decided if he's going to try to rehab it all the way back into pitching shape.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Matt Magill, Seattle Mariners - Magill took hold of the committee in Seattle and looked good in his first two save chances. He blew the third, but did well enough that he should have a chance to close again soon. He's not a must-add, but could be a decent source of saves if he can hang onto the job.

Daniel Hudson or Hunter Strickland, Washington Nationals - It's probably best to avoid the Nationals bullpen entirely with Sean Doolittle on the IL, but those desperate for saves could take a chance on Hudson or Strickland. Someone is going to close games while Doolittle is gone, and these two make the most sense.

Carlos Estevez, Colorado Rockies - Another head-of-the-committee guy, Estevez looks like the only guy in Colorado who might be able to take the job and run with it. He's not a must-own either, but could be a decent under-the-radar grab for a team in dire need of saves.

 

Drops

Scott Oberg, Colorado Rockies - Oberg finally got his chance to be the closer in Colorado, but a blood clot had a different idea, knocking him out for the rest of the season.

Pedro Strop, Chicago Cubs - With Craig Kimbrel back and Rowan Wick jumping Strop in the hierarchy for top setup man in Chicago, Strop can be let go.

 

Best of the Week

Roberto Osuna, Houston Astros - 4 IP, 3 SV, 5 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP

Astros closer Roberto Osuna had the best week among closers, saving four games and striking out five while allowing just two hits in four scoreless innings.

Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds - 3 1/3 IP, 3 SV, 5 K, 2.70 ERA, 0.60 WHIP

Reds closer Raisel Iglesias had a three-save week as well, closing out every game he pitched in this week. He struck out five and allowed just a solo home run and a walk.

Kirby Yates, San Diego Padres - 3 IP, 3 SV, 5 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP

Rounding out the three closers who earned three saves this week is Padres stopper Kirby Yates. He struck out five and allowed a run on three hits, but saved every game he pitched in.

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 20 Waiver Wire

It wasn't a huge week in terms of bullpen news, which was actually kind of nice after two weeks of shuffling and hustling throughout Major League Baseball's bullpens. There were some smaller things that happened this week though, that could lead to bigger news down the road. Some trade deadline acquisitions don't look like they're working out, with some bullpens somehow looking worse off now than they did before the deadline.

Some bullpens scrapped what seemed like a good idea without ever really giving that idea a chance in the first place. Injuries, of course, played a role this week as they do seemingly every week of the baseball season. With fantasy playoffs coming soon, it's critical to have your bullpens set and ready to succeed in the games that will matter the most.

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 20

Atlanta Braves

The Braves picked up Chris Martin from the Rangers, Mark Melancon from the Giants, and Shane Greene from the Tigers. Wow! All set with a brand new bullpen, right? Not so much. Martin hasn't been great in his seventh inning role, Greene has already been removed from the closer's role in favor of Melancon, and Melancon has struggled mightily in the ninth inning (despite providing the Braves with the first 1-2-3 inning in a save situation since mid-July). Jerry Blevins ended up with a save this week for the Braves, and Luke Jackson looks like he just might make his way back into the ninth inning before long. It's a mess in Atlanta's bullpen, but Greene still figures to work his way back into the closer's role before long. For now, Melancon is the head of the committee, but that's subject to change on a daily basis.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox hyped up Nathan Eovaldi as the incoming closer once he was ready to return from the injured list. He didn't do great in his first few relief outings while at the same time Brandon Workman was working, man. Workman took the ninth inning and didn't look back, and he's been excellent for several weeks now. Eovaldi, meanwhile, worked as an opener and will reportedly be stretched out so that he can finish the season as a member of the starting rotation. That makes Workman a great option in all formats, with Matt Barnes and Josh Taylor working ahead of him.

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs thought they were all set when they signed Craig Kimbrel, then he went ahead and got injured, leaving Joe Maddon with another committee on his hands. For a while, it looked like Brandon Kintzler would be the one, since he'd been easily the most consistent member of the Cubs bullpen. But then he went and got hurt, joining Kimbrel on the IL. For a bit, David Phelps looked like the next guy up, but Pedro Strop seems to have taken over the king-of-the-committee position. It'll be Strop at the top, Rowan Wick and David Phelps behind him, and Steve Cishek somewhere in the mix as well. Strop is the guy to own until Kimbrel returns, which could even be as soon as this weekend.

 

Short Relief

  • The Mets added Julio Lugo to their closer committee, but manager Mickey Callaway threw him into the seventh inning on Wednesday and things did not go well. Still, it's Lugo and Edwin Diaz for the ninth innings in Queens going forward.
  • Sam Dyson came back to the Twins bullpen and Jose Alvarado came back to the Rays bullpen. Both relievers were activated from the IL this week and immediately returned to high leverage situations.
  • Ken Giles seems to perpetually be on the maybe-heading-to-the-IL track, but for now, he's still in the bullpen. A string of excellent pitching has put Derek Law second on the depth chart, and he'd be the one taking over if Giles ultimately were to end up missing time.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Pedro Strop, Chicago Cubs- This is a very temporary add, but Strop should be the one in charge of saves until Craig Kimbrel returns. Kimbrel is expected back as early as this weekend though, so Strop could be a one or two-day thing.

Jose Alvarado, Tampa Bay Rays- Alvarado is finally back after a long stint on the IL. He won't be the outright closer (because the Rays simply don't play that game) but he could start mixing into save situations before too long. He's not a must add in any format, but managers in deeper leagues desperate for a save of two could take a look at Alvarado.

Drops

Nathan Eovaldi, Boston Red Sox- Eovaldi was supposed to be the closer until he wasn't. Now, he's a starter. You don't need to drop him if you want to take a chance on him as a starting pitcher, but if you're looking strictly for a reliever who might earn saves and holds, you'll need to look elsewhere.

 

Best of the Week

Emilio Pagan, Tampa Bay Rays- 3 2/3 IP, 4 SV, 7 K, 2.45 ERA, 0.27 WHIP

Rays reliever Emilio Pagan played the role of all-out closer this week, saving four games and striking out seven while allowing just a solo home run all week.

Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees- 3 IP, 3 SV, 4 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP

Another great week for the Yankees closer, as Chapman saved three games and struck out four while only giving up two hits this week.

Liam Hendriks, Oakland A's- 3 IP, 2 SV, 7 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.33 WHIP

Only two saves this week for A's closer Liam Hendriks, but seven strike outs in three innings and only one hit allowed all week makes for a spot in this week's Best of the Week list.

 

 

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 19 Waiver Wire

The trade deadline shook the fantasy baseball world, so this week wasn't going to be nearly as important, but there were still plenty of things going on around the league that need to be looked at. There were injuries this week, and there were key roster moves. One team more or less just got a closer, lost him to the IL, then replaced him with a reliever who was just coming off the IL. Another team finally gave up on a closer and removed him from the role, then gave up on him even more and took him off the roster completely.

It was a pretty active week in bullpens, only overshadowed by the recent trade deadline (and maybe by the Miracle Mets?) With fantasy managers starting to look ahead to the playoffs and some fighting for the final spot or two in the postseason, it's important to stay on top of what's going on from one day to the next. Keep an eye on Rotoballer for any more changes in the weeks to come.

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 19

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs waited almost half of the season to get a closer, and when Craig Kimbrel signed, it seemed like things were looking up. Kimbrel hasn't quite been Kimbrel, and now he's on the injured list, leaving the Cubs with a committee to handle the ninth inning again. The day after Kimbrel went down, Pedro Strop was activated from the IL and should get the bulk of the save chances in the meantime, unless David Phelps proves to be the better option. Brandon Kintzler would have been another option, as he's been the most consistent member of the Chicago bullpen, but he joined Kimbrel on the IL the next day. So it will be Strop again, as it was in the beginning of the season, with a little help from Steve Cishek and David Phelps now and then. Owners of Kimbrel who need some temporary help with saves can look for Strop on the waiver wire, but his role as closer will be temporary.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Greg Holland closed for the Diamondbacks for way too long. He was obviously not pitching well, but the team stubbornly kept him in the role, even talking about removing him once before changing their mind the very next day. Finally, they removed him from the ninth inning officially last week, and he didn't even make it another week before he was designated for assignment. Holland wasn't looking like he'd ever gain his ninth inning back anyway, but the DFA just makes it crystal clear. He should be dropped in all formats of fantasy, even though he's sure to get picked up by some real-life team who thinks they can "fix" him. Archie Bradley has taken the reins in the desert, but he's still just a part of a committee that also includes Yoan Lopez and Yoshihisa Hirano. Bradley is the arm to target for fantasy, and could have some nice upside if he takes over the role all for himself.

Texas Rangers

It took a few trades and some injuries for Jose Leclerc to regain the closer's role in Texas, but it's his now. After the Chris Martin trade to Atlanta, Leclerc looked like the guy in the Lone Star State. But with Shawn Kelley returning from the injured list, some fantasy owners were worried that he'd take the ninth inning back for himself. Manager Chris Woodward made sure to assuage those concerns though, saying that Leclerc has earned the role and will continue to work as the team's closer. Kelley will help setup and should be a solid contributor in holds leagues and the next guy up if Leclerc stumbles again.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies finally made a switch in the ninth inning, removing Wade Davis and his 6.61 ERA from the role and installing Scott Oberg and his 1.53 ERA in there instead. Oberg is outpitching his peripheral stats by quite a bit (3.35 FIP, 26.1% K%), but has still been far better than Davis this season and should be able to hold down the ninth inning for the rest of the year. Davis can be dropped in most formats and Oberg needs to be added anywhere he's available. Owners should expect a bit of regression, but still decent ratios and a good number of saves.

 

Short Relief

  • Jarlin Garcia seems to be the leader of the Marlins closer committee, but that might not last long. He's been good at keeping runs off the board, but he simply does not have closer "stuff" as batters very rarely swing and miss at his pitches. New Marlins Ryne Stanek could take over the closer's role before long and might be in that role next season as well. He's worth a look in deeper dynasty and keeper formats.
  • While nothing has been made official just yet, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Seth Lugo take the ninth inning from Edwin Diaz in the Mets bullpen sometime soon. As bad as Diaz has been this season is as good as Lugo has been, so the swap just makes sense as the Mets are suddenly in the playoff hunt again.
  • Brandon Workman has officially taken over in Boston, as he's now the closer and not just the leader of the committee. He can be added in all formats.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Scott Oberg, Colorado Rockies- Oberg closed for a bit when Wade Davis hit the IL earlier this season and did really well. Now that Davis has been removed from the role entirely, we should expect more success from Oberg. He should be added in all formats.

Brandon Workman, Boston Red Sox- Workman was already owned in many leagues as the head of the Red Sox committee, but now that he's the full-fledged closer, he should be picked up anywhere he's still available.

Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks- Bradley hasn't been named the closer just yet, but he's been leading the committee and should take the role all to himself if his success continues.

David Phelps/Pedro Strop, Chicago Cubs- One of these two will lead the team in saves while Kimbrel is gone. Strop did the job before Kimbrel signed, but Phelps has been the better pitcher of late. Owners desperate for saves can take a chance on either guy and hope they made the right choice.

Ryne Stanek, Miami Marlins- Stanek was awesome as an opener for the Rays, but now that he has a manager who can't even manage a regular pitching staff, he's likely to work in a more traditional bullpen role. There's a strong chance he works his way into the ninth inning and could hold that job into next season if he does well.

Drops

Greg Holland, Arizona Diamondbacks- Hopefully it didn't take your fantasy team as long to drop Holland as it took the Diamondbacks. If he's still on your roster, I have mean things to say about you.

Wade Davis, Colorado Rockies- Who would have thought that an ERA over 6.50 wasn't good enough to hold down a closer's job? Davis is out, Oberg is in, and there's no reason to believe Davis will make his way back to the ninth inning this season.

Shawn Kelley, Texas Rangers- Some fantasy owners were holding onto Kelley in hopes that he'd go right back into the closer's role once he healed, but the Rangers are keeping Jose Leclerc in the ninth and moving Kelley into a setup role. He'll retain value in holds leagues, but in standard leagues he's no more than Leclerc's backup.

 

Best of the Week

Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees- 3 IP, 3 SV, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP

Another strong week from the Yankees closer, who saved all three games he pitched in, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out six.

Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals- 3 IP, 2 SV, 3 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.33 WHIP

A good week from another lefty, as Doolittle allowed just one hit this week, saving two games and striking out three batters.

Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds- 3 1/3 IP, 2 SV, 4 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.30 WHIP

Reds closer Raisel Iglesias pitched well, saving two games while allowing just one hit in getting 1o outs. He struck out four without issuing a walk.

 

 

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 18 Waiver Wire (Trade Deadline Edition)

Okay, so...we need to talk about that trade deadline, folks. Nothing happened, then very little happened, then a couple of things happened, then the deadline came. It was 4:00 Eastern, and nothing close to what we expected had happened. But then...the late reports came in, and oohhh my dudes: things happened.

While the biggest deal (Greinke to Houston) didn't change around any bullpens, there were plenty of deals that did. The Marlins, for example, basically traded their 7th, 8th, and 9th inning guys. The Mariners traded their two best relievers. The Nationals completely re-did their bullpen. The Braves moved things around in their pen as well. All that and more, coming right up!

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 18

Atlanta Braves/Detroit Tigers/San Francisco Giants/Texas Rangers

The Braves got one of the main things they wanted: bullpen reinforcements. A new closer and two solid setup men will join the club soon. Atlanta traded with Detroit, getting Shane Greene to close. They also traded with San Francisco, picking up Mark Melancon for a setup role. Before all of that, they added Chris Martin from the Rangers. Luke Jackson hasn't sparked much confidence in Braves fans or, apparently, in the Braves front office. He's put up strong numbers, but he has a hard time locking games down sometimes. He'll leave the closer's role and should pitch in high-leverage situations earlier in the game now. Greene will be the closer, although his peripherals do show his impressive season could start seeing some regression soon. Greene gains a bit of value in fantasy leagues as he moves to a team that will give him more leads to save. Jackson loses his value in standard formats but should still be okay in holds leagues. In Detroit, Joe Jimenez jumps into the closer's role right away. He's having a pretty bad season, but the Tigers have wanted him to be their closer for a while, so now is his chance. Jimenez should be picked up in all formats, but owners should temper their expectations a bit. Melancon is a solid reliever, but his days of significant fantasy value have been over for a while. In some deeper holds leagues, he might be worth a look, but he's generally one of those "better in real life" guys. Down in Texas, Jose Leclerc finally gets his closer role back by default, although he might not hold it long if Shawn Kelley can return from the IL quickly.

Miami Marlins/Minnesota Twins/Tampa Bay Rays

The Marlins got things started early, sending closer Sergio Romo to the Twins a few days before the deadline. Then, on deadline day, they shipped Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards over to the Rays. Romo was closing for the Marlins, Anderson was pitching the 8th, and Richards was a starter who had recently been switched into the bullpen. After the Romo trade, Anderson was assumed to be the closer, but that assumption only lasted until July 31st, when Anderson switched Florida teams. In Minnesota, Romo will set up for Taylor Rogers, who now has a solid grasp on the closer's role for the Twins. Over in Tampa Bay, Anderson could mix in to the Diego Castillo/Jose Alvarado/Emilio Pagan mess in their committee. The Marlins, meanwhile, will need to remake the entire back end of the bullpen. Jose Quijada, Jarlin Garcia, and Tayron Guerrero all figure to make some noise for the Marlins now. Garcia has solid "baseball card" numbers, but he doesn't strike anyone out and really just doesn't have closer "stuff". Quijada and Guerrero are interesting, but both have serious control issues that they'll need to work on before becoming truly effective ninth inning options. Ryne Stanek, acquired in the Rays deal, could mix into the late innings in Miami as well, although it's so far unclear how he will be used as a Marlin.

Washington Nationals/Seattle Mariners/Toronto Blue Jays/Houston Astros

The Nationals have had a BAD bullpen this season. So, on Trade Deadline Day, they made sure to address it with a lot of help from the Mariners. The Nationals started off by picking up Daniel Hudson from Toronto. He'll work in the later innings, but looks like a middle reliever based on the other deals made by Washington slightly later in the day. They went on to get both Roenis Elias and Hunter Strickland from the Mariners. Elias and Strickland will likely work the 7th and 8th innings, depending on the hitters due up for the opposing team. Closer Sean Doolittle should be safe in the 9th inning. In Seattle, much like in Miami, the back end of the bullpen will have a whole new look. The heir apparent is Anthony Bass, although Cory Gearrin and Sam Tuivailala could have some thoughts about that too. The Blue Jays ended up keeping closer Ken Giles, but traded away their top two setup men, Joe Biagini and Daniel Hudson. Once Giles is healthy, he'll return to the 9th inning, but in the meantime, it looks like rookie Justin Shafer could get some save chances. Tim Mayza could get some work in as well. Biagini in Houston won't do much as he'll be buried on the depth chart by quite a few higher-upside arms. He'll work closer to middle relief with his new team.

 

Short Relief

  • Archie Bradley looks like he could be "the guy" in Arizona's bullpen. With Greg Holland finally knocked out of the 9th inning, it was originally unclear who would close, but Bradley got the first chance and got a vague-but-meaningful vote of confidence from his manager.
  • The White Sox, for some reason, didn't trade their closer, Alex Colome. That means that fantasy sweetheart Aaron Bummer will continue in a setup role and not take over as closer.
  • The Pirates were reportedly pretty close to trading closer Felipe Vazquez to the Dodgers, but ultimately ended up hanging on. He'll keep closing in Pittsburgh.
  • The Red Sox did...nothing. Nathan Eovaldi and Brandon Workman will keep working the late innings until one of them takes the reins and grabs the 9th inning for himself.
  • Will Smith stayed in San Francisco, Kirby Yates stayed in San Diego, Edwin Diaz stayed in Queens, Raisel Iglesias stayed in Cincinnati, Mychal Givens stayed in Baltimore, and Ian Kennedy stayed in Kansas City.

 

Under-the-Radar Relievers

Roenis Elias, Mariners to Nationals- Elias joins what is all of a sudden a decent-looking Nationals bullpen. Sean Doolittle should be safe in the 9th inning, but Elias could have some holds league value with his new team. He strikes out about a batter per inning, but his 4.67 FIP doesn't inspire a ton of confidence.

Hunter Strickland, Mariners to Nationals- Another reliever who won't challenge Doolittle for the closer's role went from the Mariners to the Nationals. Strickland has only pitched 3 1/3 innings this season, but he's had success in the past, saving 14 games for the Giants in 2018. He should split 7th and 8th inning duties with Elias, and will carry fantasy value in holds leagues.

Daniel Hudson, Blue Jays to Nationals- No, like, seriously: The Nationals re-did their whole bullpen. The only legitimately reliable reliever on the Nationals on June 30th was closer Sean Doolittle. Now they have three solid but certainly unspectacular guys to bridge the game from their starters to Doolittle. Hudson could climb the ranks into the 7th or 8th innings, but he looks like he might start out behind Elias and Strickland. Hudson's had some control problems this season, but he's been solid overall. He'll likely have more of an effect in the Nationals bullpen than he will on anyone's fantasy team.

Ryne Stanek, Rays to Marlins- Right at the deadline, the two Florida teams were able to land on a trade, with the Marlins sending Trevor Richards and Nick Anderson to the Rays for Jesus Sanchez and Stanek. Stanek has had a lot of success in Tampa pitching as an opener. He'd already made 27 "starts" this year while pitching just 55 2/3 innings. He'd be great in a similar role with the Marlins, but manager Don Mattingly would likely tie himself in knots trying to figure out the opener strategy. Instead, he'll likely work in a later-inning role, perhaps even getting a chance to close if some of the young options the Marlins are going to try out at closer don't work out. For now, Stanek's fantasy value is extremely limited, but the Marlins bullpen is certainly one to keep an eye on.

Nick Anderson, Marlins to Rays- Nick Anderson came out of nowhere this season to post a 3.92 ERA/2.72 FIP and 37.1 K% with a decent 8.6 BB%. Opposing hitters rarely hit the ball off of Anderson's pitches, but when they do, they hit them hard. For a while, he led the league in hard hit percentage despite how often guys would swing-and-miss when he was on the mound. He's an incredibly interesting 29-year-old rookie, and the Rays should be able to figure out the best way to use him. He could mix into the closer committee before long.

Sam Dyson, Giants to Twins- Sam Dyson had a rough welcome to the Twins, throwing 14 pitches without getting an out. In the meantime, he allowed three runs on two hits and two walks, blowing the game and eventually leading to an extra-innings loss. It should still be the Taylor Rogers show at closer for the Twins, and Sergio Romo looks like the main setup guy. Dyson could work his way into holds league value, but he's not someone to jump on right away.

Joe Biagini, Blue Jays to Astros- Joe Biagini looked like he'd be the closer in Toronto by now. The Blue Jays were supposed to trade Ken Giles, and Biagini was going to step into the 9th inning. Nope. Instead, they kept Giles and dealt Biagini to Houston. Biagini joins a solid Astros bullpen and won't be anywhere near the closer's role. In fact, Biagini might end up in middle relief, giving him little fantasy value regardless of format.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Joe Jimenez, Detroit Tigers- Jimenez hasn't been awesome this season, but he's the closer for the Motor City Kitties now. He'll have some value in standard formats, but he's not the exciting high-upside big name he was just a season ago.

Anthony Bass/Cory Gearrin, Seattle Mariners- One of these two guys will be closing in Seattle and should develop a bit of fantasy value. For now, it's a committee and neither guy is a must-own, but if either one seems to take over full time, he should be picked up.

Jose Leclerc, Texas Rangers- Leclerc is finally back in the closer's role, but it took an injury to Shawn Kelley and a trade of Chris Martin. Still, it's the destination, not the journey in this case, and Leclerc should be owned in most formats.

Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks- The Diamondbacks finally took Greg Holland out of the 9th inning, and it looks like Archie Bradley will get the first shot to close in the desert.

Jose Quijada/Jarlin Garcia, Miami Marlins- Neither of these guys is a particularly good pitcher, but one of them will be earning saves for the Marlins this season. Quijada has the better upside in terms of ratios, but Garcia seems to have a bit more of manager Don Mattingly's favor. Garcia doesn't strike anyone out, so he'd be a one-category closer if given the role.

Drops

Luke Jackson, Atlanta Braves- Luke Jackson not only lost his hold of the closer's role, he may have been pushed as far down as the 6th inning. Shane Greene will close, Chris Martin should work the 8th, and Mark Melancon could take the 7th. Jackson should be immediately dropped in standard formats, and can likely be let go in holds leagues as well.

Nick Anderson, Miami Marlins- Anderson was a closer for...a day? Anyone in standard leagues who picked him up hoping he'd close can drop him now that he's in a messy Rays bullpen.

Sergio Romo, Miami Marlins- Romo was traded to the Twins and will setup for closer Taylor Rogers. He's still a decent piece in holds leagues, but doesn't have the strikeout upside he used to have to make him worth owning in standard leagues.

Greg Holland, Arizona Diamondbacks- Why oh why would you still have Greg Holland on your roster at this point?

Aaron Bummer, Chicago White Sox- Bummer was a popular fantasy pickup recently because everyone assumed the White Sox would trade closer Alex Colome. Now that they held on to him, Bummer will only have value in leagues where holds count.

 

Best of the Week

Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds- 3 IP, 3 SV, 4 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP

Reds closer Raisel Iglesias survived the trade deadline and had an excellent week. He appeared in three games, saved all three, and allowed just two hits while striking out four.

Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals- 2 1/3 IP, 2 SV, 4 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP

Cardinals closer Carlos Martinez survived the deadline too. With the Cardinals not adding to their bullpen, Martinez should remain the team's closer as long as he stays healthy. He celebrated by saving two games and striking out four batters while only allowing one hit.

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 17 Waiver Wire

The trade deadline is coming up on Wednesday, and...nothing has really happened yet. With so many teams in contention (and so many rebuilding teams unwilling to trade young players), many reporters are saying this has been the quietest build up to the trade deadline they can ever remember. This season, there is only one deadline (no more August 31st waiver deadline) so you'd think there be more activity. Still, it's the baseball trade deadline, and trades will happen. Teams like the Marlins have players like Sergio Romo on expiring contracts. Will they get a top prospect for Romo? No, but they certainly won't keep him around for him to walk for nothing at the end of the season.

So, there will be trades, and they will happen sooner than later. It might be a quieter deadline than usual, but it absolutely will not be an actual quiet one. Starting position players will be traded, bench depth guys will be moved, and starters and relievers will switch teams. Next week's Closers and Saves Report will go in depth about everything that happened in the trade market. Since none of that has happened yet, let's go into what did happen this week in the bullpens in baseball.

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 17

Texas Rangers

The Rangers had a hard time finally landing on a closer this season, but they did just that with Shawn Kelley. Kelley wasn't elite by any means, but he was more than good enough to hold down the ninth inning and hold off Jose Leclerc and Chris Martin. Kelley was placed on the injured list this week however, and the Rangers had a decision to make. Martin has been the better pitcher this season (and hasn't walked anyone since April), but Leclerc has been the closer of the future for the Rangers and was even the closer on Opening Day this season before he pitched his way out of the role. So what was the decision manager Chris Woodward made? He didn't. The Rangers will use a committee made up of Leclerc and Martin while Kelley is out. Martin could get a few more save chances in case the Rangers try to move him at the deadline. That fact combined with his recent success makes Martin the slightly more preferable fantasy add in the short term.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins had been playing with fire by letting Blake Parker pitch high-leverage innings all season, as many of his peripheral stats indicated that he was not doing great despite average results. Despite a decent stretch where he'd allowed just one run in his last 10 games, the Twins front office had finally had enough when Parker came into a game and coughed up four runs. Parker was designated for assignment and of course removed from any bullpen hierarchy in Minnesota. So that means it's all Taylor Rogers in the ninth inning for the Twins, at least for now. The team has been widely rumored to be in on Ken Giles and other closers and will try to make a trade before next week's deadline. There's always a chance that they acquire bullpen help to slot in ahead of the ninth inning, but if they manage to pick up someone like Giles, Rogers will move back into a setup role. It makes for a tough decision for fantasy owners, because if Rogers keeps his job past the 31st, he's an excellent fantasy relief pitcher in all formats. But, if he gets a new closer in front of him, he'll lose a lot of his value in standard leagues and could be a prime sell-now piece for those willing to take the risk.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks decided to stick with Greg Holland as their closer, despite the veteran not really giving them any reason to. This week, he entered a game, threw nine pitches (only one strike), walked two batters, then left the game yelling at the umpire despite not throwing a single actual strike according to PITCHf/x data. Yoan Lopez came in and earned the save in just four pitches. Archie Bradley is also back into higher leverage roles, so if the Diamondbacks finally decide to move away from Holland as their closer, manager Torey Lovullo will have an interesting decision to make. Arizona sits just 3.5 games back from a Wild Card spot, so they're certainly going to try to keep winning ballgames.

 

Short Relief

  • The Mets are allegedly willing to trade closer Edwin Diaz, but they are expecting more in return than they gave up. With Diaz possibly hurt and in the middle of the worst season of his career: the Mets will not be trading Edwin Diaz.
  • Brandon Workman seems like he'll hold down the closer's role in Boston until he slips up. Maybe then it will be Eovaldi's turn. Eovaldi hasn't shown much yet, so it remains to be seen how this whole bullpen will shake up.
  • Andrew Miller looks a bit more like Andrew Miller these days, and he seems to have taken over the top spot in the Cardinals bullpen behind closer Carlos Martinez. Martinez has been solid but unspectacular, and in case he gets hurt or struggles, it looks like Miller would be next in line.
  • Jace Fry has been great lately for the White Sox and has some experience in the closer's role from last season. The ninth inning likely still belongs to Aaron Bummer once Alex Colome gets traded, but it's worth keeping an eye on Fry just in case.
  • Sam Dyson has taken over the main setup role in San Francisco behind closer Will Smith. Smith and Dyson were both prime trade candidates about a week ago, but with the incredible run the Giants are on, they might not sell any pieces at the deadline.
  • There was a bit of an injury scare with Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, but he assuaged all of that with a perfect inning in which he struck out the side. He's fine, and should continue earning saves and notching strikeouts throughout the rest of the season.
  • Don't forget to try to sell any closers who look like they won't be closers by next week (Segio Romo, Alex Colome, Shane Greene, etc.)

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Chris Martin, Jose Leclerc, Texas Rangers- With Shawn Kelley on the IL, Martin and Leclerc will be sharing closing duties in Texas. There's a chance Martin gets traded at the deadline, so Leclerc might be the safer long-term bet, but Martin has been pitching better lately so for short-term saves, he's the one to target.

Yoan Lopez, Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks- It looks like maybe Greg Holland has finally pitched his way out of the ninth inning, although we already thought that once or twice before. Still, Lopez or Bradley would be the likely beneficiaries of a Holland-less ninth inning. This is very much a speculative add at this point, but those desperate for saves might want to take the chance with one or both relievers (slight nod to Lopez if you have to pick one).

Drops

Blake Parker, Minnesota Twins- Anyone holding onto Parker for whatever reason can go ahead and click "DROP" as he's now been designated for assignment. He probably won't pass all the way through waivers, but he certainly won't be placed into a high-leverage role right away with whatever team picks him up.

 

Best of the Week

Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals- 3 2/3 IP, 3 SV, 5 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.55 WHIP

Nationals closer Sean Doolittle had a solid week, saving three games and striking out five while allowing just two hits.

Craig Kimbrel, Chicago Cubs- 4 IP, 3 SV, 5 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.25 WHIP

Welcome back to the Best of the Week to Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel. He got off to a bit of a slow start as many people expected, but he was rock solid this week. He saved three games and struck out five while not allowing a run all week.

Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers- 3 2/3 IP, 1 SV, 9 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.55 WHIP

It's not too often that a closer with one save makes it on the Best of the Week list, but it's also not too often that a pitcher gets 11 outs in a week and nine of them are strikeouts. Hader was excellent this week, allowing just two hits while pretty much striking everyone else out.

 

 

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 16 Waiver Wire

We're inching closer to the trade deadline and we still haven't seen any big bullpen changes. Oh, but they're coming. They'll just all come at once this season, it seems. Most of the non-contending teams have at least a bullpen arm or two that would serve a purpose on a contending team. They won't all be big-name trades involving top prospects and a reshuffling of an entire bullpen, but smaller deadline moves can make a difference in fantasy leagues as well, especially in holds leagues.

A few short-term bullpen changes this week gave us a peek of what might happen later in the season. An injury in Los Angeles, a suspension in Philadelphia, and a baby in Cincinnati all shook up bullpens, although only temporarily. What might those and other bullpens look like in August, or maybe a little sooner if the hot stove starts to heat up early?

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 16

Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen wore a line drive on his ankle but stayed in the game earlier this week. That was a mistake, as he ended up blowing the save and allowing the Phillies to walk off. He was then unavailable for a couple of games afterwards, but is not going to need a stint on the injured list and should be back on the mound this weekend. Manager Dave Roberts said that either Julio Urias or Joe Kelly would serve as the team's closer if a save situation came up in a game that Jansen was not available.

The original thought was that Pedro Baez would be the temporary closer, but his recent struggles have apparently knocked him back quite a bit on the depth chart. If for some reason Jansen does end up needing IL time, Kelly would be the arm to own in the Dodgers pen. After a rough start to the season, the former Red Sox reliever has actually been pretty solid of late. The Los Angeles bullpen is in no danger of a trade deadline shake up at the closer spot, but the Dodgers are likely to try to acquire some bullpen help for the earlier innings. There could be some significant changes in value in holds leagues, so this is a bullpen to keep an eye on.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies bullpen settled itself when Hector Neris excelled in the earlier part of the season and more or less forced manager Gabe Kapler's hand to create a traditional closer role and give it to Neris. He was essentially the only Phillies reliever who was consistently getting guys out, so what other choice did Kapler really have? That's all different now, as Neris is struggling and will now be suspended for three games for throwing at David Freese's head.

We'll see who Kapler uses if a save situation comes up, but slightly longer-term, it could be David Robertson taking over the ninth inning for the stretch run. He's alternating between struggling and being injured for most of this season, but once he's back on the mound he could be a legitimate source of saves and strikeouts. There is also the chance that the Phillies decide to really go for it (they're currently tied for the second Wild Card spot) and acquire bullpen help at the deadline. They are a team that could acquire someone that will immediately take over the ninth inning, or that could acquire someone to beef up the bullpen in general and keep Neris or Robertson in the ninth inning. It might depend on what the team does on the field for the next week or so. Of course, any reliever traded to the Phillies who looks like he will slide into the ninth inning will have plenty of fantasy value.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox have Nathan Eovaldi coming off the injured list perhaps as soon as this weekend, but in the meantime, Brandon Workman has emerged as a solid option in the late innings. He earned his fifth save of the season this week, getting the last five outs of Wednesday's win over the Blue Jays. He's been the best reliever in Boston lately and should keep getting meaningful innings even after Eovaldi gets back. Eovaldi will be the arm to own in standard formats, but Workman will still be worth hanging onto in holds leagues.

There's also the likelihood that the Red Sox add to their bullpen through the trade market, and that could shake things up pretty significantly. Expect to see the Red Sox use Eovaldi for big innings as much as they can so they can decide if they need to shoot high for someone like Ken Giles or Will Smith, or if they can just shore up the earlier innings in their bullpen as bridges to Eovaldi for the stretch run.

 

Short Relief

  • Don't look now, but the Giants are only 2.5 games out of the Wild Card. The team is widely expected to sell off most of its bullpen (Will Smith, Sam Dyson, Tony Watson, and Mark Melancon) but if they keep up the hot streak, who knows what the front office in San Francisco will decide to do? This next week will play a huge role in what will happen in the bullpen trade market, since the Giants have four relievers that would certainly attract trade attention.
  • Reds closer Raisel Iglesias was placed on the paternity leave list this week, so Michael Lorenzen and David Hernandez are temporary closers until he's back. Iglesias might be moved before the deadline, which would create a closer's role for someone else in the Reds pen.
  • Wade Davis had one foot out of the closer's role but was given another chance by his manager and did really well...for four scoreless outings. Then he allowed four runs while only getting one out, blowing a save and taking a loss. Davis now has a 9.53 ERA at home and a 0.79 ERA on the road. Hashtag Coors Field.
  • Ken Giles was back on the mound for the Blue Jays after taking a few days off to nurse an injury. He should be showcased over the next week or so until Toronto's front office receives an offer they like enough to move their closer to another team. He's been good enough that most teams that acquire him should slide him right into their ninth inning.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Nathan Eovaldi, Boston Red Sox- Eovaldi should be back this weekend and should jump right into the closer's role. He needs to be owned in all formats, even though there's a slight bit of risk involved. He has the upside to be a difference-maker in fantasy leagues down the stretch.

Joe Kelly, Los Angeles Dodgers- Because of his atrocious start to the season, Joe Kelly remains on many waiver wires. He's actually been really good recently though, and should be picked up in holds leagues, especially in case closer Kenley Jansen ends up needing some more time to heal.

Drops

No immediate drops this week, but it's time to take a really close look at possible trade deadline movement and be ready to make quick adds and drops as soon as news breaks. Follow Rotoballer on Twitter and keep up with the News Desk to make sure you have all the latest news.

 

Best of the Week

It was another rough week for closers in general, as only three closers ended up with three or more saves, and two of those three had ERAs over SIX! Here's the best of a bad week:

Ian Kennedy, Kansas City Royals- 3 1/3 IP, 4 SV, 4 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.60 WHIP

In a week of mostly bad bullpen performances, Royals closer Ian Kennedy was able to shine. He needed just 10 outs to get four saves, allowing only a hit and a walk while striking out four.

Brandon Workman, Boston Red Sox- 3 2/3 IP, 2 SV, 7 K, 2.45 ERA, 0.82 WHIP

Brandon Workman served as the Red Sox closer this week and picked up two saves while striking out seven. He allowed just one run on one hit and two walks.

 

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Rest-of-Season Relief Pitcher Rankings (Midseason Update)

The trade deadline approaches and bullpen speculation is running rampant, with the battle for saves likely deciding which spot on the podium you'll stand on. We here at RotoBaller want to give you the inside track for a successful second half with a Rest-of-Season update of our mixed rankings analysis. RotoBaller writers Nick Mariano, Pierre Camus, Bill Dubiel and Scott Engel want you to crush the competition and know that rankings can't end on draft day. Check out our fantasy baseball rankings dashboard for the latest and greatest ranks at any time.

Only three RP-eligible players are within the top-50 on Yahoo's 5x5 standard scoring system, but then things really open up. Of course, the relief pool goes well beyond closers that accrue saves. I realize innings and roster spots are precious, but Scott Oberg and Ryan Pressly are top-100 players too. Keep an open mind and let's talk bullpens.

Without any more delay, let's break down the 2019 relief pitcher rest-of-season rankings for July.

 

Relief Pitcher Tiered Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (July)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was recently named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season. You can see his secret sauce below! Additionally, industry legend Scott Engel recently joined the RotoBaller team and provides his insights as well. Scott is an FSWA Hall Of Famer and award winner.

Ranking Tier Player Position Nick Pierre Bill
1 1 Kirby Yates RP 52 59 55
2 1 Aroldis Chapman RP 62 46 66
3 1 Josh Hader RP 47 45 83
4 1 Kenley Jansen RP 66 48 70
5 1 Edwin Diaz RP 90 49 72
6 1 Brad Hand RP 80 47 86
7 2 Felipe Vazquez RP 97 53 100
8 2 Roberto Osuna RP 96 58 99
9 2 Craig Kimbrel RP 92 60 112
10 2 Sean Doolittle RP 99 87 105
11 3 Ken Giles RP 119 106 121
12 3 Will Smith RP 173 65 175
13 3 Hector Neris RP 149 115 150
14 4 Shane Greene RP 183 92 185
15 4 Liam Hendriks RP 196 110 176
16 4 Raisel Iglesias RP 220 67 222
17 4 Alex Colome RP 206 117 209
18 4 Luke Jackson RP 176 138 223
19 4 Wade Davis RP 234 116 196
20 4 Greg Holland RP 218 131 220
21 4 Taylor Rogers RP 203 164 207
22 4 Hansel Robles RP 223 133 224
23 4 Jose Leclerc RP 221 149 221
24 4 Blake Treinen RP 174 150 271
25 5 Matt Barnes RP 224 204 226
26 5 Carlos Martinez SP/RP 228 272 200
27 5 Ryan Pressly RP 231 257 233
28 5 Emilio Pagan RP 245 245 245
29 5 Hunter Strickland RP 377 172 385
30 5 Blake Parker RP 299 203 298
31 5 Roenis Elias RP 301 207 304
32 5 Diego Castillo RP/SP 269 301 243
33 5 Brad Peacock RP/SP 294 256 266
34 5 Jeremy Jeffress RP 311 210 305
35 5 Reyes Moronta RP 328 163 351
36 5 Mychal Givens RP 355 142 358
37 6 Michael Lorenzen RP 327 209 335
38 6 Shawn Kelley RP 239 274 363
39 6 A.J. Minter RP 296 269 312
40 6 Nick Anderson RP 349 #N/A 238
41 6 Ty Buttrey RP 344 205 348
42 6 Pedro Strop RP 345 208 350
43 6 Adam Ottavino RP 305 293 309
44 6 Joe Biagini SP/RP #N/A 305 #N/A
45 6 Joe Jimenez RP 366 175 375
46 6 Andrew Miller RP 360 198 364
47 6 Zack Britton RP 353 236 356
48 6 Ryan Brasier RP 341 268 346
49 7 Lou Trivino RP 363 278 369
50 7 Jose Alvarado RP 207 310 211
51 7 Chris Martin RP 376 266 384
52 7 Matt Strahm RP/SP 350 350 350
53 7 Brandon Workman RP 362 352 368
54 7 Sergio Romo RP 401 292 410
55 7 David Robertson RP 364 404 371
56 7 Adam Conley SP/RP 385 #N/A 381
57 7 Sam Dyson RP 428 306 437
58 7 Mark Melancon RP 347 465 365
59 7 Seranthony Dominguez RP 391 #N/A 399
60 7 Marcus Walden RP 383 419 392
61 7 Kelvin Herrera RP 370 452 374
62 7 Dellin Betances RP 365 476 373
63 7 Cody Allen RP #N/A 405 #N/A
64 7 Brandon Morrow RP 386 447 382
65 7 Seth Lugo SP/RP 403 #N/A 412
66 7 Anthony Swarzak RP 368 484 377
67 7 Yusmeiro Petit RP #N/A 411 #N/A
68 7 Alex Reyes SP/RP 420 402 427
69 7 Brandon Kintzler RP #N/A 421 #N/A
70 7 Archie Bradley RP 498 265 502
71 7 Steve Cishek RP 423 416 431
72 7 Elieser Hernandez SP/RP 369 526 378
73 7 Kyle Crick RP 424 #N/A 433
74 7 Keone Kela RP #N/A 500 372
75 7 Sam Gaviglio SP/RP 480 425 407
76 7 Trevor May RP #N/A 439 #N/A
77 8 Yoshihisa Hirano RP 439 429 453
78 8 Brad Boxberger RP #N/A 441 #N/A
79 8 Trevor Rosenthal RP #N/A #N/A 442
80 8 Corbin Burnes SP/RP 426 475 429
81 8 Carl Edwards Jr. RP 437 #N/A 451
82 8 Craig Stammen RP 444 #N/A 459
83 8 Drew Steckenrider RP #N/A 453 #N/A
84 8 Anthony Bass RP #N/A #N/A 454
85 8 Nick Goody RP 448 #N/A 463
86 8 Jared Hughes RP 449 #N/A 464
87 8 Wily Peralta SP/RP #N/A 469 457
88 8 Joe Kelly RP 457 #N/A 473
89 8 Shawn Armstrong RP 445 497 460
90 8 Jeurys Familia RP #N/A 514 441
91 8 Cam Bedrosian RP #N/A 496 #N/A
92 8 Chad Green RP #N/A 506 #N/A
93 8 Alex Claudio RP #N/A 508 #N/A
94 8 Brad Brach RP #N/A 503 538
95 9 Pat Neshek RP #N/A #N/A 524
96 9 Robert Gsellman SP/RP #N/A #N/A 525
97 9 Luke Gregerson RP #N/A 485 565
98 9 Adam Cimber RP #N/A #N/A 526
99 9 Luis Cessa RP #N/A 527 #N/A
100 9 Fernando Rodney RP #N/A 507 553

Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

Tier One

Yates, Chapman, Hader, Jansen, Diaz and Hand find themselves at the top, with Diaz being the clear grandfathered exception, whereas the others’ performances are worthy of top-five discussion in 2019. While I personally have Hader over Yates due to the insane strikeout rate and league-leading 1.66 SIERA, I can’t be upset at Yates winding up numero uno. His 30 saves lead the league, which has helped make him the top closer thus far.

Considering past save rate isn’t exactly predictive, I’ll take Hader’s absurd 50.3% strikeout rate and 42.3% K-BB mark. Chapman doesn’t casually touch 104 mph anymore, but his increased slider usage makes him a different kind of nasty. Jansen has rebounded from low-velo concerns in kind and Hand is fantasy’s third-best stopper in 5x5 formats.

Tier Two

Vazquez is filthy but the Pirates could ship him to a team that doesn’t use him in the ninth. It’s unlikely, but possible given Pittsburgh’s lot. Osuna is humming right along, though only 40 K’s in 38 ⅔ IP is surprising. Doolittle’s metrics have slipped since last season (1.95 SIERA in ‘18, up to 3.80 in ‘19) but he went from a career-low .196 BABIP last year to a career-high .351 thus far.

You’re likely most intrigued by Kimbrel, who has only logged five appearances in the majors through July 14. Two of the first three resulted in a combined five earned runs as he shakes off the rust, but he’s had a clean last two appearances for saves. Expecting peak Kimbrel right out of the gate is silly, but Craig has yet to post a SIERA south of 2.93 or strikeout rate below 36% in his career. Take whatever discount you can get here.

Tier Three

Giles is working through nerve inflammation in his right elbow, but remember Hader’s elite marks from before? Well, Mr. Ken’s 2.07 SIERA, 43.4% K rate and 36.1% K-BB mark are second only to Hader out of qualified relievers. Giles is a likely trade candidate and I’d knock him up to Tier Two if he retains a closing role.

Will Smith is all but gone at the Trade Deadline, so your gamble will be on whether the southpaw takes the eighth or the ninth on his new squad. Neris is a volatile arm that rides or dies with his splitter command, but most other options that Philly entered the year with are injured.

 

Rankings Analysis - Middle Tiers

Tier Four

An unfortunate facet of the RP ranks going last in the article rotation is that bullpens are the most volatile. You could subtract 100 from Hendriks for me and add it to Blake Treinen, putting him into Tier Three. I love what we’re seeing from Liam while Treinen simply doesn’t inspire any confidence right now.

Shane Greene and Alex Colome aren’t as strong a trade candidate as Will Smith, but they’re close. Wade Davis must deal with Coors and has quite the rocky season to date, while Jose LeClerc may never see the ninth this year. We still have to respect his top-10 abilities when on, but he seems to blow it whenever he nears the ninth.

Tier Five

It appears Carlos Martinez should hold onto the closer’s job in 2019, what with his 2.18 ERA/0.97 WHIP over 20 ⅔ IP. After posting an elevated 11.5% walk rate in ‘18, it’s nice to see an early 8.8% mark in ‘19. Jordan Hicks isn’t coming back this season and CarMart makes a nice RP2/3 in 12-team formats.

With Jose Alvarado on the shelf for roughly six weeks, Emilio Pagan could be on many first-place teams, though I think Diego Castillo works back into a 50/50 split. Both should be owned in most leagues.

I’m done speculating on Jeremy Jeffress -- it looks like any hopes of a split like last season are six feet under. Hunter Strickland is also nearing dump territory thanks to a setback already in the books on top of the lengthy injury. He’ll then need to show he’s game-ready again.

Tier Six

Kelley is the clear favorite for me in this group, with my feelings illustrated with Jose LeClerc’s tepid blurb. Lorenzen is the other name that can get you some saves, though he’s clearly still the 1B to Raisel Iglesias’ 1A at the back-end. Meanwhile, A.J. Minter has scooped some saves when Luke Jackson is resting, but Minter won’t produce enough value on his own to warrant playing without a regular closing role.

Since our ranks got put in, it was made fairly clear that Daniel Hudson has leapfrogged Joe Biagini as the heir apparent to Ken Giles’ ninth should a trade go down. Joe Jimenez has also looked better of late and warrants top-300 consideration for sure.

 

Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Tier Seven

Obviously, you’re burying Alvarado in the ranks here. These are mostly dart throws that would require an injury, demotion or miraculous recovery to hit it big. Most require more than one of those. Rehabbers include Philly’s David Robertson and Seranthony Dominguez, the Cubbies’ Brandon Morrow and the Yanks’ Dellin Betances - who was recently cleared to start throwing.

Mark Melancon could be one of the last men standing in San Francisco after Will Smith, Sam Dyson and Tony Watson potentially fetch some prospects. I still think Moronta is the one to own, but the Giants may do their darndest to give Melancon and his awful contract some trade value.

The best value in this tier likely comes from Boston's Brandon Workman, but his .169 BABIP underscores the 4.06 SIERA behind the 1.74 ERA. Tread carefully.

Tiers Eight & Nine

If the dart throws came earlier than these are the weighted darts that will take even more effort to hit any sort of bullseye with. In fact, you should consider yourself lucky if you score any points with them at all.

Folks such as Yoshihisa Hirano could take the D-backs role from Greg Holland, though Yoan Lopez is impressing in the eighth. Corbin Burnes could reenter the rotation at some point, but we can’t lean on him until he curbs the longball issue. Fernando Rodney is Fernando Rodney, but Washington is desperate for bullpen help and their crumminess means Rodney is already Doolittle’s backup. Doolittle is great but is not known for his durability.

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Closers and Saves Report - All-Star Break Edition

The All-Star Game happened, and it was fun. But then came Wednesday, the only day of the season with NO BASEBALL. It was awful, but we all made it, we survived. Thursday featured just one game, but then we're back to normal on Friday for the second half. There are plenty of teams still in contention and plenty of things should change before the July 31 trade deadline.

This week, we'll take a look at what bullpens are most likely to change before the first pitch of August is thrown. Some closers will stop closing, some setup men will move into the ninth inning, and some bullpens might look completely different in about 20 days.

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Pitchers In Potentially Precarious Positions

American League

Baltimore Orioles- The Orioles have been using Mychal Givens as their "closer" and he ended up leading the team in saves in the first half...with six. Six saves. At the All-Star Break. Givens has shown some upside, with a 34.3% K%. His 4.76 ERA/4.88 FIP is certainly concerning, but a guy with all those strikeouts does have some use in a bullpen. Givens is under team control until 2021, so the Orioles won't be rushed to trade him, but if they receive a good enough offer, he's certainly someone that could move before the deadline. He won't close for any new team he joins, with his best case scenario possibly being joining a committee that already exists.

Boston Red Sox- Just a quick word about the Red Sox here: they have seemingly gone back a bit on scheduling Nathan Eovaldi as a "traditional closer" but he should still have a ninth inning role once he returns from the injured list. They could still seek bullpen help at the deadline though, so anyone besides Nathan Eovaldi is a sell-now in most formats.

Tampa Bay Rays- The Rays seem to hate the idea of a scheduled closer, so they are likely to continue using a committee approach for the rest of the season, even if they do acquire some more high-leverage arms. For now, Diego Castillo (coming off the IL for the second half) and Emilio Pagan should continue to earn saves.

Toronto Blue Jays- Ken Giles is having an excellent season (1.45 ERA/1.49 FIP, 43.4% K%) and should bring back a nice haul for the Blue Jays at the deadline. As long as he stays healthy, Giles is one of the best bets to move before August, and teams have reportedly already started asking the Blue Jays about him. Joe Biagini or Daniel Hudson will likely take over the ninth inning in Toronto, although both of them may be trade targets for teams shooting lower than Giles. Giles could close for his new team depending on where he ends up, as he's been one of the best relievers in baseball this season. Unless he winds up somewhere like Los Angeles, he's likely to remain a ninth inning arm.

Chicago White Sox- The White Sox are still somewhat in it, sitting seven games out of the Wild Card at the All-Star Break. They're likely to be sellers unless they go on a tear to open up the second half, and that means closer Alex Colome could be on the move. Colome has been solid, but some of his peripheral stats show reason for concern. He has a 2.02 ERA and 20 saves in 21 chances, but his FIP sits at 3.99 and he's only putting up a 20.8% K%. If he gets traded, he's much more likely to slide into a setup role than to remain as a closer in a new uniform. Meanwhile, in Chicago, Aaron Bummer looks set to take over the ninth inning and would need to be owned in all formats right away if the White Sox move Colome.

Cleveland Indians- There was word that Cleveland would listen to offers for closer Brad Hand, but now that they'll be starting the second half in the lead for one of the Wild Card spots, it's hard to see them moving one of their better, most consistent players. They may end up adding to the bullpen with guys to bridge the game from their starters to Hand, but there's not likely to be a huge shake up in the Cleveland bullpen.

Detroit Tigers- The Tigers bullpen is another one that's very likely to see some changes before the deadline. Closer Shane Greene has been amazing this season (1.09 ERA, 22 saves, 26.0% K%) and is another guy who is almost certain to be dealt this season. Many people thought the same thing last year though, so we'll see what happens. If Greene does move, his future role will depend greatly on what team he ends up on. There are some closer-needy teams that would slide Greene right into the ninth inning but others that would have him in a supporting role ahead of their closer. Greene's second half fantasy value is a huge question mark in standard leagues, making him a sell-now for those wanting to be safe. Joe Jimenez seems most likely to take over for the Tigers, even though he's having the worst season of his career so far.

Kansas City Royals- The Royals would seem to be a team in full-on sell mode, but their closer Ian Kennedy is actually not particularly likely to be moved this summer. He's been excellent in his new role as closer, but he's got two years left in a five year, $70 million contract, and he's still Ian Kennedy. It's not impossible for him to switch teams, but he's much more likely to stay in Kansas City this summer.

Minnesota Twins- The Twins have been running with a committee in the ninth inning for most of this season, although Taylor Rogers seems to have taken over at least the lion's share lately. That could all come to an end once trades start going down, though. The Twins are rumored to have shown interest in some of the top-flight closers that should be available, meaning Rogers and the rest of the Minnesota committee will slide into setup roles. Any closer who gets traded to the Twins will immediately see a nice bump in value.

**No teams in the AL West are really expected to do much shuffling of their bullpens in the second half. Liam Hendriks should hang on to the ninth in Oakland, the Rangers will continue working Jose Leclerc and Shawn Kelley in their ninth innings, and the Angels should keep trotting Hansel Robles out there. The Mariners will keep trying to find a closer and winding up with a committee, and finally the Astros are all set with Roberto Osuna in their ninth. The Astros and A's may add to the earlier parts of their bullpens, but the closer roles seem safe.

 

National League

Atlanta Braves- The Braves bullpen has been okay at times, but they are still rumored to be very much in the market for ninth inning help before the deadline. Luke Jackson has been decent this season (2.66 ERA/2.79 FIP and 31.9% K%) but he's blown six saves. Ken Giles is one of the names the Braves have been kicking the tires on, making them one of the teams more likely to have a new closer by August. Jackson will retain value in holds leagues, but he's looking like a guy who may end up insignificant in standard leagues. There's always the chance that the Braves can't work anything out for an elite option and end up strengthening the earlier innings and keeping Jackson around for the ninth, but fantasy owners who want to play it safe should already be preparing for life after he loses his closer's role.

Miami Marlins- Sergio Romo was signed for two reasons: to provide the Marlins bullpen with some veteran experience, and to develop trade value before the deadline. Romo has been decent this season, posting a 4.13 ERA and 16 saves in 17 opportunities. He won't close for whatever team acquires him, placing a clear deadline on his standard league fantasy value. He may actually see a slight increase in value in holds leagues if he moves to a team that installs him as a primary setup man, but he is not likely to earn many saves in a different uniform. In Miami, Nick Anderson may be traded too, but if he stays in Miami, he would likely take over the ninth. Beyond him, perhaps Austin Brice gets a chance to see some ninth inning action.

New York Mets- This season hasn't gone at all the way the Mets wanted it to, but they aren't likely to be major sellers at the deadline. Edwin Diaz has struggled but is under team control until 2022 so he's unlikely to go anywhere. The team may make some minor moves but it shouldn't be anything majorly fantasy relevant.

Washington Nationals- Despite what was widely considered a very rough first half for the Nationals, all of a sudden they are in the lead for the Wild Card and a somewhat-manageable six games out of the division. They won't be sellers, but they need A LOT of help in their bullpen. Closer Sean Doolittle has been good (19 saves, 3.13 ERA/2.93 FIP) but he's been the only reliable reliever in a Nationals uniform. They are likely to target slightly lower-tier relievers, but there's a chance they get in the mix for guys like Ken Giles or Kirby Yates as well.

Cincinnati Reds-  The Reds removed Raisel Iglesias from the closer's role for a little bit, but it looks like he's back in there for now, perhaps in an attempt to increase his trade value. He'll remain under team control until the 2021 season, so they Reds won't need to trade him, but they may if they receive a good offer. Iglesias would likely work in a setup role for a new team, but he's about 50-50 on staying as Reds closer or working in a setup role for a new team. A careful fantasy owner may be looking for move on. Michael Lorenzen or Amir Garrett would be next in line in Cincinnati.

St. Louis Cardinals- The Cardinals lost closer Jordan Hicks to Tommy John Surgery, but they seem happy with Carlos Martinez resurrecting his career as a closer. Still, they could be in the market for a more bona fide closer at the deadline. The rest of their bullpen has been solid, with John Brebbia, Genesis Cabrera, and John Gant all providing solid relief innings to take the game from the starters to the ninth inning. They may target a guy like Will Smith or Kirby Yates, but they could also be more in the market for starting pitching and leave the bullpen more or less alone.

Arizona Diamondbacks- The Diamondbacks looked ready to remove Greg Holland from the ninth inning, but he recently got a vote of confidence from his manager and will at least enter the second half with the closer's job in the desert. The Diamondbacks sit just 1.5 games back from a Wild Card spot, so they could be looking to improve their bullpen before the deadline. It remains to be seen whether that'll be a new closer to take Holland's spot, or some solid arms to work before Holland. Given Holland's struggles this season (including declining velocity and increasing walk rate) however, even a reliever acquired to setup may end up closing if Holland slumps again. He's been a risky fantasy asset all season and will only get riskier as the deadline approaches.

Los Angeles Dodgers- The Dodgers are all set in the ninth inning with Kenley Jansen, one of the best closers in baseball. But the rest of their bullpen could use some help, and they've been rumored to have strong interest in Will Smith. Jansen's job is not at all in jeopardy, but the Dodgers could be the reason another closer ends up in a setup role. Holds league players will want to target anyone the Dodgers acquire to add to their bullpen.

San Diego Padres- There has been some word that teams have been asking about Padres closer Kirby Yates, but with the Padres sticking around in the Wild Card race (2.0 games out) and Yates signed through next year, there's no certainty that he'll be on the move. Yates has been arguably the best closer this season, so if he does get traded, he'll bring in tons of value for the Padres and will nearly for certain retain the ninth inning on any new team. Craig Stammen or Luis Perdomo would take over, although they could both be targeted by teams looking for setup help as well.

San Francisco Giants- Giants closer Will Smith has been amazing this season, going a perfect 23-for-23 in save chances with a 1.98 ERA/2.02 FIP and 39.9% K%. The Dodgers are rumored to have tons of interest in the contract-year reliever, but he'd work before Kenley Jansen there. Almost any other team he goes to would keep him in the ninth inning, but the Dodgers have so far been the team rumored to have the most interest.

 

 

 

 

 

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 14 Waiver Wire

Changes are coming in the desert, as the Diamondbacks look ready to move things around in their bullpen. The Reds, meanwhile, look like they're going back to how things were before. The A's got their closer back from the injured list, but is he still going to be their closer? What's going on with the Cubs and Rays bullpens? What about the Red Sox? They have a plan, finally, but what is it?

With the All-Star Game coming up, that means the trade deadline is on its way as well. We haven't had any big trades so far, but the rumors are starting to swirl and fantasy managers need to be aware of who might be losing the ninth, getting a ninth, or keeping the ninth but landing in a better/worse situation.

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 14

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox bullpen has been quite a mess this season, with a rotating cast of arms attempting, often unsuccessfully, to close out their wins. Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes have switched between being effective and being much less than that. So now, the Red Sox are trying something different. Nathan Eovaldi began the season as a starter but landed on the injured list after just four starts. Now, he's almost ready to return (he should be back right after the All-Star Break), and the Red Sox plan to have him slide into the bullpen and eventually the ninth inning. Eovaldi has shown the ability to pitch well out of the bullpen and should be a solid closer as long as he stays healthy. There is some word that the team may want to eventually ease him back into the starting rotation, but if he succeeds as a closer and shores up a struggling bullpen, it's hard to see manager Alex Cora moving him from the role. Eovaldi still has a week or so before he'll be back on the mound, but he should slide into the ninth right away and needs to be added in all formats.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks played a large role in helping the Dodgers set a record for consecutive walk-off wins. Arizona's closer Greg Holland struggled mightily and manager Torey Lovullo has removed him from the ninth inning. Holland was having one of those, "he can't keep getting away with it" seasons and, finally, he's stopped getting away with it. His velocity is down, and his control has been an issue since last year. He had a 15.1% walk rate last season and it's at 14.8% this year. He's been lucky, with opposing hitters putting up just a .197 BABIP so far this season. His removal from the closer's role leaves the Diamondbacks most likely looking at a committee approach for saves, at least for now. Yoshihisa Hirano is the veteran choice, as he had 156 saves in Japan before coming over to the Diamondbacks. The less experienced choice would be rookie Yoan Lopez, who has an impressive 1.36 ERA but some concerning peripheral stats, including a low 18.9 K%. Archie Bradley has struggled to a 5.21 ERA this season and is having a lot of control issues, but he may end up in the mix as well. Lefty Andrew Chafin could jump in when the situation calls for it too. Basically, this bullpen might be a mess for a while until someone steps up to claim the role full time.

Oakland A's

Blake Treinen is fully healed and off the injured list, but what about his role in the Oakland bullpen? Treinen has struggled this year and has seen a drop in almost all aspects of his performance, but the biggest ones have been his control (6.7 BB% last season to 14.4% this year) and his home run rate (0.22 HR/9 last season to 0.76 this year). His replacement, Liam Hendriks, earned American League Reliever of the Month and has posted a 1.29 ERA this season. His 31.1 K% and 8.8 BB% are both markedly better than Treinen as well. The A's will likely give Treinen a few chances to keep the ninth inning, but Hendriks will certainly be breathing down his neck. Owners in standard formats may want to hold onto Hendriks just to see what happens, while owners in holds leagues should be happy to have Hendriks since his value should remain more or less the same.

 

Short Relief

  • The Reds talked about moving Raisel Iglesias out of the closer role and Michael Lorenzen even earned a spot on Closer Report's Best of the Week list. But Iglesias has extremely notable splits in save situations and in non-save situations. He's about as good in save spots as he is bad in non-save spots, so the Reds have gone back to keeping Iglesias in a more traditional closer's role.
  • Jose Alvarado just hasn't been the same dominant presence in the Rays bullpen that he was in April and May. He gave up six runs in an appearance this week and identified his own mechanical flaw afterwards. Maybe that will fix it, but for now it seems like Emilio Pagan will continue to get the bulk of the ninth innings in Tampa Bay.
  • Kelvin Herrera was widely considered to be the one to step into the closer's role for the White Sox if Alex Colome ended up being traded. But Herrera's 7.89 ERA has dropped him quite a bit in the bullpen hierarchy, and it's Aaron Bummer who looks like the next one to step into the ninth if Colome moves. The White Sox are still in the periphery of the playoff race though, so who knows what will happen before the July 31 deadline?

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Nathan Eovaldi, Boston Red Sox - Eovaldi was supposed to be a starter this year, but an injury to him combined with ineffectiveness by almost every other Boston reliever means that he'll come back to the team in a relief role and should start seeing save opportunities almost immediately. He needs to be owned in all formats.

Speculative Add of Arizona Relievers, Arizona Diamondbacks - There's no clear favorite now, but one thing that's certain is that Greg Holland is out of the ninth inning in Arizona. It could be any of Hirano, Lopez, Bradley, or Chafin earning saves in the desert, so fantasy owners desperate for saves could take a wild guess and maybe land on the next Diamondbacks closer.

Drops

Michael Lorenzen, Cincinnati Reds - It doesn't look like the big change in the Reds bullpen is going to happen. Raisel Iglesias looks like he's holding onto the ninth inning, so Lorenzen will return to only having significant value in holds leagues. Owners in standard formats can look elsewhere.

Greg Holland, Arizona Diamondbacks - This may be a quick reaction, but it looks like Holland is out in the desert. With his declining velocity and increasing walk rate, it might not be easy for him to get his inning back. He may ultimately end up as part of a closer committee, but his time as full-time closer seems over. He's not an immediate drop in most formats, but owners with an eye on someone valuable on the waiver wire can go ahead and make the move.

 

Best of the Week

Alex Colome, Chicago White Sox - 3 2/3 IP, 3 SV, 2 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.55 WHIP

White Sox closer Alex Colome has the only three-save week, closing out three of the four games he appeared in while striking out two and allowing just two hits.

Roberto Osuna, Houston Astros - 4 IP, 2 SV, 5 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.25 WHIP

Astros closer Roberto Osuna had a near-perfect week, saving two games while striking out five and allowing just one hit in his four innings of work.

It was a struggle week for most bullpen arms, as no one else saved two games with an ERA lower than 4.50 for the week. Sean Doolittle and Josh Hader (two saves each, 4.50 ERA) were decent enough. Raisel Iglesias (two saves, 6.75 ERA) and Edwin Diaz (two saves, 19.29 ERA) round up the relievers with more than one save for this week.

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Relievers Swinging-Strike Rate Studs and Duds: Week 14

Welcome back to RotoBaller’s pitchers advanced stats and StatCast studs and duds article series! Each week we will select an advanced stat, choose two studs and two duds, and analyze what those stats could mean for future fantasy output. We have spent most of our time focusing on starters throughout the season, so this week we will show some love for relievers. Specifically, we will focus on fantasy-relevant relievers' swinging-strike rates.

Swinging-strike rate is the percentage of pitches a batter sees that they miss. It is not quite as helpful a metric as strikeout rate for fantasy purposes since strikeouts, not missed strikes in general, hold direct fantasy value. That being said, relievers that can avoid contact are more likely to hold fantasy-relevant spots in the bullpen.

I will take a look at four fantasy-relevant relievers for this article. While it would be interesting to look at swinging-strike rate trends across all relievers, only a portion of them matter as fantasy players. Let's take a look at some of them now!

 

Swinging-Strike Rate Studs 

All stats current as of 7/1/19

 

Ken Giles - Toronto Blue Jays

(1.29 ERA, 12-13 save opportunities, 21.2% swinging-strike rate)

Our first swinging-strike rate stud had a wild 2018 but has found his focus in 2019. Ken Giles has locked down the Blue Jays' closer job, posting an immaculate 1.29 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and a career-high swinging-strike rate. What changed from last season to this season and how is Giles getting his strikeout numbers? 

Two things stand out regarding Giles' turnaround. The first is his pitch mix. He has always relied heavily on a fastball-slider combo, but this season, Giles has used his slider more than his fastball (49.6% usage vs 46.7% usage). This has worked out well; his swinging-strike rate on the pitch is an impressive 28.4%, and his batting average on the pitch is a mere .115.

The second factor is his improved control. Giles has had both a better WHIP (1.04 vs 1.21) and SIERA (1.96 vs 2.96) than last season, indicating that he has been hitting his spots and avoiding damaging contact. This has shown itself specifically in Giles' fastball. His batting average against the pitch has improved from .331 to .286, and his swinging-strike rate has nearly doubled from 7.8% to 14%.

Based on the changes Giles has made, it seems that he has overcome some mental hurdles and is tapping into his talent. His stuff is excellent, and his command is there, which seems to have made a big difference. He is a legit strikeout pitcher and should be a valuable fantasy closer for the foreseeable future.

Edwin Diaz - New York Mets

(4.78 ERA, 17-21 save opportunities, 18% swinging-strike rate)

Our second swinging-strike rate stud broke out in a huge way in 2018 and was one of fantasy's hottest names coming into this season. Edwin Diaz looked like one of baseball's top closers for 2019, coming to a newly-stacked Mets team after notching 57 saves in 2018. However, things have not gone the Mets' way or Diaz's. His 4.78 ERA and 1.38 WHIP are both at a career high. That being said, he has notched 17 saves and has an impressive 18% swinging-strike rate. Should fantasy owners be freaking out? 

Diaz presents a mixed bag of stats. First, his ERA is inflated due to three blow-up outings. Of his 34 outings, Diaz has allowed no earned runs in 26 of them, one earned run in five of them, and then one game each of three, four, and five earned runs. Diaz has been mostly effective, but, given the nature of limited innings as a reliever, his blemishes stand out more. Diaz's arsenal has helped him achieve his success. His fastball sits at 97 MPH with an impressive 17.3% swinging-strike rate, and his slider isn't too shabby either with a 21% swinging-strike rate.

On the other hand, Diaz has gotten hit extremely hard this season. His 47.2% hard-hit rate is in the bottom three percent of the league, and his 16.3-degree launch angle does not bode well either. Consequently, his HR/9 rate is at a poor 1.97 and his BABIP is at an inflated .397. His 2.52 SIERA suggests that he has been getting unlucky overall, but I am not quite convinced given how poor his batted-ball profile is.

This is a tough case for fantasy owners. They have to stick it out with Diaz given where they drafted him, he assuredly has the closer's job, and has shown some good signs. However, his peripherals aren't great, and he has been getting hit way too hard for comfort. At this point, owners can only hope that he can continue to get strikeouts while avoiding damaging contact in the second half. 

 

Swinging-Strike Rate Duds

All stats current as of 7/1/19

 

Shane Greene - Detroit Tigers

(0.87 ERA, 22-23 save opportunities, 10.9% swinging-strike rate)

Our first swinging-strike rate dud stumbled his way through being a full-time closer in 2018 but seems to have a much better grasp of the task this season. Shane Greene has been solid as the Tigers' closer, converting 22 of 23 save opportunities with a minuscule 0.87 ERA. The one lacking aspect of his game is the strikeouts; Greene has 32 strikeouts in 31 IP and a 10.9% swinging-strike rate, which are low stats for higher-end fantasy relievers. Should this be a concern for fantasy owners?   

Greene does not fit the profile of a typical closer. He does not throw hard; his sinker, his primary pitch (45.5% usage) averages just 92.9 MPH. His secondary pitches are decent swing-and-miss pitches. His swinging-strike rates on his cutter (29% usage) and slider (22.1% usage) sit at 15% and 17.3%. Overall, though, Greene is not an overpowering pitcher.

As such, he mostly pitches to contact (75.6%). The good thing is that he has done a decent job avoiding hard contact (89-MPH average exit velocity, 36.7% hard-hit rate, 12.7-degree launch angle). This batted-ball profile is ok but not great, and his 3.56 SIERA, while still good, is much higher than his current ERA.

Greene has been a mediocre pitcher in his career until this season. Even last season, when he notched 32 saves, he had a poor 5.12 ERA. Greene clearly has the Tigers' closer job on lock and has been getting saves, but his lack of strikeout potential and pitch-to-contact approach at the end of close games makes me nervous. Further, his name has been floated around in trade talks, and there is no guarantee that he would maintain his closer's role with a new team. If I owned him, I would shop him around and try to sell high before the second half of the season begins.

 

Wade Davis - Colorado Rockies

(5.76 ERA, 12-14 save opportunities, 10.8% swinging-strike rate)

Our second swinging-strike rate dud has had a rocky start to the season (pun completely intended). Wade Davis has posted a massive 5.76 ERA in an injury-shortened season. He has converted 12 of 14 save opportunities but has also posted his lowest swinging-strike rate since 2013. Davis has traditionally been a high-end fantasy option, so should owners be panicking?

Simply put, Davis seems to have been unlucky to this point. To start, his command has been way off (1.76 WHIP compared to 1.26 career, 13.7% walk rate compared to 9.1% career). While this is obviously a cause for concern, the fact that his numbers are so much higher than his career marks makes me believe that bad luck is involved, rather than Davis having completely lost his touch. In alignment with his control problems, Davis' .352 BABIP is much higher than his .286 career point. His drop in swinging-strike rate could also be attributed to his control. Davis' pitches are all similar in terms of velocity and spin rate from the past several seasons, so his arsenal doesn't seem to be the cause of his issues.

Davis has had some poor outings this season but has historically been a great closer. He will be given a long leash by the Rockies and I am inclined to do the same. He still will hold fantasy value as long as he continues to convert save opportunities and it should only be a matter of time before luck starts to turn his way.

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 13 Waiver Wire

No, Craig is not short for Craigory, but yes, Craig Kimbrel has finally joined a Major League Baseball team in 2019. The Red Sox bullpen, meanwhile, continues to be a mess. In Atlanta, Luke Jackson is seeing objects in his rear view mirror, and they may be a lot closer than they appear.

A few injuries shook the bullpen world this week too, with a torn UCL wreaking havoc in St. Louis and a shoulder causing some strain on the Oakland bullpen. Plus, with another week gone by, we're starting to hear more and more about how bullpens might be affected before the trade deadline.

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 13

Chicago Cubs

After four outings with Triple-A Iowa, the Cubs determined he was ready to go and he'll join the big league team for their series against the Braves. Kimbrel already earned his fist save on Thursday, and despite his less-than-stellar playoff performance last season, he needs to be owned and started in all formats. That means Pedro Strop, who has mostly held his own as the Cubs closer until now, will slide back into a setup role. Strop can be dropped in standard leagues, but players in holds leagues might find more upside options on the waiver wire. Still, Strop is a decent enough reliever to be worth hanging onto in deeper formats where holds count.

St. Louis Cardinals

Jordan Hicks had to leave a game early. Owners and fans were worried. The Cardinals reported he was dealing with triceps tendinitis and would just need a few days off. Owners and fans relaxed. The Cardinals then reported Jordan Hicks had a torn UCL. Owners and fans poured one out for the rest of Hicks' 2019 and likely most of his 2020 as well. He underwent Tommy John Surgery on Wednesday morning and will begin the long rehab process from the all-too-common pitching procedure. Human arms just aren't meant to throw as hard as big league pitchers do, and Hicks threw the hardest of all. The Cardinals had choices to fill the ninth inning: John Gant and Giovanni Gallegos are both having excellent seasons. Almost immediately after the announcement of Hicks' surgery, however, the Cardinals confirmed that Carlos Martinez would be the one to fill the closer's role in place of Hicks. He needs to be owned in all formats, and while he doesn't have the strikeout upside of Gallegos or Gant, he's more than capable of holding down the ninth inning for a playoff-hopeful Cardinals. Part 2 of Martinez's career just kicked off, and it should be fun to watch.

Oakland Athletics

The A's also suffered a bullpen injury, although theirs was not nearly as devastating as the one in St. Louis. A's closer Blake Treinen landed on the injured list with a right shoulder strain this week. The injury is to his rotator cuff, and he admitted that he'd been bothered by it for several weeks, perhaps explaining his struggles this season. It's unclear how long Treinen will need to be out, but the club announced Liam Hendriks as the closer for now. Hendriks is having an excellent season as shown by his 1.42 ERA/2.33 FIP, and he has some nice strikeout upside as well. He should fill in admirably for Treinen for however long the closer needs to be out and should be picked up in most formats, especially by owners looking to replace Treinen's production.

Tampa Bay Rays

Diego Castillo, one of the leaders of the Rays buffet-style bullpen, was placed on the IL this week with inflammation in his right shoulder. He's expected to miss at least two weeks, but it could be longer than that. Emilio Pagan is the main beneficiary of Castillo's IL stint, but Jose Alvarado is expected back "in the near future" according to the team, so he and Pagan should be sharing the ninth inning soon.

 

Short Relief

  • The Dodgers have shown interest in relievers Will Smith of the Giants and Felipe Vazquez of the Pirates. Kenley Jansen has been awesome again after a somewhat slow start, but the rest of the Dodgers relief corps hasn't been great. Adding a Smith or a Vazquez would give the LA bullpen a lot more depth.
  • Braves closer Luke Jackson needed a day off this week and A.J. Minter popped in and earned a save. With Jackson's six blown saves and steadily-rising ERA, Minter could be a threat to his ninth inning spot. For now, Jackson is still in charge, but owners should keep a close eye on the Atlanta relievers.
  • Raisel Iglesias hasn't been good in non-save situations (sporting an ERA near 6 in non-save appearances) and struggled again in a situation like that this week. As strange as it sounds, his struggles may actually keep him in the closer's role, as he excels with the game on the line.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Liam Hendriks, Oakland A's - Hendriks will only be a temporary add, but he could have a good couple of weeks until Blake Treinen returns. He has nice strikeout upside and has been excellent at keeping runs off the board this season. He can be added temporarily in all formats.

Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals - Martinez will step into the full-time closer's role and should be able to hold onto it for the rest of the season as long as he stays healthy. Martinez needs to be added immediately in all formats, as he'll be taking over for Jordan Hicks. John Gant and Gio Gallegos will work ahead of Martinez and should deliver him plenty of leads to save.

Craig Kimbrel, Chicago Cubs - Just in case the Kimbrel owner got bored of holding him and dropped him and somehow no one picked him up. (He's on 88% of Yahoo and ESPN fantasy rosters, so check just in case!)

Drops

Jordan Hicks, St. Louis Cardinals - Hicks won't be on a mound again for at least a year, and there's a good chance he misses the 2020 season as well. Humans shouldn't throw baseballs.

Pedro Strop, Chicago Cubs - With Craig Kimbrel finally ascending from the ashes of free agency, Pedro Strop will slide back into a 7th/8th inning role. He can stick around in holds leagues, but players in standard leagues can let him go.

 

Best of the Week

Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees - 3 1/3 IP, 4 SV, 5 K, 2.70 ERA, 1.50 WHIP

Chapman didn't do a great job of keeping base runners off the bases this week, allowing four hits and a walk along with two runs (one earned), but he was still the only closer to earn four saves. His owners likely weren't too upset about the five strikeouts either.

Roenis Elias, Seattle Mariners - 4 IP, 3 SV, 5 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP

Do the Mariners finally have a closer locked in? Elias was perfect this week, tossing four innings and saving three games without allowing a single base runner.

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 12 Waiver Wire

The Reds are tinkering with their bullpen which may lead to another committee with a fireman, while the Red Sox, Twins, Rangers, and several others continued with the strategy. In "real life" baseball, the committee approach with a fireman is oftentimes the best strategy, but hoooo boy is it frustrating for fantasy owners.

We're starting summer, officially, so that means trade rumors are going to start swirling more and more. Brad Hand has been one of the best closers in baseball this year, but will he remain in Cleveland for long? What about guys like Sergio Romo, Will Smith, and Shane Greene? Where will they be pitching in August, and will it still be the ninth inning?

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 12

Cincinnati Reds

Raisel Iglesias has been fine as the closer for the Reds, but his 2.90 ERA and 13 saves weren't enough to keep him locked into the ninth inning. Manager David Bell is going with a committee and using Iglesias as his fireman. It started this week, as Iglesias pitched in the eighth inning a couple of times, getting the "hardest" outs but yielding the save situation to Michael Lorenzen. Lorenzen converted both opportunities this week and should be in line for more going forward. Iglesias will retain similar value in holds leagues, but his value will certainly drop quite a bit in standard formats. Michael Lorenzen, meanwhile, may see a significant spike in value in standard leagues going forward.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies got their closer, Wade Davis, back from the injured list recently, but it hasn't been a great addition so far. He's allowed at least one earned run in each of his last four appearances, and his ERA now sits at 5.40 even though he's only officially blown two saves. Pitching ahead of Davis is Scott Oberg, who filled in admirably while Davis was injured. Oberg has a sparkling 1.59 ERA, and even though he doesn't strike out a ton of guys, he's able to keep opponents off the scoreboard most of the time. He's has three saves and five holds so far this season, and he's next in line if Davis continues to struggle. He's not an elite relief option, but if he were to ascend to the role, he'd be worth owning in all formats. Holds league players should take a look and potentially pick up Oberg now, standard league players can consider him as a speculative add, but he's not a must-own just yet.

Boston Red Sox

Ryan Brasier returned from the bereavement list this week and immediately jumped into the ninth inning, earning his seventh save of the season. He'll continue to be part of the committee in Boston, although it does seem like Matt Barnes will remain at the top of the Red Sox bullpen depth chart.

Baltimore Orioles

Mychal Givens started the season as the closer in Baltimore, then he lost his job, then it seemed like he'd regained it. But now we're back to a committee in the Orioles bullpen, albeit one where Givens does seem to be at the top. Shawn Armstrong and Miguel Castro will share opportunities with Givens, making the Orioles bullpen one best avoided in fantasy. In deeper leagues, Givens would be the one to own.

 

Short Relief

  • Adam Conley was thought of as a potential replacement for Sergio Romo in the ninth inning once Romo is traded, but an ERA that has hovered around 8.00 all season has knocked him down the hierarchy. Tayron Guerrero and Nick Anderson are both ahead of Conley on the depth chart now.
  • Luke Jackson now has six blown saves this season despite very good peripheral stats. A.J. Minter is back up from Triple-A and he's been great, shortening Jackson's leash a bit.
  • The Angels bullpen looks like it's finally set, with Hansel Robles in the ninth, Ty Buttrey in the eighth, and Cam Bedrosian in the seventh. Buttrey is the best pitcher on the team (besides perhaps designated hitter Shohei Ohtani) but Robles is the one to own in most formats.
  • With Blake Parker struggling mightily of late, it looks like Trevor May might have jumped past him in the Minnesota bullpen depth chart. It's still a committee led by Taylor Rogers, and Parker is sure to still mix in from time to time, but it looks like it'll be mostly Rogers and May at least for now.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Michael Lorenzen, Cincinnati Reds - Reds reliever/outfielder/pinch hitter Michael Lorenzen got two saves this week and may continue to work ninth innings with Raisel Iglesias moving into a fireman's role. Lorenzen is a bit of a speculative add right now, but he could pay off in standard leagues.

Trevor May, Minnesota Twins - May may have worked his way into the closer committee in Minnesota. He seems to have replaced Blake Parker as the right-handed complement to Taylor Rogers in the Twins bullpen.

Scott Oberg, Colorado Rockies - Wade Davis has struggled this season, especially so since his return from the injured list. Next in line for saves is Scott Oberg, and it might only take another bad outing from Davis to see a swap in the Rockies bullpen. Oberg is another speculative add for now, but the Colorado bullpen is certainly one to keep an eye on.

Drops

No immediate drops this week, but managers in shallower standard leagues may need to take a hard look at guys like Raisel Iglesias, Wade Davis, Blake Parker, and Ryan Brasier.

 

Best of the Week

Kirby Yates, San Diego Padres - 4 IP, 3 SV, 6 K, 2.25 ERA, 0.50 WHIP

Kirby "Best Closer in Baseball" Yates saved three games this week, striking out four while allowing a run on two hits. He now has 26 saves, five more than anyone else in baseball.

Will Smith, San Francisco Giants - 3 IP, 3 SV, 6 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP

Will Smith had a strong week, picking up three saves by saving every game he appeared in. He allowed a run on two hits and a walk, but struck out six. He's been excellent this year, but almost certainly won't end the year as a member of the Giants bullpen.

Michael Lorenzen, Cincinnati Reds - 2 2/3 IP, 2 SV, 3 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP

Reds reliever/outfielder/pinch hitter Michael Lorenzen jumped into two save opportunities this week and converted both. He struck out three without allowing a single base runner.

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Statcast Changeup Movement Profiles for Week 12

Welcome back to RotoBaller’s pitchers advanced stats and StatCast studs and duds article series! Each week we will select an advanced stat, choose two studs and two duds, and analyze what those stats could mean for future fantasy output. This will be my second installment using Statcast's new pitch movement tab to look at pitchers' changeup movement; the first investigated curveball movement. 

Statcast's pitch movement data breaks out each pitch by vertical and horizontal movement in inches compared to average movement. For vertical movement, positive numbers refer to relative rise while negative numbers refer to relative drop. For horizontal movement, positive numbers refer to relative break while negative numbers refer to relative lack of break.

Rather than choose studs and duds per se, I will pick one pitcher from each of the four quadrants and analyze how their particular movement has helped or hurt them this season. Pitchers' secondary pitches are key to gaining strikeouts, so taking a look at them can shed insight into their overall fantasy performance. That being said, let's dive in!

 

Changeup: Strong Drop and Break

All stats current as of 6/17/19, courtesy of Baseballsavant.com 

 

Sergio Romo - Miami Marlins

Vertical Drop: 4 inches greater than average
Horizontal Break: 4.9 inches more than average

Our first pitcher has an unorthodox way of pitching but has been fantasy relevant before in his carer and may be so again. 36-year-old veteran Sergio Romo's side-arm delivery is odd, as is his pitch mix of a primary slider (53.9% usage), followed by his changeup (19.6% usage), and then his sinker and four-seamer. Romo currently has an ugly 5.25 ERA but also has converted 12 of 13 save opportunities for the Marlins. Could Romo actually provide more fantasy value than his peripherals suggest? 

Romo's slider and changeup both have a ton of spin on them (2,852 and 2,156 revolutions per minute, respectively), hence the vertical and horizontal movement on his changeup. He has generated a respectable 14.5% swinging-strike rate with the pitch, and while his batting average against it has been .292, the expected batting average is at a lower .192. Romo's pitch movement has also allowed him to avoid hard contact (84.9-MPH average exit velocity, 23.6% hard-hit rate).

As for his ERA, Romo's season mark has been jacked up from two outings in which he allowed four earned runs each. Of his remaining 22 outings, he has allowed one earned run six times and no earned runs 16 times. So while his ERA may not reflect it, Romo has actually done a pretty good job at limiting runs and converting saves this season while posting a respectable 20% K rate. His movement on his changeup and slider have allowed him to be relatively successful fantasy-wise, and, at just 43% ownership, he is available in deeper roto leagues.

 

Changeup: Strong Drop

All stats current as of 6/17/19, courtesy of Baseballsavant.com 

 

Carlos Carrasco - Cleveland Indians

Vertical Drop: 5.6 inches greater than average
Horizontal Break: 4.4 inches less than average

Carlos Carrasco has had an unfortunate season to this point, pitching well-below his standards (4-6 record with a 4.98 ERA) and also recently being placed on the IL with a blood condition. Obviously, we all hope that Carrasco is ok and will soon return from his condition. That being said, from a fantasy perspective, Carrasco's poor performance and injury present an excellent buy-low opportunity, as his underlying stats have been much better than his peripherals, thanks in part the use of his changeup as a swing-and-miss pitch. Let's take a look at the evidence to support Carrasco.

Several strong indicators stand out. The first is Carrasco's strong command. His K rate of 28.7% is above his 25.3% career mark, thanks to his slider (22.4% swinging-strike rate) and changeup (18.5%). Carrasco's changeup is so deceptive due to its lack of spin (1,433 revolutions per minute), which leads to its drop. Also, his 4% walk rate is a career low. Despite this, Carrasco has a bloated .353 BABIP, well above his .309 career mark. This screams positive regression. 

Another indicator is Carrasco’s batted-ball profile. His 90.9-MPH average exit velocity and 47.3% hard-hit rate are both in the bottom seven percent of the league and are significantly higher than his averages since 2015 (87.4 MPH and 34.3%, respectively). Despite these numbers being skewed, Carrasco has still managed to pitch with strong command (see above). Additionally, his 3.38 SIERA indicates that he has pitched much better overall despite the kind of contact he has given up.

Carrasco is a top-end fantasy starter when he is healthy, thanks in part to his changeup. His velocity and strikeout ability are still there (one of the main things to go for declining pitchers as they age) and his command and SIERA suggest that his stuff is still there, so I am not worried about the 32-year-old. He is a buy-low candidate with the only caveat being the question of his health. I would be willing to take the risk given the potential reward.

 

Changeup: Strong Break

All stats current as of 6/17/19, courtesy of Baseballsavant.com 

 

Mike Soroka - Atlanta Braves

Vertical Drop: 3.5 inches less than average
Horizontal Break: 4.7 inches greater than average

Our next pitcher has been highly touted for a few seasons as a prospect and is now showing the fantasy world why. 21-year-old Mike Soroka has been incredible for the Braves this season, going 7-1 with a 1.92 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 60 strikeouts over 70 1/3 IP. He relies primarily on his sinker but also mixes in a slider, four-seamer, and changeup. His fastballs are not overpowering, averaging about 92.9 MPH, but both his slider and changeup have insane movement on them (2,729 and 2,220 revolutions per minute, respectively). Let's look at how Soroka's changeup has helped him this season.

The movement Soroka gets on his changeup is simply stunning. The pitch doesn't drop all that much but has a ton of horizontal movement on it, acting almost like a reverse slider. Soroka doesn't throw it a ton (10.8% usage) but has found great success with it (.200 batting average against, 22.7% swinging-strike rate). It is his best swing-and-miss pitch, so it is actually surprising that he doesn't throw it more.

Further, the movement on all of his pitches allow Soroka to avoid damaging contact. His batted-ball profile is quite impressive (86.2-MPH average exit velocity, 31.8% hard-hit rate, 2.1-degree launch angle); he has been able to keep the ball down in the zone and batted balls on the ground. Soroka's strong command (0.97 WHIP, 6.3% walk rate) is impressive given his age and is a positive sign of his skills being legit.

Soroka is clearly a valuable fantasy asset in dynasty leagues as well as single-season leagues. It seems like he even has room to grow in terms of his strikeouts given his changeup. If he can mix the pitch in more frequently, he could add strikeout pitcher to his list of accolades.

 

Changeup: Below-Average Drop and Break

All stats current as of 6/17/19, courtesy of Baseballsavant.com 

 

Jose Quintana - Chicago Cubs

Vertical Drop: 1.1 inches less than average
Horizontal Break: 4.0 inches less than average

Our final pitcher's changeup has both a lack of vertical and horizontal movement compared to the league average, which isn't necessarily a negative thing. Jose Quintana's changeup may not be as useful of a strikeout pitch as some of the others we have discussed, but, when working effectively, the pitch can be deceptive. Let's take a look at Quintana's use of the pitch and how effective or not it has been for him this season.

Quintana has never been a high-strikeout pitcher and this has continued to be the case this season (20.2% K rate, 9.1% swinging-strike rate). His changeup follows suit; he has only a 12.3% swinging-strike rate with the pitch. However, his changeup can be used as a crafty change of pace and a different look because the pitch's velocity is just different enough from his fastball to throw hitters off (86.4 MPH for changeup, 91.5 MPH for fastball). The problem is that hitters are not always fooled by the pitch. Quintana has yielded a .311 batting average with the pitch. Fortunately, he doesn't throw the pitch much (10.7% usage), but, unfortunately, he is not finding success with a pitch that has worked for him in the past. 

Quintana hasn't pitched poorly by any means, but he hasn't been special either. His 3.87 ERA and 1.34 WHIP have been decent but not close to the level he pitched at when he was with the White Sox. Due to his lack of strikeouts, Quintana doesn't offer a ton of upside as a fantasy pitcher. The lack of difference between his fastball and changeup have particularly limited his strikeout upside this season. Quintana should continue to be an unexciting back-end fantasy starter.

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 11 Waiver Wire

Hockey is over (congrats, Blues), basketball is done very soon, and football won't start for a while. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage: BASEBALL! School's out, the sun is beating down across America, it's summer folks. And that means baseball takes center stage. This season is already showing the importance of relief pitchers, and the emergence of bullpen committees across the league and more and more teams using openers is rearranging the landscape of relief pitching league wide.

This week, as Toronto watched their Raptors try to take home an NBA championship, their baseball team lost their closer to an injury. Meanwhile, the Seattle bullpen continued to be a mess while things seemed to take on a more specific shape in the Minnesota pen. Down in Texas, the Rangers showed that even closer committees are bigger there, with four guys taking on the role as the possible ninth-inning arm.

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 11

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays placed closer Ken Giles on the injured list this week due to elbow inflammation. Giles was having a great season, saving 11 games while blowing just one. He'd posted a sparkling 1.08 ERA backed up by a 1.15 FIP. His 42.4% K% and 7.1% BB% were also both elite rates. Giles told reporters he had a hard time recovering from back-to-back outings, but he doesn't expect to be on the shelf any longer than the required 10 days. Elbow issues are concerning though, so hopefully he's right. In the mean time, Toronto needs someone to close out games. Joe Biagini was the immediate favorite for the role, but he struggled in his first save chance and had to be bailed out by Daniel Hudson, who was able to earn his fist save of the season. Biagini and Hudson will likely split duties, and either can be picked up by owners desperate for a temporary source of saves. Neither guy is a must-own at this point, however.

Minnesota Twins

Blake Parker continues to struggle, and his current 4.37 ERA is actually better than how he's pitched (6.46 FIP). He's been slowly falling out of favor in the Twins bullpen, and it might not be long before he's back in middle relief at best. This week, Taylor Rogers, who has been amazing all year, was unavailable for a save chance. Instead of going with Parker, the Twins gave the ball to Trevor May, who was able to convert his first save of the year. Rogers has worked his way to the top of the Minnesota closer hierarchy and is clearly the arm to own for fantasy, but it looks like May could be jumping ahead of Parker in the committee. Keep an eye on how the three relievers are used this weekend.

Texas Rangers

The Rangers bullpen has been in flux all season, with Jose Leclerc starting out as closer, then getting demoted for Chris Martin, who was then replaced by Shawn Kelley, and now we're into an all out all-arms-on-deck approach. Rangers manager Chris Woodward announced that, "no one is the closer" in Texas, and the team would go with some mix of Leclerc, Kelley, Martin, and Jesse Chavez for closing opportunities. It still seems inevitable that Leclerc will take over the role and keep it for himself sooner or later, but it is certainly taking longer than anyone expected. Still, Leclerc is the long-term own here, but Kelley could still have value over the next couple of weeks.

 

Short Relief

  • Hunter Strickland had a setback in his rehab and won't be ready as soon as expected. He's still on his way back to the Seattle bullpen, but it won't be as soon as originally expected. Meanwhile, the Mariners bullpen is still a mess so Strickland has a chance to work his way into the ninth inning pretty quickly.
  • Miguel Castro earned a save for the Orioles when Mychal Givens was unavailable, but it seems like it's still mostly Givens' job.
  • Anthony Swarzak has been very good since joining the Braves. He's not a threat to Luke Jackson's closer role, but he has become a solid option in holds leagues.
  • Vince Velasquez seems like a solid late-game option in the Phillies bullpen all of a sudden. You could do worse in holds leagues, but there's not much there in standard leagues just yet.
  • Ian Kennedy came up with two saves this week, and it looks like he's taken the lead in the Royals bullpen. There's not a ton of value there, but he could sprinkle in a save or two a week going forward.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Joe Biagini and/or Daniel Hudson, Toronto Blue Jays - With Ken Giles injured, Biagini and Hudson figure to split closer duties for a bit. Biagini was the immediate favorite, but he needed to be bailed out by Hudson in the first non-Giles save chance, so that may have already changed. Neither guy is a must-own, but anyone looking for a couple of saves over the next week or two could take a closer look at the bullpen of the north.

Hunter Strickland, Seattle Mariners - Strickland won't be back this week as expected, but he should still be back soon and he'll be rejoining a Mariners bullpen that has been a complete disaster of late. Strickland himself isn't guaranteed to not join forces in the disaster, but there's a chance he could stake his claim to the ninth inning fairly quickly. Owners willing to take the risk on a speculative add can look in his direction.

Ian Kennedy, Kansas City Royals - With two saves this week, Kennedy looks like he's become the guy to own out of the KC bullpen. He won't have a ton of value, but he's been very good this year and could provide a sprinkling of saves and strikeouts.

Drops

Blake Parker, Minnesota Twins - Parker is still officially part of the closer committee in Minnesota, so this may be jumping the gun a bit, but he's been pretty bad this season and it won't be long before the Twins realize that and relegate him to middle relief. If there's someone with more upside available on your waiver wire, Parker is absolutely not a guy you need to hang onto at this point.

 

Best of the Week

Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers - 4 1/3 IP, 3 SV, 9 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.92 WHIP

Brewers closer Josh Hader had a strong week, saving three games and striking out nine batters in just 4 1/3 innings. He did walk four, but when you don't allow a single hit all week, four walks are just fine thank you.

Will Smith, San Francisco Giants - 4 IP, 3 SV, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.25 WHIP

Giants closer Will Smith put up a scoreless week, saving three games and striking out six. He did allow three hits and two walks, but none of those base runners were able to come around to score.

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 10 Waiver Wire

Big news for the Cubs bullpen this week: Pedro Strop is back! Off the injured list and right back into the closer's role. That's it, right? That's the big news for the Cubs bullpen? The Orioles bullpen was a mess this week, and their original closer might be working his way back into the ninth. The Phillies bullpen's insurance premiums must be through the roof this season, as it looks like they'll have their SEVENTH reliever find his way to the IL already this season. The Rangers bullpen looks like it might be ready to sort itself out, too.

You folks want to hear a joke? The Washington Nationals bullpen. Pause for laughter.

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 10

Chicago Cubs

Of course, the actual big news in the Cubs bullpen this week was the signing of Craig Kimbrel to a three-year, $43 million contract. Kimbrel held out until June because he hadn't received any offers he was happy with, and teams held out until June because they didn't want to lose a draft pick. Once the draft started, the Cubs moved quickly and signed the veteran closer just days after Pedro Strop was activated from the IL. Kimbrel was obviously signed to close, but it'll be a little bit until we see him in the ninth inning at Wrigley. He'll work on rebuilding his arm strength for a few weeks while Strop works as a closer with an expiration date. Owners of Strop might as well ride things out, but once Kimbrel is activated, Strop won't have much value left in standard leagues. Kimbrel is of course one of the best closers of a generation, but I think expectations should be tempered. The last time we saw him on a mound, he was struggling, and now he hasn't pitched in a competitive game for a long time. He might encounter several bumps in the road in the early going.

Baltimore Orioles

Mychal Givens opened the season as the closer for the Orioles but generally struggled. A particularly rough week recently led to him losing his ninth inning job and saw the Orioles go with a committee that seemed to be led by Shawn Armstrong. Armstrong came in to a game this week to hold a lead in the seventh inning, and Givens looked lined up to pitch the ninth. While nothing's official just yet, it seems like Givens might be ready to resume his role as closer in Baltimore. It's not going to lead to a ton of saves, but when Givens is on, he can contribute to a fantasy team's strikeout total and is worth consideration in deeper leagues.

Texas Rangers

Shawn Kelley was doing an excellent job closing for the Rangers up until this week, when he blew two saves in three chances. With Jose Leclerc, the closer the Rangers have wanted in the ninth all along, finally pitching well this season, it shouldn't be too long before Leclerc takes over and doesn't look back. Kelley is still a solid choice in holds leagues, but once he loses the ninth inning, he won't have much value in standard formats. Leclerc needs to be picked up right away in case he still resides on any waiver wires.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals have had Jordan Hicks closing this season, and he's done well, saving 11 games and blowing just one. He has a 3.98 ERA and a 28.9% K%. His 13.3% BB% isn't ideal, but a 3.21 FIP/3.33 xFIP shows that he's actually due for some positive regression in the ERA department. Still, the Cardinals had a very quick hook on Hicks this week, as he was pulled from a save opportunity after allowing a hit and a walk. John Gant came in and picked up his third save of the season, but the real threat to Hicks would seem to be Carlos Martinez. Gant has been excellent, and while Martinez hasn't quite hit his stride yet after spending time on the IL, he's shown incredible stuff in the past. For now, the job still belongs to Hicks, but his hold on the ninth inning is seemingly not as tight as it probably should be.

 

Short Relief

  • The Phillies bullpen can absolutely not catch a break, as Seranthony Dominguez looks like he'll be the SEVENTH Phillies reliever to make it to the injured list already this season. Hector Neris has done a good job in the ninth inning, but middle relief in Philadelphia is starting to look like an issue.
  • The Nationals bullpen (pause again for laughter) has now allowed 60 runs in the eighth inning this season. SIXTY RUNS. That's in just 61 games. The Nationals bullpen has a 6.68 ERA this season (it was 8.15 for the month of May). Closer Sean Doolittle has been solid although not as spectacular as usual, so he's not the problem. It's...everyone else.
  • Ryan Pressly's ERA is now 0.64 and he's only walked two batters in 28 1/3 innings. If anyone's going to challenge Zach Britton's 0.54 ERA from 2016, it's probably Pressly.
  • Jose Alvarado was placed on the family medical emergency list, so Emilio Pagan and Diego Castillo should have one less reliever to compete with for saves for about a week.
  • Blake Parker has been struggling lately, opening the door for Taylor Rogers to potentially jump him as head of the Twins closer committee.
  • Looks like Luke Jackson is safe for now. With the Cubs signing Kimbrel, Jackson will continue to close in Atlanta. The Braves are still expected to trade for relief help, but that likely won't happen until closer to the deadline.
  • Wade Davis (back) is reportedly feeling better and had a throwing session that went well. He could be activated this weekend and should immediately resume his role as the closer.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Pedro Strop, Chicago Cubs - Okay, hold on, hear me out. Craig Kimbrel won't be ready for a few weeks, but because of the big signing news, it's possible some people may have jumped the gun and dropped Strop. He'll be the closer for a little while longer, and if you have room on your roster, why not pick up a few saves in the meantime?

Jose Leclerc, Texas Rangers - Shawn Kelley blew two saves and it won't be long before Leclerc is back on the mound for the ninth inning. If he's still available in your league, this may be the last week you have a chance to pick him up.

Mychal Givens, Baltimore Orioles - Looks like Givens found his way back into the ninth inning. He won't save a ton of games and we've already seen what can happen when he struggles, but he's worth a look in deeper formats and for any owners really struggling to earn saves.

Drops

No immediate drops this week, but if you own Shawn Kelley, it looks like he won't be closing much longer so be ready to make a move sooner rather than later.

 

Best of the Week

Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals - 3 2/3 IP, 3 SV, 5 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.55 WHIP

As much of a dumpster fire as the Nationals bullpen has been, Sean Doolittle has been solid at worst. This week, he was excellent, saving three games and striking out five while giving up just two hits.

Brad Hand, Cleveland Indians - 3 IP, 3 SV, 3 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP

Cleveland might just have the best closer in baseball that no one really talks about. Hand had a perfect week this week, saving all three games he appeared in and not allowing any baserunners while striking out three.

Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers - 2 2/3 IP, 3 SV, 3 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.37 WHIP

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen didn't even need to pitch three full innings to get his three saves this week. He struck out three and allowed just one hit in his three appearances.

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 9 Waiver Wire

There are currently at least NINE bullpens in Major League Baseball operating with a closer-by-committee approach. While it has been heavily discussed and essentially proven to be the best option in a "real" game, it sure makes for a headache in the fantasy baseball world where there can oftentimes be a bicycle race (✔) to get the most saves.

A few bullpens are defaulting back to what they used to do, with managers essentially admitting that they may have jumped the gun in removing a closer after one or two bad appearances. Still, it's getting harder and harder to keep track of what's going on with relief pitchers these days, so keep an eye on this weekly article and the depth charts to stay one step/inning/save ahead of the rest of your league.

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 9

Atlanta Braves

After weeks of me recommending Luke Jackson and adding him to my own main fantasy team, he had a bad outing and the Braves decided to try Sean Newcomb in the ninth inning instead. That didn't last long, as Jackson is right back in the closer's role where he belongs. Maybe we should temper our expectations a bit and understand that his leash is shorter than it might have seemed, but Newcomb is not the answer in the ninth and does not have the swing-and-miss stuff that Jackson features. He was likely dropped in a lot of leagues, so it's worth taking a look at the waiver wire: if he's there, get him on your team.

Boston Red Sox

Ryan Brasier was on thin ice after some bad performances last week. This week, he performed...badly, again. The closer's role in Boston doesn't belong to anyone right now, as they look like they're going with a committee approach to the ninth inning. Matt Barnes is the best pitcher in that bullpen, but he's likely to still be used in the highest leverage situations regardless of inning. He could start earning a few more saves here and there though since there won't be anyone waiting around for the ninth. Brandon Workman and Marcus Walden should see save opportunities as well, and Brasier should make his way back into the mix sooner or later. Keep an eye on the Red Sox bullpen to see how things shake up, but for right now Barnes is looking like the only one worth owning in most formats.

Baltimore Orioles

The 2019 Orioles were never going to be a great source of saves, but at least they were entering the season with Mychal Givens, a guy who can strike other guys out, as their full-time closer. A full-time closer, even on the worst team in baseball, is still worth something in fantasy. Givens went ahead and worked himself right out of the closer's role though, leaving the Orioles with yet another committee. Shawn Armstrong seems to be leading that committee, with Paul Fry and Branden Kline along for the ride. Armstrong is the pick up here for owners desperate for saves, but he's not a guy that you'll need to run to the wire to pick up in most formats.

 

Short Relief

  • It looks like it's still Shawn Kelley in Texas, but probably not for long. Jose Leclerc was working his way back into significant innings before shoulder stiffness and calf soreness forced him to take a little time off. I still think it's Leclerc's job before the end of June, but Kelley has been solid in the meantime.
  • Pedro Strop should be back in the Chicago Cubs bullpen this weekend, but it's unclear how the roles will shake up. Steve Cishek has been solid as the leader of the committee, but Strop might step back into the closer's role he had before he got hurt and move everyone else down an inning. Stay tuned.
  • Since May 15, the Tampa Bay Rays have had only three save opportunities. Two of those have gone to Jose Alvarado, and the other to Diego Castillo. That's likely the way things will shake up in Tampa Bay all season, it's a full-on committee approach but Alvarado and Castillo will be the two arms most commonly seen in the ninth inning.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Shawn Armstrong, Baltimore Orioles - If your team is desperate for saves, Armstrong might be worth looking at on the waiver wire. He's a decent enough pitcher that he should pick up saves on most of the times he gets save chances, but he's just part of a committee and not great in any other categories, so he's not someone that needs to be owned in most formats.

Luke Jackson, Atlanta Braves - Just in case Jackson was dropped with the whole Newcomb experiment last week, he needs to be picked back up immediately.

Drops

Sean Newcomb, Atlanta Braves - Yeah, that didn't happen.

Mychal Givens, Baltimore Orioles - Givens is no longer the closer, and a middle reliever on a bad team has no fantasy value. Even if he might get the job back eventually, he's not worth keeping on your roster until then.

 

Best of the Week

Brad Hand, Cleveland Indians - 3 2/3 IP, 3 SV, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.36 WHIP

Cleveland closer Brad Hand had yet another strong week, saving three games and striking out six while allowing no runs but two walks and three hits.

Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies - 3 1/3 IP, 3 SV, 7 K, 2.70 ERA, 0.90 WHIP

Phillies closer-by-committee leader Hector Neris saved three games this week, striking out seven batters while allowing a run on two hits and a walk. It's the first appearance this season for a Phillies pitcher on the Best of the Week list.

Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers - 4 IP, 3 SV, 3 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.25 WHIP

Tigers closer Shane Greene had an interesting week, mostly because he didn't really pitch well, but his numbers ended up being quite good for fantasy purposes. Greene allowed five runs in just four innings, but all five runs were unearned so his ERA stayed a pristine 0.00 for the week.

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 8 Waiver Wire

It's almost officially summer (both in the "school's out" definition and the-calendar-says-so definition) but the introduction of Closers and Saves Report is still rolling strong with some very specific Easter eggs. While part of me wants to break free (✔) another part feels under pressure (✔✔) to keep it going. Speaking of keeping it going, Luke Jackson wasn't able to do just that this week, and now the Braves bullpen looks to be in flux once again.

Under pressure? Well, Wade Davis felt pressure on his oblique, leading to a change in the Rockies bullpen as well. The bullpen in Texas is starting to change, but in this case it looks like it will change back to how it was at the beginning of the season. The Red Sox bullpen could be changing, and the Mariners bullpen lost one of their late-inning arms, possibly providing some clarity in Seattle.

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 8

Atlanta Braves

Just last week, we discussed Luke Jackson and how strong his hold on the Braves closer role was looking. I clearly exaggerated in asking if Jackson might be the best pitcher in baseball, but apparently that was taken seriously by some? This week proved, although most (?) already knew that no one actually thought it, that Jackson is in fact not the best pitcher in baseball. His fourth blown save of the season led to the Braves giving Sean Newcomb a chance in the closer's role. Newcomb was a top prospect as a starter but has excelled out of the bullpen this season, posting a 2.61 ERA in three starts and seven relief appearances. He could be a decent enough closer on the field, but he doesn't have the type of "closer numbers" you'd like to see in a fantasy option. He's posting just a 14.3% K% and an 8.8% BB%. He doesn't give up a ton of hard hit balls, though, so he might be a decent source of saves in deeper leagues. Meanwhile, Jackson is out of the ninth for now, but it wouldn't be a shock to see him retain a key setup role, meaning he'll still have value in holds leagues. Despite all the talk about Newcomb's ascension, he pitched the seventh and got one out in the eighth in Thursday's game, allowing a run. Luke Jackson pitched the last two innings of the extra inning game, earning the win while striking out three and allowing just one hit. The Braves have been rumored as one of the clubs interested in signing Craig Kimbrel after the draft pick issue passes in June, so Newcomb's hold on the job might be temporary even if he does do well. The Braves also added Anthony Swarzak this week after a trade with the Mariners. He'll pitch in a late-inning role, but shouldn't be a candidate for saves any time soon. It looks like the Atlanta bullpen is going to need some time for the dust to clear, so either adding Newcomb or dropping Jackson might be too soon right now.

Colorado Rockies

Rockies closer Wade Davis was having an interesting season, posting seven saves and a 2.45 ERA without blowing a chance so far. He was striking out 27.7% of the batters he faced, but walking 15.4%. The K% was among his career bests, but the BB% was his career worst by far. Still, limiting hard contact led him to a 2.67 FIP, showing that he'd been able to work around the walks. Effective or not, Davis won't be pitching for at least a couple of weeks, as he landed on the IL this week with an oblique strain. The injury is being considered minor for now, but we've all seen pitchers try to return from oblique injuries and suffer setbacks that keep them off the field for at least a month. Rockies manager Bud Black did the fantasy baseball world a favor and almost immediately announced that Scott Oberg would be filling in as closer while Davis was out. Oberg was excellent in 2018 and is off to a good "baseball card" start in 2019, but a deeper look at his numbers shows that he might have a hard time closing out games while Davis recovers. Oberg sports an impressive 1.77 ERA, likely the reason Black handed him the role, but a 4.70 FIP/4.91 xFIP speak to some worrying trends. Oberg has allowed a BABIP of just .196 compared to his career number of .298. He's striking out just 15.9% of his opponents while walking 13.4% of them, good for a concerning 1.18 K:BB ratio. Oberg might keep his streak of good luck going and get a few saves moving forward, but he won't post the strikeout numbers required to be a particularly effective fantasy reliever. Combine that with the likelihood that he will regress and that makes for a guy suitable only for deeper leagues (or for players trying to directly replace Davis).

Boston Red Sox

For a little while, it seemed like the Red Sox had their bullpen figured out. Matt Barnes was their fireman, coming into the game at the highest leverage situations, and Ryan Brasier was their closer, waiting around for the ninth inning. Barnes has filled his role excellently, but Brasier has been struggling of late. The Red Sox want to keep Barnes in his current role, so rather than moving him to the ninth, Boston gave Brandon Workman a save chance this week and he converted it for the first save of his career. Workman has been hard to hit this season, posting a 2.42 ERA and 13.30 K/9, but his 19.5% walk rate is concerning, and his .139 BABIP against is sure to regress. Still, Workman has the "stuff" to be an effective closer, so the Boston bullpen is certainly one to keep an eye on.

 

Short Relief

  • The Mariners sent Anthony Swarzak to the Braves, clearing things up at least a bit in their bullpen. With Swarzak out of the picture, Roenis Elias should maintain his head-of-the-committee status, but he still hasn't locked down the closer's role outright.
  • The Mets stated that closer Edwin Diaz would only ever be used in traditional save opportunities in an attempt to keep wear and tear down on the elite closer. Struggles from Jeurys Familia in the setup role might lead to the Mets softening that stance, as manager Mickey Callaway has already said the team needs to, "win some games" and might need to give Diaz a bit more work to do so.
  • Jose Leclerc lost his job in Texas earlier this season, but he's been untouchable lately and should be working his way back into the ninth inning before long. Shawn Kelley and Chris Martin have filled in well, but Leclerc is the guy the Rangers want on the mound in the ninth.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Scott Oberg, Colorado Rockies - Similar to Newcomb but in a role with a more precise deadline, Oberg can also be considered in deep leagues and NL-only. He'll only be closing while Wade Davis is on the IL, but Oberg also lacks the strikeout upside to be a must-own.

Jose Leclerc, Texas Rangers - It looks like Leclerc is on his way back to the closer's role, and this time he should be able to hang onto it. Shawn Kelley and Chris Martin have been good, but Leclerc is the franchise closer in Texas and should start seeing saves soon.

Brandon Workman, Boston Red Sox - Workman isn't an immediate add, but he's someone to keep an eye on and those in deep leagues starved for saves could do a speculative add with the Boston reliever.

Sean Newcomb, Atlanta Braves - Newcomb looked like the closer of the week for the Braves, at least according to the Braves but not so much according to the way he was used on Thursday. He doesn't have even half the strikeout upside that Luke Jackson has, but Newcomb is a solid enough pitcher that he could hold down the role for a bit if he actually gets the shot. He's worth adding in deeper formats and in NL-only as a spec add.

Drops

Chris Martin, Texas Rangers - Jose Leclerc looks to be on his way back to the closer's role in Texas, and Shawn Kelley seems like the preferred choice in the meantime. Martin was fine while he was closing, but it looks like he's back to a setup role for now.

(Don't drop Luke Jackson yet - wait to see what happens in the Atlanta bullpen. Wade Davis is 100% worth an IL spot and with the team saying they don't expect him gone too long, he's even worth benching for two weeks if you don't have an IL spot available. He's one of the few closers left with a firm grasp on his role and he'd be scooped up immediately if he ended up on waivers.)

 

Best of the Week

Kirby Yates, San Diego Padres - 4 IP, 4 SV, 7 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP

Padres closer Kirby Yates easily had the best week of any reliever and maybe the best reliever week of the season so far. He saved all four games he pitched in and struck out seven batters all without allowing anyone to reach base. It was a perfect week for Yates.

Blake Treinen, Oakland A's - 3 1/3 IP, 3 SV, 3 K, 2.70 ERA, 0.60 WHIP

A's closer Blake Treinen didn't have a perfect week, allowing a home run along with another hit and only striking out three, but he was the only closer this week with three saves, and that earned him a place on the Best of the Week list.

Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees - 3 IP, 2 SV, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP

Several closers had two saves this week, but Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman was the one with the most strikeouts. He struck out six batters and didn't allow a hit, but he did walk two.

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HR/FB% Studs and Duds for Week 8

Welcome back to RotoBaller’s pitchers advanced stats and StatCast studs and duds article series! Each week we will select an advanced stat, choose two studs and two duds, and analyze what those stats could mean for future fantasy output. The next stat we will use is one that is not entirely predictive on its surface but can shed insights into certain aspects of a pitcher’s game, home run to fly ball ratio (HR/FB%).

HR/FB% is fairly straightforward to calculate, as it is the ratio of how many home runs a pitcher allows for every fly ball he allows. Whether or not a ball leaves the park is not entirely under the pitcher’s control given the dimensions of each ballpark, the weather conditions, etc. However, pitchers can work to limit the number of fly balls they allow, so this stat is not purely luck-based.

The rough average for HR/FB% is between eight and 12%, so when a pitcher allows a value significantly outside of that range it could either be due to luck, underlying metrics/performance, or a combination of both. Identifying what lurks under that stat can help fantasy players find buy-low and sell-high candidates. Now that we know the relative value of HR/FB%, let’s take a look at some studs and duds!

 

Starting Pitcher HR/FB% Studs 

All stats current as of 5/20/19, courtesy of Fangraphs.com 

 

Joe Musgrove - Pittsburgh Pirates

HR/FB%: 3.8%, FB%: 33.8%

Our first HR/FB% stud has been a surprise success this season, posting a 3.67 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and a minuscule 3.8% HR/FB%. Joe Musgrove was a sneaky late-round pick this season but is currently just 60% owned; should fantasy players go out and try to get him while it's still early in the season? 

Musgrove doesn't have overpowering stuff (fastball velocity of 91.7 MPH) but he has above-average spin on his pitches, which gives him added deception. Further, he relies on strong control (7.7% walk rate) to keep himself out of trouble. That being said, there isn't much more to Musgrove's game that suggests he is a high-end fantasy option. Let's take a further look.

First, despite, the low HR/FB%, Musgrove's batted-ball profile isn't great. His 11.6-degree launch angle, 89-MPH exit velocity, and 38.5% hard-hit rate could easily have resulted in more than just two HR. Further, his 4.46 SIERA also suggests that Musgrove has been overperforming his skills.

Musgrove has performed well to this point and fantasy owners probably took him late in the draft, so he has been a fantasy success in that regard. However, it appears that he has outperformed his underlying metrics, so negative regression can be expected. Those who took Musgrove in drafts can certainly hang onto him, as he is a fine back-end starter. However, he could also be a sell-high target if those owners could flip him for better talent.

Trevor Williams - Pittsburgh Pirates

HR/FB%: 7%, FB%: 35%

Our second HR/FB% stud is a teammate of Joe Musgrove and shares a lot of similarities to him as well. Trevor Williams is putting together his second strong season in a row, posting a 3.33 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and a mere 7% HR/FB%. Unfortunately, the 27-year-old landed on the 10-day IL after Thursday's start with a side injury. Injury stashes are always important to be on the lookout for, especially early in the seasons and given Williams' numbers it is worth taking a further look at him. 

To this point, Williams' 2019 numbers are very similar to his 2018 numbers. The catch is that this may not be a great sign. Williams doesn't have great velocity and has low spin rates on his pitches, yet he has been successful. He relies heavily on his fastball (56.5% usage) yet has avoided hard contact (85.8 MPH exit velocity, 34.1% hard-hit rate). Further, his 35% FB% isn't great, yet he has managed to avoid giving up HR. Williams' 4.33 SIERA is a whole run different from his 3.33 ERA, indicating that he has significantly overperformed his skills.

Williams outperformed his skills last season and is doing the same thing this season. There are no clear explanations as to why he has been so successful, and it seems as though fantasy players aren't buying into him like they are Musgrove (Williams is just 37% owned, although part of this could be due to his injury). While his underlying stats don't support his performance, there is no reason not to pick Williams up as a streamer against favorable matchups when healthy. The fact of the matter is, he is fantasy valuable until his underlying stats catch up with him if they do. He is worth an IL spot or a bench stash in deeper leagues and should be monitored closely over the next week for updates on his health.

 

Starting Pitcher HR/FB% Duds 

All stats current as of 5/20/19, courtesy of Fangraphs.com

 

Aaron Nola - Philadelphia Phillies

HR/FB%: 20.9%, FB%: 29.3%

Our first HR/FB% dud was a highly touted fantasy option coming into the season but has not delivered on expectations. Aaron Nola has posted a lackluster 4.47 ERA, a 1.55 WHIP, and a massive 20.9% HR/FB ratio in 52 1/3 IP this season. The long balls have clearly hurt Nola to this point; should fantasy owners be worried that they wasted an early pick on him?

Several things stand out regarding Nola’s HR/FB%. We’ll start with the good. While he has given up a large number of HR relative to FB, Nola actually has not allowed all that many FB; his 29.3% FB% is on the lower end amongst starters. Further, his career HR/FB% mark sits at 13.1%, so it seems reasonable to think that his current mark is partly due to bad luck and will regress over time. Finally, Nola has performed much closer to his expectations in May, going 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA and a mere 13.3% HR/FB ratio, pretty much at his career average.

Let’s turn our attention to the bad now. Nola’s command has been off all season long (1.55 WHIP, 1.50 in May) and it has hurt him both in terms of runs allowed and batted-ball profile. His launch angle of 10.1 degrees is respectable, but his average exit velocity of 89.9 MPH and hard-hit rate of 42.3% do not bode well for him in terms of allowing big hits. While he may not allow a ton of FB, he is more likely to allow HR when he does because hitters are hitting the ball harder. The damage of those HR are compounded by the fact that Nola is allowing more baserunners.

Overall, Nola’s high HR/FB% seems a little fluky, but the underlying issues are not encouraging. Even when he has pitched well, his ceiling has been limited by his lack of command. I do not expect Nola’s HR/FB% to remain this high all season long but feel that his overall performance will continue to suffer unless he can start hitting his spots.

 

Jon Gray - Colorado Rockies

HR/FB%: 24.4%, FB%: 29.9%

Our second HR/FB% dud is one who is certainly at a disadvantage given his home park is Coors Field. However, Jon Gray has posted the highest HR/FB% of his career this season, with nearly a quarter of his FB going for HR. His 4.73 ERA and 1.37 WHIP also leave much to be desired. There has always been hope that Gray would become a fantasy staple, but it has never materialized. Is there any reason to buy into him now?

Two concerning facets of Gray's game stand out regarding his high HR/FB%. The first is the nature of his fastball. Gray has good velocity on the pitch (95.5 MPH) but he gets very little spin on the pitch (1,992 revolutions per minute), making it less deceptive. The harder and straighter a pitch comes in, the harder it goes out, which has what happened this season. Gray has yielded an average exit velocity of 94.5 MPH with the pitch and 40% of his HR.

The second is that, despite pitching his home games in hitter-friendly Coors Field, Gray has allowed most of his HR on the road. Gray has allowed seven HR in six road starts and three HR in three home starts. If Gray cannot keep the ball in the yard during his away starts then his fantasy value will be quite limited.

Gray's career HR/FB% is 14.9%, much lower than his current 24.4% mark, which is the only positive that can be taken from his current situation. His fastball has been getting hit hard and he has been allowing long balls on the road as well as at home. I would try to sell Gray if he can put forth a few solid starts because his underlying troubles are not worth the potential of him panning out.

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Strikeout Rate Risers and Fallers - Buy or Sell for Week 8

Welcome back to the pitching strikeout rate risers and fallers article series! Each week we will take a look at two K% risers and two fallers, analyze what is behind those changes, and then decide if they are actionable. A pitcher can best control their fate by generating swings and misses, so this exercise holds particular importance for fantasy value. Understanding strikeout trends and the stats behind them can help you sort through all the noise and determine which pitchers are legit and which pitchers should be avoided.

The players in this article were chosen using RotoBaller’s K% Risers and Fallers premium Tool. This tool identifies players who are surging and falling in strikeout percentage over the last 30 days. The goal of this tool is to help you find pitchers who are showing improving or declining K%.

We now have about a month-and-a-half's worth of data to sort through, so we can really take advantage of the tool! Let's get into it and see what insights we can draw on our K% risers and fallers.

 

Strikeout Rate Risers

All stats current as of Sunday, May 19

 

Yu Darvish - Chicago Cubs

Season K%: 28.6%, Last 30 Days: 33.9%

Our first K% riser is one who has always been a strikeout pitcher but had a disappointing, injury-shortened 2018 season and is off to a slow start in 2019. Yu Darvish has been a fantasy ace in the past but has a poor 5.14 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, and 17.2% walk rate in 42 IP this season. His 28.6% K%, however, has been impressive and he has pitched slightly better in the last 30 days, posting a 4.44 ERA, a 1.52 WHIP, and a 33.9% K%. The K% improvement is positive, but everything else is not, so what should fantasy owners make of Darvish's performance of late? 

Darvish's last five starts have been a mixed bag, allowing four combined starts in three of them and eight over the other two. The good thing is that his last two starts, especially his last, have been great (we'll get to that in a minute). The one constant across his five starts is an increased strikeout rate. Darvish has relied on a strong slider (15.7% swinging-strike rate) and also his cutter (an impressive 23.5% swinging-strike rate), a new trend in his arsenal. The move to his cutter has been a good one; Darvish has a strong .114 batting average against and .209 expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA) with the pitch, thanks in part to its high spin rate.

We'll now turn our attention to Darvish's last start. It was one of his most encouraging of the season, as he pitched 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball with 11 strikeouts and no walks. The lack of command has been a big issue for Darvish, but he said that he concentrated on taking more time between pitch deliveries in his last start, per the Cubs Insider. His strikeouts have never been in question, but the overall lack of command has gotten Darvish into trouble in terms of allowing baserunners and runs and also in terms of pitching deeper into games. Hopefully, he can continue to find his rhythm on the mound.

Overall, Darvish has gotten his strikeouts to this point but has not been able to find his command. His fantasy ceiling will be limited if he can't get things back on track, but his last start suggests that there may be a somewhat easy solution. Given his history, I would not give up on Darvish yet and would buy low on him for a reasonable price.

 

Max Fried - Atlanta Braves

Season K%: 22.4%, Last 30 Days: 26.2%

Our second K% riser comes from a batch of young pitching prospects out of the Braves' farm system. 25-year-old Max Fried is making a name for himself in the starting rotation this season, going 6-2 with a 2.86 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 46 strikeouts in 50 1/3 IP. Fried's strikeout numbers have been respectable all season but have been even more impressive of late. Is this young arm someone fantasy players should buy into? 

Fried relies heavily on a decent fastball (93.9 MPH, 58.9% usage). The pitch is ok but does not generate a ton of swinging strikes (8.3%). His secondary pitches, on the other hand, are filthy. Both his curveball and slider get a ton of movement on them thanks to high spin rates (2,867 revolutions per minute and 2,556 revolutions per minute, respectively). Consequently, Fried has generated much higher swinging-strike rates with those pitches (13.4% and 19.3%). He has been turning to his slider more in recent games, which would help explain the K% bump. 

It is always hard for me to make calls on young players, especially pitchers with conviction since there is no big-league history to go on. That being said, Fried looks like a promising talent. He was able to generate solid strikeout numbers throughout the minor leagues and seems to have translated that into the Majors. His 3.65 SIERA suggests that he has been outperforming his skills, but a 3.65 ERA would still be a solid mark. If he can continue to mix his secondary pitches in more, there is no reason to think he can't be a solid number-three or four fantasy starter for most of the season.

 

Strikeout Rate Fallers

All stats current as of Sunday, May 19

 

Jose Quintana- Chicago Cubs

Season K%: 23.1%, Last 30 Days: 16.9%

Our first K% faller has been a solid fantasy option throughout his career but has not been quite the same since joining the Cubs. Jose Quintana has gotten off to a pretty decent start to the season, posting a 3.68 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and 23.1% K%. However, his K% has fallen to a mediocre level in the past 30 days, so should fantasy owners start to worry that he may underperform yet again? 

Fortunately for fantasy owners, there is a pretty straightforward reason for the drop in K% over the last 30 days. Quintana posted back-to-back games against the Diamondbacks and Cardinals in which he only had two strikeouts a game, which brought his totals down. The Diamondbacks game is a little puzzling given that their team offense is not all that good, but the Cardinals have been in the bottom third of the league in team strikeouts, so a small strikeout number there is not surprising. The good thing is that Quintana pitched well in those games without getting the strikeouts; the 30-year-old went 1-0 over 11 2/3 IP with a 3.86 ERA and 1.29 WHIP.

Quintana has never been a strong strikeout pitcher. His 91.5-MPH fastball isn't overpowering and the lack of spin on all of his pitches do not lend themselves to high strikeout numbers. That being said, he has posted a career-high 10.3% swinging-strike rate this season even with his recent fall in K%. I think that Quintana's floor is a back-end fantasy starter with the upside of a number-three starter.

 

Yonny Chirinos - Tampa Bay Rays

Season K%: 18.4%, Last 30 Days: 12.8%

Our second faller presents an interesting fantasy case in terms of his role with his team. Yonny Chirinos has acted as a part-time starter, part-time long reliever/first man up after an opener for the Rays this season. While the team's use of him may be new to the game, Chirinos has been successful, going 5-1 with a 3.26 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and 18.4% K%. Like Quintana, Chirinos has never really been a strong strikeout pitcher, but his 12.8% mark in the last 30 days is low by any standard. With the lack of strikeouts and unusual team role, is Chirinos really a fantasy option?

In many ways, Chirinos' usage actually boosts his fantasy value beyond his given skills. He has pitched in bulk whether he has started or not (47 IP on the season) and his long reliever role gives him better chances to tally up wins. This fact, coupled with Chirinos' pitching skill, more than offset his lack of strikeouts. Chirinos throws relatively hard (his sinker sits at 94 MPH) but pitches to contact (82.5%). He relies heavily on his sinker (59% usage) to generate weak contact (86.9-MPH exit velocity, 33.8% hard-hit rate, 13.7-degree launch angle) rather than getting swings and misses.

The one thing that can be identified regarding Chirinos' lower K% is his performance with his slider. Chirinos uses his slider as his secondary pitch and while the pitch has been ok (9.7% swinging-strike rate, .250 batting average against), it simply hasn't been as good as it was last season (15.2% swinging-strike rate, .211 batting average against). The velocity and spin rate on the pitch has been the same as last season, so perhaps we just don't have a large enough sample size on the pitch to compare them.

Chirinos will not net fantasy players a ton of strikeouts but can be a solid contributor in ERA, WHIP, and wins. I like him as a sneaky fantasy option given his dual starter/reliever eligibility. At just 47% owned, he is a surprise player that can help fantasy players throughout the season, especially in roto leagues.

 

K-Rate Risers and Fallers - Premium Tool

Identifying top strikeout rate risers and fallers for each week can help you spot the best pickups before your competition. RotoBaller's Premium K-Rate Risers and Fallers tool has you covered every day. As thoughtful fantasy baseball players, we won't lead you astray. This tool will soon be active once we have a large enough sample size in the season to be considered reliable.

This type of data is available as part of our Premium MLB Subscription. Don't settle for basic stats and surface-level advice from other sites. RotoBaller brings you advanced statistics and professional analysis that you need to win your fantasy leagues and DFS games, because we're ballers just like you. We are your secret weapon!

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Rest of Season Catcher Rankings - May Update

We wrap up our midseason rankings update for mixed leagues with the catcher position. RotoBaller writers Nick Mariano, Pierre Camus, Bill Dubiel and Scott Engel recently updated their rest-of-season ranks and we're here to break it all down.

Unfortunately, catcher is still an utter cesspool when it comes to fantasy production, so don't convince yourself otherwise. If you're in any two-catcher league, please petition the commish for a change.

Check out our fantasy baseball rankings dashboard for the latest and greatest ranks at any time. When you're done reading about catchers, you can catch up on our analysis on some of the other positions here: first base, second base, third baseshortstop, outfield, starting pitcher, and relief pitcher.

 

Catcher Tiered Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (May)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was recently named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season. You can see his secret sauce below! Additionally, industry legend Scott Engel recently joined the RotoBaller team and provides his insights as well. Scott is an FSWA Hall Of Famer and award winner.

Ranking Tier Player Position Nick Pierre Bill Scott Composite
1 1 Gary Sanchez C 76 67 73 66 70.50
2 1 J.T. Realmuto C/1B 119 83 94 58 88.50
3 2 Willson Contreras C 95 162 228 158 160.75
4 2 Yasmani Grandal C 188 153 226 184 187.75
5 2 Wilson Ramos C 287 191 137 162 194.25
6 2 Yadier Molina C 224 220 188 190 205.50
7 2 Buster Posey C/1B 342 319 264 273 299.50
8 3 Jorge Alfaro C 346 244 380 292 315.50
9 3 Willians Astudillo C 411 347 261 #N/A 339.67
10 3 Francisco Cervelli C 335 398 325 #N/A 352.67
11 3 Mike Zunino C 372 357 343 #N/A 357.33
12 3 Tucker Barnhart C/1B 433 373 344 300 362.50
13 3 Omar Narvaez C 337 348 493 293 367.75
14 3 Christian Vazquez C 371 #N/A #N/A #N/A 371.00
15 3 Welington Castillo C #N/A 367 379 #N/A 373.00
16 3 Robinson Chirinos C 465 343 323 #N/A 377.00
17 3 Yan Gomes C #N/A 379 384 #N/A 381.50
18 4 James McCann C 383 #N/A #N/A #N/A 383.00
19 4 Mitch Garver C 413 380 #N/A #N/A 396.50
20 4 Josh Phegley C 396 416 #N/A #N/A 406.00
21 4 Kurt Suzuki C #N/A 417 410 #N/A 413.50
22 4 Danny Jansen C 472 465 330 #N/A 422.33
23 4 Austin Hedges C 446 381 464 #N/A 430.33
24 4 Tyler Flowers C #N/A 435 #N/A #N/A 435.00
25 4 Austin Barnes C 347 443 522 #N/A 437.33
26 4 Carson Kelly C #N/A 452 #N/A #N/A 452.00
27 5 John Hicks C/1B #N/A 429 488 #N/A 458.50
28 5 Francisco Mejia C 496 464 430 #N/A 463.33
29 5 Isiah Kiner-Falefa C/2B/3B 490 445 501 #N/A 478.67
30 5 Grayson Greiner C 491 476 #N/A #N/A 483.50
31 5 Jonathan Lucroy C #N/A 446 546 #N/A 496.00

 

Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

Tier One

The resurgence of Gary Sanchez has been spectacular and honestly wasn't that hard to see coming. Sanchez was limited to just 374 plate appearances in 2018, and I think it's fair to assume that the injuries that caused him to miss time can also be blamed for his ghastly numbers. After hitting just 18 homers in 89 games last season, Sanchez is already up to 12 in 26 games in 2019. He's also improved his batting average almost 80 points, partially as a result of a more aggressive approach at the plate (his walk rate is down to just 8.4% this year). I believe that the Gary Sanchez from this year and 2017 is the "real" Gary Sanchez, and he should be treated as such moving forward.

Tier Two

Just as the veteran backstop was written off by fantasy experts everywhere, Yadier Molina has burst back onto the scene and is having maybe the best fantasy season of any catcher so far. Yadi is already almost halfway to last year's RBI total, he's hitting a healthy .276 and he's shaved nearly five percentage points off his strikeout rate to get to his current (and best mark since 2011) 8.5%. Another 20-HR season is well within his grasp, and I don't see any reason to doubt Molina's performance. At 36, he's likely not going to finish as the top fantasy catcher this season. But in the top five? I don't see why not.

Tier Three

I fully admit that prior to this year, Omar Narvaez barely registered with me as an actual fantasy option. He was that empty jersey that sometimes played catcher for the White Sox and wasn't the worst hitter ever--nothing exceptional about him. A change of scenery has proven otherwise. Narvaez has always made above-average contact for a catcher, but that word "empty" rings true again. In 2018 with the White Sox, he hit .275 over 322 plate appearances, but registered just 30 runs scored, 30 RBI, and nine homers. He's almost matched all of those totals in just 137 plate appearances this year: .308 BA, 24 runs scored, 18 RBI and seven homers here in mid-May. Narvaez is getting more loft on the ball this year, and he's barreling the ball up more than he ever has before--his 33.7% hard-hit rate is easily the best of his career. Narvaez has shown the potential to finish in the top seven at the position this year, and he's an extremely valid starting option right now in any format.

La Tortuga is here to save the game of baseball. Willians Astudillo is the heir-apparent to Bartolo's heavy-set throne, and he has the resume to back up the demigod status he's earned among the intelligent and initiated. The man just does not strike out--but he doesn't walk either. So far in 167 major league plate appearances, Astudillo has a total of three walks and five strikeouts. No typos there. He's got as much power as you'd expect for a guy swinging with a lot of weight behind him, but it's the batting average that's the main factor here. Catcher is a black hole where your batting average goes to die, so a guy like Astudillo who puts the ball in play consistently can be a big boost there. He's never hit below .267 at any stop in professional ball, and I think we can expect that to continue as long as he keeps making contact as often as he does. Right now he's a C2 in most formats, but the ceiling is there for C1 status if he continues to see more consistent playing time (likely away from the catcher position).

 

Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Tiers Four and Five

Mitch Garver is MAH DUDE right now. A shame about his recent injury, but it's looking like it will cost him no more than two or three weeks at most. Prior to that unfortunate Shohei Ohtani slide, Garver was absolutely mashing. In just 91 plate appearances he had already popped nine homers, and was holding strong with a .329 batting average as well. Perhaps more impressively than those numbers is the improvement he's shown with one of his already-strong traits--his plate discipline. Garver was posting a 12.1% walk rate when he went on the IL, which is phenomenal for a catcher in any format. The 28-year-old has earned regular playing time, and he's a terrific option in any format right now, but especially in OBP leagues.

Danny Jansen, what's going on, bro? After tearing up the minor leagues over the last two years, everyone (myself very much included) had Jansen pegged as one of the best non-elite catchers in fantasy for 2019. Above-average plate discipline, little bit of pop, little bit of speed--it all seemed like it was going to line up for the player I had taken to calling "BabyMuto" in the preseason (shout out to the real five-tool catcher, J.T. Realmuto).  But Jansen simply hasn't adjusted to big league pitching yet. He's hitting a miserable .163, he's not yet put a ball over the fence or stolen a bag, and he's striking out at a higher rate than he has at any stop in the minors (26.9%). As of right now he's unrosterable, and there are no signs of a turnaround any time soon. I still believe that we'll be talking about Jansen in a positive light in the near future, but this might not be the year it happens.

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Closers and Saves Report - Week 7 Waiver Wire

Let's talk about a Crazy Little Thing Called Saves. (Count it ✔) The Braves might have accidentally stumbled into one of the best closers in baseball. The Twins and Mariners continue to play the messy bullpen game, but it looks like maybe the Rays are settling into some kind of routine?

The top two relievers in the Cubs bullpen are on the IL, but rather than a committee, someone has stepped up and seemingly taken the reins. The Phillies looked like they had a closer ready to go, then he disappeared. Meanwhile, the Angels discovered the best thing to do with their best reliever (and it isn't "make him the closer").

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

 

Bullpen News for Week 7

Atlanta Braves

Soooo...Luke Jackson, right folks? I've been (don't say it don't say it don't say it) Lukewarm on him for the most part, but he keeps proving me wrong. All of a sudden, Luke Jackson might be one of the few remaining elite closers in baseball. On Opening Day, he gave up a grand slam to Rhys Hoskins. Since then though? He's given up just one run. That's it. Just one. So Luke Jackson has allowed five runs this season, and four of them came on one swing of the bat on the first game of the year. He was drafted by the Rangers in 2010 so he's been around for a while, but his 19 games this season is already almost halfway to his career high. This is his first time in a significant role, but despite the lack of experience, most of his peripheral stats point toward continued success. At this point, Jackson needs to be owned in all formats and, at least until he shows otherwise, should be treated as an elite ninth-inning option.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays are the masters of the "Your Fantasy Team Doesn't Matter To Us" game, but it looks like they might be settling into a somewhat consistent ninth-inning option. Jose Alvarado and Emilio Pagan have both looked like the closer at different points this season, but they're both being used in key moments, even in the middle innings sometimes. Diego Castillo, meanwhile, has emerged as the more-consistent saves option. He leads the team in saves and seems like the only one manager Kevin Cash "saves" for the later innings. That being said, everything in the Rays bullpen is subject to rapid change, so who knows? For now though, Castillo looks like the one to own in Tampa Bay.

Los Angeles Angels

The best reliever in the Angels bullpen is Ty Buttrey. Angels manager Brad Ausmus knows that, so he makes sure Buttrey and his 0.86 ERA are available at the most crucial points in the game. Sometimes, that can be as early as the sixth inning. Instead of pigeonholing his best reliever into the closer's role, Ausmus has made Buttrey into his fireman reliever: a guy who comes in when he's needed most, regardless of inning. That means that someone else has to take the role traditionally reserved for a ninth-inning-winning-by-three-runs-or-fewer reliever, and that's been Hansel Robles. Robles is no Buttrey, but he's been pretty solid himself and should be in line for plenty of save opportunities going forward.

Philadelphia Phillies

It looked like the Phillies had finally settled on a closer after David Robertson got hurt, as Hector Neris saved a few games and looked like he was being saved for the ninth inning by manager Gabe Kapler. Then, all of a sudden, he disappeared. After a scoreless outing on May 3rd, Neris didn't pitch again for a week. He got two outs on May 10th, then didn't pitch again until five days later. It's hard to consider him the closer at this point, but he's still as good a bet as anyone else in Philly, especially with Robertson looking like he'll be out for another month or more.

 

Short Relief

  • The Cubs thought Brandon Morrow would be closing. He hasn't. Then the Cubs thought Pedro Strop would be closing. He did, but now he can't. Now, the Cubs have Steve Cishek closing. We'll see how long that lasts as his role certainly seems temporary, but for now, Cishek is worth a look in most formats.
  • The Twins keep mixing and matching in the ninth inning, and it almost went wrong on Wednesday, but Trevor Hildenberger made a mess then got sent down to Triple-A while Mike Morin barely cleaned up the mess but got credit for a save. Blake Parker and Taylor Rogers are still the ones to own in Minnesota.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Luke Jackson, Atlanta Braves- Seriously, forget everything you've read in this series about Luke Jackson in the past and check if he's still available on your league's waiver wire. He needs to be owned in all formats.

Steve Cishek, Chicago Cubs- Cishek is still available in most leagues, and while he may only hold the role temporarily, he should be a good source of saves for the time being.

Hansel Robles, Los Angeles Angels- Ty Buttrey is the one putting up elite stats in the Angels bullpen, but Robles is the one putting up saves and that's what you need to see in standard leagues. Robles is available in most leagues and should be owned and started instead.

Drops

No immediate drops again this week, but anyone still holding A.J. Minter with their fingers crossed and go ahead and uncross while they click "drop"

 

Best of the Week

Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees- 4 IP, 4 SV, 7 K, 2.25 ERA, 0.75 WHIP

Chapman was the only closer with four saves this week, helped out by his two-save Wednesday (as the Yankees took both ends of a doubleheader against the Orioles). He also struck out seven but did allow a solo home run and two other hits.

Roberto Osuna, Houston Astros- 3 IP, 2 SV, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP

Not a perfect week for the Astros closer, but he had the most strikeouts among relievers with two saves. He struck out six in his three innings, allowing two hits and a walk in the process.

Luke Jackson, Atlanta Braves- 6 IP, 3 SV, 8 K, 1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP

Luke "Maybe the Best Closer in Baseball" Jackson blew a save this week when he allowed his first run since Opening Day. Still, he did save three games and struck out eight batters, landing him in the top three for this week.

 

More 2019 Fantasy Baseball Advice


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