My weekly “Pick Your Spots” article came out on Sunday before most of this year’s deadline trades went down, so I wanted to re-cap the Relievers that were traded and try to make some sense out of the chaos left behind. I’m doing this for myself in that respect, but it makes sense to share, as every one of us out there was affected in some way by the bullpen moves.
I managed to mention the Chapman trade in my Sunday article, along with my spot start picks for next week, not realizing the chain reaction that was about to ensue. The Closer Merry-Go-Round became the Closer Roller Coaster. What had been a fairly quiet year for closers has suddenly gone over the guardrail and is still rolling down the hill. As of now, only 11 MLB teams still have the closer that they started the season with. The other 19 have changed, and some more than once. Many of the changes were the results of trades, some from injury, and of course ineffectiveness, but 16 Opening Day Closers have completely lost their jobs now.
I’m going to go team by team, and not talk about the trades so much as what will affect your own bullpen for the rest of the 2016 season. That is all that matters, right?
If I don’t mention a team it means there is nothing new to report in that particular pen. There won’t be many.
Trivia Question: How many relievers who have ever pitched for the Yankees exchanged teams in the last few days? Answer below.
New York Yankees: It seems the three headed monster was a critter that grows new heads when you chopped them off. The Yanks lopped two heads off the Monster but created three closers where there was only one a few days ago. An argument could be made that all three will be top 10 closers the rest of the season. In New York, Dellin Betances finally gets his chance to close. Just to keep him, and us, on the edge of our seats they brought in Tyler Clippard(1), whose career started in the Yankee farm system, to provide insurance. Now it is up to Betances to be The Man. The holds pecking order is less clear. We can assume Clippard is the set up man and Adam Warren(2), another more recent ex-Yank is back to pitch middle relief. Luis Severino is in the pen but with Ivan Nova(3) also taking the train out of town he will likely end up in the rotation. Then there are a bunch of names. Stay tuned. The good news is there are now two more top end closers out there. In one league I drafted Chapman, and a few weeks ago traded for Betances and Melancon. I like my chances.
Boston Red Sox: As long as Craig Kimbrel is healthy he’s The Man of course and Brad Ziegler is the set up man. Their biggest need was a lefty and they brought in Fernando Abad in a small trade with the Twins. I don’t think his value changes much unless he gets more Holds or IRS and your league counts them. Ziegler takes a hit in 5 X 5 leagues and is now only Kimbrel insurance. Don’t drop him as Kimbrel is barely back in the saddle.
Toronto Blue Jays: Roberto Osuna is still the Man but they beefed up the set up men with the unexciting ads of Jason Grilli & Joaquin Benoit. Tampa Bay Rays: After trade speculation, Alex Colome is still The Man, and Brad Boxberger is not, thank goodness.
Cleveland Indians: Here we go. Everyone assumes Andrew Miller(4) is the new closer and Cody Allen will set him up. Allen even offered to do that if it helps get to the WS. The Indians though are being equally PC by saying Allen is still the closer. Doesn’t it make more sense to let Miller, who is used to setting up pitch the 8th and let Allen, who has quietly been one of the AL’s best closers the last three years, close. Even if Miller is the better pitcher, it might make more sense. If they were action figures this would be easy. But they are people so we’ll have to wait and see. After what happened in Washington last season I worry about the closer psyche. Bryan Shaw moves down a notch but that should not affect his value.
Kansas City Royals: My how quickly things change. Wasn’t it yesterday the Royals had the best pen in baseball? Derek Holland is gone, injured and a free agent. Wade Davis is injured so Kelvin Hererra is closing until Davis is back. Joakim Soria is also around and has closing experience. The Royals have nothing to play for this season so I doubt the Royals rush Davis back.
Texas Rangers: One of the loudest deadline traders, the Rangers brought in Jeremy
Jeffress from the Brewers. Sam Dyson is still the closer but he better not hiccup. Jeffress has always been a set up man until a Will Smith injury made him the closer so I don’t see a problem sticking his action figure at the #2 spot. Keep watching this one.
Will Harris is still the closer for the Houston Astros but I still think he is keeping the seat warm for the highly paid Ken Giles. It may not happen until 2017 though. Huston Street is still the closer for the LA Angels, but I’m not sure why. They traded Joe Smith to the Cubs and the manager gave Street a vote of confidence yesterday. Cam Bedrosian is the name to know in that pen. The Seattle Mariners signed my favorite closer of all time, or at least the last two years, Drew Storen (sarcasm). They traded Joaquin Benoit and Steve Cishek leads the AL in blown Saves. I’m not touching this one. Edwin Diaz is the name to know in that pen, and Tony Zych once he is healthy. UPDATE: Diaz was named the closer today. I hope you are not too late.
Washington Nationals: I’ve been saying now that the closer has merely become a commodity that is traded like any other commodity. The Nationals pioneered that last season when they traded for Jon Papelbon, thus neutering Drew Storen in the middle of a brilliant season. Well, now Jon gets his to see his Future’s price go down like Storen’s did last season. Two teams later Storen’s stock has never recovered. Mark Melancon’s (5) value should not change as he was already one of the best closers in the NL. After all, they are just action figures right? Papelbon does not have a big ego does he? Matt Williams took the hit last season. If this blows up the GM should be next. I wonder how easy it will be to find the Melancons a place to live. He and his wife Mary need a place that allows, um, cats. That’s right, Mark & Mary Melancon. Don’t send monogrammed towels to the housewarming.
Atlanta Braves: Jim Johnson. Closers close, for better or worse, and every season Johnson seems to become some team’s default closer. That doesn’t mean your fantasy team should get on this carousel. Your ratios alone may never recover. Arodys Vizcaino is out with a strained oblique, and those can linger. I think oblique is Latin for Bleak, as in the Braves pen.
Ssssshhhhhh, Jeanmar Gomez was not traded by the deadline and is still the Philadelphia Phillies closer. Don’t screw me up, man, I’m heavily invested. Pick up Hector Neris if he is still on your wire. The NY Mets added by subtracting, sending Antonio Bastardo to the Pirates for wayward son Jon Niese. I thought the Mets needed some depth in the pen, especially if Jay Bruce takes any of them out with a long ball into the pen.In Miami, AJ Ramos need not worry about Fernando Rodney. However, closers close, and that is all Rodney has ever been.
Chicago Cubs: Wow! I’ve never seen a pen restocked as fast as the Cubs slammed this one together. Aroldis Chapman (6) is obviously the big fish and Cubs fans are already giddy over the 100 mph LED that keeps lighting up when he pitches. But the Cubs also added Joe Smith to a pen that includes Pedro Strop, Travis Wood, & Hector Rondon (remember him)? There is a finite number of holds to go around, and since Rondon is just an action figure he should get the lion’s share. Strop was not having a great season by his standards, and Smith is pretty underwhelming. I was using Travis Wood for holds and his dual eligibility, but I bet he takes the biggest hit. This pen is DEEP and built for a deep post season run. As long as Chapman doesn’t get nailed for speeding on his way to the park.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Wow! I didn’t see this coming. This is why you need to own CLEWS. (see below). Tony Watson should not have been on any league’s wire anyway. No one should need to blow their FAAB budget or waiver position on Watson because he is already owned, no? Watson owners just struck gold. As long as he has the right makeup for closing he is instantly a top 20 closer. Neftali Feliz is the new CLEW in town, but he is already owned too, no? Pick up Felipe Rivero so you will feel like part of the party. He looks like a closer to me and 2017 is not that far off.
St Louis Cards: This is old news now but Trevor Rosenthal’s stock crashed and he was replaced by Seung Hwan Oh. Oh is doing fine, and I admit he was not even on my radar this season. However, closers close and Trevor Rosenthal has been a pretty good one even. For whatever reason the Cards can’t seem to get more than a year or two out of their closers.
Milwaukee Brewers: Only the Yankees sold more closers than the Brewers. Tyler Thornburg seems to be the default closer and a must own, especially in a 5 X 5, but the arm I want is attached to Corey Knebel. He won’t get his chance until 2017 unless Thornburg falls on his face.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Jake Barrett proves once again that timing is everything. After Brad Ziegler was traded it was assumed that Tyler Clippard & Daniel Hudson would fight for the closer gig. It looked more like neither of them wanted it, and Clippard later got shipped out. Hudson is still there but is giving up runs like it is batting practice every other time out. Barrett was groomed to be a closer having saved 83 games in four minor league seasons. It remains to be seen if he can handle it at the MLB level, but they have the rest of 2016 to find out. Hudson is there to pick up the pieces, if not, and I bet Hudson will straighten out this season. I looked at him as a potential closer prior to the start of 2016.
San Francisco Giants: Santiago Casilla is still the closer and there is no talk of changing that coming from the Giants. After Steve Cishek in Seattle and Huston Street in LA, Casilla is probably the most tenuous of the established MLB closers. I already had Hunter Strickland tabbed as a CLEW since the pre-season but now the Giants picked up Will Smith from the Brewers. I’m not as convinced Casilla loses his job this close to the post season as I was three months ago, but I think Smith is next in line automatically as Strickland has not been as good as he was in 2015. Either way, like the Cubs this is a deep pen with Sergio Romo & Javier Lopez still manning the specialist roles as they have for years.
San Diego Padres: The Padres are not generating a lot of saves lately but it is safe to say Brandon Maurer will be the one collecting them. Ryan Buchter is likely the name to know if you want to handcuff him.
Late Update: In a minor trade the Dodgers got reliever Josh Fields from the Astros. He ads depth to a depleted group there.
Three other bullpens seem to have stabilized after previous moves: Brandon Kintzler of the Twins, Carlos Estevez of the Rockies and Tony Cingrani of the Reds have all tightened their grips on their respective roles. I own all three but had to be patient getting here. That likely means it is time for all three to get hurt or implode. My, that was negative of me.
Trivia Question Answer: 6. Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Tyler Clippard, Adam Warren, and the one your forgot, Mark Melancon. Ivan Nova has pitched in relief this season so he’d be #6.
This has made me dizzy. And no one can be surprised if the the roller coaster still has a few more dips and turns left in it before the season is over.
I hope I mentioned one name that helps someone collect some saves somewhere, and if I left someone out or another trade happened while I was writing this I apologize. At some point you have to publish.
Good luck, Good fishing and see you Sunday when I’ll be Picking my Spots once again.
*”CLEW” = Closer En Waiting
** IRS + H = Inherited Runners stranded plus Holds
See you next week. Thanks for reading.
Categories: Major League Fantasy Sports