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The Nationals’ bullpen is betraying them

It’s been a rough stretch run for the Nationals as well as any fantasy player who has a stake in that relief corps—specifically, in Jonathan Papelbon or Drew Storen.

The former’s numbers aren’t terrible since being traded to Washington at the deadline, but he’s clearly taken a step back from where he was at the start of the year. Things got worse last week—poor timing considering it was the start of the playoffs in some leagues—as Papelbon allowed runs in both of his outings. He’s allowed runs in six of his 16 appearances with the Nationals, and although his 2.50 ERA looks good, his strikeouts have gone down somewhat dramatically since the trade. He’s obviously not a drop candidate, but you have to feel worse about him heading into your playoffs than you were just a few weeks ago.

The man he replaced in the ninth inning, Drew Storen, has been miserable since the trade deadline. He appeared in 18 games following the Papelbon trade, allowing runs in nine of them and pitching to a 7.56 ERA. Then, he went and punched a locker putting him out for the year. For those that held on to him hoping he’d help their rate stats, sorry that didn’t work out. To replace that production, Sergio Romo could help, and he’s available in 80% of Yahoo leagues and 88% of CBS leagues. If he’s already taken, guys like Will Smith, Justin Grimm, and Josh Fields could be acceptable replacements.

Boston’s bullpen keeps shuffling

The Red Sox just cannot find a replacement for the injured Koji Uehara. Junichi Tazawa got the first crack at the closer role, and that didn’t go so well. It’s surprising for someone who has been so good in setup duty, but he just couldn’t get the job done. Jean Machi got the next shot, and that didn’t go so well either. Of course, that wasn’t as surprising as Tazawa’s failures. So, now the Red Sox are moving on to Robbie Ross, who they acquired from Texas over the offseason. Ross has quietly been solid for Boston this year, although he’s not someone to get overly excited about. He won’t be a huge contributor for strikeouts or WHIP, but he’ll get save chances for a streaking Red Sox team. At this time of year, it’s hard to ask for much more than that.

Let’s talk about the Royals’ bullpen

The Royals have started something of a revolution, one in which teams are spending more resources on building dominant back ends of bullpens. Their three-headed monster of Greg Holland, Wade Davis, and Kelvin Herrera has been a huge part of their cruise to a likely division title and possibly another long playoff run. However, that hasn’t been as beneficial to fantasy players as one might think, especially lately. Kansas City has no reason to overwork their relievers, and that has led to some rest for Holland over the past month. While that’s been bad for Holland owners, it’s opened up time for other relievers to carve out late-inning roles. If you’re looking for innings, rates and/or holds from relievers for the playoffs, take a look at a few of the unheralded Royals relievers. Specifically, Herrera, Luke Hochevar, and Ryan Madson could all be helpful in deeper leagues.

Quick Hits

John Axford has surprisingly been solid in his second go-around as Colorado’s closer. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 9 2/3 innings and has struck out 16 batters in that time while walking just two.

The good news is Glen Perkins is working his way back from injury, throwing over the weekend for the first time in September. The bad news is he likely won’t get the closer role back despite possible rejoining the Twins on Friday. Kevin Jepsen has been outstanding in Perkins’ absence, and the latter wasn’t going to well before getting hurt. If Robbie Ross is available, I’d be fine with dropping Perkins for someone like him in a redraft league.

Not a banner week for Sean Doolittle, who only got into game action once and allowed two runs on three hits. He’s definitely worth the risk, but we saw last week that it’s no guarantee that picking him up will pay off.

I haven’t spoken about A.J. Ramos in a long time, so let’s catch up on him. People were a little worried about him after a rough August, but his peripherals never suffered too much and he’s bounced back nicely in September. He’s one of the better new closers of 2015.