As you get over your hangover after a long holiday weekend, you can be comforted by the fact that there was actually quite a bit going down in the world of closers last week. We had trades, injuries and returns of injuries in addition to normal notable performances. As always, you can keep up with the action on the closer grid, and the changes over the week are highlighted in yellow. Let’s get to it.
Fernando Rodney was traded: Miami
We had our first major closer-related deal of the year last week, as the Padres sent Fernando Rodney to the Marlins. Of course, Rodney was easily the most surprising member of the closer club this season. Many (myself included) predicted he would be the first to lose his job. Instead, he was the first to allow an earned run. Joining the list of wrong predictions from yours truly, Rodney will not take over the ninth inning for the Marlins. Not yet, at least. He will start his tenure in a new city by serving as A.J. Ramos’ set-up man. Ramos has been solid this year, though he’s had some similar control issues to the ones that unseated Trevor Rosenthal in St. Louis. On top of that, he struggled mightily in his two outings since the trade, blowing a save in one and allowing two runs in a successful save situation in the other. Unfortunately for Miami, Rodney’s transition hasn’t gone smoothly either, as he had a rough outing against the Mets on Monday. Ramos’ profile makes this a situation to keep an eye on, but Rodney isn’t the most reliable back-up plan either. At the very least, it’s a fun pair of high-ceiling, low-floor arms.
Fernando Rodney was traded: San Diego
A fun trend this week is that I have gotten everything wrong, including both sides of this deal. After Rodney left the Padres, I assumed that newly named set-up man Ryan Buchter would slide right into the ninth inning. He’s been outstanding this season and had seemingly earned his manager’s confidence. Apparently, they’d like to keep the lefty out of the ninth inning, though, as Brandon Maurer is being given the initial chance to take the job and run. I was very high on Maurer coming into the year, and thought he’d take this job very early in the year. He ruined that by struggling mightily in the first few months. He had shown some improvement towards the end of June, however, throwing 6 2/3 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts to zero walks. He did convert his first and only save chance in the deal, but he also allowed a run in the effort. I’d still keep an eye on Buchter moving forward, as he’s been more consistent than Maurer this year. With that being said, the latter certainly has the talent to keep the job.
The Rockies Are Getting Even More Interesting
Colorado is not exactly worthy of many headlines in the baseball world right now, but their bullpen situation has all the ingredients to be fascinating for a while. After Jake McGee hit the disabled list earlier in the year, Carlos Estevez took over the role and has been up-and-down. When the former came back, it was assumed the former would take his job back. Well, McGee is indeed back, but Estevez is staying in the ninth. Now, some of this likely has to do with easing McGee back into MLB action, but it’s still a strange sight. Estevez has fun stuff, but his profile doesn’t fit overly well with Colorado, which would lead one to believe McGee will get his job back soon. However, things get even more interesting with Adam Ottavino making his way back from Tommy John. Given how they’ve handled McGee, Ottavino certainly won’t be the closer immediately upon his return. With that being said, if he can look like he did before hitting the disabled list, he’s easily the most talented arm of this group and should get the most saves in the second half.
To start, Alex Colome hit the disabled list this week. He’s been a pleasant surprise this season for the Rays, and his absence has shown as no one has stepped up in Tampa. Luckily, this was not a major injury and he should be back this week.
Also hitting the disabled list: Sean Doolittle. He hadn’t been getting a ton of save chances in Oakland this year, but this is still interesting for fantasy owners. The A’s are likely sellers, which means Doolittle and/or current closer Ryan Madson could be traded this summer. If only Madson was dealt, Doolittle would be given a clear path to saves. Given his injury history, we don’t know how long he’ll be out, which means Ryan Dull could be a sleeper to pick up saves if something happens with Madson sooner than we expect.
Jonathan Papelbon is coming back, which means the end of Shawn Kelley’s time in the ninth inning. Kelley has been the better pitcher over the whole season, but his performance has taken a bit of a downturn since being promoted to the ninth. He could still get back there at some point if Papelbon struggles, but I’d imagine the latter has a relatively long leash.
Finally, we check in on the Twins. Kevin Jepsen was the closer for most of the season, but he was obviously taken out of the role a few weeks ago, and was designated for assignment over the weekend. Brandon Kintzler and Fernando Abad were set up to serve as a double-barreled closer tandem, but only Kintzler has done his part. I’d assume he’ll start getting more chances, regardless of matchup, moving forward.
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