Baseball is taking its midsummer break this week, which means that fantasy will be on pause for a few days as well. That doesn’t mean there’s no closer news, though. There’s always closer news. You cannot escape the closer news no matter how hard you may try. This past week was just a tad busy, so we’ll get right to it. As always, keep up with the changes with the closer grid. The changes since last week are highlighted in yellow. Let’s go.
Brad Ziegler Traded to Boston: Red Sox Edition
Dave Dombrowski has had some high-profile problems in building bullpens over his career as a GM, so he’s gone all out this year to build a dominant unit. That continued into the season, as he acquired the Diamondbacks closer. Unfortunately, Ziegler’s addition coincided with an injury to Craig Kimbrel that will likely keep him out for at least a month. Even with the injury, expect Ziegler’s fantasy value to take a hit. After initially indicated the team would go with a tandem of Koji Uehara and Ziegler in the ninth, Farrell later changed his mind and named the former as his full-time closer. That leaves Ziegler owners in a tough spot. On the one hand, his low strikeout totals make him nearly useless for fantasy purposes if he’s not getting saves. On the other hand, Uehara hasn’t been the steadiest of relievers this year and could easily give up the role in short order. Unless there are sure-fire saves on the wire, I’d probably opt for keeping Ziegler for the time being, but it’s a risky proposition. Of course, once Kimbrel returns or if Uehara starts to look dominant, Ziegler becomes extremely droppable.
Brad Ziegler Traded to Boston: Diamondbacks Edition
It was always assumed the Diamondbacks would deal from their bullpen at some point this summer, though I was a bit surprised about their post-Ziegler plan. Daniel Hudson had handled the eighth inning duties all year, and I had assumed he’d slide into the ninth in this scenario. I was even more confident given the fact that he’s been part of trade rumors himself. Instead, the team handed the job to Tyler Clippard. To be fair, it does make some sense since he was a decently high-profile free agent addition and also has the vaunted Closer Experience. Additionally, he’s been pretty damn good this year. He’s pitched to a 3.27 DRA and an 85 cFIP while striking out over 11 batters per nine innings. I’d assume he’s already owned in all leagues, but if people are sleeping at the wheel, pick him up immediately.
Wade Davis to the DL
If you’ve been following along with the Closer Report over the last couple of years, you know that big news often comes down on Tuesday right after this is published. It happened again last week with Davis hitting the disabled list. Unsurprisingly, Kelvin Herrera is taking over the closer duties. He struggled a bit in his first outing in the new role, but he’s extremely talented and should be owned in many leagues even if he’s not getting saves. The good news for Davis owners — and the bad news for those who picked up Herrera for late-season saves — is that the former should be back shortly after the break. As I said, Herrera is good for ratios even if he’s not getting saves, but don’t expect him to contribute to that particular category for very long.
Is Huston Street on Thin Ice?
Did you know that Huston Street is only 32? This is a fact I feel the need to share whenever I talk about him, and I hope you find it as fascinating as me. Anyway, the Angels closer has been one of the steadiest relievers for a long time now, but he’s finally starting to show some cracks in his armor. He missed a big chunk of the first half with an oblique strain, and he has an ugly 5.09 ERA in the 17 2/3 innings he’s thrown. The peripherals don’t provide much optimism, either, as he has just 11 strikeouts with the same number of walks. I would imagine he has something of a long leash, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see another DL stint in the near future if his struggles continue out of the break. As for the replacement, the leader in the clubhouse these days appears to be Cam Bedrosian. The 24 year old has been fantastic this year, even if his 1.09 ERA oversells his performance. In an Angels bullpen that contains mostly underwhelming veterans, Bedrosian could be one of the better low-key save speculation targets for the second half.
Ryan Madson was in the news this week, and most of it was for baseball stuff! In that regard, there were rumors that he is on the trade block as well as him struggling on the field. Both of these point to a new closer emerging in Oakland at some point in the coming weeks. Sean Doolittle would be the favorite if he were healthy, but there’s no word on when we can expect him back. In that case, Ryan Dull is the speculative add for the A’s.
Continuing with the AL West theme, Steve Cishek continues to struggle after pitching so well to start the year. He’s probably still at least a couple blown saves away from losing his job, but as of now Joaquin Benoit still appears to be next in line despite also having disappointing year. In terms of pure talent, the hope is that 21-year-old Edwin Diaz will get some chances down the stretch.
Alex Colome came back from the disabled list for the Rays. There’s no real analysis to add here except thank you Alex Colome because the Rays bullpen was no fun without you.
Zach Britton had himself a hell of week, converting all four save chances he was handed. The Orioles closer has somehow improved upon his tremendous 2015, posting a sub-1.00 ERA this year thanks to over 10 Ks per nine innings and a ground-ball rate over 80 percent.
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