It was something of a slow week in the closer world, with a couple of (former) closers returning from injury but not getting their jobs back. Besides that, the only storylines are clarifications (or a lack of clarity) in some of the most miserable bullpens in the league. Sounds fun! As always, you can keep up with the changes on the closer grid. Now, to the news!
A.J. Ramos Returns from the D.L.
The Marlins got their closer back from injury last week, just in time for them to make their push towards one of the wildcard spots. Ramos was only out for a couple weeks, but it may have been enough to harm his fantasy value just in time for the playoff push. Fernando Rodney has kept up his surprising success since joining the Marlins, and got the first save chance after Ramos re-joined the roster. While Rodney’s 4.44 ERA since coming to Miami doesn’t look great, he allowed just one run over nine innings in Ramos’ absence. Of course, that came with a less-than-stellar 8/6 K/BB ratio. At the end of the day, I’d assume Ramos will get the most save chances down the stretch simply because I believe he is the better pitcher. With that being said, both should be owned right now because it appears Miami likes them both. Rodney getting the first save after Ramos’ return doesn’t mean he’s the full-time closer, but it at least indicates he has some sort of share of the job. Until he squanders that, he’s a frustrating must-own in any league that rosters at least 25 relievers.
Arodys Vizcaino is Back, Too
A little further down the NL East standings, the Braves also found themselves getting their Opening Day closer back from injury. There is a bit of a difference here, though, in that Vizcaino had been out since the All-Star break. I’ve made no secret over my adoration for the righty’s talent this season, and I made the mistake of assuming he’d be the team’s closer as soon as he returned to action. Instead, it appears Atlanta plans on easing him back into action. To be fair, that looks like a smart decision after he allowed four runs without recording an out in his first game back. As of now, there hasn’t really been a timetable for Vizcaino’s return back to the ninth, making Jim Johnson someone who needs to be owned in all leagues. If you’re looking for a stash, though, I’d keep see if Vizcaino is available anywhere. I suspect he’ll get back to that role at some point soon, even with how good Johnson has been in his absence. This is purely speculation, but I imagine the Braves envision Mauricio Cabrera as their closer next season, and could try to build Vizcaino’s trade value as high as it can possibly go before the end of the year.
We Have Some Clarity in Los Angeles
The only thing worse than having a clearly bad closer holding down the ninth inning is having a bunch of clearly bad pitchers vying for that job. The Angels have moved from the latter category into the former. When Cam Bedrosian went down, they were left with a mish-mash of mediocrity that included the likes of Deolis Guerra, J.C. Ramirez, and Fernando Salas. The latter has taken advantage of the situation, converting the team’s only two save chances of the week. So, if you’re looking for Angels saves: A) you’re the weirdest person I’ve ever theoretically met and B) Salas is your guy. Don’t be too excited about him, though, as he’s pitched to a lackluster 4.99 DRA and 112 cFIP this year with fewer than seven strikeouts per nine innings. If you’re in a deep and/or AL Only league, Guerra is probably my favorite backup plan here, though Ramirez has a case as well. With Huston Street now looking like he’ll be out for the rest of the year, the best hope in LA is to wait for Bedrosian to return, hopefully in late August but more likely in early September.
We Have No Clarity in Arizona
If you love miserably high temperatures and even more miserable bullpens, do I have the place for you. After trading Brad Ziegler and Tyler Clippard, the Diamondbacks were left with a whole lot of nothing in the back of their bullpen. Jake Barrett was given the first chance at saves, and that went predictably miserably. After allowing nine runs in six innings in August, it appears he’s lost the top spot in that bullpen. For now, it appears Enrique Burgos will take over the ninth. He converted his first chance on Saturday, and could have the talent to hold on to the job for the rest of the year. His control his a concern, but he has also struck out over 11 batters per nine innings over 56 career innings. Even just this year, he’s striking out more than a batter per inning and has a ground ball rate over 50 percent. Who knows if this is sustainable, but he has at least shown the kind of talent to hold down the job in this unstable bullpen.
Cody Allen blew a save in an atrocious outing last week, which had some hoping it would open up more late-inning chances for Andrew Miller. While the latter did get a win the next day, Allen got the only other save chance. Miller should still get a few saves from here on out, but with each passing day Allen looks like the more intriguing fantasy asset.
Sam Dyson allowed runs in two of his three outings last week, blowing a save in one of them. There’s no indication he’s losing a grip on his job, but he has the type of profile that doesn’t typically last in the ninth inning. With Keone Kela struggling and Jeremy Jeffress unimpressive since coming to Texas, Matt Bush could be a solid speculative add for the stretch run.
Tony Watson also allowed runs in two of his three outings last week. I don’t think he’s in imminent danger of losing his job, but I did mention a few weeks ago that he’s been worse this year than in the past. Neftali Feliz could be another speculative add, though he’d rank behind Bush for me.