It was a wildly quiet week on the closer front this week. Expect things to be mostly quiet for the rest of the year, as teams have mostly settled on their bullpen structure at this point in the season. Don’t worry, though, as injuries and unstable situations will still create situations that can be taken advantage of for those of you looking to make a strong push to finish out the fantasy season. As always, keep up with any changes on the closer grid. Now, on to the news.
Arizona Shuffles Their Deck Again
Since trading Brad Ziegler in mid July, the Diamondbacks haven’t been able to find anyone to lock down the ninth inning. Jake Barrett got the first crack, and he actually held on to the job longer than most expected. Of course, much of that had to do with Arizona’s lack of save opportunities. After that, Enrique Burgos took over for approximately five minutes. That hasn’t worked out, and now they’ve moved on to Daniel Hudson. The former starter was quite good in 2015, his first full season out of the bullpen, but he’s taken a clear step back this year. While his ERA is inflated by a horrible month-plus stretch from late-June to early August, his strikeouts are also way down and his walks are up a bit. Additionally, he blew his first save chance on Friday. Despite the negatives, he is the most likely to get save chances right now and should be owned. With that being said, I’d try to handcuff him with Randall Delgado if you have space on your roster, as a change could be coming soon. As I’ve been saying for a few weeks, though, it’s best if you can avoid this situation.
Fernando Salas Locking Up The Ninth
While the Diamondbacks have been predictably unstable in Ziegler’s absence, the Angels have been surprisingly solid since losing both Huston Street and Cam Bedrosian to injury. Fernando Salas got the first chance in what looked to turn into a committee of bad pitchers, and he hasn’t looked back successfully converting his first three save chances. I didn’t have many nice things to say about Salas last week, and it’s certainly fair to say his stock has risen since then. This is even truer now that we’ve learned of Bedrosian’s blood clot in his arm. The new ailment could cause him to miss the rest of the season, opening up a shot for Salas to earn saves down the stretch for fantasy owners. With that being said, the negatives that were discussed last week still stand. On top of that, the Angels are one of the worst team in baseballs and don’t figure to collect many save chances in September. You could gamble and speculate on saves from Deolis Guerra or J.C. Ramirez, but I’d rather bolster my ratios with a good setup man.
Checking in on the Rangers
Texas has had one of the more crowded backs of a bullpen in all of baseball since the trade deadline, though it’s built of arms that are more good than great. For right now, Sam Dyson is certainly still the closer, and he’s not coming off a particularly bad week as he threw two scoreless outings and converted both of his save chances. However, the last one also included three base runners. On top of that, he’s had a rough August in which he’s allowed runs in four of his ten appearances and has a lackluster 8-to-5 K:BB in 10 innings while being torched for an .830 OPS. While a change may not be imminent, this is likely the best bet for a good team changing closers without an injury being the catalyst. The only issue is finding which pitcher will be the replacement. Jeremy Jeffress is one candidate, but after his DWI arrest this week as well as his own lackluster performance, he could be falling down the pecking order. Based on pure talent, Jake Diekman probably should get the promotion as he’s one of the most underrated relievers in all of baseball. Unfortunately, he’s also their best situational lefty and is likely more valuable in a less rigid role. As such, Matt Bush is probably the guy I’d target in this bullpen. He has been mostly solid this year and has the traditional strikeout stuff one expects from a late-inning reliever. Again, no one with the team is suggesting a change is coming, but this is where to look if you want a good team that could possibly introduce a new closer.
Houston has also been mentioned as a possibility, and Ken Giles allowed runs in two outings last week. However, I believe in his talent much more than Dyson’s and believe he’ll keep that job all year.
It’s looking more and more likely that Fernando Rodney will keep Miami’s closer role all year. That’s bad news for A.J. Ramos owners, though the latter could be a good buy-low option for those in long-term leagues as he should regain the role next year.
Wade Davis is on his way back, and could even rejoin Kansas City’s bullpen as soon as this week. At this point, it’s unclear whether he’ll be put right back into the ninth inning or eased back into the role. Given the Royals’ position in a tight playoff race, my guess would be the former, which is rough for those who have been benefiting from the red-hot Kelvin Herrera.