Welcome back to the Closer Report. It wasn’t a terribly busy week in Reliever Land, but there seems to be plenty of movement bubbling under the surface, just waiting to jump out into the wilderness. Before we get into all of that, just a reminder that you can keep up with any movement with the Closer Grid. Now, let’s get to the good stuff.
The Angels are (mostly) healthy again—and as confusing as ever
The Angels have had some absurdly bad luck in the back of their bullpen this season, with essentially anyone who has held the closer role destined for injury. They deserve plenty of credit for finding cheap options and turning those options into legitimate back-end options. That includes Bud Norris, who shockingly excelled in the closer role for longer than anyone could have expected. Now, he’s on the disabled list but both Cam Bedrosian and Huston Street are back on the active roster. Unfortunately, their return hasn’t made the ninth inning in Los Angeles any clearer. For the time being, it appears this is going to be a committee based on matchups and the hot hand and will include Bedrosian, Street, Yusmiero Petit, Blake Parker and David Hernandez. I still have Bedrosian at the top of my grid and believe their ideal scenario is him stepping up and taking a firm grip on the job, but it’s not so clear right now. The previous save went to Petit, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to add him only because he is more of a multi-inning arm and I can’t imagine they want to tie him to the ninth. In order, I’d rank these options as Bedrosian, Hernandez, Street, Parker, Petit. They are all close enough that I could see any of them taking the job, and that’s without mentioning the young and talented Kenyan Middleton. Clarity will come at some point, but for now this is a fun bullpen that is a disaster for fantasy owners.
The Nationals are not so healthy and still very confusing
Speaking of bullpens that are a disaster for fantasy owners, let’s take a trip to Washington. The best-case scenario for fantasy owners is that Koda Glover returns soon from the disabled list and takes the ninth inning job back. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem likely, as the righty is still not throwing more than two weeks since he was placed on the DL. Shawn Kelley would be less of a sure thing than Glover, but would, at least, add a little more talent to the group. Unfortunately, he also is injured and does not have a timetable to return. That leaves a mix-and-match group headed by Matt Albers and Enny Romero. Albers would be the one I want to own right now, but if you do add him know that it’s only a short-term solution. It’s also worth noting the Nationals signed Francisco Rodriguez to a minor-league deal Monday. I can’t see him getting back a major-league closer gig, but stranger things have happened and the Nationals are desperate.
It’s time to add Sean Doolittle
There hasn’t been any concrete reason to believe the A’s are ready to make a change at closer, and I wouldn’t expect such a change to happen within the next few days. With that said, Santiago Casilla is struggling of late and allowed runs in two of his past three outings. He’s now at a 4.28 ERA, and his 5.52 DRA suggests he’s been even worse. When you consider his lack-of-elite stuff, his shaky command and the drop-off in his ground-ball rate, Casilla seems like a pitcher who is ready to go on a bad run. Enter: Sean Doolittle. Health always has been and will always be the biggest question for the lefty, but he is healthy right now and is pitching extremely well. If he’s available, he’s someone I’d be adding if possible. He’ll help ratios in the short-term, and should be earning saves relatively soon.
Arodys Vizcaino could be stashed, too
The situation in Atlanta is not exactly like the one in Oakland, but it is another bullpen in which I’d be looking to stash the current set-up man if you have room on your roster. Jim Johnson, the current closer, is coming off a rough week but the signs for his future aren’t quite as bleak; he’s been quietly fantastic this season. However, I would imagine the rebuilding Braves are going to trade him at some point in the next six weeks, and they could decide to jump into the trade market early. Because of that, I’d be looking at Vizcaino. He’s long been one of my favorites and he’s recovered from some major control issues in 2016. He’s put up a 2.49 DRA this season and will give you big strikeout numbers while you wait for him to amass saves later in the year.
• It was a rough week for Matt Bush, and he seemed to have his confidence shaken after a rough outing Friday, based on postgame comments. I wouldn’t be overly worried about his short-term future, but keep an eye on this situation and Keone Kela’s availability in your league(s).
• Roberto Osuna took some time off to deal with anxiety issues. He came back Sunday, but the team will give him time off as he needs it. Obviously, his priority should be his own mental health.
• Kenley Jansen finally walked his first batter of the season. Time to drop him, I guess.
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What changes if any would you advocate?