Welcome back to a one-day-late edition of the Closer Report. It was an eventful week in the world of relievers, with injuries and underperformance leading to some notable changes in bullpens around the league. Before we get into that, just a reminder you can keep up with the latest changes with the Closer Grid. Now, on to the news.
This has been a disaster of a season for the Giants, and part of that has involved Mark Melancon in the ninth inning. They placed their closer on the disabled list in early May, but he stayed on the shelf for only a couple of weeks. As it turns out, that wasn’t long enough and his elbow is acting up again. It’s bad enough that he has been placed on the disabled list again, and it stands to reason they will be much more cautious with the aging reliever this time around. In his absence, they will be turning to Ranger castoff Sam Dyson. After struggling early in the year with Texas, the righty has actually been solid with San Francisco, allowing runs in only two of his ten outings and striking out more than a batter per inning. He’s also converted both of his save chances since Melancon’s injury and didn’t have trouble doing it. Despite all that, it’s hard to ignore how bad he was at the end of his Rangers tenure. He should certainly be owned in all leagues by now, but keep tabs on Hunter Strickland too as it’s not hard to envision Dyson losing this job too.
Matt Bush is out in Texas. Maybe. Sort of.
Speaking of the Rangers ninth inning situation, things haven’t gotten much clearer in Texas since Dyson’s departure from the role. For a while, it seemed they had a steady presence in Matt Bush, who burst back on to the scene last year. He put together an extremely shaky month of June, though, in which he allowed runs in five of his ten outings and pitched to a 9.64 ERA while allowing a 1.164 OPS. After blowing a save on the last day of the month, the Rangers decided to go with a committee in the ninth inning. It seemed Keone Kela was the guy to own at the top of that committee, as the talented young righty was clearly the best option in the bullpen. Unfortunately, he was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with shoulder issues. It’s unclear how much time he’ll miss, but he could still be worth adding for the second half. In the meantime, Jose LeClerc is at the top of the committee while Bush, lefty Alex Claudio and the newly added Jason Grilli could also see some chances.
Bud Norris is back for the Angels
It’s been a strange year at the back of the Angels’ bullpen, as all of their contenders for the closer gig have ended up on the disabled list at one point or another. Despite that, they’ve mixed and matched their way to a productive ninth inning all season long. Now, everyone is healthy and things are confusing for fantasy owners. Bud Norris, who just returned from the disabled list over the weekend, has been the best pitcher in the bullpen all year and it seems reasonable that he’ll hold down the closer role until he gives it up. Given the presence of Cam Bedrosian, David Hernandez and Huston Street, Norris’ leash could be relatively short. Until he proves he can no longer handle the role, though, Norris is the best option in this bullpen.
The Nationals’ bullpen is still extremely not good
At some point in the next month, the Nationals are going to trade for at least one reliever (and probably more than that) to give them a bullpen that supports the rest of their roster. In the meantime, their closer situation remains a disaster for their team and for fantasy owners. They haven’t recorded a save since June 17 when Enny Romero got one; he and Matt Albers are probably the best options to own right now. Koda Glover has been the premier option for most of the season, but his injury has turned out to be more serious than was originally thought. For now, I’d avoid this situation and wait for a job to open up on another roster.
• It’s been a disappointing season for 2016 standout Seung-Hwan Oh, and it seemed as if he might have been losing his grip on the ninth inning in St. Louis. His main competition, Trevor Rosenthal, has been struggling lately as well, though. Both are still worth owning in many leagues, but Oh is still the primary target for fantasy purposes.
• The Yankees are having a horrible stretch in which both Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances have struggled mightily. There aren’t going to be any changes made in New York, but it’s always worth noting when the elite pitchers are struggling this badly.
• After cruising for most of the season, Alex Colomé is starting to lose it a little bit and has allowed runs in each of his last four outings. I’m still a big believe in the talent, but in a tight division race the Rays can’t wait too long on their closer. I don’t sense that a change is imminent, but keep Brad Boxberger in mind if Colomé struggles in his next couple outings.
• Zach Britton is expected to come back for the Orioles on Wednesday, meaning Brad Brach is going to lose a ton of his value. Unless there are saves on the waiver wire, though, I’d hold on to Brach for his ratios and as insurance in case Britton’s injury reappears.