Welcome to the Closer Report, and more importantly welcome to trade season. We had our first major reliever trade of the summer, and it involved the team we were all expecting it to include. That wasn’t the only news of the All-Star-shortened week, either, as a couple of committees are becoming slightly clearer. Before we move on to that, just a reminder you can keep up with all movement with the Closer Grid. Now, let’s get to the news.
Nationals finally address bullpen woes
We’ve all been waiting for the Nationals to address the back of their bullpen. Shawn Kelley and, more often, Koda Glover held down the job for periods of time, but due to injuries and inconsistency it’s been clear that someone new would need to come in. Rather than the seemingly inevitable trade for David Robertson or Kelvin Herrera, the Nationals opted to add both Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle from Oakland. Although Washington now has two reliable relievers, the picture isn’t all that much clearer from a fantasy perspective. Both Doolittle and Madson have the talent to close games. Right now, it looks like Madson will get the first crack at the closer gig. Ideally, you could try to add both, but Madson is the one you want. If you must, settling for Doolittle wouldn’t be the end of the world as he can give you good ratios and should get save chances if the ninth consists of a group of lefties at the plate. It’s also worth noting that Washington could still be in the market for a reliever, so Madson’s reign in the ninth may not be as long as you’d like.
Santiago Casilla loses competition in ninth
While Oakland lost two talented relievers out of their bullpen, the A’s still have the same closer. Santiago Casilla has done a solid, if unspectacular, job of holding down the ninth inning in Oakland. Prior to this trade, it seemed possible that Doolittle or Madson could eventually push him out of the ninth. Now, Casilla’s job seems relatively safe as long as the A’s don’t trade him. As for the matter of who’s behind him, that’s not clear to me. Along with prospects, Oakland also received Blake Treinen in this deal. It seems plausible to me that they may try to flip him in the offseason, or even possibly in the next couple of weeks. If that’s the case, they could try to give him high-leverage spots in order to build value. Liam Hendriks is the more logical choice for second in line, but don’t be shocked if Treinen gets some eighth-inning chances.
Trevor Rosenthal jumps to head of the class
Seung Hwan Oh has been struggling all year in St. Louis, and after a blown save Friday ,the Cardinals are starting to shift to a committee in the ninth inning. Sunday marked their first save chance since the shift, and Brett Cecil got the call. The lefty did not get the job done and blew the save. With that, it seems as if Trevor Rosenthal now gets the number one spot in this committee. If he’s not already owned in your league, I would do everything I can to rectify that. The righty has had a huge bounce-back season after his disappointing 2016. There will still be some lapses in control and that could hurt him once in a while, but he’s talented enough to hold on to this job. As for those who own Oh, unless someone like Madson or Doolittle is available, I’d hold on to him as there’s no reason he can’t get more save chances if Rosenthal falters even a little bit.
Alex Claudio closing in Texas
Like St. Louis, the Rangers have shifted to a committee after Matt Bush’s inconsistencies. They’ve been trying to find someone to lead the committee for a couple of weeks now, and they may have finally found their man in Alex Claudio after he recorded saves in two consecutive games. On the one hand, the southpaw is very talented and has excellent command. On the other hand, he does have significant platoon splits and I’m not sold the Rangers will be willing to tie him down to one inning. If you’re looking for saves and he’s available, he’s worth a pickup. That being said, Jose LeClerc is the guy I like the most in this bullpen right now. Once Keone Kela returns, though, he jumps to the top of the list in my eyes.
• The Orioles are reportedly open to trading Zach Britton this summer, in a somewhat shocking rumor. To be honest, I kind of shrugged it off when I first heard it, but there seems to be a growing amount of smoke. Depending on where he lands, this could be a crushing blow to Britton owners. It could be worth putting out trade feelers for him before the rumors get louder.
• Speaking of rumors, the White Sox are still expected to deal David Robertson. Obviously, that would bump Tommy Kahnle to the closer role, except there is also potential that he is moved. That could make Anthony Swarzak a viable fantasy asset.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now