Welcome to the post-trade deadline Closer Report, which is always the busiest Closer Report of the year. We’re just going to jump right into it today because there was obviously a lot of movement, but before we do just a quick reminder that you can keep track of all the action with the Closer Grid. Now, on to the news.
Justin Wilson traded from Tigers to Cubs
With Wilson gone, the Tigers’ ninth-inning situation might be the most intriguing one for fantasy owners right now. Detroit could still be solid down the stretch and they have some talented relievers who can take over. They’ve already announced Shane Greene will get the first crack at the closer role, and he should obviously be added in all leagues if he hasn’t been picked up yet. He should be given every chance to succeed in the role and he has the talent to do so. Greene combines strikeouts — about 10 per nine — with a ground-ball rate around 50 percent, which is my favorite kind of reliever. The one issue for Greene is that he loses control and command at times, and obviously that can lead to bad outings. I wouldn’t call him a guarantee to hold on to the role all year, but he’s a good bet. If you’re looking for a deeper name here, Joe Jimenez is in the minors but he has the talent to be a future closer and the Tigers could feasibly want to get that started towards the end of this season.
On the Cubs side, Wilson is not going to be sliding into the closer role in Chicago. Wade Davis has that job and he’s not giving it up as long as he’s healthy. That being said, I’d hang on to Wilson unless you can get Greene or A.J. Ramos (whom we’ll talk about in a minute). He provides good ratios and the Cubs could want to get Davis some rest, particularly if they pull away in the NL Central.
A.J. Ramos traded from Marlins to Mets; Addison Reed traded from Mets to Red Sox
These were two separate trades and they were made days apart, but it’s hard to talk about one without the other being in the back of your mind. With this one, we’ll start with the Marlins. Miami loses Ramos, the man who has been their closer of the last three years. For now, Brad Zielger figures to take his place. He should be added in leagues in which at least 30 relievers are owned, but he’s not someone you should be rushing to add. He’s a fine pitcher, but he’s not someone who is going to blow you away. Plus, the 37-year-old has been struggling of late. He just got off the disabled list, but he allowed eight runs in his past two outings before hitting the DL. Ziegler is essentially keeping the seat warm for Kyle Barraclough, who is on the DL with a shoulder injury. It’s unclear how much time Barraclough will miss, but his strikeout stuff will be too enticing to pass up in the ninth when he returns. There’s always risk in adding an injured player on waivers, but I believe it’d be worth it in this case. Junichi Tazawa is another name to keep an eye on. He’s not flashy, but if Ziegler struggles and the Marlins decide to make a change before Barraclough returns, Tazawa would step into the ninth.
From the Mets side of things, Ramos was originally a setup man when he was acquired. It always seemed like he was going to step back into a closer gig, though, so I hope you didn’t drop him. With Reed now in Boston, Ramos becomes the reliever to add if, for whatever reason, he is available in your league. He’ll have some lapses in control that lead to frustrating outings, but he’s proven himself capable in this role and the Mets should be solid enough to get him some save chances. Jerry Blevins steps in behind him, but I can’t really see him taking chances from Ramos unless things go much more poorly than I’d expect. Jeurys Familia is also looming as a possibility to come back, but that wouldn’t scare me too much as a Ramos owner, as there’s a good enough chance for setbacks and underperformance keeping Familia out of the ninth for this year.
Finally, most of you can probably go ahead and drop Reed. He’s a fine pitcher and in deeper leagues or those that count holds he will provide value. The Red Sox won’t be giving him more than the token save chance or two, though, unless there’s an injury to Craig Kimbrel. In standard leagues, there probably are better options for ratios.
Brandon Kintzler traded from Twins to Nationals
Brandon Kintzler’s improbable run as an effective major-league closer has come to an end. On the Twins side, it’s not entirely clear where they’ll turn for the ninth inning. My guess would be that Taylor Rogers will take over the closer role in Minnesota, and the Twins closer job could be a little more enticing than a seller’s job would normally be. Rogers isn’t overly exciting, but he’s solid enough and has been the second best reliever in this bullpen all year. He’s also been handling the eighth lately, so he’d be the logical successor. That being said, he’s a lefty and some teams try to avoid putting lefties in the ninth inning. On top of that, he’s been quite bad lately. If they decide they don’t want to tie Rogers to the ninth, look for Matt Belisle to take the job. While his overall numbers this year aren’t great, he’s been much better in July. I’d lean towards Rogers in this group, but I don’t feel great about it. Trevor Hildenberger is another option.
• I’m not going to lie to you. I have no idea what’s going on in the White Sox bullpen. Anthony Swarzak was the closer for five minutes after they traded David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, but after they traded him the situation went to hell. I have Tyler Clippard in that slot on the grid, but he didn’t pitch the ninth at all this weekend. Other options are Jake Petricka, Greg Infante and Juan Minaya. The White Sox aren’t good and they don’t have anything close to a clear closer, so just avoid this situation.
• In non-trade news, Jim Johnson appears to have been demoted in Atlanta. Arodys Vizcaino has long been one of my favorites and he should be added in most leagues, but the Braves aren’t likely to give him a ton of save chances moving forward.
Finally, with all of the movement this week here is my ranking of all the new closers around the league
1. A.J. Ramos
2. Shane Greene
3. Kyle Barraclough
4. Blake Treinen
5. Arodys Vizcaino
6. Brad Ziegler
7. Taylor Rogers
8. Matt Belisle
9. The sweet, sweet embrace of death
10. Anyone in the White Sox bullpen