Welcome to the Trade Deadline Hangover Edition of the Closer Report. After all of the action we saw last week with plenty of movement around the league, things were pretty quiet in the time after. Teams are settling in with their new bullpen depth charts, and it’s likely going to be a little longer until we see some major changes. That being said, there are still some situations that could use a little clarity that we need to look at more closely this week. Before we get to that, just a reminder that you can keep up with the latest changes on the Closer Grid. Now, on to the good stuff.
Matt Belisle Takes Early Lead In Minnesota
The Twins bullpen has been less than impressive this year, and when they sent then-closer Brandon Kintzler to Washington before the deadline it was unclear who would take over in the ninth inning. It seemed to come down to three choices, with Taylor Rogers, Matt Belisle and Trevor Hildenberger being the favorites. As time went on it appeared they’d be going with a committee, and Rogers was my pick for the guy to earn the most save chances. The risk was that, as a lefty, they’d prefer to not pin him down to one inning. Belisle ended up getting the first save chance since the deadline and he completed it without much issue. The biggest problem for the righty this year has been control, he’s begun limiting his walks much more often over the last couple of months. I’m still not ready to trust him completely and think Rogers and even Hildenberger could be worth owning in deeper and/or AL-Only leagues, but Belisle is the guy to own right now.
Still Searching For Clarity In Texas
The Rangers situation has been confusing for some time, and the competition between Alex Claudio, Jose Leclerc and Keone Kela still doesn’t make a ton of sense. Claudio is still the favorite for saves, and I’m confident that he’s the one to own. That being said, he’s the only lefty in this trio and it seems clear that the Rangers aren’t afraid to use him earlier than the ninth if the situation calls for it. For example, he was brought in for the seventh on Sunday, though he did finish the game. Leclerc appears to be next in line, so he could be good for a handful of saves over the next few weeks. If you’re looking for someone who could grab hold of the job and run with it for the playoffs/stretch run, I still maintain that Kela is the man to do it. For now, though, Claudio is number one and should be owned in all leagues.
Tyler Clippard (Yes, Really) Is Taking Control In Chicago
On the one hand, the White Sox aren’t winning many baseball games right now and thus aren’t getting any save chances. We haven’t gotten much of a chance to see how their bullpen hierarchy will play out in close games with the lead. That being the case, we really have no idea whom to own in this bullpen. To be honest, the best answer is to not own anyone. The White Sox aren’t going to give you many save chances to begin with, and when you add in the lack of standout talent that’s threatening to run with the job, there’s not enough upside to justify an addition. If you are, for whatever odd reason that is certainly none of my business, desperate for some hot White Sox bullpen action, go with Tyler Clippard. The former Yankee has been mostly terrible this year, but he has easily the best track record in this group and has been good over his last few outings. This, of course, is subject to change.
• If everything goes according to plan, Jeurys Familia is going to be returning to action within the next couple of weeks. The Mets reliever certainly won’t be thrust right into the closer role, but he is someone who could provide some saves during the crucial month of September. I definitely wouldn’t go dropping A.J. Ramos immediately upon Familia’s return because a lot can go wrong before the roles change, but if you’re looking for late-season upside Familia is a decent bet.
• Speaking of returning pitchers, Carter Capps is back from the disabled list. For those in longer-term leagues, Capps is a great add because he has a strong chance of being the closer in 2018. For those in redraft leagues, he’s not going to add much beyond strikeouts. I’d be completely shocked if Brad Hand lost the ninth inning considering he is someone San Diego will likely look to move this winter. They’ll want to build up as much trade value as possible there.
• In even more injured pitcher news, Mark Melancon also could be close to returning. Sam Dyson has been surprisingly solid in Melancon’s stead, but I’d be surprised if Melancon took longer than a couple of outings to regain the closer job. He might not even need that.
• On the other end of things, Andrew Miller hit the disabled list for Cleveland. While he wasn’t the closer, this could affect Cody Allen owners negatively. I don’t see it having a huge impact, but don’t be surprised if Allen misses out on a few save chances while Miller is absent to take some higher leverage situations early in games.
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