Welcome back to another Closer Report. Although we are into August, we know that doesn’t mean it’s the end of trade season. Generally speaking, closers aren’t the ones dealt at this time of year, but that didn’t hold true this past week as one was traded late Sunday night. Additionally, we lost clarity in some situations and gained some elsewhere, as well as getting some injury news. We’ll cover all that and more, but first a reminder that you can keep up with the changes around the league on the Closer Grid. Now, on to the news.
White Sox trade Tyler Clippard just when things were looking clear
After trading David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, Chicago’s bullpen was in a shambles and it was nowhere near clear who would be closing games for the Pale Hose. Finally, Clippard stepped up as the veteran of the group and took hold of the ninth inning. After struggling mightily in New York for most of the year, he had settled down and gotten into a groove. Apparently, that was the worst that could happen for fantasy owners as he was dealt to Houston on Sunday night. This kills any fantasy value Clippard might have had, as he won’t factor into Houston’s closer situation. It also kills anyone trying to figure out who will now close games for Chicago. I have Juan Minaya as the first man up since he had handled the eighth in Clippard’s saves, but that’s far from a guarantee. It’ll probably be based on matchups, with Minaya and lefty Aaron Bummer getting the bulk of the chances. I’d add Minaya and/or Bummer in AL-only leagues, but nowhere else. The White Sox won’t get enough save chances over the next six weeks to justify a roster spot.
Bud Norris out in Los Angeles
For much of this season, arguably the best and most shocking story in the closer world was the success for Norris. The Angels suffered injury after injury in the back of their bullpen, and eventually had to turn to a journeyman starter to handle the ninth. He not only handled it, but excelled in the role and is one of the biggest reasons they remain in the wild-card hunt. That ride has seemingly come to an end, though, as Norris has been struggling and the Angels are moving away from him in the ninth, at least for now. Unlike Chicago, this is not a fantasy situation to avoid. Unfortunately, there’s not much clarity as to who to add. For now, there won’t be a pitcher who is getting consistent save chances, so it’s about betting on who will grab hold of the job and run with it. I had Blake Parker in the top spot after Norris was initially demoted and even went out and added him in a couple of leagues. I now think I jumped the gun, and think those who added Cam Bedrosian are the ones who will look the smartest by the end of the year.
Mark Melancon is back for the Giants
It’s been an all-around bad season in San Francisco, but one silver lining is that they somehow managed to turn around the year for Sam Dyson, who looked left for dead in Texas. Now, Dyson’s fantasy relevance is ending as Melancon has returned from the disabled list. It’s not time to drop Dyson just yet, as Melancon is still working his way back to the closer role, but it’s only a matter of time. The only way Dyson will keep his job is if Melancon suffers a setback which, given how the year has gone for the Giants, isn’t out of the question. Still, the smart money is moving on from Dyson quickly, and if someone like Bedrosian were still available I’d pull that trigger now. You’ve already gotten more than you could have dreamed of from Dyson when you initially picked him up.
Matt Belisle falters in Minnesota
As with the White Sox, the Twins bullpen took a major step back for fantasy purposes when Brandon Kintzler was traded to Washington. After a week or so of uncertainty, Belisle finally emerged as the player to own in fantasy. His overall numbers on the year don’t look great, but he had been much better of late — at least, until his previous outing, when he blew the save Saturday. I don’t think this is enough for him to lose his job, but he doesn’t exactly have a firm grip on the gig. Trevor Hildenberger got the save Sunday, and while I don’t think he’s overtaken Belisle, this could turn into a committee, making Hildenberger and even Taylor Rogers someone worth considering in deeper leagues.
• Aroldis Chapman blew another save Sunday and has been generally shaky for the Yankees of late. I don’t foresee a change any time soon, though they have enough arms that a change could be justified. I moved David Robertson into my second slot because, after this past offseason, I’m not confident the Yankees would put Dellin Betances into a closer role.
• Kyle Barraclough is on a rehab assignment and could be back in the ninth for Miami this week. Brad Ziegler was fine in his stead, but Barraclough is a much more exciting fantasy option for both this year and the long run.
• Consider this your roughly monthly reminder that Kenley Jansen is incredible. This is something you should try to remember if you’re willing to break the “no closers early in drafts” rule next spring.