Welcome back to another edition of the Closer Report. There wasn’t a ton of news in Reliever Land over the past week, though there were a couple of big news points that did come down as well as a couple of tough situations to crack adding new wrinkles. Before we get to all of that, though, just a reminder that you can keep up with any changes on the Closer Grid. Now, let’s get on to the good stuff.
Aroldis Chapman kicked out of closer role in New York
Some huge news came out of the Yankees clubhouse this past week as their big-money closer Aroldis Chapman is now just their big-money, late-inning reliever. The fireballer has had a brutal month of August in which he’s allowed runs in four of his six outings and is the owner of a 9.45 ERA while also allowing opponents to post a .906 OPS. Command has been the biggest issue, as he’s been unable to find the strike zone and has fallen behind in counts on a far-too regular basis. Some speculate that his heavy usage in the 2016 postseason is the cause of these issues, and there is plenty of reason to believe that to be true. Whatever the reason, Joe Girardi has seen enough and will look elsewhere in his super-bullpen. Dellin Betances got and converted the team’s first save chance in the post-Chapman era, and he’s probably the most ideal reliever to own out of New York. That being said, David Robertson should also be rostered, as he’ll also likely factor into some ninth innings. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, neither of those guys are likely to be available in many leagues, so this is just a nice added bonus for those who were already rostering those two lefties. As for those who own Chapman, he’s certainly less valuable now but I wouldn’t count him out of being a valuable fantasy asset just yet. Unless there’s someone you really covet out there I’d probably hold onto him for the moment rather than dropping him just for the sake of dropping him.
Trevor Rosenthal hits the disabled list
It was a busy week in Boston for opposing closers. The announcement of Chapman’s demotion came in the midst of a series at Fenway, and Trevor Rosenthal also got some bad news earlier in the week against the Red Sox. He was brought in for a save chance in Boston on Wednesday and something clearly wasn’t right. He allowed a home run immediately upon entering the game and the Cardinals had someone warming up right behind him. That’s not typical behavior with a closer in a game, so they must have known something was off. Rosenthal blew the save and was placed on the 10-day disabled list the next day. Unfortunately, this might be a major elbow injury for Rosenthal, who had been enjoying a big bounce-back year in 2017. It’s unclear at this time just how damaged his ligament is, but there is a chance he’ll need Tommy John surgery. In the meantime, Seung-hwan Oh is back in the ninth for St. Louis. One of last year’s biggest surprises in all of baseball, Oh has been frustrating for much of 2017 but he’s clearly a must-own player right now and it seems there’s a good chance he’ll be that for the rest of the year as well.
Bud Norris gets another save for the Angels
Bud Norris has been one of the most discussed closers in this space this season, largely because he was shockingly effective for the Angels for such a long stretch. However, once Cam Bedrosian returned and with Blake Parker pitching so well this year, it seemed Norris’ run as a relevant fantasy player had ended after a few bad outings. He still figured to be an important part of the Angels’ bullpen, but not one who would factor into a ton of save opportunities. Apparently, he’s worked his way back into the team’s good graces, though. He earned a save Sunday after Bedrosian worked earlier in the game before the Angels had taken the lead. I’m still confident that Bedrosian is still the Angels reliever to own both in the short- and long-term, but Norris could be a valuable pick-up in some leagues as he moves back to the second spot in a bullpen that is likely going to work like a committee for the rest of the year.
• It’s time we check back in with the White Sox bullpen, which has quickly become the most fun part of this post every week. Juan Minaya remains in the top spot of my grid a week after Tyler Clippard left town, but I wouldn’t say he has a strong hold on the closer gig. I’m putting Gregory Infante as the second option, but Aaron Bummer could be another option. As always, it’s a guessing game in Chicago.
• Mark Melancon could need surgery for the Giants, but he seems determined to finish out the rest of the year. Either way, Sam Dyson has continued getting save chances for San Francisco, though there haven’t exactly been a ton of those this year. In an NL-Only league I could see a scenario in which both are owned.
• Glen Perkins is back for Minnesota. The former Twins closer has dealt with major injury issues over the past few years, and though I can’t see him getting many save chances for the rest of the year, it’s good to see him back on a major-league mound.
• Jeurys Familia could be returning to the Mets this coming weekend. As I’ve said before, I wouldn’t expect him to be thrust right into the closer role or even factor in much at all this year, but in longer-term leagues this could be the time to take a chance.