We’re almost into September, meaning we are in the most important time of the year for fantasy baseball. Every boost in any category could mean the difference between a championship and a middle-of-the-pack season, and the bullpen can be the area in which most roster movement can happen. With that in mind, just a reminder you can keep up with the latest changes on the Closer Grid. Now let’s get on to the week in news.
Greg Holland losing his grip on the Rockies closer job
One of the best stories in the world of relievers in 2017 has been the success of Greg Holland. The former elite closer was coming off a missed year and a disappointing one the season before that, and had something to prove in 2017. For most of this season, he’d proven that he’s as good as he was at his best and was holding down the late innings for the Rockies to an extent not many expected. Things have taken a turn in the month of August. He has an ERA over 15.00 for the month and has allowed multiple runs in five of his past eight outings. This has led to speculation that he is about to lose his job. With the Rockies in the thick of a playoff race, they don’t really have time to wait for him to right the ship. I still have Holland at the top of my grid, but it’s extremely tentative. It wouldn’t surprise me to change it as soon as today (Tuesday). If Jake McGee is still available in your league, go get him. I wouldn’t drop Holland just yet, but this is a situation you need to keep a very close eye on for the next few days.
Jeurys Familia is back for the Mets
It’s always strange when a closer-caliber pitcher returns for the end of the season. In the case of Jeurys Familia, the Mets have a few choices on how they can approach the return. Each has a big impact on fantasy players and it makes things extremely frustrating. Starting with the most basic, Familia isn’t going to be thrust right back into the closer role. That much should have been obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. The issue is how long it will take. It is entirely possible that Familia is left in a setup role for the rest of the year and allowed to start fresh in 2018. I would take the risk that this won’t be the case. Familia is someone that should be added in most leagues, and while I wouldn’t add him over McGee, he would be near the top of my list. A.J. Ramos is a fine reliever, and one that I’ve felt is underrated for a few years now, but he’s not someone who is going to lock down the closer role. He’s prone to bad stretches, could be having one right now despite not having a blown save. If you’re looking for a high-ceiling move, Familia could pay huge dividends if he is able to pick up some saves over the last few weeks of the season.
Now Blake Parker gets a save for the Angels
Are you a reliever for the Angels? Well, congratulations, you probably have a major-league save. This bullpen continues to be hard to figure out as seemingly every save situation features a new arm throwing in the ninth. It certainly doesn’t help that there haven’t been many save situations to begin with. Last we spoke, Bud Norris got another save chance after having recently lost the closer job, and with that I put him back behind Cam Bedrosian on the grid. Los Angeles only got one save chance in the week since, and Parker got the chance. Bedrosian is still the pitcher to own in this bullpen, but they are avoiding throwing him on back-to-back days so handcuffing him could be the only way to take control of the Angels saves in your league. It hasn’t been easy to pin down exactly who that is at any given point, but Parker has been great for them all year and he’s the one I want. Rank him after McGee in terms of priority but he’s right there with Familia and probably just ahead of him.
• Speaking of handcuffs, the Orioles are taking it easy with Zach Britton, who sat out a save chance against the Red Sox on Sunday. It’s been a tough year for the lefty, and while he can’t be dropped he’s not as reliable as many hoped he’d be. Brad Brach is worth owning in just about every league.
• Dellin Betances owners can breathe a sigh of relief as the righty avoided suspension after the weekend’s kerfuffle in Detroit. In other Yankee reliever news, I’m loosening up on my stance that Aroldis Chapman shouldn’t be dropped. I wouldn’t do so just for the sake of doing so, but it’s starting to look like he might not bounce back in 2107.
• The Nationals bullpen could be a little interesting for fantasy owners. Sean Doolittle seemed like he had the ninth locked down, and hasn’t really done much to change that. However, Dusty Baker could try to get Brandon Kintzler a couple of more saves before he hits free agency this winter. It’s not something I’d bank on, but it’s worth a shot in deeper leagues.
• Kelvin Herrera isn’t going on the disabled list, but he’s feeling some tightness in his forearm. The Royals could try to take it easy with their closer, meaning Brandon Maurer could be an intriguing AL-Only option.