Welcome back to the Closer Report and welcome to the last week of the regular season. At this point in the year, obviously there isn’t a whole lot going on with the closer front and if you’re looking for saves this late in the year you’re probably in trouble. In a sample as small as the remaining number of games on the schedule it’s nearly impossible to predict who will get saves and how many they will get. Still, we persevere! Despite that, there were couple changes were indeed made on the Grid. Let’s get into the news.
Zach Britton is done for the year
It’s been a really tough year for Britton after his incredible 2016, and more than anything he’s been a reminder of the impending doom that exists for all pitchers. As we’ve been saying in this space since his injury first popped up early in the year, these kind of arm injuries have a tendency to pop back up. Because of that, anyone who had Brad Brach on their roster would have been smart to roster him all year if at all possible. Granted, this doesn’t always work out, as Wade Davis has shown this year, but erring on the side of pessimism with arm injuries to pitchers is often the right call, unfortunately. Hopefully, Britton can take a full offseason of rest and turn that into a healthy 2018. He was never the same this year, but we know what kind of talent this guy has and he could very well bounce back and be one of the best buys in drafts and auctions next year. Brach could provide a couple of saves down the stretch this year that could turn a playoff matchup or possibly even a roto end-of-year chase.
Kansas City is going to end the year on a murky note
At this point in the year the cream has risen to the crop in just about every bullpen across the league, but the Royals are bucking that trend. They made a late and mildly surprising decision to remove Kelvin Herrera from their closer role just a few weeks ago and no one has stepped up in his stead. After Brandon Maurer, the most logical replacement, failed to step up, the Royals have turned to a couple of lefties. Scott Alexander is one of them and had been their most consistent reliever in the second half. However, he’s struggled a bit lately as he’s allowed multiple runs in two of his past four outings. If he were an established closer, that wouldn’t be enough to kick him out of the top spot on the depth chart, but since he just got that spot it gave someone else a chance to step up. That has been Mike Minor, who has only allowed one run in September and has converted their past two save chances. I’d be surprised if the southpaw kept his fantasy relevance next year, but he could be valuable over the next week.
Jeurys Familia got a save
After missing a large chunk of the season, it was impossible to know what to expect from Familia in the Mets bullpen. The team was certainly hoping he’d look like his old self and work his way back to the closer role for 2018, but that was far from a guarantee. There have certainly been some growing pains for the righty, but he had a big milestone this week in picking up his first save in 2017. For the rest of this year, A.J. Ramos is still the guy to own, but that might not be the case for next year. If both make it through the winter with the club, this will be one of the more interesting battles to watch in spring. It’s worth noting that, despite the recent save, Familia has struggled a bit with his command since returning from injury.
• Aroldis Chapman hit that rough patch in August, but he’s since regained the closer job and he’s looked like his old self of late. This has been a hugely encouraging sign for those that own him in longer-term leagues.
• Brad Hand might not be a valuable fantasy asset in the longer term, assuming he’s put on the trade block this winter. He’s coming off a huge week, though, and is showing that he could be roster-worthy even if he’s not getting save chances.
• The Rangers situation has been surprisingly calm this year as it seemed for a while that there would be confusion for the entire season. Alex Claudio has been one of the quietest and most pleasant surprises in fantasy this year.