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The Closer Catch-Up: Fantasy Baseball Week 16

  1. Ch-ch-ch-changes.

I still don’t know what I was waiting for. And my time was running out. A million dead end pitchers. And every time I thought I’d got it made. It seemed the taste of Aroldis Chapman’s three earned runs this month (!) was not so sweet.

Alright, I’ve finally managed to work David Bowie into a lede. More importantly, man… Chapman, what, why and how? Another two runs allowed on Friday night in a blown save against the Red Sox, and suddenly his ERA looks downright gross at a crooked 3.92. It’s not what we were promised from the Yankee turned Cub turned Yankee turned scrub (what, too soon?), but really, if you were expecting pinky promises from any closer this year, your team is well and truly on its way to suck-ville as of now.

[the_ad id=”384″]This may be the last time we have any sense of reliability, solidarity or whatever other adjectives you want to describe the closer position right now. Trade season is 100/10 on the nuts scale, and I’d be surprised if we’re not talking about more ‘same faces in new places’ between now and the end of this article.

Anyway, here’s a catch up on all things closers ahead of Week 16. If it’s all irrelevant by Wednesday, don’t hate. Maybe just take up a different hobby, I’ve heard frolf is good.

 Team  Closer  Next in Line  Plan C
 Arizona Diamondbacks  Fernando Rodney  Archie Bradley  Jorge De La Rosa
 Atlanta Braves  Jim Johnson  Jose Ramirez  Sam Freeman
 Baltimore Orioles  Brad Brach  Zach Britton  Mychal Givens
 Boston Red Sox  Craig Kimbrel  Joe Kelly  Matt Barnes
 Chicago Cubs  Wade Davis  Koji Uehara  Carl Edwards Jr.
 Chicago White Sox  David Robertson  Tommy Kahnle  Anthony Swarzak
 Cincinnati Reds  Raisel Iglesias  Michael Lorenzon  Drew Storen
 Cleveland Indians  Andrew Miller  Cody Allen  Bryan Shaw
 Colorado Rockies  Greg Holland  Adam Ottovino  Jake McGee
 Detroit Tigers  Justin Wilson  Alex Wilson  Shane Greene
 Houston Astros  Ken Giles  Will Harris  Michael Feliz
 Kansas City Royals  Kelvin Herrera  Joakim Soria  Mike Minor
 Los Angeles Angels  Bud Norris  Cam Bedrosian  David Hernandez
 Los Angeles Dodgers  Kenley Jansen  Pedro Baez  Luis Avilan
 Miami Marlins  A.J. Ramos  David Phelps  Kyle Barraclough
 Milwaukee Brewers  Corey Knebel  Jacob Barnes  Carlos Torres
 Minnesota Twins  Brandon Kintzler  Taylor Rogers  Matt Belisle
 New York Mets  Addison Reed  Paul Sewald  Jerry Blevins
 New York Yankees  Aroldis Chapman  Dellin Betances  Adam Warren
 Oakland Athletics  Santiago Casilla  Blake Treinen  John Axford
 Philadelphia Phillies  Hector Neris  Pat Neshek  Luis Garcia
 Pittsburgh Pirates  Felipe Rivero  Juan Nicasio  Daniel Hudson
 St. Louis Cardinals  Seung Hwan Oh  Brett Cecil Trevor Rosenthal
 San Diego Padres  Brandon Maurer  Brad Hand  Ryan Buchter
 San Francisco Giants  Sam Dyson  Hunter Strickland  George Kontos
 Seattle Mariners  Edwin Diaz  Nick Vincent  Tony Zych
 Tamba Bay Rays  Alex Colome  Tommy Hunter  Brad Boxberger
 Texas Rangers  Alex Claudio  Matt Bush Jose Leclerc
 Toronto Blue Jays  Roberto Osuna  Ryan Tepera  Danny Barnes
 Washington Nationals  Ryan Madson  Sean Doolittle  Matt Grace


The Market Place

I suppose I should start with what you want to know first (that’s what good writers do, right?). Okay, so trades. The Dodgers reportedly called the Orioles last week to talk Zach Britton. The trade fell through in the end, and even though this probably makes a whole-lotta sense in real life baseball, the fantasy impact would have been astronomical since Britton is y’know, likely to receive save chances again in Baltimore pretty soon.

Britton in the Dodgers bullpen would have resulted in a lot less playing time, costing us fantasy guys (and two girls) a pretty reliable arm. Since that situation has cooled off, though, we now turn to the possible A.J. Ramos AND David Phelps deal to the Arizona Diamondbacks, one that seems inevitable since the Marlins are slapping price tags on anything with a pulse.

If you’re in the 68% of people who own Ramos, you expected this. Should you sweat it, though? Well, Ramos’ ERA sits large at 7.38 throughout the course of July, and his hard hit rate of 38.1% is 14 points higher than it was two years ago. I hate to keep pooping the party, but Ramos’ .333 batting average against vs. the Dodgers also makes Arizona a worrying destination for the foreseeable future.

Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson look to be the latest duo the Nationals are in love with. I’ve been high on Doolittle for much of the season, and not only is he throwing his fastball over 92% of the time, he created a nice little 22% whiff rate in June to go along with it. The Nationals bullpen ranks in the bottom five in both strikeouts and K/9, and in the top five in ERA, home runs and BABIP. Combined Doolittle and Madson have allowed six earned runs and one home run over their past 10 outings, and if you’re not already invested in Madson’s camp, now might be the time to buy.

Speaking of buying, the Brewers aren’t done yet. They had big time interest in Jose Quintana before the Cubs pulled the trigger, and I still think a few of their young guys are up for grabs. They’ll likely have to throw in a few prospects, especially if they want to nab Sonny Gray from the A’s. The Braves are also hungry for pitching, so surely we see some kind of swap sometime soon.

What I’ve Seen

  • The Blue Jays game got pretty ugly on Saturday night. The Tigers went full pound-town on Francisco Liriano early, and then Aaron Loup happened. He’s obviously well away from ever becoming the Jays closer, and for good reason, because he’s now surrendered nine earned runs over his last six starts. Toronto’s bullpen entered the game midway through the fifth inning, and between Loup and Lucas Harrell, managed only two total strikeouts. This one hurt to watch.
  • Craig Kimbrel was on point in Game 2 of Yankees/Red Sox, well, 50% of the time anyway. He manhandled Aaron Judge in a nine pitch at-bat, but then Matt Holliday stepped up and kinda reminded us why no pitcher is safe this season. A home run over the green monster tied a game the Red Sox had every right to win, especially up 1-0 in the 9th. Kimbrel finished with 1.1 innings of two strikeout ball, while the rest of us sat through 16 innings of Mexican waves and basic boredom as the Yankees stole the double-yah.
  • Trevor Gott got on Saturday night, and Scoot-Scoot Gennett was the one to deliver the blow. The Nationals bullpen is kind of like an Adam Sandler movie. They suck, but you watch them so you can tell your friends how much they suck. Gennett made things interesting, hitting a three run homer in the ninth to put the heebie-jeebies on another potential blown game for the Nats. They wound up holding on for a 10-7 win, but man, this thing needs to get fixed in a hurry.
  •  Edwin Diaz put up his 15th save against the White Sox over the weekend. His latest trick seems to be posting one horrendous inning once a month, while surrounding it with five or so solid innings of multi strikeouts – kind of like the one he had on Saturday night. Diaz has been steadily mass dropped throughout the last few months, but I see his value increasing with a much sharper 2.70 ERA across his last 13.1 innings.
  • All of a sudden the Indians have decided that good pitching is overrated. Andrew Miller threw 0.2 innings vs. the A’s and allowed a walk and his eighth earned run this season. It’s been a pretty drastic fall from grace for the lefty, as he now has three wins and three losses this year.
  • Turns out the Rangers still have plenty of problems. Tied 3-3 in the bottom of the 9th vs. the Royals on Sunday, Jason Grilli completed imploded. A single to Alcides Escobar started an avalanche of command issues, as Grilli then went on to walk Alex Gordon, hit Whit Merrifield in the back, and eventually allow a walk off single to Lorenzo Cain with the bases loaded to gift Kansas City the 4-3 victory. The Rangers were looking for their 13th straight win over the Royals, so I guess this had to happen sooner or later.
  • Kenley Jansen earned his 23rd save on Sunday, throwing 1.1 innings of two hit, three strikeout ball vs. the Marlins. July started off a little wonky for Jansen, allowing only his second HR of the year on July 4th. He’s pulled it back together, though, allowing only three hits since then.
  • Hector Neris finally put together a game without allowing an earned run. He put up his eighth save against the Brewers, and for once, the Phillies bullpen gave up only three hits following Hellickson’s six strikeout day.
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