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Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Report: Diaz Suspended, Chapman Closing in Pittsburgh, Helsley Terrific

As usual, there’s plenty to talk about in this week’s Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Report. One of the top closers is gone for 10 days. Baseball’s top closer from 10 years ago is closing again. And it might be time to make some pretty extreme changes to your closer rankings. Read on and we’ll try and help you gain some ground in the saves and/or holds categories.

Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Report

AL East

Rumors persist about the future of Kenley Jansen in Boston. The Red Sox have surprised many with a 43-38 record.  At only a half-game behind in the Wild Card standings, some have questioned Boston’s motivations as we approach the trade deadline; will they be buyers or sellers? If they sell, expect serious interest in Jansen, who continues to get batters out throwing his cutter a whopping 90% of the time. Jansen has three wins, a 2.90 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP, 32 strikeouts in 27.1 innings, and 15 saves. A closer-starved team in the mix could make a push for him; maybe a team like Kansas City? That is just pure speculation here.

Tampa Bay: Pete Fairbanks appears recovered from his finger issue, and earned three saves this week running his total to 13 on the season. Jason Adam and Colin Poche continue to be the top setup options for Fairbanks.

In Toronto, Chad Green continues to be the closer but hasn’t had an opportunity this week.  Closer Jordan Romano and stalwart Yimi Garcia are not expected back until after the All-Star break, which means they are likely more than two weeks away from returns. Even if he does return, be wary of Romano, who cannot seem to be healthy, and it has greatly impacted his effectiveness.

AL Central

Michael Kopech converted his sixth save in a 1-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves Thursday night and followed with a seventh save on Friday night over the Colorado Rockies. These were his first saves since June 15. With the absence of opportunities on the traumatized White Sox, Kopech is only worth rostering in the deepest leagues. He doesn’t get the chances and is rocky often when he does.

Emmanuel Clase has 25 saves for the Cleveland Guardians, who boast one of the deepest bullpens in the game. Clase leads the way with three wins, a .70 ERA,  a .65 WHIP, and a 27.9 K%. Nothing seems to slow him down, but do keep in mind he’s pitched in a whopping 39 games thus far.  Hunter Gaddis, Cade Smith, and Scott Barlow are the top options for holds.

Kansas City: James McArthur remains the closer but there are rumblings of dissatisfaction here. McArthur has 14 saves but his peripherals tell a different story: a 4.41 ERA, a 1.35 WHIP, and a 19.4K% belie that he is the closer. Should Kansas City feel they are in the AL Central race, they may choose to upgrade this position; they are said to prioritize bullpen arms over any other additions.

AL West

Los Angeles: Carlos Estevez continues to pitch very well for the Angels, with 16 saves, a 27.8K%, and a 3.12 ERA.  He’s a likely candidate for trade, however, a contending team adding him would probably not use him to close. In June, Estevez has a win and nine saves, allowing only one hit and no walks.  That is an impressive run.

Andres Munoz continues to struggle with command, leading Trent Thornton to an unlikely save Wednesday. Munoz pitched Friday night in a non-save situation and veteran Ryne Stanek got the win in extra innings. Munoz has 14 saves on the season, he has issued five walks in his last 7.2 innings after yielding only one walk in all of May. Look for Munoz to rebound, as he is too good not to, but there could be an underlying issue here like an injury. Stanek is a capable arm too with seven saves. I am still calling this a co-closer situation.

NL East

Tanner Scott is becoming a hot name on the trade market, and it’s easy to see why: six wins, 11 saves, a 1.54 ERA, and a 1.17 WHIP.  However, there is always the caveat with Scott: he has 23 walks in 35 innings. But, keep in mind that 13 of those free passes happened in April, so he’s been quite good since then. This is an example of needing to go deeper than you might normally when looking at a pitcher, and taking the whole body of work and putting it into context when you roster a player.

The New York Mets’ Edwin Diaz received a 10-game suspension this week for being found with a sticky substance on his person entering a game last weekend; we will call this a committee for the next 10 days. Look for any of Adam Ottavino, Reid Garrett, or Jake Diekman to be called on depending on the game situation. Diaz was suspended and did not appeal and will be on the shelf until July 5th.

NL Central

The Chicago Cubs continue to be a dumpster fire in the bullpen, but there are some signs that things could get more interesting here. Despite manager Craig Counsell’s vote of confidence for incumbent closer Hector Neris, rookie Porter Hodge got the save on Thursday night in a game that Neris won. In a small sample size, Hodge has 15 strikeouts in 10 major league innings; he will need to watch the walks, though, with six in those 10 innings. Hodge is a name to file, and Tyson Miller and Luke Little have stepped into higher-leverage roles. The Cubs also called up veteran Jorge Lopez and added him to the mix.  Reading the tea leaves, Neris’s job should be in danger here.

Milwaukee: Trevor Megill continues to be lights out in Milwaukee, lodging two more saves this week to run his total to 17.  This could get really interesting in a few weeks when closer Devin Williams returns. Megill has done everything asked of him; a 1.71 ERA, a 28.8K%, and stabilizing the back end of their bullpen.  Williams is obviously one of the best closers in baseball; does he gradually return to that role?  Come back in a setup spot?  Or could the Brewer trade either Megill or Williams to shore up another part of the team?  Who knows?  The back end of this bullpen could be lethal if manager Pat Murphy finds a way to use both guys, which he could easily do.

Aroldis Chapman is closing games in Pittsburgh with David Bednar out with an oblique injury.  We know how difficult those can be to return from, especially for a pitcher. Chapman does not have a save yet for the Pirates, but the job is his for the foreseeable future. He has two saves, 13 holds, and a 37K% so far this season. If you are desperate for saves, check your waiver wire for Chapman, although he is likely rostered in deeper leagues already.

Ryan Helsley leads the free world with 29 saves and is having a spectacular season. Four of those saves have come this week. He is capably set up by JoJo Romero and Andrew Kittredge, who have 24 and 23 holds, respectively.

NL West

Paul Sewald continues to close out the chances he gets, with 10 saves now on the season in Arizona. He does it without the high strikeout rate; he’s at an average of 22.6%. However, he limits hard contact and doesn’t walk anyone, so he avoids hurting himself and has six saves this month. He could be on the waiver wire in shallower leagues.

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