Breaking down all the key closer situations post-deadline
Atlanta Braves: The acquisition of Brad Brach by the Braves on Sunday doesn’t change the hierarchy as far as who will close. A.J. Minter is still the closer and that won’t change until if/when Arodys Vizcaino returns from the disabled list. That return isn’t expected to happen until late August at the earliest. Brach will be a setup man for Minter and will give the Braves some depth in their bullpen.
Arizona Diamondbacks: The addition of Brad Ziegler to the Diamondbacks’ bullpen is yet another depth move. Brad Boxberger should remain the closer with Archie Bradley and Ziegler providing quality relief pitching in the seventh and eighth innings.
Baltimore Orioles: Who is left for the Orioles? Does it matter? Zach Britton was traded to the Yankees last week and Brach to the Braves this week. This likely leaves Mychal Givens as the team’s closer but even at full strength, before the Orioles started their sell-off, they weren’t winning many games. How many can they possibly win now and how many of those wins will require saves? Givens is a desperation Fantasy play for saves.
Chicago Cubs: Brandon Morrow was not activated Saturday, which was the first day in which he was eligible to return to the Cubs. That was not a surprise. As of last report he had yet to begin to throw. Pedro Strop has done a solid job filling in for Morrow and should be claimed if you need saves, as there is no timetable for when Morrow might return to the club.
Chicago White Sox: Who will close for the White Sox now that Joakim Soria was sent to Milwaukee and Nate Jones is still on the DL? Most were assuming it would be Jace Fry but then he was lit up by the Blue Jays on Sunday to the tune of three runs on two hits and a HBP without recording a single out to blow his first shot at the job. Does he get a second chance? Possibly, as the team is far from loaded with options, but his ERA is an ugly 13.50 since July 1. This would be yet another desperation move for Fantasy owners.
Houston Astros: I could write an entire column on the Astros’ acquisition of Roberto Osuna. Didn’t Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers just trash former Astros’ prospect Danry Vasquez when video showed up of him hitting his girlfriend? They will backtrack now and say all the right things, but why would the team put them in that position to begin with? Because winning and money are all that matter in professional sports. The team actually had the nerve to say that they are confident Osuna will comply with their zero-tolerance policy when it comes to domestic violence. Umm, they traded for a player who is currently suspended for domestic violence and one whose case hasn’t even gone through the court system. Apparently, they have plenty of tolerance for DV. Okay, enough of my rant about this trade. As far as who closes for Houston, it will be Osuna. They didn’t trade for him and take on this public relations nightmare to have him set up for Hector Rondon. Osuna will be the closer for Houston almost immediately after being reinstated, August 5 (Sunday).
Roberto Osuna 2015-2017:
0.905 WHIP, 0.8 HR/9, 10.4 K/9, 2.69 FIP, 808 batters faced.
Ken Giles 2015-2017:
1.180 WHIP, 0.6 HR/9, 12.3 K/9, 2.45 FIP, 831 batters faced.
Same contractual control #Bluejays got that and 2 prospects, don't know how anyone can say it's a poor return
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) July 31, 2018
Miami Marlins: The Marlins did move Ziegler, but Kyle Barraclough remains with the team and should be the closer for the last two months of the season. Sure, teams can make trades in August, but Barraclough is only making a little over $1 million this season and is team controllable through arbitration for the next three years. It’s going to be very hard to sneak him through waivers and get value back in return.
New York Mets: Well the Mets were active at the trade deadline. Oh, wait, they weren’t. So, who is the closer for the Mets? It looks like Anthony Swarzak right now, but Robert Gsellman will likely get some opportunities also. It’s a bullpen-by-committee.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates added Rangers’ closer Keone Kela to the team Monday, but he is no threat to take saves away from Felipe Vazquez. Kela is a solid addition to a Pirates’ team that is playing much better than expected of late and could be the eighth inning guy.
Philadelphia Phillies: One week it looks like Seranthony Dominguez is the closer for the Phillies, the next week it looks like Victor Arano. Dominguez is the better pitcher, but he may also be more valuable in a multi-inning role and not just pegged into the ninth inning. Arano could end up being the team’s closer because of this reasoning.
St. Louis Cardinals: Bud Norris was rumored to be on the trade block but ended up staying in St. Louis. Norris is a player who is likely to get through waivers in August so it’s still not a lock that he remains the closer for the Cardinals and it’s also fair to wonder what happens if the team falls out of playoff contention. Will they want to audition Jordan Hicks for the role? You’re safe with Norris for now, but that time may be coming to an end.
Tampa Bay Rays: Now that the Rays weren’t able to trade Sergio Romo I wonder if he goes back to being a part-time starter. Maybe yes, maybe no, but it’s something worth considering if you have him as your closer or are thinking about picking him up.
Texas Rangers: Jose Leclerc is the odds-on favorite to take over the closing role with Kela sent packing Monday. He is by no means a lock for the job but has pitched the best of late in that bullpen. Like so many other closers his job is far from secure and the Rangers are not going to give him many save opportunities. Proceed with caution here.
Toronto Blue Jays: Besides dropping an F-bomb to his manager when being removed from a game, one of the main reasons why Ken Giles was traded was his failure to come through in the clutch. Giles has had all sorts of problems versus the Yankees (ERA north of seven), a team that the Astros may have to go up against during the playoffs should they want to reach their goal of winning back to back World Series championships. He’ll get a fresh start at the closer for the Blue Jays but also now will see the Yankees frequently during the regular season going forward.[table “2754” not found /]
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.