Fantasy Baseball Closer Updates and Bullpen Depth Charts
Atlanta Braves: Nothing has really changed as far as the status of Arodys Vizcaino. He still has yet to begin a throwing program. The bigger question will be whether or not he regains his closer role upon his return later this month. A.J. Minter has only given up one run (Sunday) in six appearances since the All-Star break and if his success continues, the Braves may not want to fix what isn’t broken when Vizcaino returns. If you don’t have a DL slot for Vizcaino or have too many players on the DL and need the roster spot, you may want to cut your losses and move on.
Baltimore Orioles: Every save is valuable, we know that. Mychal Givens is likely to close for the Orioles from this point forward. Will he win you a Fantasy league? No, he might not even get 10 saves from this point forward, as the Orioles may not win 10 more games (yeah, that’s a joke, but not that far from the truth either). Givens is far from great, as his 4.72 ERA and 1.45 WHIP will attest to, but if you’re desperate, he may very well be on your waiver wire.
Chicago Cubs: Brandon Morrow has finally started a throwing program as he attempts to return from a biceps injury. The Cubs have never given a timetable as to when Morrow could return to the club, but you have to think he will need a bullpen session or two and then a few rehab appearances (including proving he is able to pitch on back-to-back days) before being activated. This would seem to put his timetable, under the best of circumstances, at least two weeks away. Pedro Strop is a must-pickup in your Fantasy league until Morrow returns, as he is closing for the team now and there really is no guarantee that Morrow automatically returns to the ninth inning when deemed healthy.
Cleveland Indians: Well, first the good news. Andrew Miller has returned from the DL after missing more than two months with a knee injury. Miller is unlikely to see many save opportunities, but if you need holds or just a high-end reliever that can protect your ratios and add some strikeouts, he could be your man. Here’s the bad news. The return of Miller allows manager Terry Francona to mix and match in the late innings with his bullpen. Brad Hand already has two saves in the past week. Like Miller, he is also left-handed. With two top left-handed relievers, Francona can hold one for the ninth inning should a team send up multiple lefty batters. Cody Allen is still the closer, but he will lose a few save opportunities to Hand.
Colorado Rockies: There were some rumors being floated that Wade Davis may be on the outs as the closer for the Rockies. Davis has 32 saves on the season but is also sporting an ugly 4.98 ERA. Throw in that he blew back-to-back saves last week versus the Twins and Cardinals and you can understand why those rumors started, especially for a contending team at this point in the season. The Rockies came out with a public statement of support for Davis and he rewarded them by picking up a save Monday versus the Pirates. Davis is still the man you want in Colorado.
Houston Astros: Roberto Osuna picked up a win in his first appearance for the Astros on Monday. It wasn’t a save situation, but it was in a 1-0 game in the eighth inning. Hector Rondon ended up picking up the save when Houston scored three runs in the ninth. Osuna is still likely to take over the closer role as soon as he proves to manager A.J. Hinch that he is ready for the job. That should come sooner rather than later.
Miami Marlins: The struggles for Kyle Barraclough continued Monday as he gave up a run on two hits and two walks in only 0.1 IP. Barraclough has given up 12 runs now over his last six appearances. There is no word about an injury so perhaps this is just one of those stretches during a long season where a player is struggling. The Marlins have stated that Barraclough’s job has now been taken from him, and Drew Steckenrider is next in line.
Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers haven’t been using Corey Knebel solely as the team’s closer of late. He actually pitched in the seventh inning of a recent game. The Brewers fortified their bullpen at the trade deadline with the addition of Joakim Soria and have several solid options in Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress, so they may feel they should mix and match earlier in games when a victory could be on the line. Still, Knebel is the man you want for saves here.
New York Mets: The Mets have been using a bullpen-by-committee since trading away Jeurys Familia to Oakland several weeks ago, but that committee lost a member when Anthony Swarzak went on the DL with a shoulder injury Sunday. This would lead some to think that Robert Gsellman is the favorite to pick up saves but the Mets keep bringing him to pitch multiple innings and not just the ninth. You really can’t trust anyone in this bullpen.[table “2755” not found /]
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.