Making Sense of Closer Situations in Houston, Milwaukee and More
The Latest Closer Updates and Depth Charts
Atlanta Braves: Arodys Vizcaino is scheduled to begin throwing Wednesday. This is the first in a series of steps that will be needed in order to get Vizcaino back on the field. An optimistic timetable would be about 10-14 days before he is ready to return to the Braves’ bullpen and possibly your Fantasy team. The bigger question is will he automatically regain the closer’s role? I’m thinking no. A.J. Minter has done well in Vizcaino’s absence and the Braves may not want to fix what isn’t broken.
Boston Red Sox: Craig Kimbrel has struggled of late. He has given up at least one run in five of his last seven outings. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there isn’t anything wrong physically with Kimbrel, this is just one of those things that happens over the course of a long season. You’re still starting him unless you have a much deeper closer corps than most of us do.
Chicago Cubs: Brendan Morrow seems to be having the slowest recovery ever from what was once described as a day to day injury. Morrow is only now starting to play catch and we still don’t know when he will begin a throwing program. It’s impossible to predict when he will return at this moment but the best-case scenario seems to be early September. Then the question will be, should he automatically get the closer job back over Pedro Strop? The Cubs are battling for a playoff spot, they won’t have the luxury of waiting to see if Morrow is ready to go. They will at least start him off in low leverage situations and may not let him close until if/when Strop has a slump.
Houston Astros: As of this moment, Hector Rondon is still the closer for the Astros. This is a bit of a surprise. It’s not because he doesn’t deserve to be, as Rondon has only allowed one run in his last six appearances, but because the Astros didn’t acquire Roberto Osuna and the public relations nightmare that came along with him, just for Osuna to be a setup man. Rondon did blow a save in his most recent outing. Maybe that is the opening the Astros need to make the switch. The only problem with that thinking is that Osuna lost the game by giving up a run of his own in the next inning.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Reports are that Kenley Jansen will be lost to the Dodgers for at least the rest of August due to an irregular heartbeat. Jansen will throw a bullpen session at some point this week to keep in shape, but no one truly knows when he will return to game action. Who will close in his place? Scott Alexander received the first chance, but a couple of poor outings have likely taken him out of consideration. Ross Stripling and Kenta Maeda were moved to the bullpen this week. The Dodgers needed to make some moves due to the return of Hyun-Jin Ryu and Alex Wood from the disabled list. Could Stripling and/or Maeda get the next chance? Yes, it would be a bigger surprise if they didn’t. I’d bet on Maeda first.
Milwaukee Brewers: It’s no secret that Corey Knebel has struggled of late. The Brewers have removed him from the closing role for the time being. Knebel will pitch in lower leverage situations until he rights himself. This may not take long so don’t overreact. Joakim Soria won’t be the reliever to rely on as he is on the DL with a leg injury. This leaves Josh Hader in the driver’s seat to pick up saves in the immediate future.
Minnesota Twins: The Twins traded Fernando Rodney to the Athletics this past week. While Rodney is unlikely to pick up many more saves for the rest of the season, we do need to know who will get a chance to close for the Twins. Addison Reed and Trevor Hildenberger are your leading candidates. The Twins could use one or the other, or just go with a committee approach. Unless you’re desperate, maybe it doesn’t matter much as they are unlikely to pick up all that many saves over the last six weeks of the season anyway.
New York Yankees: What is wrong with Aroldis Chapman? He can’t find the plate without a GPS system right now and his velocity is also down a few ticks. Part of the problem may be his lack of usage lately. It’s always one of the toughest parts of the job for a manager. Do you bring the closer in when it’s not a save situation? They have to balance the need to get the closer some work versus the risk of that reliever blowing because the adrenaline is just not there in a non-save situation. With Chapman it could be his balky knee that is causing the problem. If his mechanics have changed because of that knee that could lead to the loss of the strike zone for Chapman. If he were to go on the DL, and there really aren’t rumors saying as much, Dellin Betances has pitched the best of all the relievers for the Yankees over the past couple of months, but it still might be David Robertson who gets the first shot.
Washington Nationals: The Nats are once again a mess in the bullpen. Sean Doolittle is still on the DL with a toe injury. Kelvin Herrera is also on the shelf with a shoulder injury. Ryan Madson and Koda Glover both gave up walk-off HRs this week for the and Madson is now on the DL with a back injury of his own. Yikes. No one really knows who will close for the Nationals this week. It could be the recently recalled Koda Glover. Maybe the recently signed Greg Holland? How about Justin Miller? This may be the straw that broke this team’s back. I wouldn’t trust any of these relievers for Fantasy purposes. Herrera could be back in 7-10 days.
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As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.
Hector Rondon AP Featured Image: Jim Mone
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