The Latest Closer Updates and Bullpen Depth Charts
Atlanta Braves: A.J. Minter missed a shot at a save Monday due to back tightness. He is considered to be day to day. This does not seem to be a situation that will require a DL stint, so Fantasy owners may want to relax before rushing to their waiver wire to claim to claim Dan Winkler. As for the latest news on Arodys Vizcaino, he still isn’t ready to pitch off a mound but is getting closer. It seems early September is the best-case scenario for his return the Braves’ bullpen.
Chicago Cubs: Brandon Morrow threw a bullpen session Saturday. Although it’s been a slow path to recovery, he finally looks to have turned a corner in his battle with biceps inflammation. The next step in his recovery seems to be another bullpen session or two before embarking on a minor league rehab stint. If all goes well, he will return to the Cubs’ bullpen during the first week of September. The better question to ask might be, “Will Morrow automatically return to the closer role?” It’s possible, but Pedro Strop has done a great job in his absence, and the Cubs may not want to fix what isn’t broken.
Houston Astros: When the Astros acquired Roberto Osuna from the Blue Jays at the trade deadline, everyone knew it was just a matter of time until he took over the closer role. The bigger question is why did it take this long? Manager A.J. Hinch stated Tuesday that the switch had indeed been made, and Osuna would take over the ninth inning duties from Hector Rondon. But then later on that night, when a save situation popped up, it was Rondon who pitched the ninth inning. Was Hinch just kidding? Apparently not, as Osuna picked up the save Wednesday. That should be what happens from this point forward.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Fantasy owners received a bit of a surprise Monday when it was announced that Kenley Jansen would return from the disabled list. Originally, Jansen was supposed to miss up to a month with an irregular heartbeat, but it seems that was a cautious exaggeration. Jansen didn’t have a productive first outing, however, as he gave up a couple of home runs in a tie game versus the Cardinals to take the loss. His second outing wasn’t that much better, and you have to wonder if Jansen is truly ready to return to pitching in an MLB game at this point. Still, unless you have great options on your bench or saves is not a category you are worried about, Jansen is in your starting lineup.
Milwaukee Brewers: Those wondering if and when Corey Knebel will return as closer for the Brewers are going to have to remain patient. Knebel has given up runs in his last two outings, and three of his last four. Whatever was bothering him still seems to be doing so. Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress appear to be in some kind of committee at this point. Who closes the game may depend upon whether or not Hader is needed to get important outs in the seventh or eighth innings. I still prefer to pick up Hader if he’s available, but Jeffress could also be a useful addition until Knebel figures things out.
Minnesota Twins: Addison Reed may have had a shot at the closer’s role with the departure of Fernando Rodney, but a string of poor performances have put those thoughts to bed. Trevor Hildenberger has taken over the role and is the reliever you want, should he still be available on your waiver wire and if you are in need of saves.
New York Yankees: It should come as no surprise that Aroldis Chapman was placed on the DL on Wednesday due to continued inflammation in his knee. How long Chapman will be out for is unknown at this time, as well as who will handle the closing duties in his absence. It could be David Robertson, but he has missed the past couple of games due to a tender shoulder. However, he should be available Friday in Baltimore. Dellin Betances has pitched lights out for months, but has failed in the role before, and the Yankees may choose to leave him in his eighth inning role. Perhaps former Orioles closer Zach Britton, another left-hander, takes the role. The smart money is on Robertson, as Britton is now the only left-hander in the Yankee bullpen, and manager Aaron Boone may want to play match ups with him.
San Francisco Giants: Hunter Strickland was activated from the DL on Saturday, but he will not return as the team’s closer. That job belongs to Will Smith, and he doesn’t look like he’s going to be giving it back any time soon. If you were holding onto Strickland hoping that he would return to the role, you can move on.
Washington Nationals: Kelvin Herrera was activated from the DL on Tuesday, and looks to have immediately re-gained the closer role. Herrera pitched the ninth inning Tuesday in what would have been a save situation before the Nat’s scored three runs in the eighth. Koda Glover will return to being a setup man. As for Sean Doolittle, he completed a bullpen session Friday, but doesn’t feel as if he’s recovered from his fractured toe yet. Doolittle may not return until September, and there is no guarantee that he takes over for Herrera even once he does.[table “2766” not found /]
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.