The Latest Fantasy Baseball Closer Updates and Bullpen Depth Charts
Atlanta Braves: A.J. Minter missed a save opportunity last week due to a back ailment and although he has made only one appearance in the last 10 days for the Braves, he is still the team’s closer. As for the status of Arodys Vizcaino, nothing much has changed. He has yet to begin a rehab assignment and it’s still unknown what the Braves will do with Vizcaino upon his return. It’s far from a foregone conclusion that he automatically regains his ninth inning role. One would have to assume that at the very least Vizcaino will have to prove he is all the way back in a setup role before earning another save opportunity.
Chicago Cubs: At this point last week there was some question as to whether or not Brandon Morrow would get his closer’s job back when he is ready to return, as Pedro Strop had been pitching so well. Not so fast. Morrow’s owners may have some optimism after all as Strop has struggled in his past two outings. Strop blew a save Sunday versus the Reds and manager Joe Maddon removed him from a save opportunity Monday after allowing a walk and hit versus the Mets to put another save at risk. Strop still figures to get the next shot at a save but one more poor performance could see him removed from the role regardless of if Morrow is healthy or not. Carl Edwards would seem to be next in line if Strop is demoted. Like Vizcaino with the Braves, there is no current timetable on when Morrow might return to the Cubs.
Cleveland Indians: If you’re looking for a current closer on a top team that may lose his job, Cody Allen is it. Allen has struggled most of the season to the tune of a 4.42 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. The Indians can afford to be patient, as they don’t have an important game until the playoffs in October, but they need to straighten Allen out. It may not be a bad thing for the Indians to pitch him in less stressful situations in the sixth, seventh, or eighth innings and let Brad Hand close out games. Hand is likely gone in your Fantasy league. At the very least he will pick up holds and protect your ratios.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Fantasy owners were probably thrilled when Kenley Jansen was activated off the disabled list a week or two early, August 20. They aren’t so happy now as Jansen is having some issues to say the least. His velocity is down. This would seem odd, as he wasn’t out of the lineup for that long of a period. The Dodgers are concerned and gave him Sunday off, so that combined with Monday’s off day, he got almost three full days of rest before being asked to pitch again Tuesday, when he allowed two runs in a non-save situation. Once again, as a Fantasy owner, unless you’re extremely deep at the position or don’t need saves, you’re starting him right now and hoping for the best soon.
Milwaukee Brewers: Corey Knebel has pitched so poorly of late that the Brewers sent him down to Triple-A, ouch. Jeremy Jeffress is the reliever you want now should you need saves and if he is still available on your waiver wire. Do I expect him to close the rest of the season? Probably not. Josh Hader will still get a save opportunity here and there, but the Brewers like to use him for multiple outs in the seventh and eighth. Knebel may also get a shot again if he can make himself right in the minors and then in lower leverage situations with the Brewers. Jeffress though may have to fail once or twice for that to happen.
New York Yankees: The Yankees received some bad news when it was announced that Aroldis Chapman will not return to the team when first eligible. Chapman had a PRP injection Friday and won’t even be evaluated again for two weeks. That would seem to indicate that the earliest he would return to the Yankees is mid-September. Manager Aaron Boone has screwed with Fantasy owners so far in Chapman’s absence. Friday, Zach Britton got the save in Baltimore. Saturday it was Dellin Betances. Sunday it was David Robertson. Yeah, that clears it all up. Britton may not get to many save chances as he is now the only left-hander in the Yankee bullpen. The Yankees may not want to upset Betances and remove him from his eighth inning role. This would seem to lead to Robertson being the favorite if he isn’t needed earlier in the game.
Philadelphia Phillies: Seranthony Dominguez was demoted to lower leverage situations after struggling by giving up eight runs in his last eight appearances. Dominguez doesn’t have a save since 8/16. He could regain the job with a string of strong performances but it’s also safe to wonder if the long season and the importance of the games have caught up to him. Dominguez did have a clean outing in a non-save situation Monday but for now the closing gig is in the hands of Pat Neshek and Victor Arano. Neshek blew a save Tuesday. Hector Neris has pitched well recently and could figure back into the picture at some point, too.
Washington Nationals: When is the Nationals closer spot not a mess? The Nats got Kelvin Herrera back from the DL last seek and then almost immediately had to put him back on after he suffered a Lisfranc tear. His season is likely done. Ryan Madson was activated from the DL and would seem to be the favorite to take over the closer role from Koda Glover, but this could also be a committee. As for Sean Doolittle, remember when this was just a day to day injury? He completed a bullpen session Monday and could return to the team in the next 7-10 days. Greg Holland notched a save on Tuesday, but it was not pretty at all.[table “2767” not found /]
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.