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Fantasy Baseball 2017: Closer Depth Chart Week 7

Welcome back to the Wednesday Weekly Closer Report where I will break down and rate each team’s bullpen situation. The injuries keep piling up, so hopefully you have been very active on your waiver wire and taking advantage of your opponents’ lack of awareness. We are midway through May and there are still a boatload of oscillating situations to keep your finger on, although one that bothered me for weeks finally got resolved (maybe) in Milwaukee.  As always, do not forget to check out the rankings of the ‘Immediate Waiver Pickups’ at the end of the article to see who has the most upside going forward for his team’s closer job.

One final note, I will be traveling to Italy this week from May 19-May 28. Unfortunately, I will be unable to command the gears of the Wednesday Weekly Closer Report next week in between slices of pizza and bottles of wine. Do not fear my brethren, however, as the ever fearless and always tumultuous and vivacious RotoDragon will take charge and steer you in the right direction for Week 8. Ciao for now! In the mean time, here’s the Closer Depth Chart Week 7:

 

American League East

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentBOSCraig Kimbrel Joe Kelly
ConfidentNYYDellin BetancesTyler Clippard
ComfortableBALBrad BrachDarren O'Day
ConfidentTORRoberto OsunaJoe Smith
ConfidentTBAlexander ColomeDanny Farquhar

Brad Brach has filled in admirably for the continuously injured Zach Britton this year. However, Brach hit a rough patch, giving up runs in 3 of his last 4 appearances, most recently in his last appearance where he blew his second save of the year, giving up 3 runs in just .1IP. While the Orioles desperately need Britton back, their bullpen is good enough to hold down the fort until the All Star break, so I do not see any significant moves in their future. Brach should hold onto his job until then, barring any injury or extended string of horrific struggles. So weather this minor storm for now, as the past few years indicate Brach is more than capable of being a solid reliever in high-leverage situations. The most recent disabled list casualty is Aroldis Chapman, who finds himself there for at least a month with a shoulder injury. Recently, the Yankees stated they will shut him down for 2 weeks and let him recover. The good news is that an MRI came back negative, so hopefully he will not require much more than the initial prognosis indicates. Until then, all world setup man Dellin Betances will command the Yankees bullpen. Walks have been an issue on the year for the mighty righty, with 6.75 BB/9, but he is piling up the strikeouts at a 16.50 K/9 clip and has been nearly untouchable this year with a .167 batting average against. No need to worry here, so enjoy the free ride of saves until Chapman rejoins the bullpen.

American League Central

RSJ Team RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentCWSDavid RobertsonNate Jones (INJ)
ConfidentKCKelvin HerreraJoakim Soria
ConfidentMINBrandon KintzlerTaylor Rogers
ComfortableDETJustin WilsonAlex Wilson
ConfidentCLECody AllenAndrew Miller

Well hello Justin Wilson! All this guy does is strike people out (26 Ks in 15.2IP) and not allow hits (4 hits allowed on the season). That equates to a .077 average for those of you keeping track at home. Sure his .120 BABIP is far below his career average of .287, and he is stranding 90.9% of baserunners, but its not like his other peripherals suggest regression. His 1.15 ERA almost matches his 1.29 FIP. His ability to strike people out and command his pitches make him a near perfect closer. With Francisco Rodriguez officially out of the way, he now must only worry about fellow Wilsoner Alex Wilson. Although impressive on first blush, Alex does not have the strikeouts (6.43 K/9) or peripherals (3.59 FIP/4.58 xFIP) to compete for the job long term. Hopefully you picked up Wilson already. If you have not, do it immediately in the few leagues where he is available.

American League West

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
Comfortable LAABud NorrisBlake Parker
ComfortableSEASteve CishekNick VincentSteve Cishek
ConfidentTEXMatt BushJeremy Jeffress
UnstableOAKSantiago CasillaRyan MadsonRyan Madson
ConfidentHOUKen GilesWill Harris

Let’s hope that its just short term struggles for second year Mariners closer Edwin Diaz and not a serious sophomore slump. While his strikeout rate is still impressive (11.74), it is a far cry from his 2016 number (15.33). Also, while walks were not a major concern for him on the year, he did walk 4(!!!!!!) in one-third of an inning in his last appearance. Additionally, the day prior he gave up a walk-off solo home run to Kevin Pillar, taking the loss. Scott Servais has decided to go with a committee headed by…well I am not that sure. Tony Zych recorded the save that Diaz most recently blew but Nick Vincent set him up in the eighth. Also, the Mariners recently activated Steve Cishek, so he could throw his name in the hat as well. For now, I will go with the tenured and experienced former closer Cishek, but Vincent has been the best arm in that pen besides Diaz to date. I do not think this is a long term move as Diaz is clearly the future of that bullpen, but he does need a week or so to clear the cobwebs and regain his command and confidence. Just when it looked like Santiago Casilla had the closer job locked down in Oakland, he goes and does something like this: .1IP, 4 hits, 4 earned runs, 1 home run. In the words of NFL great fall-guy Chris Carter, c’mon man! With Ryan Madson finding his groove (1.98 ERA, 14Ks in 13.2IP), a closing change could be coming very soon if Casilla cannot make a quick rebound.

National League East

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
UnknownWSHShawn KelleyKoda GloverKoda Glover
UnstablePHIHector NerisJoaquin Benoit
Comfortable ATLJim JohnsonArodys Vizcaino
Comfortable MIAA.J. RamosKyle Barraclough
Comfortable NYMAddison ReedJosh Edgin

I chronicled the nightly sketch comedy show that is the Washington Nationals bullpen situation. And wouldn’t you know it, as I predicted, it got even funnier! Laughs for everyone! Shawn Kelley returned to pitch a somewhat clean inning of work in his first appearance back from injury, giving up two walks, but also striking out two and earning a victory! It’s the little victories that count! Maybe we can build off that performance…or self destruct. The next night, Kelley entered with a 2 run lead in the ninth inning and gave up a leadoff home run, then followed that with the following: out-double-double-walk, end scene. Koda Glover came in to solidify the loss for Kelley, giving up two hits and no runs of his own in two-thirds of an inning of work. At this point, I do not know which way is up or down, left or right. My guess is that Kelley has one final chance before the reigns are handed to Glover, but that should just be until the Nationals make the most obvious trade deadline trade in the history of trade deadline trades involving the White Sox David Robertson. A blood clot in Jeurys Familia‘s shoulder will sideline him for 3-4 months, so the Mets promoted Addison Reed to the closer role. Remember, Reed began the year as the Mets closer while Familia was suspended the first 15 games of the year. In that time, he converted all of 4 his saves, but he did have one loss and a 3.72 ERA. There is not much competition for Reed in that bullpen and I honestly believe he is the best, most talented and experienced man they have. He should be able to hold down the job for at least a little while and potentially for the rest of the year if the Mets do not turn things around and make a trade to bolster their bullpen for a deep playoff run.

National League Central

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentCHCWade DavisCarl Edwards Jr.
ConfidentCINRasiel IglesiasDrew Storen
Comfortable MILCorey KnebelNeftali FelizCorey Knebel
ConfidentSTLSeung-Hwan OhTrevor Rosenthal
ConfidentPITTony WatsonFelipe Rivero

Milwaukee Brewers Manager Craig Counsell decided to give Neftali Feliz  a “break” from the closer job. Translation: you stink Feliz. On the year, Feliz owns a 6.35 ERA, 6.88 K/9, corroborating 6.90 FIP, and a whopping 4 losses. So if this is akin to a “break” in a relationship where the couple inevitably never gets back together ever again, then yes, this is a break. Insert Corey Knebel and his 33 strikeouts in 20 innings, 1.00 ERA and 0.90 WHIP instead of the aforementioned Feliz and the Brewers may be cooking with gas. The offensive juggernaut that is the Brewers lineup will find itself competing in a lot of games this year, so Knebel should have plenty of opportunities going forward. With not much else behind him and some extremely dominant, put-away stuff, expect Knebel to have a long leash here while Feliz wonders what went wrong in my beautiful relationship.

National League West

RST RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentLADKenley JansenPedro Baez
ComfortableSFMark Melancon (INJ)Derek LawDerek Law
ComfortableSDBrandon MaurerRyan Buchter
UnstableARIFernando RodneyArchie BradleyArchie Bradley
ConfidentCOLGreg HollandAdam Ottavino

I do not like Fernando Rodney. It is nothing personal. I have just seen him pitch in basically every state in the United States and fail everywhere. For those keeping record, the teams are: Detroit, Los Angeles (Angels), Tampa, Seattle, Chicago (Cubs), San Diego, Miami and Arizona. He really pulled the wool over the eyes of Miami and Arizona with his short stint in San Diego last year, and now Arizona cannot find their way from underneath this whale of a situation. While he has pitched better recently (and he is prone to stretches of good pitching…which is how he fools everyone…like an insect who camouflages itself in nature waiting for its prey), the end of days HAS to be coming soon. I am still sticking with Archie Bradley in the short term, but long term, for a really good team with playoff aspirations, they need to throw their name in the closer-trade hat sooner than later. Brandon Maurer finally hit a rough patch, blowing his first two saves of the season in 2 of his last 3 appearances. In the first he gave up 4 runs in .1IP, and (similarly) in the second he gave up 3 runs in .1IP. That’s no gouda (PLEASE view the clip below and fast forward to 2:10 for the reference. It’s Leslie Nielsen, so you know its an A+ joke.). But where is Carter Capps? Is he rotting in AAA? Is he on a comeback? How is he progressing? No one really knows. Ryan Buchter seems to be the best bet for a backup right now, but Maurer has been rather serviceable outside this difficult stretch. I still ultimately see Capps taking over…if he ever sees the field.

Ranking of the Immediate Waiver Pickups

  1. Corey Knebel (MIL, 55% Yahoo ownership)
  2. Koda Glover (WSH, 22% Yahoo ownership)
  3. Ryan Madson (OAK, 40% Yahoo ownership)
  4. Steve Cishek (SEA, 7% Yahoo ownership)
  5. Archie Bradley (ARI, 17% Yahoo ownership)
  6. Derek Law (SF, 36% Yahoo ownership)

And that’s a wrap for the Closer Depth Chart Week 7. Be sure to scour the waiver wire for all these relievers and check back every Wednesday for the latest updates regarding the closer jobs around the league. Until we meet again, keep your eyes open and your nose to the ground.

To contact me with any questions or general fantasy baseball discussion, please email me at redsocker45@gmail.com or tweet me @AJGamballer.

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