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Week 2 Rankings:         Top-20 Quarterbacks   1 ) Tom Brady (NE)   2 ) Aaron Rodgers (GB)   3 ) Matt Ryan (ATL)   4 ) Drew Brees (NO)   5 ) Derek Carr (OAK)   6 ) Jameis Winston (TB)   7 ) Marcus Mariota (TEN)   8 ) Cam Newton (CAR)   9 ) Philip Rivers (LAC)   10 ) Matthew Stafford (DET)   11 ) Russell Wilson (SEA)   12 ) Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)   13 ) Kirk Cousins (WAS)   14 ) Tyrod Taylor (BUF)   15 ) Alex Smith (KC)   16 ) Carson Wentz (DAL)   17 ) Dak Prescott (DAL)   18 ) Jay Cutler (MIA)   19 ) Carson Palmer (ARI)   20 ) Joe Flacco (BAL)   Top-40 Running Backs   1 ) Le'Veon Bell (PIT)   2 ) LeSean McCoy (BUF)   3 ) Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)   4 ) Kareem Hunt (KC)   5 ) Melvin Gordon (LAC)   6 ) Jay Ajayi (MIA)   7 ) Ty Montgomery (GB)   8 ) Dalvin Cook (MIN)   9 ) Devonta Freeman (ATL)   10 ) Todd Gurley (LAR)   11 ) Marshawn Lynch (OAK)   12 ) Mike Gillislee (NE)   13 ) Leonard Fournette (JAC)   14 ) DeMarco Murray (TEN)   15 ) Jordan Howard (CHI)   16 ) Christian McCaffrey (CAR)   17 ) Jacquizz Rodgers (TB)   18 ) Isaiah Crowell (CLE)   19 ) CJ Anderson (DEN)   20 ) Tarik Cohen (CHI)   21 ) Lamar Miller (HOU)   22 ) Mark Ingram (NO)   23 ) Bilal Powell (NYJ)   24 ) James White (NE)   25 ) Terrance West (BAL)   26 ) Jonathan Stewart (CAR)   27 ) Tevin Coleman (ATL)   28 ) Javorious Allen (BAL)   29 ) Thomas Rawls (SEA)   30 ) Carlos Hyde (SF)   31 ) Kerwynn Williams (ARI)   32 ) Robert Kelley (WAS)   33 ) Theo Riddick (DET)   34 ) LeGarrette Blount (PHI)   35 ) Ameer Abdullah (DET)   36 ) Alvin Kamara (NO)   37 ) Joe Mixon (CIN)   38 ) Jeremy Hill (CIN)   39 ) Adrian Peterson (NO)   40 ) Frank Gore (IND)   Top-50 Wide Receivers   1 ) Julio Jones (ATL)   2 ) Jordy Nelson (GB)   3 ) Mike Evans (TB)   4 ) Antonio Brown (PIT)   5 ) Amari Cooper (OAK)   6 ) Brandin Cooks (NE)   7 ) AJ Green (CIN)   8 ) Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG)   9 ) Keenan Allen (LAC)   10 ) Michael Thomas (NO)   11 ) Tyreek Hill (KC)   12 ) Doug Baldwin (SEA)   13 ) DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)   14 ) Larry Fitzgerald (ARI)   15 ) Demaryius Thomas (DEN)   16 ) Golden Tate (DET)   17 ) Stefon Diggs (MIN)   18 ) Michael Crabtree (OAK)   19 ) Dez Bryant (DAL)   20 ) Martavis Bryant (PIT)   21 ) Davante Adams (GB)   22 ) Devante Parker (MIA)   23 ) Kelvin Benjamin (CAR)   24 ) Terrelle Pryor (WAS)   25 ) Jeremy Maclin (BAL)   26 ) Adam Thielen (MIN)   27 ) Randall Cobb (GB)   28 ) DeSean Jackson (TB)   29 ) Alshon Jeffery (PHI)   30 ) Danny Amendola (NE)   31 ) Cooper Kupp (LAR)   32 ) Sammy Watkins (LAR)   33 ) Tyrell Williams (LAC)   34 ) Jarvis Landry (MIA)   35 ) Corey Coleman (CLE)   36 ) Corey Davis (TEN)   37 ) Jamison Crowder (WAS)   38 ) Emmanuel Sanders (DEN)   39 ) Pierre Garcon (SF)   40 ) TY Hilton (IND)   41 ) Ted Ginn (IND)   42 ) Chris Hogan (NE)   43 ) Eric Decker (TEN)   44 ) John Brown (ARI)   45 ) Nelson Agholor (PHI)   46 ) Kenny Golladay (DET)   47 ) Allen Hurns (JAC)   48 ) Rishard Matthews (TEN)   49 ) Paul Richardson (SEA)   50 ) Brandon Marshall (NYG)   Top-20 Tight Ends   1 ) Rob Gronkowski (NE)   2 ) Zach Ertz (PHI)   3 ) Jordan Reed (WAS)   4 ) Greg Olsen (CAR)   5 ) Travis Kelce (KC)   6 ) Martellus Bennett (GB)   7 ) Delanie Walker (TEN)   8 ) Jimmy Graham (SEA)   9 ) Kyle Rudolph (MIN)   10 ) Charles Clay (BUF)   11 ) Tyler Eifert (CIN)   12 ) Jared Cook (OAK)   13 ) Austin Hooper (ATL)   14 ) Jason Witten (DAL)   15 ) Julius Thomas (MIA)   16 ) Hunter Henry (LAC)   17 ) Coby Fleener (NO)   18 ) Benjamin Watson (BAL)   19 ) Cameron Brate (TB)   20 ) Zach Miller (CHI)   Top-15 Defenses   1 ) Seattle   2 ) Arizona   3 ) Baltimore   4 ) Oakland   5 ) Carolina   6 ) Houston   7 ) Denver   8 ) Pittsburgh   9 ) Los Angeles Rams   10 ) Philadelphia   11 ) Cincinnati   12 ) Jacksonville   13 ) Kansas City   14 ) New York Giants   15 ) Tampa Bay   Top-15 Kickers   1 ) Justin Tucker (BAL)   2 ) Stephen Gostkowski (NE)   3 ) Matt Bryant (ATL)   4 ) Giorgio Tavecchio (OAK)   5 ) Will Lutz (NO)   6 ) Blair Walsh (SEA)   7 ) Dan Bailey (DAL)   8 ) Mason Crosby (GB)   9 ) Cairo Santos (KC)   10 ) Graham Gano (CAR)   11 ) Younghoe Koo (LAC)   12 ) Brandon McManus (DEN)   13 ) Matt Prater (DET)   14 ) Dustin Hopkins (WAS)   15 ) Chris Boswell (PIT)  

Fantasy Baseball 2017: Closer Depth Chart Week 13

Welcome back to the Wednesday Weekly Closer Report where I will break down and rate each team’s bullpen situation. Call it the Wild Wild West, but it seems that teams in both the American and National League West cannot seem to figure out where to turn once the ninth inning bell tolls. With a hodgepodge of mediocre or relatively unreliable options and situations, we must untangle the wires and project, going forward, where these teams will ultimately turn in their darkest late-inning hours. Sometimes that requires a little reading in between the lines or making bold predictions. But hey, that’s why you are here right? So I will do my best to provide the necessary perspective and insight. 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.

Updated, 9:00 A.M. on 6/29: So wouldn’t you know it, the Giants placed Mark Melancon on the disabled list (again) yesterday for the exact same injury the team placed him on before. Apparently Melancon never fully recovered, so here us Melancon owner’s are again, wondering and contemplating, but mostly just frustrated and aggravated with his year and performance. It is being reported that Bruce Bochy will turn to recently acquired Sam Dyson to fill the ninth inning duties while Melancon begins his journey back. And to that I say boo! We all know about Dyson’s horrific experience as the Texas closer to begin this year, and he has continued that performance in San Fransisco pitching 7.1 innings and recording a 4.91 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. Yesterday’s game did not give us a great indicator of the chain of command as Dyson was unavailable, but Hunter Strickland did earn the save. Strickland cannot seem to locate this year as evidenced by his 4.82 BB/9, but he has been able to pitch out of those jams as he holds an impressive 2.25 ERA. Given his track record with the team, consistently great pitching and his unusually high walk rate this year (almost double his career rate, so it is likely to come down), I still think Strickland makes the better speculative add. We both know if Dyson blows his first save opportunity he is done for good there and Strickland already has one in the books. Do not be a fool Bochy, stick with your rock solid arm and not the guy with the 9.00 ERA you just picked up off the trash heap.

Updated, 9:30 A.M. on 6/29: Seung-Hwan Oh no! The Cardinals warmed Oh up in yesterday’s game so he was clearly available, but Trevor Rosenthal converted the save opportunity. I had my fingers crossed that Matheney would pull Rosenthal after walking his second batter and allowing a run to score on a wild pitch, but alas he stuck with him. As I state below, I already began losing confidence in Oh as the Cardinal’s closer and this certainly hurts his value. Even though Rosenthal’s performance left quite a bit to be desired (29 pitches, 2 walks, 1 hit, 1 passed ball, 1 earned and no strikeouts) the Cardinals still called upon him to notch the save. I still think Oh is the guy there as Rosenthal has struggled a lot recently (more so than Oh), but another blown save or two and a switch could be made.

American League East

RSJ RatingTeam Current CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentBOSCraig Kimbrel Joe Kelly
ConfidentNYYAroldis ChapmanDellin Betances
UnstableBALBrad BrachDarren O'Day
ConfidentTORRoberto OsunaRyan Tepera
ConfidentTBAlexander ColomeTommy Hunter

After giving up at least two runs in each of his past 3 outings, Alexander Colome saw his ERA rise from a sparkly 1.95 to a decent 3.57. But while these struggles may cause unnecessary heartburn (7 earned runs allowed on 7 hits and 4 walks in those 3 appearances) there is no need to fret. His 20 saves are tied for second in the American League and he still boasts an impressive .629 OPS. Once thought as one of the more likely names to be available at the trade deadline, the Rays have surprised people this year going 41-38 out of the gates, staying in contention for that second Wild Card spot. And for you Colome owners, I think this is pretty good news. First, you never know which team will acquire a closer at the deadline. Sure, maybe the Washington Nationals could acquire Colome, giving him a better chance for saves, in theory. But what if Tampa Bay dealt Colome to a team with an established closer? With the Rays solid pitching staff and their ability to create instant offense by way of the home run, Tampa should remain at or near .500 throughout the remainder of this season, giving Colome ample opportunities for saves.

American League Central

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentCWSDavid RobertsonTommy Kahnle
ConfidentKCKelvin HerreraJoakim Soria
ConfidentMINBrandon KintzlerTaylor Rogers
ConfidentDETJustin WilsonAlex Wilson
UnknownCLEAndrew MillerCody Allen

Terry Francona announces a changing of the guards in the Cleveland bullpen, from ninth inning mainstay Cody Allen to all-world setup man Andrew Miller. So naturally the first save since that time went to…Bryan Shaw! I understand that Shaw will not be the closer for the Cleveland Indians, but it emphasizes the point that Francon is, and will always be, a matchup guy. He loves playing the matchup game with hitters and he is not afraid to use any reliever in any situation, especially if he gets a slight advantage with the matchup switch. As I reported last week Francona wanted to save Miller’s arm by giving him a more defined, limited role. Which makes sense to me. But then why does he pitch two innings in the 7th and 8th innings his first game after announcing the switch? I am still confused, and Allen’s struggles do not help clarify the situation either (2 losses in his last 3 outings). I am sticking with Allen for now, but Francona may convert this to a matchup bullpen a la the 2016 World Series team in order to spark his team for a second half run.

American League West

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
UnknownLAACam BedrosianBlake ParkerCam Bedrosian, Blake Parker
ConfidentSEAEdwin DiazJames Pazos
ConfidentTEXMatt BushKeone Kela
UnstableOAKSantiago CasillaSean DoolittleSantiago Casilla, Sean Doolittle
ConfidentHOUKen GilesWill Harris

Santiago Casilla earned three saves in the past week, somewhat solidifying his position as the closer in Oakland. However, it is important to note Sean Doolittle pitched the eight inning in each game, signaling a chain of command. From day one I thought Doolittle deserved to be the stopper in Oakland and I am holding steadfast to that prognosis, especially considering his 14.49 K/9, 1.98 ERA and 2.05 FIP. Once Casilla falters, I would not be surprised to see Manager Bob Melvin give Casilla the quick hook and appoint Doolittle as the rest-of-the-year successor. Cam Bedrosian looks like his prior self, striking out 8 in 4.1 innings pitched. However, Mike Scioscia (expectedly) refuses to officially hand over the reigns to his young stud reliever, seeing both Blake Parker and Yusmeiro Petit (really?) earn saves since Bedrosian’s return from the disabled list. We all know I love Bedrosian. And you may call it stubbornness. But I prefer to call it fact. He is the best pitcher for the Angels and he is their future closer. So really, what are we waiting for? Scioscia needs to wake up and make one correct decision before the Angels finally remove him as the manager (I know he won a World Series in 2002, but 17 years as the manager?!?!? You have to be kidding me.)

National League East

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
UnknownWSHEnny RomeroMatt AlbersEnny Romero, Matt Albers
UnknownPHIHector NerisPat NeshekHector Neris, Pat Neshek
ComfortableATLJim JohnsonArodys VizcainoArodys Vizcaino
ComfortableMIAA.J. RamosDavid Phelps
ConfidentNYMAddison ReedJerry Blevins

Enny RomeroMatt Albers. Are these the guys the Washington Nationals really want controlling their fate? At least they have an 8.5 game lead on second, because if they did not I am sure they would make a few changes. And those changes might not solely have to do with the roster. Either way, we all know the Nationals 2017 closer is not on their current roster, so the question is who will win the sweepstakes and immediately become a top closer playing for arguably the best team in baseball. Actually, after all my months of research and all the jokes I made regarding the Nats closing situation I think I finally found the solution: just let Max Scherzer pitch every game (1.70 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 12.77 K/9 since the end of April, spanning 11 starts and 74 innings).

National League Central

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
Confident CHCWade DavisCarl Edwards Jr.
Confident CINRasiel IglesiasDrew Storen
Confident MILCorey KnebelJacob Barnes
Comfortable STLSeung-Hwan OhTrevor Rosenthal
Confident PITFelipe RiveroJuan Nicasio

This division is trying to catch up to the AL East in terms of security and consistency. I mean, are there any hotter relievers in the game than newly crowned incumbents Corey Knebel (15.53 K/9, 0.96 ERA, 0.96 WHIP) or Felipe Rivero (0.68 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, .401 OPS, .137 batting average against). And then there is Rasiel Iglesias who began the season in arguably the most concerning and confounding bullpen situation but now boasts an impressive 1.69 ERA across 37.1 innings of work, converting 13 of 14 saves. Aside from recent scuffling, Wade Davis  abides by the no hits or runs allowed policy, holding batters to a mere .175 average and recording a 13.33 K/9 and an unblemished 15/15 save conversion rate. And then there is the fly in the ointment. The one I loved in the preseason. Seung-Hwan Oh just blew his third save of the season, seeing his ERA rise to 3.75. The only positive is that his main competition Trevor Rosenthal allowed two runs in the same game. I am still hopeful for Oh, but much less confident entering the month of July.

National League West

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentLADKenley JansenPedro Baez
ConfidentSFMark Melancon Hunter Strickland
UnstableSDBrandon MaurerBrad HandBrandon Maurer, Brad Hand
ComfortableARIFernando RodneyArchie BradleyArchie Bradley
ConfidentCOLGreg HollandAdam Ottavino

Let’s get this out of the way right now. Fernando Rodney has been the best closer since the calendar turned to April, when Rodney boasted a stellar 12.60 ERA, 0-2 record and 2 blown saves. Since then, Rodney is 14/15 in save opportunities (the one blown was due to an unearned run) over 18 appearances, going 17.2 SCORELESS(!!!!!!!!!!!) innings pitched, allowing just two hits and walking 7 while striking out 19. In that time he lowered his ERA to a below average (but impressive given where it was) 4.40, yet now maintains a very respectable 1.12 WHIP and .188 batting average against. For all the berating and name calling I have done, I think I have to give Rodney his props when due. He has been good. There, I said it. Now lets move on with our lives. Archie Bradley (10.90 K/9, 1.04 ERA, 2.54 FIP, .513 OPS) should still be the closer in Arizona, and probably will be at some point this year (although like the Nationals I do not think their 2017 closer is currently on their roster, especially since they appear to be a legitimate contender). Enjoy the Hot Rod while it lasts because the cool down is coming. And when it rains it absolutely pours for Fernandomania.

Ranking of the Immediate Waiver Pickups

  1. Santiago Casilla (OAK, 57% Yahoo ownership)
  2. Hector Neris (PHI, 41% Yahoo ownership)
  3. Brandon Maurer (SD, 62% Yahoo ownership)
  4. Sean Doolittle (OAK, 25% Yahoo ownership)
  5. Cam Bedrosian (LAA, 52% Yahoo ownership)
  6. Blake Parker (LAA, 10% Yahoo ownership)
  7. Enny Romero (WSH, 9% Yahoo ownership)
  8. Brad Hand (SD, 33% Yahoo ownership)
  9. Arodys Vizcaino (ATL, 16% Yahoo ownership)
  10. Archie Bradley (ARI, 33% Yahoo ownership)
  11. Matt Albers (WSH, 19% Yahoo ownership)
  12. Pat Neshek (PHI, 26% Yahoo ownership)

And that’s a wrap for the Closer Depth Chart Week 13. 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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