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Fantasy Baseball 2017: Closer Depth Chart Week 17

Welcome back to the Wednesday Weekly Closer Report where I will break down and rate each team’s bullpen situation. Fresh out of Monday’s Trade Deadline bonanza, we see a lot of new faces manning the coveted ninth inning role, which means a lot of  available names that can provide the always valuable Save for those of you in need. 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.

American League East

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentBOSCraig Kimbrel Addison Reed
ConfidentNYYAroldis ChapmanDellin Betances
ConfidentBALZach BrittonBrad Brach
ConfidentTORRoberto OsunaRyan Tepera
ConfidentTBAlexander ColomeTommy Hunter

With the American League East retaining all their closers (and even adding a few in David Robertson and Addison Reed) this collection of star-studded relievers distanced themselves even further from second place in the race for baseball’s best division: relief core. As I correctly predicted, both Alexander Colome and Zach Britton reminded with their respective teams. The Yankees and Red Sox are legitimately in an arms race for the division crown (although the addition of Sonny Gray gives the Yankees the advantage in my opinion). And the Blue Jays will keep trotting out under appreciated stopper Roberto Osuna. Much ado about nothing here in the AL East, per usual.

American League Central

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
UnstableCWSTyler ClippardChris BeckTyler Clippard, Chris Beck
ConfidentKCKelvin HerreraBrandon Maurer
UnknownMINTaylor RogersMatt BelisleTaylor Rogers, Matt Belisle
UnstableDETShane GreeneAlex WilsonShane Greene, Alex Wilson
ComfortableCLECody AllenAndrew Miller

I knew the White Sox would move rubber arm Anthony Swarzak, and the Brewers were a perfect match as they were greatly in need of bullpen depth. But that does not help clarify their ninth inning situation. I think Tyler Clippard will get the first crack. After all, Rick Renteria first named Clippard the team’s closer once they traded Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. But in other places the decision is not so obvious. Minnesota traded away Brandon Kintzler and left their bullpen in a mess. Just a week ago young lefty Taylor Rogers seemed like a prime candidate to take over the job if Kintzler moved, but he has allowed 9 runs over his last 3 innings pitched, spanning five appearances. He should be their first option, but veteran Matt Belisle is not too far behind. Lastly, Detroit expectedly moved on from Justin Wilson and will now turn to starter-turned-reliever Shane Greene to fill their ninth inning hole. Greene is best known for ruining my fantasy baseball team over the past two years as every “slam dunk” spot start turned into a 2.2 inning pitched, week ruining disaster. Be wary of his 4.50 FIP and 82.4% strand rate.

American League West

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ComfortableLAABud NorrisCam BedrosianCam Bedrosian
ConfidentSEAEdwin DiazDavid Phelps
UnstableTEXAlex ClaudioKeone KelaAlex Claudio, Keone Kela, Matt Bush
UnstableOAKBlake TreinenRyan DullBlake Treinen, Ryan Dull
ConfidentHOUKen GilesChris Devenski

I never expected the Athletics to give Blake Treinen a chance to earn the closer’s job in Oakland, especially given his well document struggles this year in Washington. Also because Ryan Dull returned from the disabled list as soon as we received word of Santiago Casilla‘s impending demotion. Remember, Dull posted a 2.42 ERA and 8.84 K/9 last season. The stars just seemed to align. Until they didn’t. While Treinen’s save on Monday is rather disappointing, I expect the wave of Dull’s upside to take over before long. Who wants the Texas Rangers closing job? Alex Claudio seems to have the inside track on the job, especially since reports came out  at the Trade Deadline that the Rangers refused to include him in any deals. But he profiles better in a long relief role. So why not 24 year old Keone Kela? We all expect him to take over, but this is a rather lengthy easing-into-the-job period. Kela maintains a more than respectable career 3.41 ERA (and better 3.28 FIP) and strikes out 11.16 batters per nine innings. Unquestionably the best reliever in that bullpen, Kela should take over in due time.

National League East

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
UnstableWSHSean DoolittleBrandon KintzlerSean Doolittle
ComfortablePHIHector NerisLuis GarciaHector Neris
UnstableATLArodys VizcainoJim JohnsonArodys Vizcaino
UnstableMIABrad ZieglerJarlin GarciaBrad Ziegler, Jarlin Garcia
ComfortableNYMA.J. RamosJerry Blevins

In an odd move, the New York Mets actually traded for a reliever at the Trade Deadline, and a closer at that. But upon further review, their acquisition of A.J. Ramos makes sense as they planned on getting rid of Reed and keeping the cost controlled Ramos until the end of his deal. In the end, he will be a backup to Jeurys Familia come 2018, but should hold down the fort for the remainder of this year. When closer information from a team is released, who am I to doubt the good word? And that plays into these next two spots. Michael Hill, President of Baseball Operations for the Miami Marlins, stated Brad Ziegler is likely to close after the team traded away the aforementioned Ramos. And in Atlanta Manager Brian Snitker confirmed that had a save situation arose in Atlanta’s game this past Sunday, Arodys Vizcaino would have received the save opportunity. This is evidenced by the Braves using Jim Johnson to start the eighth inning of that game. Are either of their situations ideal or even confirmed? No. But I like votes of confidence and Vizcaino has been hovering on the ‘Immured Waiver Pickups’ list all year. Just when I thought I knew the Nationals bullpen pecking order, they go and do a thing like this. Acquiring Kintzler makes sense for a team that desperately needed bullpen help. But it certainly makes it a pain for analyzing of their ninth inning duties. Sean Doolittle seems like the lead dog as he is 4/4 in save opportunities since joining the Nationals. Sure he has allowed runs in 3 of his 6 appearances, but in one outing that was an unearned run and in the other he gave up 3 earned in an 8-2 game in a non-save situation. I know Kintzler has pitched well over the last two years and Ryan Madson is no slouch either, pitching 5 shutout innings for the Nationals while striking out 7. But I think Doolittle, when healthy, is one of the more talented relievers in the game as evidenced by his career 10.63 K/9, 2.51 FIP, 0.94 WHIP, 1.77 BB/9 and .205 average against. If Washington gives him time, they’ll benefit from the work of a truly nasty and great reliever.

National League Central

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentCHCWade DavisJustin Wilson
ConfidentCINRasiel IglesiasDrew Storen
ConfidentMILCorey KnebelJacob Barnes
ComfortableSTLTrevor RosenthalSeung-Hwan OhTrevor Rosenthal
ConfidentPITFelipe RiveroJuan Nicasio

When Brett Cecil received the first few chances at the St. Louis closer’s gig I knew something was fishy. It just did not feel right. It felt more like a forced value-add move to trade bait contenders than a legitimate change in the bullpen hierarchy. And by golly, I had it right! As expected, Trevor Rosenthal now seems engrained in the ninth inning once again. And rightfully so when you look at his 2017 performance. His walks are down (for him), strikeouts are up (shocking considering how high his rates usually are), batters cannot hit him (.542 OPS) and his ERA is supported by a dominant 1.94 FIP. Oh Seung-Hwan Oh, you fooled me so. I feel foolish believing in you after last year’s brilliance. But with Rosenthal back to form, I think the future of the Cardinals’ bullpen is back in good hands.

National League West

RSJ RatingTeamCurrent CloserHandcuffImmediate Waiver Pickup
ConfidentLADKenley JansenPedro Baez
ComfortableSFSam DysonHunter StricklandSam Dyson
ConfidentSDBrad HandPhil MatonBrad Hand
ComfortableARIFernando RodneyArchie BradleyArchie Bradley
ConfidentCOLGreg HollandPat Neshek

From not even making an appearance in the ‘Immediate Waiver Pickups’ article, to being featured as the prime candidate for a trade in last week’s Trade Deadline Closer Report Special, to having the ‘Confident’ designation. All in just a few short weeks. What a wild ride. The most sought after trade commodity in baseball stayed put during Monday’s Trade Deadline and the Padres instead chose (rightfully so) to hold onto their cost-controlled, young stud lefty reliever in Brad Hand. On the year Hand maintains an 11.67 K/9, 2.00 ERA, 2.52 FIP, .198 batting average against and .562 OPS. Relievers do not come more reliable and dominant than Hand, so your persistence in rostering him is about to pay off greatly.

Ranking of the Immediate Waiver Pickups

  1. Brad Hand (SD, 60% Yahoo ownership)
  2. Trevor Rosenthal (STL, 56% Yahoo ownership)
  3. Sean Doolittle (WSH, 54% Yahoo ownership)
  4. Hector Neris (PHI, 43% Yahoo ownership)
  5. Shane Greene (DET, 44% Yahoo ownership)
  6. Brad Ziegler (MIA, 23% Yahoo ownership)
  7. Arodys Vizcaino (ATL, 22% Yahoo ownership)
  8. Sam Dyson (SF, 52% Yahoo ownership
  9. Alex Claudio (TEX, 34% Yahoo ownership)
  10. Tyler Clippard (CWS, 14% Yahoo ownership)
  11. Blake Treinen (OAK, 21% Yahoo ownership)
  12. Keone Kela (TEX, 10% Yahoo ownership)
  13. Taylor Rogers (MIN, 14% Yahoo ownership)
  14. Matt Belisle (MIN, 10% Yahoo ownership)
  15. Ryan Dull (OAK, 2% Yahoo ownership)
  16. Jarlin Garcia (MIA, 1% Yahoo ownership)
  17. Archie Bradley (ARI, 29% Yahoo ownership)
  18. Cam Bedrosian (LAA, 28% Yahoo ownership)
  19. Matt Bush (TEX, 34% Yahoo ownership)
  20. Alex Wilson (DET, 3% Yahoo ownership)
  21. Chris Beck (CWS, 0% Yahoo ownership)

And that’s a wrap for the Closer Depth Chart Week 17. 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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