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“On Bzdek” Bullpen Briefing: Preparing for the Deadline Just 3 Weeks Away, plus other RP News

The trade deadline is just three weeks away, and there are always a few relievers on the move as teams bolster their pens for playoff runs. I’ll be focusing on which bullpens may be affected by trade in the coming weeks, focusing on which relievers are the best to stash for second half saves. This week, I touch on the Mets, the Padres, the Orioles, and the White Sox, all of which are likely sellers. Before I dig in, I’ll touch on some of the non-trade deadline bullpen news from DC, Philly, and St. Louis. As always, I’ll wrap up with the three stars of the week.

Washington Nationals

Sean Doolittle was placed on the 10-day DL with a sore left toe. The move is retroactive to July 7, so he will be eligible to be activated the first game following the All-Star break. The injury is considered minor. It’s likely the days off around the All-Star break factored into the decision to place Doolittle on the DL, and he should return shortly thereafter. Recently acquired Kelvin Herrera is expected to close while Doolittle is out, however Herrera has struggled since being traded, allowing 2 HR in 7.2 innings with the Nats. Brandon Kintzler is another option in the Nats pen for saves, and he’s allowed just 1 run in his last 7 innings of work.

Actions to take: This should be a short-term DL stint so I wouldn’t invest too heavily here, however Herrera will get the first crack at saves and could notch a couple over the next week. If you were too slow to the wire to add him, Kintzler should be in the mix too.

Philadelphia Phillies

Victor Arano recorded 3 saves for the Phillies in the last week, while Seranthony Dominguez picked up 1 save and 1 hold. Dominguez remains the best arm in the Phillies pen, and as such manager Gabe Kapler is using him in the big spots which have happened to be earlier in the game recently. I still expect Dominguez to pick up the majority of save opportunities, so don’t overreact to Arano recording saves just yet.

Speaking of relievers on the move, the Phillies could be looking to add to their bullpen as they are currently tied for first place in the NL East. Unless they make a big splash, I think Dominguez has a good chance at retaining the closer role and any acquired RP would slide into a setup role.

Actions to take: Dominguez owners should sit tight. He’s going to get the bulk of the save chances.

St. Louis Cardinals

Bud Norris was rested after feeling some pain in his right index finger last week, but he picked up a save over the weekend without issue. Fireballer Jordan Hicks would be the next man up to close if Norris’ finger flares up again.

Actions to take: No actions at the moment as Norris appears to be fine.

New York Mets

In the last month, the Mets have only recorded 4 saves: 2 by Jeurys Familia, and 1 a-piece by Anthony Swarzak and Robert Gsellman. Familia and Swarzak are both free agents at the end of the season, and thus trade candidates for the Mets who are 13.5 games out of the wild card. Gsellman was the early bet to take over the closer role, but he’s struggled of late posting a 7.90 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in the last month, while allowing 3 home runs. On the bright side, a 14/3 K/BB isn’t too shabby.

One other Mets reliever to keep an eye on as the trade deadline approaches is Tim Peterson. He’s got a 13/0 K/BB in the last month, which includes 11 innings and a 3.27 ERA and 0.55 WHIP. The one blemish is he allowed 3 home runs.

Actions to take: The Mets are not a bullpen I want to invest in as they don’t have many leads to protect. If you must, Gsellman is the guy to target. I would monitor Peterson at this point, but no need to add him just yet.

San Diego Padres

Current closer Brad Hand has been lights out this season. He sports a 2.91 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 64 Ks in 43.1 innings. Despite being signed through 2020 with a team option in 2021, Hand’s name gets floated around as a trade candidate, as it did last year as well. It’s no sure thing that Hand gets traded, but if he is, the Padres will be selling high and get a nice package for him. In case of a trade, Kirby Yates is the top candidate to take over closing duties. Yates has a 1.53 ERA and 0.93 WHIP on the season, as well as 44 Ks and 11 BBs in 35.1 innings.

Actions to take: Yates is worth a stash as he’s going to help your Ks and ratios, with the potential to take over closing duties in 3 weeks if Hand gets traded.

Baltimore Orioles

Zach Britton seems to be finding his groove, as his last 4 innings have been scoreless. Just in time for the Orioles, who will look to trade Britton before the August 1st trade deadline as he is a free agent after the season. Fellow late inning reliever Brad Brach is also an impending free agent, and also a good bet to be traded. In the event both are moved, Mychal Givens is the likely closer replacement. Givens has been streaky this season, but he does have 52 Ks in 45.0 innings pitched and his 4.60 ERA is well above his 2.83 FIP, so some positive regression could be in order for the second half. Givens posted strikeout rates over 10 in all 4 of his major league seasons, and his ERA has never finished higher than 3.13.

If the O’s shake up their bullpen as expected, one reliever who could gain value in holds leagues is Paul Fry. The 25 year old lefty was called up recently and only has 5.1 innings pitched to his name, however he’s struck out 7 batters, walked none, and allowed just 1 earned run (plus 3 unearned runs). Fry has posted solid K-rates in the minors, and while the walks have been an issue at times, Fry walked just 4 batters in 23.1 AAA innings with season so he may have found something to improve his control. As a lefty, he’ll get plenty of left-on-left match-ups and could be a good source of holds or inherited runs saves (IRS) in the second half.

Actions to take:  If I owned Britton, I’d see what I could get for him on the trade market. There is a high likelihood he is traded but he may not close for his new team. Givens is worth a stash, and while the numbers aren’t great this season, I believe the second half will be better for him. In holds and IRS leagues consider adding Fry.

Chicago White Sox

Joakim Soria is another impending free agent who may be on the move. I suggested Bruce Rondon as a potential closer replacement a few weeks back, however Rondon has let me down walking 14 batters in his last 8.2 innings. Yuck. Since then, the White Sox called up Juan Minaya who has pitched to a 1.88 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 14.1 innings over the last 30 days. You may remember Minaya from last season, as he took over closing duties when the Sox traded David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, and Anthony Swarzak at last year’s deadline. Minaya recorded 9 saves, all coming after August 15th. I could see a similar late season surge from Minaya this season.

Actions to take: Minaya is worth a stash in deeper leagues, but in shallow leagues just monitor the situation for now.

Three Stars of the Week

Collin McHugh, HOU – McHugh pitched 5.0 innings recording 4 Ks, 0 BBs, 2 HLDS, and 1 W. He’s a must own in holds leagues, and deserves consideration in all league types as he has 55 Ks in 42.0 innings, along with a 0.86 ERA and 0.74 WHIP on the season. The way the Astros use their bullpen he may notch a save or two the rest of the way.

Edwin Diaz, SEA – Diaz’ stellar season continues. This week he pitched 3 innings notching 3 saves and striking out 7. He did not allow a baserunner.

Blake Trienen, OAK – Trienen pitched 5.0 innings recording 2 saves and 1 W. He struck out 7, walked none, and allowed 5 hits.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading and feel free to drop a comment below with any questions.


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Major League Fantasy Football Radio Show: Join host Corey D Roberts, and James Wilk live July 12th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #84 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. Call in number is 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the host. This is our kick of show for the 2018 fantasy football season. We will hit free agents, rookies, and fantasy football as a whole for each team for 2018. This week we will discuss everything  AFC South!

I've been playing fantasy baseball for 14 years. I am also an auditor and CPA, where I analyze information on a daily basis. Combined, my passion for fantasy baseball and analytical background create a unique perspective for analyzing and writing about fantasy baseball.

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