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“On Bzdek” Bullpen Briefing: Deadline Updates + First Half RP Studs and Duds

Last week, I began to break down some trade scenarios in preparation for the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. I discussed several teams, many of which I’ve provided updates for this week as well. The couple I do not discuss here include the Mets and the White Sox, so feel free to take a peek back at last week’s article for my thoughts, as I don’t think much has changed in regards to those two scenarios.

If you read my articles regularly, you know that I provide my Three Stars of the Week at the end of the article each week. Due to the shortened All-Star Break week, I am changing it up and reviewing some studs and duds from the first half. With all that said, here is this week’s Bullpen Briefing:

Philadelphia Phillies

Rumors of a potential trade between the Phillies and the Orioles were picking up last week. The big name in those rumors was stud third baseman Manny Machado, but it was also reported that the Phils were interested in Zach Britton. The Machado talks stalled and he seems destined for Dodgerland, but that doesn’t mean Zach Britton is off the table. Britton is an established closer, and if the Phillies bring him in I think there is a very good chance he takes over as the team’s closer. This would move Seranthony Dominguez into a middle-relief role. Dominguez has excelled this season, and though he’s gotten the lions share of saves for the Phillies recently, he’s also been used in the middle innings when needed.

Actions to take: Dominguez could find himself in the backseat to Britton for saves. If you can trade him for fair value, it’s not a bad move, but otherwise I would hold. He’s been too good to trade him at a discount based on some trade rumors.

Houston Astros

Like the Phillies, the Astros have also been linked to Zach Britton as well as Reds closer Raisel Iglesias. The Astros bullpen is strong, but seemingly lacks a bona fide closer. Hector Rondon has been seeing the majority of save chances for the Stros as of late, but he will likely take a back seat if either Britton or Iglesias are acquired. I find an Iglesias trade much less likely due to the fact he’s under team control through 2022.

Actions to take: Hector Rondon is a good sell candidate right now if you can find any takers. If the Astros make a move, Rondon will slide into a middle relief role. If not, I think the Astros stick with a committee focused approach, and while Rondon is closing games now, manager AJ Hinch isn’t afraid to give other relievers a save here and there.

Baltimore Orioles

Zack Britton and Brad Brach remain likely trade candidates and Mychal Givens the potential closer en waiting (CLEW) should the former two get traded. This week, there was a rumor floated about that the Cleveland Indians were interested in Givens. It would be difficult to predict the closer if all three get moved, and with Givens not a free agent until 2022 I find it unlikely he would be on the move.

I’ve been monitoring Paul Fry since he was called up to the majors at the end of June. Fry is a 25 year old lefty who continues to impress. In 9.0 innings of MLB work with the Orioles this season he has 10 Ks and 0 BBs, allowing just 1 earned run (plus 3 unearned runs). He picked up his first hold on Sunday, pitching 1.2 innings without allowing a base-runner. He’s a great stash in holds leagues as the O’s pen will be wide open pending a trade deadline shake up.

Actions to take: I don’t buy into the Givens trade rumors, I think he remains a great stash if you’re looking for a second half closer. I’m liking Paul Fry more every week, and I think he’s worthy of a stash in deeper holds leagues or leagues that value inherited runs saved.

San Diego Padres

Brad Hand’s name continues to pop up in trade rumors. He’s signed to a team friendly deal through 2020, w/ a team option for 2021. It would take a haul to land him so I think a trade is unlikely. Kirby Yates is the CLEW should Hand get traded. However, Yates has also been the subject of trade rumors, specifically in a package along with Brad Hand and starter Tyson Ross to the New York Yankees. Yates, a former Yankee as recently as 2016, is not a free agent until 2021, while Ross is a UFA this winter.

The deal seems odd at first glance. The Yankees already have a strong bullpen so why would they pay the big price required to land Hand and possibly Yates? Then again, the Yankees acquisitions the last two deadlines has focused on players with multiple years of control (Sonny Gray, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle come to mind). In addition, David Robertson is a UFA in the off-season, so perhaps the Yankees are willing to pay up to bolster the pen for this year and the future.

Actions to take: While the above trade is possible, I don’t believe it is probable. Hand owners should hold onto him, though consider stashing Yates for insurance. Yates ratios have been stellar this season so you won’t be hurting to stash him as a handcuff for the next two weeks. If Yates were to be traded as well, look for Craig Stammen to get the first shot saving games.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals fired Mike Matheny this week, hoping a change of skipper will spark the team into playoff contention over the next two weeks. If not, they could consider shopping Bud Norris. Jordan Hicks is the clear CLEW, despite giving up 4 ER in .1 innings last Saturday.

Actions to take: Bud Norris is a good sell-high candidate. Aside from a potential trade, he’s nursing a finger injury recently. Hicks is worthy of a stash in all league types. He’s got electric stuff and not much competition around him in the Cards pen.

Toronto Blue Jays

Not a trade candidate, but Roberto Osuna is eligible to return from suspension on August 5th. He will serve as the team’s closer when he returns. Ryan Tepera was activated from the 10-day DL on Sunday and the bullpen is expected to be a committee headlined by Tyler Clippard, who’s been pitching outstanding in the last month including 15Ks and 0 BBs.

Actions to take: Osuna is someone you will want to stash right now if he is available. Clippard is the add for short term saves. Do so with caution as Clippard has been known for his blowups, but I think you will be okay riding Clippard for a couple of weeks until Osuna is back.

First Half Studs and Duds

Since we’re a couple days short on baseball this week with the All-Star break, I decided to change things up from the usual Three Stars of the Week and give my two cents on some first half studs and duds. I selected players based on performance, as well as performance compared to pre-season expectations.

Kenley Jansen, LAD – Jansen was the clear #1 reliever heading into 2017 as he was coming off an absurd season where he posted a 14.4 K/9 and a 0.9 BB/9, along with 41 saves and a 1.32 ERA. His draft price was equally absurd, at an average draft position of 39. After throwing a career high innings in 2017 regular season plus playoffs, I was hesitant to invest at such a cost. Jansen got off to a rough start in 2018 that included 8 earned runs in his first 9.2 innings. He’s since righted the ship, but his walk-rate remains elevated from last year and his K-rate lower than expected. For the high price, Jansen was simply not worth it in the first half: DUD.

Aroldis Chapman, NYY – 2017 was Chapman’s worst season since 2011. He recorded just 22 saves and posted a 3.22 ERA 1.13 WHIP, quite pedestrian for the flame throwing lefty. As a result, Chapman’s average ADP was 63. Chapman bounced back in the first half of 2018 in a big way, posting a 15.3 K/9, 1.35 ERA, and 0.83 WHIP. If you drafted Chapman this season you got a bargain for the first half: STUD.

Keone Kela, TEX – Kela was one of my favorite late round closer targets this pre-season. He came on strong the second half of 2017, yet seemed to be somewhat overlooked for the closer role despite no clear better option in Texas. Kela has been more than I could have hoped, posting a 3.06 ERA and 1.09 WHIP along with 24 saves. Not bad for a guy whose ADP was 339, and because of that value, Kela is a STUD.

Greg Holland, STL – Holland did not sign with the Cardinals until the eve of the 2018 season. As such, his ADP was just 204, which is low for a closer coming off a 41 save season and 4 straight seasons with 32 or more saves (note 2016 emitted as Holland missed the entire season). Holland was set to play in some extended spring training games before joining the Cardinals a couple weeks into the season, and I was certain he would take over the closer role at that time. From the start Holland was awful – walking 4 batters in his 0.1 inning debut. I kept waiting for things to improve, but they never did. Holland currently owns a 7.99 ERA and 2.20 WHIP on the season, to go along with 21Ks and 19 BBs. Despite his low cost, he did more harm than good and for that reason, he’s a DUD.

Edwin Diaz, SEA – I couldn’t do a first half recap without including Diaz, who leads the MLB with 36 saves at the break. He’s also recorded a whopping 79 strikeouts in 48.0 innings, to go along with a 2.25 ERA and 0.79 WHIP. Diaz was a borderline top 10 closer entering the season, and if you drafted him at his ADP of 97 you got more than you could have ever hoped. It helps that the Mariners play so many close games, but Diaz is still making the most of his opportunities so far this year: STUD.

Surely there are more studs and duds I could have included, namely Josh Hader (89 Ks in 48.0 innings), but that’s all I’ve got for this week. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back next week with another edition.

Are you looking for a better experience? Fantasy Football League Openings 2018

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday July 15th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #129 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will discss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.

Our guest this week is Joe Iannnone. Joe has been a writer with since 2014. His articles publish every Sunday and he focuses on spot starts for the coming week.

Major League Fantasy Football Radio Show: Join host Corey D Roberts, James Wilk, and Coach Jeff Nelson live July 19th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #85 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. Call in number is 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the host. We will hit free agents, rookies, and fantasy football as a whole for each team for 2018. This week we will discuss everything  NFC East!

Jeff has been a member of for 10 years, he is also a 3 time Major League Fantasy Football Champion, and was the defensive coach at White Hall H.S. in PA where Saquan Barkley went to H.S. Jeff clued us in on Barkley nearly 4 years ago on one of our football shows.

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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