The non-waiver trade deadline has passed, and several relief pitchers were shuffled around. I’m sure some of you, like me, lost at least one of your closers in the last couple of days. Hopefully you were able to grab a replacement quickly. If not, hopefully today’s article will help, as I’ve outlined all the deals that went down in the last week and the resulting impact. There are a few save candidates that are still widely available, so get them while you can. I’ve included some discussion on the impact of these trades in holds leagues as well. As usual, I finish things off with the Three Stars of the Week.
The Rangers traded Keone Kela to Pittsburgh and Jake Diekman to Arizona, thereby opening up the closer role and a setup role. In the mix are Alex Claudio, Corey Gearin, and Jose LeClerc.
Claudio is a lefty who has posted K-rates between 5 and 6 K/9 over the last three seasons. He’s got a sidearm delivery and as a result has some pretty gaudy split stats: .576 SLG vs R and .305 SLG vs L. He doesn’t have the stuff and he can’t get righties out, so he’s not likely to close, but he will replace Diekman as the Rangers’ main lefty in the pen, so he’ll see some increased hold opportunities.
Gearin is a right-handed pitcher who was traded to the Rangers from the Giants earlier this year. He strikes out about a batter per inning with a 3.8 BB/9 on the season. He’s got a 4.05 ERA and 1.38 WHIP on the season which leaves much to be desired, though his last month has been better: 2.92 ERA and 0.73 WHIP in 12.1 innings.
LeClerc is another righty and only 24 years old. He has an impressive 12.7 K/9 on the season, and while his 4.31 BB rate is high, it’s manageable as long as the strikeouts are there. In addition, LeClerc has reduced his walk rate from 7.9 BB/9 in 2017. He’s got a 2.27 ERA and 1.01 WHIP on the season, and in the last 30 days he’s been even better with a 1.80 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. LeClerc has the dominant stuff to close, and I think he will get the first opportunity given Claudio’s weak K-rate and poor splits, as well as Gearin lacking the typical ‘closer’ stuff and not having overly impressive ratios either.
Actions to take: LeClerc is the add for saves leagues as he’s been pitching great and has the high K-rate of a typical closer. Gearin is the main setup man and he should see increased holds going forward. Claudio should see increased holds as well, especially since he will be the guy called upon when the Rangers need to get a tough lefty out in a big spot. He’s worth consideration in holds leagues and I would prefer him to Gearin solely due to his authority against left handed batters.
The Pirates added Keone Kela from the Rangers. He should slide into a setup role for the Pirates behind closer Felipe Vazquez. Vazquez struggled last month, but righted the ship recently posting a 0.79 ERA and 0.97 WHIP with 21 Ks in 11.1 innings in the last 30 days. His job as closer is safe, but Kela becomes the next in line should any unforeseen injury or struggles occur to Vazquez.
Actions to take: Kela is a drop in saves leagues, but worth hanging onto in holds leagures.
The D-Backs deepened their bullpen by acquiring Jake Diekman from Texas and Brad Ziegler from Miami. Both will take on middle inning roles in Arizona, so their value doesn’t change much from the trade.
Action to take: No actions here as the relievers on the move will be in similar middle relief roles. One thing to keep an eye on is who the next in line closer is should Brad Boxberger get injured. The D-Backs like Archie Bradley in a middle relief role, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Brad Ziegler gets the first opportunity to close if he continues to pitch well.
The Astros acquired Roberto Osuna from the Blue Jays in exchange for reliever Ken Giles and a couple of prospects. Osuna is eligible to return from his 75-game domestic violence suspension on August 5th. He is a top-tier closer when he’s pitching, and he’s been pitching in a minor league rehab assignment in recent weeks so he should not have much rust to shake off. He is expected to take over as the Astros’ closer, however manager AJ Hinch has been known to mix and match.
The Astros also acquired Ryan Pressly from the Twins. He’s having a career season out of the pen that includes a 12.6 K/9, 3.2 K/BB, 3.42 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. He’ll be in the mix for holds, but I don’t expect him to be the first or second set-up option for the Stros.
Actions to take: Osuna is the add for saves leagues, though I suspect he’s been picked up in most leagues by now. If you have the luxury, hold onto Hector Rondon in case Hinch doesn’t commit to Osuna right away. Pressly is a nice add for the Astros, but not much fantasy value at the moment so you can pass on him.
Toronto Blue Jays
Osuna was set to take the closer role back in Toronto, but the role is up for grabs again with Osuna headed to Houston. Ryan Tepera has struggled of late, as has Tyler Clippard. Ken Giles will now enter the mix, but he was bad enough for the Astros to demote him to AAA earlier in the season. This is a tough bullpen to invest in. Despite Tepera’s recent struggles, he’s having a respectable season with a 3.71 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 48/14 K/BB. I’d speculate on him because I believe in his ability the most of the three. Giles will be helped by the change of scenery, and Jays manager John GIbbons said he would give him a chance to close at some point. He might be worth a stash, but I will take a wait and see approach.
Actions to take: Ryan Tepera is still the reliever to own in Toronto, though Giles could see saves in the not so distant future. He makes for a decent stash if you can keep him on your bench until he puts together a couple good outings.
As expected, Brad Brach was shipped out of Baltimore. Mychal Givens was the lead candidate for saves last week, however Mike Wright Jr. has been the better pitcher and I’ve moved him up my list for the Orioles pen. In the last week, Wright Jr. has pitched 3.2 innings with 5Ks, 0 BB, 1 HLD, and 1 hit allowed. Meanwhile, Givens allowed runs in 2 of his last 3 appearances. Wright Jr. has been better over the last month as well, posting a 2.19 ERA and 1.30 WHIP compared to Givens’ 4.66 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.
Actions to take: Wright Jr. is the new add for saves, with Givens’ performance slipping. Wright Jr. is almost surely available in your league (0% owned in Yahoo), so if you missed out on all the closers being shuffled around, take a speculative add on him.
The Braves acquired Brad Brach from the Orioles. Brach will slide into a middle relief role behind closer AJ Minter, which is how things went down last night with Brach pitching the 8th and Minter the 9th.
Actions to take: If you added Brach when Zach Britton was traded, you can go ahead and drop him. If AJ Minter is available, he’s the RP to add for saves in ATL.
Chicago White Sox
The search for a closer continues for the White Sox, and no one recorded a save in the south side since last week. Luis Avilan, my favorite for the job, pitched 1.1 innings with 2 Ks and 1 HLD, without allowing a base runner. Jace Fry and Jeanmar Gomez both allowed runs in the last week, as did Juan Minaya. Xavier Cedeno pitched 2 scoreless innings, but his control issues continued as he walked 2 and struck out 3. Hector Santiago had a nice week for the Sox, pitching 3.0 innings with 5Ks, 0 ER, and 1 hit allowed. This is following a stretch of 4 outings where he allowed 7, 3, 0, and 2 earned runs, so he’s got a long way to go before he gets serious consideration for high leverage innings.
Actions to take: Avilan continues to pitch well and I still think he is the add for saves leagues.
New York Mets
Anthony Swarzak turned things around quickly for the Mets, pitching 3.1 scoreless innings with 6 Ks and 2 SVs in the last week. Robert Gsellman allowed 2 runs in 1.2 innings, including 2 BBs and 1K since last week. The Mets will role the hot hand and right now it is Swarzak.
Actions to take: Swarzak is the add for saves in Queens and Gsellman the drop.
Three Stars of the Week
Will Smith, SF – Smith pitched 3.1 innigns recording 2 saves, 1 relief win, 7 Ks, 0 BB, 1 H, and 0 ER.
Alex Colome, SEA – Colome had 5 appearances in the last 7 days. He pitched a total of 5.0 innings striking out 7 and walking 1. He allowed 4 hits, good for a 1.0 WHIP and did not allow an earned run. He also recorded 2 holds and 1 relief win.
Blake Treinen, OAK – Treinen continues to have a great season. This week in 3.0 innings he recorded 3 saves, 5 Ks, 0 BBs and allowed just 1 hit.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back next week with another Bullpen Briefing.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday July 29th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #131 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 discuss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Our guest this week is Joe Iannone. Joe is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com. His articles publish every Sunday and he focuses on spot starting pitchers for the coming week.
Major League Fantasy Football Radio Show: Join host Corey D Roberts, and James Wilk live August 2nd, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #87 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 South!
Major League Fantasy Baseball Show Episode #167, 6/23/2019 Host Brian Roach, Jr., Co-Host Cole Freel, Guest Kevin Bzdek
Major League Fantasy Baseball Show Episode #169, 8/4/2019 Host Cole Freel, Guest Joe Iannone
@brandonziman You are more than welcome Brandon. You were a fantastic writer and a joy to work with. As we move through a very big transition for us hopefully we can continue to work with one anither.