Last night, Aroldis Chapman left the game early for the Yankees due to knee discomfort. Chapman has been dealing with the issue the last few months and has avoided the DL, however I’ll dive into the Yankee pen in case a DL stint is on the horizon. The other big news this week came from Houston, who made a closer change on the heels of dropping 8 of their last 10, including 2 blown saves and falling into a tie for first place in the AL West division. Additionally, the Braves’ closer is dealing with some back tightness, and though it doesn’t appear major, we’ll see who’s next in line just in case. We’ll get some updates on the situations in Milwaukee, Minnesota, and Los Angeles, and as usual finish with the three stars of the week.
New York Yankees
Closer Aroldis Chapman left last nights game pre-maturely with left-knee discomfort. This is an issue he’s battled throughout the season, though he’s been able to avoid the DL thus far. Tommy Kahnle came in to record the final three outs and nail down the save for the Yankees, but Zach Britton and Dellin Betances had pitched earlier in the game and David Robertson was reportedly unavailable due to a tender shoulder. The Yankees obviously have excellent bullpen depth. Robterson, Betances, and Britton have all closed games before and are higher level relievers. Betances has been the 8th inning guy of late and is pitching the best of the three. He could potentially slide into the 9th if manager Aaron Boone elects to move everyone’s role back one inning. Another possibility is the Yankees like Betances in his current set-up man role, where he has had great success this season. They may opt not to mess with him, and instead use Britton or Robertson in the 9th; with Robertson battling a minor shoulder issue, Britton has the leg up on him.
Actions to take: Chapman is a hold. We will know more information today, but until we get an update on the knee I wouldn’t over-react to the early exit. As noted above, this is something Chapman has been dealing with and he’s thus far been able to stay off the DL. Should Chapman miss time though, I like Zach Britton to take over as closer. The Yankees have no hesitations to rely on a lefty in the 9th and I think they would prefer to keep Betances, who’s had his ups and downs the last couple seasons, in a role he is comfortable in and had success in. Still, Betances is an elite RP so he doesn’t make for a bad stash either but he’s not my first choice to speculate for saves on. If Robertson’s shoulder calms down, he could be in the mix for the 9th at some point too.
The moment Roberto Osuna was traded to Houston it seemed likely he would take over as closer at some point. That came to a head this week after Hector Rondon blew two straight saves prompting Astros manager AJ Hinch to name Osuna the team’s primary closer. It seems a bit unfair to Rondon, as he’s had a tremendous season including a 2.36 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 54/14 K/BB in 45.2 innings. But the Astros are struggling right now and when you have a reliever as talented as Osuna waiting in the wings, it doesn’t take much to make the change. However, last night Hinch did not follow through on his promise as he used Osuna in the 8th and Rondon in the 9th for the save. Looking closer, Osuna came in to face the clean up hitter, Denard Span. Perhaps Hinch was hoping for a 1-2-3 inning through the middle of the order and then Rondon to come in for the bottom of the order. It didn’t work out that way, as Osuna faced 5 batters and gave up 1 ER in the process. We’ll continue to monitor the situation, but it seems like both Osuna and Rondon will be in the mix for saves in the coming weeks.
Actions to take: Osuna is the add for saves, but he’s been stashed in many leagues so he’s not widely available. Rondon may be though, as it is possible he was dropped after AJ Hinch’s comments but before he picked up another save last night. Rondon is an add / hold until we see the situation unfold. I expect a shared role in the near term, with Osuna taking the 9th for himself eventually. With the Astros clawing to maintain first place in the division, they’re going to deploy these two relievers however they can can to win games, so if the matchup is preferable in the 8th for Osuna, I believe Hinch will mix and match accordingly.
Braves closer AJ Minter was touched up for 3 runs by the Rockies over the weekend. Minter was credited with a blown save, but worse is he hasn’t pitched since due to back tightness. He hopes to be available for the Braves today if needed. While Minter was resting his back, Dan Winkler picked up a save for the Braves, his second of the season. Winkler has been dominant over the last month posting 17 Ks to 3 BBs in 12.2 innings along with a 1.42 ERA and 1.11 WHIP.
Actions to take: Minter is a hold as he is expected to return today, but I am always skeptical when it comes to injuries, especially back injuries. If Minter’s back does not heal as expected, Winkler is the next in line for saves. He’s worth a stash for those in need of saves.
Corey Knebel was placed in closer time-out last week to get himself sorted out. He’s made one appearance since and allowed a walk and an earned run. He is going to have to make a stronger case for manager Craig Counsell to put him back in save situations.
Josh Hader and Jeremey Jeffress are the two relievers who should see the most save chances with Knebel out of the picture for now. They both recorded a save and a hold in the last week. Hader has been the league’s top reliever all season, so he was widely owned even before the increased save chances. Jeffress on the other hand remains just 47% owned on Yahoo, surprisingly low for a guy with a 1.36 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 67 Ks in 59.2 innings on the season and who is very much in the mix for saves.
Actions to take: Hader and Jeffress are both adds here, with Jeffress possibly available in your league. I would still rate Knebel as a hold, however as we approach September and fantasy playoffs, every roster spot becomes a little more important. Feel free to cut bait if you cannot afford to be patient.
The Twins went with a struggling Trevor Hildenberger in the first few save opportunities after trading away Fernando Rodney. Their commitment to the reliever is paying off thus far as Hildenberger has two saves and a win in the last week and has not allowed an earned run in his last three outings. Owners should be wary though, as Hildenberger has 3 walks to 2 strike outs over that time. This doesn’t give me confidence in running him out there, but as long as he’s getting the save opportunities it’s worth the gamble.
Taylor Rogers also recorded a save for the Twins last week, picking up the final out of Friday’s game against the Tigers by striking out switch hitter Jeimer Candelario. Rogers has been impressive posting a 58/13 K/BB in 51.1 innings this season, along with a 3.51 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. Being the go-to lefty in the Twins pen will hinder his save chances, though he may get the occasional save when the match-up is right as he did on Friday.
Actions to take: As long as Hildenberger is getting the bulk of the save opportunities, he is the add for saves. Don’t expect elite ratio from him though. In deeper leagues, veteran reliever Addison Reed is still a good stash. If Hildenberger’s struggles result in a few blown saves, Reed is likely the next man up.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The good news is Kenley Jansen is back from the DL and his heart issue seems to be under control. The bad news is Jansen allowed two home runs in his first outing back. I’m not too concerned with the poor outings at this point. Jansen has been an elite reliever the last few seasons and with a 2.44 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 2018, he is going to close as long as he is healthy and able. That is the important thing here and Jansen appears good to go.
Actions to take: Activate and roll with Jansen in your lineup. He’s going to get the save chances.
Three Stars of the Week
Wade Davis, COL – Davis pitched 4.0 innings striking out 6, walking none, and picking up 3 saves. He allowed just two hits.
Jose Leclerc, TEX – Leclerc struck out 6, walking none in 3.0 innings. He picked up 3 saves and allowed just 1 hit.
Oliver Drake, MIN – Drake pitched 5.1 innings striking out 9 and walking 2. He did not allow an earned run. It was a great week from Drake who’s got a 5.80 ERA on the season, but has been much better of late. He could see some hold changes in the Twins bullpen if he continues to pitch well.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back next week with another edition.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Cole Freel and Kyle Amore live on Sunday August 19th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #133 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.
Major League Fantasy Football Radio Show: Join host Corey D Roberts live August 16th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #89 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. Call in number is 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will take a close look at some possible ADP steals in our drafts this season.
My guest this week is Andy Macuga. He is the former Head Football and Baseball Coach for Borrego Springs H.S. out in the San Diego area. Andy is also a 6 year veteran of Major League Fantasy Sports leagues and a frequent radio guest.