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“On Bzdek” Bullpen Briefing: Bolstering the Bullpen for the Fantasy Playoffs

In fantasy baseball, much like in real baseball, we try to bolster our bullpens for the stretch run of the regular season and the playoffs. In September, rosters expand from 25 men to 40 men. That means teams far ahead and far behind in the standings can rest players who are banged up. You can ill afford to have dead weight on your roster this time of the season. Today, I will try to give you some relievers to keep in mind should you be scrounging for a save or a couple of innings and a hold down the stretch, or in a head to head matchup over the weekend.

Milwaukee Brewers

Jeremy Jeffress ownership percentage on Yahoo has jumped 13% since last week, going from 47% to 61%. If he’s still available and you need saves, you should add him. Josh Hader’s last three outings have been 2.0 innings a piece as he’s been bridging the middle inning gap. He allowed 1 ER and picked up a 7 Ks with 0 BBs during that time frame. Hader should still get a few saves the rest of the way with the workload he is going to take on, but it’s been Jeffress seeing the 9th as of late.

Joakim Soria returned from the DL this week and he’s just 26% owned in Yahoo. Prior to last night he’s had two outings, 1.0 innings a piece and picked up a hold in both, striking out 3 and not allowing a base runner. Last night, Soria continued pitching will in a 0.2 inning appearance in which he allowed 1 hit and struck out 2. Soria had a rough stretch back in May but has allowed only 3 ER since June 1st. He’s an experienced late inning reliever with 16 saves in 2018 and 220 saves in his career. He’s going to be pitching some big innings for the Brewers down the stretch one way or another and I think he will see a few of those innings in the 9th.

Actions to take: The Brewers are fighting for a playoff spot and it’s resulting in a busy bullpen. All three of these relievers are worth an add for saves speculators.

Washington Nationals

The National’s bullpen has been a mess, so here’s an update on several of their late inning arms.

Kelvin Herrera returned briefly last week, pitching 1.2 scoreless innings before returning to the disabled list with a torn Lifranc ligament in his left foot. The Lifranc ligament, named after French surgeon Jacques Lisfranc de St. Martin, is one of several ligaments that connects the toes together toward the front of the arch of the foot. Herrera will likely miss the remainder of the season.

In other Nationals’ injury news, Sean Doolittle threw another bullpen session Sunday. He’s thrown a few bullpens in the last couple of weeks as he attempts to alter his delivery to take some pressure off the stress reaction in his foot. The fact that he has thrown several bullpens and doesn’t appear to be returning soon, along with the Nats being 7.5 games out of the playoffs, makes me think Doolittle is closer to being shut down than returning to baseball in 2018. Doolittle has a $6 milllion team option for the 2019 season which will surely be picked up. I see no reason why the Nats would rush him back with altered mechanics when their season is essentially over.

On the positive side, Ryan Madson returned from the DL on Monday, picking up a hold though allowing a solo home run in the process. He will be in the mix for saves in the Nats depleted bullpen, though he’s not been having a great season with a 5.19 ERA and 1.43 WHIP.

Justin Miller got the save on Monday night, pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning with no strikeouts. He’s got a 3.86 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in the last month. He will also be in the mix for saves in D.C.

Koda Glover was named the team’s preferred closer when he was called up a couple weeks ago. He picked up a save in his first appearance, but overall he has just 3 Ks in 5.1 innings and he’s allowed 5 walks and 3 earned runs. He missed the first three months of 2018 with a shoulder issue, so he may still be knocking off some rust.

In his last 9.2 innings, Greg Holland has allowed 1 ER, 3 BBs, and has picked up 11 Ks. He’s not a trustworthy reliever, but considering the state of the National’s bullpen I would not be surprised to see Holland pick up a save or two at some point. He did just that last night, notching his first save with the Nats after Miller started the 9th got into some trouble by allowing two hits and a run.

Actions to take: This late in the fantasy baseball season, I would be dropping Herrera and Doolittle unless you have space on your DL. The next closer is tough to predict, so when in doubt I like to speculate on the guy who is pitching the best and right now that is Greg Holland. However, Miller has been solid as well, and after picking up the save on Monday he could be worth a speculative add as well.

Philadelphia Phillies

Seranthony Dominguez is coming off a rough week. He lasted just 0.2 innings in back to back outings on the 22nd and the 25th, and allowed 2 ER and 3 ER respectively, including 2 hits, 1 walk, and 1 HR. He bounced back on the 26th though pitching a scoreless 9th inning with 2 Ks in an 8-3 victory. In between Dominguez struggles, Pat Neshek recorded a save, which happened to be his second save in the last two weeks. Neshek is having an excellent season with a 1.56 ERA, and 1.10 WHIP, though he did blow the save last night allowing a two-run home run. He also sports a sub-par 6.35 K/9. He’s not your prototypical closer type, but at this point in the season the Phillies will go to whoever they think can handle the situation and the 37 year old veteran Neshek will certainly be in the mix.

Hector Neris was recalled from the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs on August 14th. The former closer has pitched 7.1 innings since the re-call, striking out 16 and walking just 1. He has not allowed a run yet. Neris has the potential to be a high end reliever, and it seems he has sorted himself out in the minors. Neris relieved Neshek after his blown save last night and finished out the 9th.

Actions to take: Dominguez still has the lead for saves at this point so he is a hold, however if he has another bad outing I would expect him to take a backseat for a little while. Neshek has been pitching well all year, so he’s in the mix for saves going forward, as is Neris who has been lights out since his return from AAA. Both are good adds for saves speculators, as they are 24% and 23% owned on Yahoo, respectively. I’d give the slight edge to Neshek at this point since he’s picked up a couple saves, but after last night it doesn’t look like the Phillies have any hesitation putting Neris in the 9th. Additionally, if you’re looking to boost your K/9 or K/BB though, I’d grab Neris.

Minnesota Twins

Trevor Hildenberger was 1 for 1 on save opportunities in the last week, however he also allowed a solo home run. He’s now allowed 5 home runs in the month of August, which is cause for concern. He’s also allowed earned runs in 2 of his 4 saves in August. Addison Reed continues to be mediocre, allowing two solo home runs in his last outing and boosting his season ERA to 4.80 and WHIP to 1.46. Taylor Rogers has a save and a hold in the last week, however being the key lefty in the Twins pen means he probably won’t see consistent save chances. Trevor May is continuing an great, though abbreviated season. In the last week he pitched 3.0 innings with 6 Ks and 0 BBs. Since being called up to the Twins on July 31st, May has 16 Ks and 2 BBs in 11.2 innings pitched, along with a 2.31 ERA and 0.94 WHIP.

Actions to take: Hildenberger is a hold as long as he is seeing save chances, however his performance is not evoking confidence and he runs the risk of dragging down your ratios. May is the speculative add for saves here and he is just 1% owned on Yahoo. He is the hot hand right now with Hildenberger and Reed looking sub-par, and while Rogers has been good his usage will mainly be determined by the matchups.

Los Angeles Dodgers

In 3 appearances since returning from the DL, Kenley Jansen has pitched 4.0 innings and allowed 4 home runs. This isn’t the first rough patch for Jansen this season, but as long as he has a clean bill of health I expect him to turn things around quickly. Jansen announced yesterday that the medication he was taking for his heart is to blame for the recent performance, and he has stopped taking the medicine. Hopefully his performance improves going forward. As one of the games premier relievers, Jansen’s should have a long leash to right himself.

Ross Stripling was activated from the DL yesterday and will pitch out of the bullpen after a successful stint in the rotation that includes a 2.62 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 121 Ks in 110 innings. It will be interesting to see how he is deployed. He is stretched out from starting, so he may see some multi-inning appearances the rest of the way. The same can be said for Kenta Maeda, who is another starter that was recently moved to the bullpen. He’s had 1 multi-inning relief appearance of his 3 since moving to the bullpen.

Actions to take: Jansen is a hold as long as he is active. After Jansen, the bullpen is in flux. I like Ross Stripling as a multi-inning fantasy reliever, plus with his late inning experience he could see a handful of saves in September. He ownership has dropped to 50% per Yahoo. Maeda is in the same situation as Stripling, minus the late inning experience.

Three Stars of the Week

Jesse Chavez, CHC – In 3.2 innings Chavez struck out 5 while walking none. He notched a win and a save, the save coming Monday night after Pedro Strop and Justin Wilson loaded the bases. Strop has been shaky of late. He is still another bad outing from being removed from his current role as closer. If that happens, Chavez and Carl Edwards Jr. have both pitched well and could see save chances.

Hector Neris, PHI – Neris pitched 4.0 innings striking out 9, walking 1, and allowing 3 hits. He also picked up a hold. If he continues to dominate he will quickly get more high leverage situations and potentially some save chances if Seranthony Dominguez continues to struggle.

Sergio Romo, TB – Romo pitched 4.0 innings picking up 2 saves and 1 win. He struck out 4, walked 1, and allowed 3 hits. The Rays are hot, and those who have Romo on their team are reaping the benefits lately.


That’s all for this week and for this season. Thanks for reading all season long and best of luck to those of you still in the playoff hunt.

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday August 26th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #134 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. This will be our final fantasy baseball show of the 2018 season. Come join us to give our final thoughts on the season as well as the fantasy playoffs and roto league strecth runs.

Our guest this week is Bryan Luhrs. Bryan is a writer with Bryan focuses on the minor leagues and he also is the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports.

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.

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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