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2019 Bullpen Outlooks - American League West


Last up in our coverage of the bullpens in each division is the American League West. The AL West has some solid bullpens and some huge question marks. Two teams feature closers who are brand new to their team and the other three will have relievers returning to their roles. There are both high-upside and uninspiring-but-reliable guys in each bullpen.

Despite a likely top-heavy division, there should still be fantasy value coming out of each AL West city. We'll take a look team-by-team and see who are the obvious adds, and who might be a hidden gem under the bullpen dirt.

Let's ride the bullpen cart through the bullpens of the American League West. Be sure to also check out our full fantasy baseball closer depth charts for each team, including holds candidates and setup men.

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Houston Astros

Closer: Roberto Osuna
Volatility Rating: Solid
Other Relevant RP:  Ryan Pressly, Chris Devenski, Hector Rondon

The Houston Astros have the deepest bullpen in the American League West. It starts at the top with closer Roberto Osuna. Osuna's not a good dude, but he's a good closer. He missed 75 games last season while serving a suspension stemming from a domestic violence incident. He ended up pitching in 38 games, collecting 21 saves and posting a 2.37 ERA with a 0.97 WHIP. He didn't strike out as many batters as he had in previous seasons though, posting a pedestrian 7.58 K/9.

Setting up Osuna will be some combination of Ryan Pressly, Chris Devenski, and Hector Rondon. Rondon served as the team's closer for stretches last season, posting 15 saves and a 3.20 ERA. He'll return to the Astros bullpen, but he'll be behind Osuna. Ryan Pressly was acquired from the Twins last season and ended up with a 2.54 ERA and 101 strikeouts. He could be the primary setup man and should be a strong reliever in holds leagues.

Fantasy Must-Own: Roberto Osuna (all formats), Ryan Pressly (all holds leagues)

 

Los Angeles Angels

Closer: Cody Allen
Volatility Rating: Solid
Other Relevant RP: Ty Buttrey, Justin Anderson, Cam Bedrosian

The Los Angeles Angels had a decent closer emerge last season in the form of Blake Parker. They then let him go for nothing after the season, non-tendering him and watching him sign with the Twins. The Angels did go out and get Cody Allen, the former Cleveland closer, to add to their bullpen. Allen was unhittable at times last season, but very, very hittable at other times. In total, he ended up saving 27 games but posted a troubling 4.70 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. There's upside with Allen, but there's significant risk as well.

Backing him up and setting him up will be Ty Buttrey, Justin Anderson, and Cam Bedrosian. Buttrey came out of nowhere last season to post some impressive numbers before two poor end of season performances skewed his numbers. Buttrey was shut down due to knee bursitis before the season ended, and the injury was clearly affecting him in his last two outings. Going into those appearances, he had a sparkling 0.59 ERA. He came out of those last two outings with a 3.31 mark. He's not going to be 0.59-ERA good this season, but a clean bill of health and some innings at the big league level under his belt could lead to a solid season as a setup man and make him a valuable piece in holds leagues.

Fantasy Must-Own: Cody Allen (AL-only and deeper mixed leagues), Ty Buttrey (holds leagues)

 

Oakland Athletics

Closer: Blake Treinen
Volatility Rating: Solid
Other Relevant RP: Lou Trivino, Joakim Soria, Fernando Rodney

The Oakland A's will bring back one of baseball's best closers to their ninth inning in 2019. Blake Treinen was amazing last season, saving 39 games and posting a minuscule 0.78 ERA and 0.83 WHIP with an even 100 strikeouts. He should be one of the first closers drafted in any format this season. He'll be setup by a solid mix of veterans Joakim Soria, Fernando Rodney, and Lou Trivino. Seasoned fantasy baseball players know better than to ever trust Fernando Rodney as a closer, but his value in holds leagues could actually be significant. Soria should return solid value as well, with Trivino perhaps being the best bet out of the three.

Fantasy Must-Own: Blake Treinen (all formats, should be one of the first closers drafted), Lou Trivino (holds leagues)

 

Seattle Mariners

Closer: Hunter Strickland
Volatility Rating: Questionable
Other Relevant RPs: Anthony Swarzak

The Seattle Mariners had one of the best closers in baseball last season, but they traded him to the Mets this offseason. They then signed former Giants closer Hunter Strickland in what may be the biggest bullpen downgrade of the year. Still, Strickland seems set to be handed the ninth inning, and that could be fantasy significant. He saved 14 games last season, posting a 3.97 ERA and 1.41 WHIP with just 37 strikeouts. He's essentially the definition of an average reliever, although he's shown signs of upside now and then. Given his general struggles combined with Mariners manager Scott Servais already saying, "there may not be a set closer on a particular night," Strickland is a hard sell in most fantasy formats.

Working behind or perhaps alongside Strickland will be Anthony Swarzak. Swarzak was an impressive reliever before a nightmare 2018 season made a lot of people forget his solid numbers in the past. He could be a worthy reliever in holds leagues, but should not be owned in any standard leagues unless the Mariners switch gears and give him the ninth.

Fantasy Must-Own: None, although keep an eye on both Strickland and Swarzak to see how things work out in the Seattle bullpen.

 

Texas Rangers

Closer: Jose Leclerc
Volatility Rating: Solid
Other Relevant RPs: Jesse Chavez, Shawn Kelley

The Texas Rangers quietly had one of baseball's best closers in the second half of last season. Jose Leclerc stormed into the closer's role and never looked back. He posted a 1.56 ERA, a 0.85 WHIP, saved 12 games, and struck out 85 batters in 57 2/3 innings. To avoid any possible questions, manager Chris Woodward already went ahead and named Leclerc the team's closer in January. He's a must-own in any format.

Leclerc will be set up by veteran relievers Jesse Chavez and Shawn Kelley. Both struck out about a batter per inning and posted solid sub-three ERAs in 2018, but there is more upside in the other setup men in the AL West bullpens. In deeper leagues that count holds, Kelley would be the preferred add slightly over Chavez.

Fantasy Must-Own: Jose Leclerc (all formats)

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