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Closers and Saves Report - All-Star Break Edition


The All-Star Game happened, and it was fun. But then came Wednesday, the only day of the season with NO BASEBALL. It was awful, but we all made it, we survived. Thursday featured just one game, but then we're back to normal on Friday for the second half. There are plenty of teams still in contention and plenty of things should change before the July 31 trade deadline.

This week, we'll take a look at what bullpens are most likely to change before the first pitch of August is thrown. Some closers will stop closing, some setup men will move into the ninth inning, and some bullpens might look completely different in about 20 days.

Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.

Editor's Note: Get our 2020 MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our draft kit, premium rankings, player projections and outlooks, our top sleepers, dynasty and prospect rankings, 20 preseason and in-season lineup tools, and over 200 days of expert DFS research and tools. Sign Up Now!

 

Pitchers In Potentially Precarious Positions

American League

Baltimore Orioles- The Orioles have been using Mychal Givens as their "closer" and he ended up leading the team in saves in the first half...with six. Six saves. At the All-Star Break. Givens has shown some upside, with a 34.3% K%. His 4.76 ERA/4.88 FIP is certainly concerning, but a guy with all those strikeouts does have some use in a bullpen. Givens is under team control until 2021, so the Orioles won't be rushed to trade him, but if they receive a good enough offer, he's certainly someone that could move before the deadline. He won't close for any new team he joins, with his best case scenario possibly being joining a committee that already exists.

Boston Red Sox- Just a quick word about the Red Sox here: they have seemingly gone back a bit on scheduling Nathan Eovaldi as a "traditional closer" but he should still have a ninth inning role once he returns from the injured list. They could still seek bullpen help at the deadline though, so anyone besides Nathan Eovaldi is a sell-now in most formats.

Tampa Bay Rays- The Rays seem to hate the idea of a scheduled closer, so they are likely to continue using a committee approach for the rest of the season, even if they do acquire some more high-leverage arms. For now, Diego Castillo (coming off the IL for the second half) and Emilio Pagan should continue to earn saves.

Toronto Blue Jays- Ken Giles is having an excellent season (1.45 ERA/1.49 FIP, 43.4% K%) and should bring back a nice haul for the Blue Jays at the deadline. As long as he stays healthy, Giles is one of the best bets to move before August, and teams have reportedly already started asking the Blue Jays about him. Joe Biagini or Daniel Hudson will likely take over the ninth inning in Toronto, although both of them may be trade targets for teams shooting lower than Giles. Giles could close for his new team depending on where he ends up, as he's been one of the best relievers in baseball this season. Unless he winds up somewhere like Los Angeles, he's likely to remain a ninth inning arm.

Chicago White Sox- The White Sox are still somewhat in it, sitting seven games out of the Wild Card at the All-Star Break. They're likely to be sellers unless they go on a tear to open up the second half, and that means closer Alex Colome could be on the move. Colome has been solid, but some of his peripheral stats show reason for concern. He has a 2.02 ERA and 20 saves in 21 chances, but his FIP sits at 3.99 and he's only putting up a 20.8% K%. If he gets traded, he's much more likely to slide into a setup role than to remain as a closer in a new uniform. Meanwhile, in Chicago, Aaron Bummer looks set to take over the ninth inning and would need to be owned in all formats right away if the White Sox move Colome.

Cleveland Indians- There was word that Cleveland would listen to offers for closer Brad Hand, but now that they'll be starting the second half in the lead for one of the Wild Card spots, it's hard to see them moving one of their better, most consistent players. They may end up adding to the bullpen with guys to bridge the game from their starters to Hand, but there's not likely to be a huge shake up in the Cleveland bullpen.

Detroit Tigers- The Tigers bullpen is another one that's very likely to see some changes before the deadline. Closer Shane Greene has been amazing this season (1.09 ERA, 22 saves, 26.0% K%) and is another guy who is almost certain to be dealt this season. Many people thought the same thing last year though, so we'll see what happens. If Greene does move, his future role will depend greatly on what team he ends up on. There are some closer-needy teams that would slide Greene right into the ninth inning but others that would have him in a supporting role ahead of their closer. Greene's second half fantasy value is a huge question mark in standard leagues, making him a sell-now for those wanting to be safe. Joe Jimenez seems most likely to take over for the Tigers, even though he's having the worst season of his career so far.

Kansas City Royals- The Royals would seem to be a team in full-on sell mode, but their closer Ian Kennedy is actually not particularly likely to be moved this summer. He's been excellent in his new role as closer, but he's got two years left in a five year, $70 million contract, and he's still Ian Kennedy. It's not impossible for him to switch teams, but he's much more likely to stay in Kansas City this summer.

Minnesota Twins- The Twins have been running with a committee in the ninth inning for most of this season, although Taylor Rogers seems to have taken over at least the lion's share lately. That could all come to an end once trades start going down, though. The Twins are rumored to have shown interest in some of the top-flight closers that should be available, meaning Rogers and the rest of the Minnesota committee will slide into setup roles. Any closer who gets traded to the Twins will immediately see a nice bump in value.

**No teams in the AL West are really expected to do much shuffling of their bullpens in the second half. Liam Hendriks should hang on to the ninth in Oakland, the Rangers will continue working Jose Leclerc and Shawn Kelley in their ninth innings, and the Angels should keep trotting Hansel Robles out there. The Mariners will keep trying to find a closer and winding up with a committee, and finally the Astros are all set with Roberto Osuna in their ninth. The Astros and A's may add to the earlier parts of their bullpens, but the closer roles seem safe.

 

National League

Atlanta Braves- The Braves bullpen has been okay at times, but they are still rumored to be very much in the market for ninth inning help before the deadline. Luke Jackson has been decent this season (2.66 ERA/2.79 FIP and 31.9% K%) but he's blown six saves. Ken Giles is one of the names the Braves have been kicking the tires on, making them one of the teams more likely to have a new closer by August. Jackson will retain value in holds leagues, but he's looking like a guy who may end up insignificant in standard leagues. There's always the chance that the Braves can't work anything out for an elite option and end up strengthening the earlier innings and keeping Jackson around for the ninth, but fantasy owners who want to play it safe should already be preparing for life after he loses his closer's role.

Miami Marlins- Sergio Romo was signed for two reasons: to provide the Marlins bullpen with some veteran experience, and to develop trade value before the deadline. Romo has been decent this season, posting a 4.13 ERA and 16 saves in 17 opportunities. He won't close for whatever team acquires him, placing a clear deadline on his standard league fantasy value. He may actually see a slight increase in value in holds leagues if he moves to a team that installs him as a primary setup man, but he is not likely to earn many saves in a different uniform. In Miami, Nick Anderson may be traded too, but if he stays in Miami, he would likely take over the ninth. Beyond him, perhaps Austin Brice gets a chance to see some ninth inning action.

New York Mets- This season hasn't gone at all the way the Mets wanted it to, but they aren't likely to be major sellers at the deadline. Edwin Diaz has struggled but is under team control until 2022 so he's unlikely to go anywhere. The team may make some minor moves but it shouldn't be anything majorly fantasy relevant.

Washington Nationals- Despite what was widely considered a very rough first half for the Nationals, all of a sudden they are in the lead for the Wild Card and a somewhat-manageable six games out of the division. They won't be sellers, but they need A LOT of help in their bullpen. Closer Sean Doolittle has been good (19 saves, 3.13 ERA/2.93 FIP) but he's been the only reliable reliever in a Nationals uniform. They are likely to target slightly lower-tier relievers, but there's a chance they get in the mix for guys like Ken Giles or Kirby Yates as well.

Cincinnati Reds-  The Reds removed Raisel Iglesias from the closer's role for a little bit, but it looks like he's back in there for now, perhaps in an attempt to increase his trade value. He'll remain under team control until the 2021 season, so they Reds won't need to trade him, but they may if they receive a good offer. Iglesias would likely work in a setup role for a new team, but he's about 50-50 on staying as Reds closer or working in a setup role for a new team. A careful fantasy owner may be looking for move on. Michael Lorenzen or Amir Garrett would be next in line in Cincinnati.

St. Louis Cardinals- The Cardinals lost closer Jordan Hicks to Tommy John Surgery, but they seem happy with Carlos Martinez resurrecting his career as a closer. Still, they could be in the market for a more bona fide closer at the deadline. The rest of their bullpen has been solid, with John Brebbia, Genesis Cabrera, and John Gant all providing solid relief innings to take the game from the starters to the ninth inning. They may target a guy like Will Smith or Kirby Yates, but they could also be more in the market for starting pitching and leave the bullpen more or less alone.

Arizona Diamondbacks- The Diamondbacks looked ready to remove Greg Holland from the ninth inning, but he recently got a vote of confidence from his manager and will at least enter the second half with the closer's job in the desert. The Diamondbacks sit just 1.5 games back from a Wild Card spot, so they could be looking to improve their bullpen before the deadline. It remains to be seen whether that'll be a new closer to take Holland's spot, or some solid arms to work before Holland. Given Holland's struggles this season (including declining velocity and increasing walk rate) however, even a reliever acquired to setup may end up closing if Holland slumps again. He's been a risky fantasy asset all season and will only get riskier as the deadline approaches.

Los Angeles Dodgers- The Dodgers are all set in the ninth inning with Kenley Jansen, one of the best closers in baseball. But the rest of their bullpen could use some help, and they've been rumored to have strong interest in Will Smith. Jansen's job is not at all in jeopardy, but the Dodgers could be the reason another closer ends up in a setup role. Holds league players will want to target anyone the Dodgers acquire to add to their bullpen.

San Diego Padres- There has been some word that teams have been asking about Padres closer Kirby Yates, but with the Padres sticking around in the Wild Card race (2.0 games out) and Yates signed through next year, there's no certainty that he'll be on the move. Yates has been arguably the best closer this season, so if he does get traded, he'll bring in tons of value for the Padres and will nearly for certain retain the ninth inning on any new team. Craig Stammen or Luis Perdomo would take over, although they could both be targeted by teams looking for setup help as well.

San Francisco Giants- Giants closer Will Smith has been amazing this season, going a perfect 23-for-23 in save chances with a 1.98 ERA/2.02 FIP and 39.9% K%. The Dodgers are rumored to have tons of interest in the contract-year reliever, but he'd work before Kenley Jansen there. Almost any other team he goes to would keep him in the ninth inning, but the Dodgers have so far been the team rumored to have the most interest.

 

 

 

 

 

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