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Closers and Saves Report - Week 10 Waiver Wire

Big news for the Cubs bullpen this week: Pedro Strop is back! Off the injured list and right back into the closer's role. That's it, right? That's the big news for the Cubs bullpen? The Orioles bullpen was a mess this week, and their original closer might be working his way back into the ninth. The Phillies bullpen's insurance premiums must be through the roof this season, as it looks like they'll have their SEVENTH reliever find his way to the IL already this season. The Rangers bullpen looks like it might be ready to sort itself out, too.

You folks want to hear a joke? The Washington Nationals bullpen. Pause for laughter.

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.

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Bullpen News for Week 10

Chicago Cubs

Of course, the actual big news in the Cubs bullpen this week was the signing of Craig Kimbrel to a three-year, $43 million contract. Kimbrel held out until June because he hadn't received any offers he was happy with, and teams held out until June because they didn't want to lose a draft pick. Once the draft started, the Cubs moved quickly and signed the veteran closer just days after Pedro Strop was activated from the IL. Kimbrel was obviously signed to close, but it'll be a little bit until we see him in the ninth inning at Wrigley. He'll work on rebuilding his arm strength for a few weeks while Strop works as a closer with an expiration date. Owners of Strop might as well ride things out, but once Kimbrel is activated, Strop won't have much value left in standard leagues. Kimbrel is of course one of the best closers of a generation, but I think expectations should be tempered. The last time we saw him on a mound, he was struggling, and now he hasn't pitched in a competitive game for a long time. He might encounter several bumps in the road in the early going.

Baltimore Orioles

Mychal Givens opened the season as the closer for the Orioles but generally struggled. A particularly rough week recently led to him losing his ninth inning job and saw the Orioles go with a committee that seemed to be led by Shawn Armstrong. Armstrong came in to a game this week to hold a lead in the seventh inning, and Givens looked lined up to pitch the ninth. While nothing's official just yet, it seems like Givens might be ready to resume his role as closer in Baltimore. It's not going to lead to a ton of saves, but when Givens is on, he can contribute to a fantasy team's strikeout total and is worth consideration in deeper leagues.

Texas Rangers

Shawn Kelley was doing an excellent job closing for the Rangers up until this week, when he blew two saves in three chances. With Jose Leclerc, the closer the Rangers have wanted in the ninth all along, finally pitching well this season, it shouldn't be too long before Leclerc takes over and doesn't look back. Kelley is still a solid choice in holds leagues, but once he loses the ninth inning, he won't have much value in standard formats. Leclerc needs to be picked up right away in case he still resides on any waiver wires.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals have had Jordan Hicks closing this season, and he's done well, saving 11 games and blowing just one. He has a 3.98 ERA and a 28.9% K%. His 13.3% BB% isn't ideal, but a 3.21 FIP/3.33 xFIP shows that he's actually due for some positive regression in the ERA department. Still, the Cardinals had a very quick hook on Hicks this week, as he was pulled from a save opportunity after allowing a hit and a walk. John Gant came in and picked up his third save of the season, but the real threat to Hicks would seem to be Carlos Martinez. Gant has been excellent, and while Martinez hasn't quite hit his stride yet after spending time on the IL, he's shown incredible stuff in the past. For now, the job still belongs to Hicks, but his hold on the ninth inning is seemingly not as tight as it probably should be.


Short Relief

  • The Phillies bullpen can absolutely not catch a break, as Seranthony Dominguez looks like he'll be the SEVENTH Phillies reliever to make it to the injured list already this season. Hector Neris has done a good job in the ninth inning, but middle relief in Philadelphia is starting to look like an issue.
  • The Nationals bullpen (pause again for laughter) has now allowed 60 runs in the eighth inning this season. SIXTY RUNS. That's in just 61 games. The Nationals bullpen has a 6.68 ERA this season (it was 8.15 for the month of May). Closer Sean Doolittle has been solid although not as spectacular as usual, so he's not the problem. It's...everyone else.
  • Ryan Pressly's ERA is now 0.64 and he's only walked two batters in 28 1/3 innings. If anyone's going to challenge Zach Britton's 0.54 ERA from 2016, it's probably Pressly.
  • Jose Alvarado was placed on the family medical emergency list, so Emilio Pagan and Diego Castillo should have one less reliever to compete with for saves for about a week.
  • Blake Parker has been struggling lately, opening the door for Taylor Rogers to potentially jump him as head of the Twins closer committee.
  • Looks like Luke Jackson is safe for now. With the Cubs signing Kimbrel, Jackson will continue to close in Atlanta. The Braves are still expected to trade for relief help, but that likely won't happen until closer to the deadline.
  • Wade Davis (back) is reportedly feeling better and had a throwing session that went well. He could be activated this weekend and should immediately resume his role as the closer.


Roster Moves of the Week


Pedro Strop, Chicago Cubs - Okay, hold on, hear me out. Craig Kimbrel won't be ready for a few weeks, but because of the big signing news, it's possible some people may have jumped the gun and dropped Strop. He'll be the closer for a little while longer, and if you have room on your roster, why not pick up a few saves in the meantime?

Jose Leclerc, Texas Rangers - Shawn Kelley blew two saves and it won't be long before Leclerc is back on the mound for the ninth inning. If he's still available in your league, this may be the last week you have a chance to pick him up.

Mychal Givens, Baltimore Orioles - Looks like Givens found his way back into the ninth inning. He won't save a ton of games and we've already seen what can happen when he struggles, but he's worth a look in deeper formats and for any owners really struggling to earn saves.


No immediate drops this week, but if you own Shawn Kelley, it looks like he won't be closing much longer so be ready to make a move sooner rather than later.


Best of the Week

Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals - 3 2/3 IP, 3 SV, 5 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.55 WHIP

As much of a dumpster fire as the Nationals bullpen has been, Sean Doolittle has been solid at worst. This week, he was excellent, saving three games and striking out five while giving up just two hits.

Brad Hand, Cleveland Indians - 3 IP, 3 SV, 3 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP

Cleveland might just have the best closer in baseball that no one really talks about. Hand had a perfect week this week, saving all three games he appeared in and not allowing any baserunners while striking out three.

Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers - 2 2/3 IP, 3 SV, 3 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.37 WHIP

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen didn't even need to pitch three full innings to get his three saves this week. He struck out three and allowed just one hit in his three appearances.

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