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Closers and Saves Report - Week 5 Waiver Wire

Last week I made a joke about this article somehow playing Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" but now this week I want to make the same joke because, well, because another one bit the dust. The Rangers will have someone new on the mound in the ninth inning when they're trying to hold onto a lead.

Other things happened to, unrelated to Queen or to dust. A pair of lefty closers are going to get whiplash if they have to keep looking over their shoulders, and either of them may end up as part of yet another "Another One Bites the Dust" "joke" in the next few weeks.

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 any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!


Bullpen News for Week 5

Texas Rangers

The biggest news of the week was Rangers manager Chris Woodward removing Jose Leclerc from the closer's role. Leclerc has been just about as bad this season as he was good last season. In 10 2/3 innings of work spread across 13 appearances, Leclerc has an 8.44 ERA. He has struck out 14, but he's also walked nine and hit three batters.

It's been mostly an issue with control for Leclerc, but he's also been suddenly prone to allowing home runs after doing a great job of keeping the ball in the park last season. It seems like Leclerc's demotion is actually intended to be a temporary one, so he should be able to reclaim the ninth inning as long as he starts pitching like he did last season.

In the meantime, though, Chris Martin and Shawn Kelley are the top two candidates for saves in the Texas bullpen. Kelley has been the better pitcher this season and has previous closing experience, but Martin has been pitching after Kelley this season, usually taking the eighth inning. Kelley would  be the more exciting short-term fantasy add, but it's possible the Rangers just go with a mix-and-match approach, especially if they expect Leclerc to work his way back.

Atlanta Braves

The Braves lost Arodys Vizcaino for the season to shoulder surgery, but likely thought they were okay since A.J. Minter was ready and willing to take over. Minter has struggled so far this season though, and it may not be long until their searching for someone else to handle their ninth innings. In 9 2/3 innings this season, Minter has an ugly 8.38 ERA with a 13:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Earlier this week, Minter was pulled from a save situation and the ball was given to Luke Jackson, making him the most likely to be next in line if Minter continues to falter. He's someone to keep an eye on and should be a mid-range closer in fantasy if he replaces Minter.

San Francisco Giants

Another lefty closer is keeping an eye on what's going in the bullpen behind him, as Giants closer Will Smith appears to have his days numbered as well. Smith  has actually been pretty solid, converting all seven of his save chances while posting a 3.09 ERA (2.09 FIP). His 12:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 11 2/3 innings isn't bad either.

However, the Giants have publicly stated their desire to get Mark Melancon back in the closer's role, and that could only come at the expense of Smith. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, “He’s going to save some games for us, we’ll have him in that role sometimes.” That doesn't mean you need to run to the wire and pick up Melancon, but it does mean you should be a little worried if you own Smith and perhaps try to sell high while you can.


Short Relief

  • Jeurys Familia of the New York Mets ended up on the IL this week due to a bone spur in his shoulder. He was hyped before the season as a solid contributor in holds leagues and a good handcuff for closer Edwin Diaz, but Familia has struggled so far this year and will now be forced to miss some time.
  • Sergio Romo seems like he's entrenched himself as the closer in Miami, as all four possible save chances in the last two weeks have gone to him. He's a solid reliever in real life, but his fantasy value is severely limited by the fact that the Marlins won't have too many leads to give him.
  • Reyes Moronta on the San Francisco Giants has emerged as a strong relief candidate and should be considered in all holds formats. He might even end up closing some games after the trade deadline if the Giants move on from Will Smith and Mark Melancon.


Roster Moves of the Week


Shawn Kelley and/or Chris Martin, Texas Rangers - With Jose Leclerc pulled from the closer's role for now, either Martin or Kelley will be called upon when the need arises. Kelley has been better this season and has more experience, so he gets the slight edge here, but Martin has been pitching after Kelley, so it's not a sure thing. This is mostly an add for those who need saves now, since it seems like the Rangers want Leclerc to eventually work his way back into the ninth.

Luke Jackson, Atlanta Braves - Anyone who owns A.J. Minter and has a free roster spot should consider adding Jackson, who appears to be the next guy in line for saves in the Atlanta bullpen.

Reyes Moronta, San Francisco Giants - Only relevant in holds leagues for now, Moronta is a guy to keep an eye on when the trade deadline approaches.


Don't drop Jose Leclerc. Let him chill on your bench for a bit, maybe, but he should get his ninth inning back before long assuming he can get back to the form he showed last season. There are no immediate drops this week, but owners of A.J. Minter should be carefully following our depth charts every day just to make sure he's still closing in Atlanta.


Best of the Week

Brad Hand, Cleveland Indians - 3 IP, 3 SV, 5 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.33 WHIP

Cleveland closer Brad Hand walked a batter but otherwise had a perfect week, earning a save in all three of his appearances and striking out five batters in the process.

Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers - 3 IP, 3 SV, 3 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen wasn't perfect this week, but he and Hand were the only closers to earn three saves, giving him a spot on the "Best of the Week" list. He allowed a run on two hits and a walk, but still closed out all three games he appeared in.

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