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Closers and Saves Report - Week 8 Waiver Wire

It's almost officially summer (both in the "school's out" definition and the-calendar-says-so definition) but the introduction of Closers and Saves Report is still rolling strong with some very specific Easter eggs. While part of me wants to break free (✔) another part feels under pressure (✔✔) to keep it going. Speaking of keeping it going, Luke Jackson wasn't able to do just that this week, and now the Braves bullpen looks to be in flux once again.

Under pressure? Well, Wade Davis felt pressure on his oblique, leading to a change in the Rockies bullpen as well. The bullpen in Texas is starting to change, but in this case it looks like it will change back to how it was at the beginning of the season. The Red Sox bullpen could be changing, and the Mariners bullpen lost one of their late-inning arms, possibly providing some clarity in Seattle.

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 8

Atlanta Braves

Just last week, we discussed Luke Jackson and how strong his hold on the Braves closer role was looking. I clearly exaggerated in asking if Jackson might be the best pitcher in baseball, but apparently that was taken seriously by some? This week proved, although most (?) already knew that no one actually thought it, that Jackson is in fact not the best pitcher in baseball. His fourth blown save of the season led to the Braves giving Sean Newcomb a chance in the closer's role. Newcomb was a top prospect as a starter but has excelled out of the bullpen this season, posting a 2.61 ERA in three starts and seven relief appearances. He could be a decent enough closer on the field, but he doesn't have the type of "closer numbers" you'd like to see in a fantasy option. He's posting just a 14.3% K% and an 8.8% BB%. He doesn't give up a ton of hard hit balls, though, so he might be a decent source of saves in deeper leagues. Meanwhile, Jackson is out of the ninth for now, but it wouldn't be a shock to see him retain a key setup role, meaning he'll still have value in holds leagues. Despite all the talk about Newcomb's ascension, he pitched the seventh and got one out in the eighth in Thursday's game, allowing a run. Luke Jackson pitched the last two innings of the extra inning game, earning the win while striking out three and allowing just one hit. The Braves have been rumored as one of the clubs interested in signing Craig Kimbrel after the draft pick issue passes in June, so Newcomb's hold on the job might be temporary even if he does do well. The Braves also added Anthony Swarzak this week after a trade with the Mariners. He'll pitch in a late-inning role, but shouldn't be a candidate for saves any time soon. It looks like the Atlanta bullpen is going to need some time for the dust to clear, so either adding Newcomb or dropping Jackson might be too soon right now.

Colorado Rockies

Rockies closer Wade Davis was having an interesting season, posting seven saves and a 2.45 ERA without blowing a chance so far. He was striking out 27.7% of the batters he faced, but walking 15.4%. The K% was among his career bests, but the BB% was his career worst by far. Still, limiting hard contact led him to a 2.67 FIP, showing that he'd been able to work around the walks. Effective or not, Davis won't be pitching for at least a couple of weeks, as he landed on the IL this week with an oblique strain. The injury is being considered minor for now, but we've all seen pitchers try to return from oblique injuries and suffer setbacks that keep them off the field for at least a month. Rockies manager Bud Black did the fantasy baseball world a favor and almost immediately announced that Scott Oberg would be filling in as closer while Davis was out. Oberg was excellent in 2018 and is off to a good "baseball card" start in 2019, but a deeper look at his numbers shows that he might have a hard time closing out games while Davis recovers. Oberg sports an impressive 1.77 ERA, likely the reason Black handed him the role, but a 4.70 FIP/4.91 xFIP speak to some worrying trends. Oberg has allowed a BABIP of just .196 compared to his career number of .298. He's striking out just 15.9% of his opponents while walking 13.4% of them, good for a concerning 1.18 K:BB ratio. Oberg might keep his streak of good luck going and get a few saves moving forward, but he won't post the strikeout numbers required to be a particularly effective fantasy reliever. Combine that with the likelihood that he will regress and that makes for a guy suitable only for deeper leagues (or for players trying to directly replace Davis).

Boston Red Sox

For a little while, it seemed like the Red Sox had their bullpen figured out. Matt Barnes was their fireman, coming into the game at the highest leverage situations, and Ryan Brasier was their closer, waiting around for the ninth inning. Barnes has filled his role excellently, but Brasier has been struggling of late. The Red Sox want to keep Barnes in his current role, so rather than moving him to the ninth, Boston gave Brandon Workman a save chance this week and he converted it for the first save of his career. Workman has been hard to hit this season, posting a 2.42 ERA and 13.30 K/9, but his 19.5% walk rate is concerning, and his .139 BABIP against is sure to regress. Still, Workman has the "stuff" to be an effective closer, so the Boston bullpen is certainly one to keep an eye on.


Short Relief

  • The Mariners sent Anthony Swarzak to the Braves, clearing things up at least a bit in their bullpen. With Swarzak out of the picture, Roenis Elias should maintain his head-of-the-committee status, but he still hasn't locked down the closer's role outright.
  • The Mets stated that closer Edwin Diaz would only ever be used in traditional save opportunities in an attempt to keep wear and tear down on the elite closer. Struggles from Jeurys Familia in the setup role might lead to the Mets softening that stance, as manager Mickey Callaway has already said the team needs to, "win some games" and might need to give Diaz a bit more work to do so.
  • Jose Leclerc lost his job in Texas earlier this season, but he's been untouchable lately and should be working his way back into the ninth inning before long. Shawn Kelley and Chris Martin have filled in well, but Leclerc is the guy the Rangers want on the mound in the ninth.


Roster Moves of the Week


Scott Oberg, Colorado Rockies - Similar to Newcomb but in a role with a more precise deadline, Oberg can also be considered in deep leagues and NL-only. He'll only be closing while Wade Davis is on the IL, but Oberg also lacks the strikeout upside to be a must-own.

Jose Leclerc, Texas Rangers - It looks like Leclerc is on his way back to the closer's role, and this time he should be able to hang onto it. Shawn Kelley and Chris Martin have been good, but Leclerc is the franchise closer in Texas and should start seeing saves soon.

Brandon Workman, Boston Red Sox - Workman isn't an immediate add, but he's someone to keep an eye on and those in deep leagues starved for saves could do a speculative add with the Boston reliever.

Sean Newcomb, Atlanta Braves - Newcomb looked like the closer of the week for the Braves, at least according to the Braves but not so much according to the way he was used on Thursday. He doesn't have even half the strikeout upside that Luke Jackson has, but Newcomb is a solid enough pitcher that he could hold down the role for a bit if he actually gets the shot. He's worth adding in deeper formats and in NL-only as a spec add.


Chris Martin, Texas Rangers - Jose Leclerc looks to be on his way back to the closer's role in Texas, and Shawn Kelley seems like the preferred choice in the meantime. Martin was fine while he was closing, but it looks like he's back to a setup role for now.

(Don't drop Luke Jackson yet - wait to see what happens in the Atlanta bullpen. Wade Davis is 100% worth an IL spot and with the team saying they don't expect him gone too long, he's even worth benching for two weeks if you don't have an IL spot available. He's one of the few closers left with a firm grasp on his role and he'd be scooped up immediately if he ended up on waivers.)


Best of the Week

Kirby Yates, San Diego Padres - 4 IP, 4 SV, 7 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP

Padres closer Kirby Yates easily had the best week of any reliever and maybe the best reliever week of the season so far. He saved all four games he pitched in and struck out seven batters all without allowing anyone to reach base. It was a perfect week for Yates.

Blake Treinen, Oakland A's - 3 1/3 IP, 3 SV, 3 K, 2.70 ERA, 0.60 WHIP

A's closer Blake Treinen didn't have a perfect week, allowing a home run along with another hit and only striking out three, but he was the only closer this week with three saves, and that earned him a place on the Best of the Week list.

Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees - 3 IP, 2 SV, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP

Several closers had two saves this week, but Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman was the one with the most strikeouts. He struck out six batters and didn't allow a hit, but he did walk two.

More 2019 Fantasy Baseball Advice

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