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Bullpen Report: Struggling Closers, RP to Add Before Trade Deadline

This is a very busy time in the sports world. This week we have the NBA Finals, but more importantly, the Scott Fish Bowl kicking off. Every year that indicates the start of fantasy football draft season and you will see a lot of content on radio shows, podcasts, articles and on Twitter turn from fantasy baseball to fantasy football. 

Do not check to make sure you clicked the right link, this is in fact a fantasy baseball article. So why am I starting it off talking about fantasy football? Well, this is a time of year where some managers take their eyes off the prize and shift their focus to football draft season. This is the time of year you may start to see some players go for less FAB just because there is less attention. This is a good time of year to grab relievers for cheap that can help you both in saves, but also with your ratios and strikeouts. 

The All-Star break is next week, which is also a prime chance to jump on players while some of your league mates enjoy the few days off. After that is the trade deadline and we know that will mix things up with some closers going to new teams. That could lead to a current closer ending up a setup man somewhere. But it also leads to teams having save opportunities open up if they trade their closer. Being proactive is a great way to grab a potential closer in waiting, without having to pay high FAAB amounts after the move goes down. 

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Changing Bullpens 

Baltimore Orioles 

This bullpen has been unreliable the past couple of years, but that seemed to be changing early on when all the save chances went to Cesar Valdez. He blew that opportunity and then landed on the injured list. He is nearing a return so we will have to continue to monitor this situation, but with him out the expectation is that Paul Fry would be the next man up. That has not been the case though as he has not had a save chance in the past two weeks.

While Fry does have two saves on the season (and two blown saves), the chances lately have gone to Cole Sulser. He has three saves on the year, two coming in the last two weeks. His ratios or strikeouts are not worth rostering if he is not getting the saves, but as long as he is, he will have a roster spot on save needy teams. In the last two weeks, Adam Plutko and Dillon Tate also picked up a save. I rank the arms here for fantasy: Sulser, Fry, Valdez, Tate, Plutko, but this is a very fluid situation. 

Cincinnati Reds

There has not been a week when the Reds bullpen has not been included in this article as a changing bullpen. It’s been a maddening situation all year. Just in the last week we have seen three different pitchers pick up a save, and that is with both Lucas Sims and Tejay Antone both sidelined. In the past two weeks, Amir Garrett has three saves, Heath Hembree has two (both this week), and Brad Brach has one. We have seen the Reds mix and match when they use Garrett. At times they save him for the ninth, but at other times, even in the past week, we have seen him deployed in the middle innings. Much of it depends on who is due up for the opposing lineup.

If Garrett is not used, Hembree is next in line followed by Brach. One thing is for certain - they do not want to use Sean Doolittle for save chances. This bullpen will remain fluid, but for now, Garrett and Hembree are who you want to roster. 

Kansas City Royals 

The Royals have six different relievers who have picked up saves this season, but no one with more than five. They have three pitchers with at least four saves, making this a difficult situation to figure out. But in recent weeks the save chances have gone to Scott Barlow and Greg Holland. In the last 14 days, Barlow has two saves, while Holland has one (and one blown save). Barlow has been the better pitcher with the better ERA, WHIP and strikeout rate both on the season and in recent weeks. He is the top pitcher to roster here, but Holland should be on save needy teams in deeper formats. 

Miami Marlins

Yimi Garcia is still the closer here, but he was treated like a firework getting lit up on July 4th, giving up four runs on four hits and three walks, blowing a four-run lead. Then on Monday Anthony Bender came in and picked up the save. It is not enough yet to indicate a change, as Garcia has been reliable for the most part, but it is nice to get a clearer sense of who is next up. You can grab Bender now for cheap and if Garcia continues to struggle, he could see more save chances. 

New York Yankees

Aroldis Chapman looked like the best closer in baseball for the first part of the season, but that has certainly changed as of late. He has blown both his last two save chances, including an ugly outing against the Mets where he took the loss and allowed three earned runs without picking up an out. His ERA sits at 60.75 with a 10.99 SIERA, 8.25 WHIP and a very uncharacteristic 13 percent strikeout rate in that span. He now has three losses and four blown saves on the season. This has been ugly for Chapman and it is possible if he continues to struggle we could see a change or a phantom IL stint. Next in line is likely Jonathan Loaisiga, who has been the Yankees' best reliever this season, but we also could see Chad Green get some chances. Both are solid stash options. 

Philadelphia Phillies

There is no bullpen more up in the air right now than the Phillies. In the last two weeks, they have had four different relievers pick up a save, with none getting more than one. Hector Neris is one of those pitchers, but he continues to implode and should not be trusted in fantasy. That leaves Ranger Suarez, Jose Alvarado and Archie Bradley as the top options to use in fantasy. The issue is, there is no certainty at who will get the save call in a given night. I would rank Alvarado first, but with him being a lefty, they may not always save him for the ninth. Suarez has been the best pitcher as of late, but he has just one career save. Bradley has closing experience, but also has the least swing and miss stuff of this bunch. For fantasy value them in this order (as of now): Suarez, Alvarado, Bradley. 

 

Ratio Relievers to Add

Ryan Tepera is on the IL, but that only means he can be had for cheap. The Cubs have struggled as of late, while the Brewers have been surging. That leaves them over eight games out of the division, and nearly as far out of the wild card. With a lot of expiring contracts, the Cubs could look to blow things up and if they do, they could try to sell Craig Kimbrel, who has been great, and get his contract off the books. Tepera would be the frontrunner to closer if so once he is healthy, as he has been lights out this season. 

Jonathan Loasigia is someone that should be stashed right now. As mentioned above, things have gone south for Chapman and fast. There is the possibility that the Yankees, who are seeing their season sink before their eyes, determine that they can not trust him in the ninth. We also could see a phantom IL stint to attempt to get him right. Loasigia gives great ratios and strikeouts, but he also could be thrust into the save picture in New York soon.  

Kyle Crick is someone I have written up in recent weeks and will continue to do so until the trade deadline. The Pirates could elect to hold Richard Rodriguez as he is not an expiring contract, but, the last thing a rebuilding team needs is a reliable closer. Also, with relievers being so volatile year to year, there is a chance Pittsburgh considers moving their closer. If they were to deal Rodriguez, Crick would take over as the primary ninth-inning arm in the burg. 

Joely Rodriguez is another pitcher that could benefit from deadline deals. The Rangers are already out of it, but Ian Kennedy has been a very effective reliever for them this season, who also happens to be 36 years old with an expiring contract. What I am saying is they have no reason at all to hold him. If and when they deal Kennedy, Rodriguez is in a great position to be the next man up and serve as their closer in the second half of the season. Spencer Patton and Joe Barlow are the other candidates there. 

Drew Steckenrider/Paul Sewald are currently set up men, but that could change if Seattle trades Kendall Graveman, who is set to become a free agent at year's end. Graveman’s contract situation along with the fact that he has been lights out makes him one of the better trade candidates out there. If the Mariners do move on, these two would be prime save candidates, along with Rafael Montero, but he has had a very up and down season. Steckenrider is the preferred add, but Sewald should be stashed in deeper formats as well. 

J.B. Bukauskas could see save chances in the second half if the D-Backs ever actually have any save chances. Joakim Soria is operating as the closer for now, but he has an expiring contract and the DBacks are as far out of contention as you can be at this point in the season. If they deal him, they could elect to give their young reliever the chance to close. Bukauskas has struggled a bit in the bigs this year, but throughout his minor league career he showed the ability to pick up a lot of strikeouts and pitch to a low ERA. 

Julian Merryweather is working his way back from the IL and should return to the later-inning role he had prior to getting injured. Will he become the primary closer? Probably not, unless something happens to Jordan Romano. But could we see both of them get save chances like we did in April? That is very possible. At the very least he offers elite ratios and strikeouts. Get him now as his price will surely increase as he gets close to returning. 

Blake Treinen has filthy stuff and has pitched to a 2.94 ERA, 2.48 xERA, with a 1.16 WHIP and 28 percent strikeout rate. He also has three saves on the season already. He provides strikeouts and ratios and is the next man up for the Dodgers should anything happen to Kenley Jansen. He will get saves when Jansen is unavailable as well. 

Seth Lugo has pitched to a 2.40 ERA with a 3.32 xERA, 1.13 WHIP and a 35 percent strikeout rate. He provides great ratios and is the next man up for saves should anything happen to Edwin Diaz. He also can give you multiple innings in outings, which only helps his fantasy value. 

All stats entering Tuesday, July 6th. 

Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio



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