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Bullpen Report: Gearing Up for the Trade Deadline

With the All-Star game behind us we are now entering the stretch run of the fantasy baseball season. The truth is, the second half is really when leagues are won or lost. Sure, you could have had a great first half, but as my brother likes to quote from his favorite movie - no body cares (kudos if you get the reference!). If you do not finish the job, no one will remember how hot of a start you got off too. 

It is also the more challenging time of the season as we have the trade deadline that will completely shake things up - perhaps no position more than relief pitchers. We will have closers dealt which will lead to them no longer getting save chances on their new team. We will also have new closers take over for those who are dealt. And once we have a new closer, they will cost a ton in FAAB.

Many teams have used a good amount of their FAAB budget in the first half and even if you didn’t, you still want to try to save as much of it as possible for other acquisitions. That is why you should be taking speculative adds (if you have the bench spots) on bullpens where it looks like the closer could be traded. That is what I will focus on in this week's edition of the bullpen report.

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Bullpens Likely Impacted by the Trade Deadline 

Arizona Diamondbacks 

The Diamondbacks' season was over in May, so they will clearly be sellers at the deadline. Joakim Soria got off to a slow start this season but he now has five saves on the season, including four in the last two weeks alone. He is a veteran arm that could be seen as nice bullpen depth for a contending team. I would not anticipate him remaining a closer if he is dealt, so trying to sell him now in fantasy is a good move as well. This is not a great team, so I would look elsewhere for a speculative add first, but if you are diving deep, Noe Ramirez is likely the next man up if Soria is dealt. It is also possible they turn to youngster J.B. Bukauskas just to see how the kid handles the job. 

Baltimore Orioles 

A recurring theme in this article is that bad teams do not need a reliable closer. That is exactly what the Orioles are, so they could look to deal both Cole Sulser and Paul Fry before the deadline. You can try to sell them, but neither has had a ton of save opportunities as of late so there may not be much of a market. If they are dealt, expect Tyler Wells, Tanner Scott or Dillon Tate to be the next man up. It could be a combination of the three, but I would add them in the order listed above. 

Chicago Cubs 

I have been saying for weeks that the Cubs are going to shop Craig Kimbrel and it's looking more and more likely that he will be dealt. He is the rare elite closer that should demand save opportunities wherever he ends up. You could trade him now if you are concerned he will end up on a team with an already established closer, but there are not many relievers that will be more established than Kimbrel.

Ryan Tepera and Andrew Chafin (in that order) have been effective this season and should see save chances if Kimbrel is dealt. That is if they themselves are not traded as the Cubs look to blow up this roster. If they are dealt, you could see Roman Wick get second-half save chances for the Cubbies. 

Colorado Rockies 

With the Rockies, you only want to roster a reliever if they are getting the save chances. There is just so much that can go wrong pitching one inning in Coors Field, that you do not chance it for anything but saves. Daniel Bard has been providing those saves, but he himself could be dealt to a team that is contending this season. If so, I would anticipate Carlos Estevez getting the saves. Mychal Givens is also a candidate, but a veteran arm like his could also be dealt. 

Detroit Tigers 

The Tigers are another team that would be better suited off trading their late-inning arms rather than holding onto them as they are clearly rebuilding. Both Gregory Soto and Jose Cisnero could be dealt. If only one is, it would be a boost in value for the other. Although, I am still expecting the bulk of the save opportunities to go to Michael Fulmer (spine) when he returns from injury. Kyle Funkhouser is a deep league stash option, as he could see some of the saves if the two pitchers are dealt. 

Miami Marlins

The Marlins were a great story in 2020 going on a run and making the playoffs, but they have not been able to duplicate that success. While they have a lot of great young arms, they still find themselves in last place, meaning they could look to make some moves, which includes potentially trading closer Yimi Garcia. He has been a strong closer option since taking over the job the first week of the season. He is the type of reliever though he could be dealt and put back in a set up role, so seeing what you could get for him in a trade right now is not a bad idea. If he is traded, Anthony Bender and Dylan Floro are two relievers who could replace him as the closer in Miami. 

New York Mets

The Mets are more in a position to acquire an arm instead of trade one away, but Edwin Diaz has now blown three straight saves, so he has to be on the hot seat. We could see him removed from the closer role as he figures out his struggles. It would not be the first time the Mets have done that with Diaz. We also could see a phantom IL stint. But, he has struggled since the sticky substance band and his spin rate moving forward is something to pay close attention too.

If Diaz is removed from the ninth even for just a couple of weeks, expect Seth Lugo to get the first crack at save chances, but he has also struggled as of late. Trevor May is a name for deep leagues in this pen. 

New York Yankees 

Just like their cross-town rival, their closer, Aroldis Chapman, has struggled mightily as of late. In the past month, Chapman has a 15.19 ERA and only one save in that stretch. Chad Green has the other save for the Yanks in that span. I would expect Green to get the save chances should Chapman continue to struggle and the Yanks get away from him for a bit. Jonathan Loaisiga is another candidate here, but he is behind Green in the streaming saves pecking order. 

Pittsburgh Pirates 

We have seen a change in this bullpen already as Kyle Crick was designated for assignment. Richard Rodriguez has been a very effective reliever for Pittsburgh, but they are clearly a rebuilding team and could look to sell their closer while his value is high. If so, David Bednar and Chris Stratton are two arms that could get the save chances in the second half. Bednar would be the first priority of the two. 

Seattle Mariners 

Kendall Graveman has been awesome this season, but he is a free agent at year's end and the Mariners have no reason not to trade him and turn him into future assets. He is pretty much a lock to be dealt. He could end up as a closer on his new team but it's also very likely we see him shift into a set up role, so trying to trade him now is not a bad idea. If he is traded expect Paul Sewald to take over the closer duty for the Mariners. He is a great stash now if he is still available. Drew Steckenrider is a name for deeper leagues. 

Texas Rangers 

Ian Kennedy has been a strong closer for the Rangers, but they are looking towards the future and will likely look to turn their veteran closer into future assets. He is a strong trade candidate and could end up as a setup man for another team. Shopping him now in fantasy is not a bad idea. If and when Kennedy is dealt, I would expect Joely Rodriguez to get the first crack at replacing Kennedy. 

The next week and a half will be a wild one for fantasy baseball, but adding potential replacement closers for those that are traded is a wise use of your bench spots and to save some FAAB! 

Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio



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