Felipe Rivero (RP, PIT) – Waiver Wire Pickups

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ANALYSIS: After blowing four straight save opportunities and allowing eight earned runs in the process, Tony Watson is finally out as the closer of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates announced on Friday that Felipe Rivero and Juan Nicasio will now share the closer role. Given that Rivero is a lefty and Nicasio is a righty, there is a natural implication that Nicasio will get the majority of save opportunities thanks to his platoon advantage over most hitters.

On the other hand, performance gives Rivero the advantage. His velocity is elite and he is able to pair that with both an effective changeup and slider. That has helped him post a dominant 23.7% K-BB ratio and induce 30.3% soft contact as opposed to allowing just 15.8% hard contact to opposing batters. Given that he also has a 64% groundball rate, there is little threat of the longball when he is on the mound, something that the Pirates have to be searching for in the ninth inning given that Watson has surrendered six home runs in just 27.1 innings.

Rivero may not rack up saves immediately given that the Pirates have announced he is in a time share with the role. However, given his dominant skill set he should be able to overtake Nicasio as the go-to closer in short order. That makes him the best bullpen arm to speculate on in the Pirates’ bullpen for fantasy owners in need of saves.


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