MLB Closers and Saves Report - Week 16

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The trade deadline is still over 10 days away. And yet, we've already seen a few big trades, two of which impact a few bullpens around the league.

There are certainly more changes coming, and it seems teams might not wait until July 31st for the usual "oh-my-goodness-let's-refresh-Twitter-every-few-seconds-throughout-the-day" madness.

Ryan Madson, Sean Doolittle, Tommy Kahnle, Tyler Clippard, and David Robertson all have new bullpens to call home since the last Closer and Saves Report. Make sure to bookmark RotoBaller's MLB CLoser Depth Charts, updated every day for your viewing pleasure. Now, let's see how these trades will impact things going forward:

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Bullpen News for Week 16

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox gutted their bullpen, sending their two best relievers, closer David Robertson and setup man Tommy Kahnle, to the New York Yankees. Robertson was fully expected to be traded by the deadline, but most people figured he would end up closing wherever he went. That won't be the case in the Bronx, as he'll slide in as a setup man there. As Robertson was always expected to be traded, Kahnle was expected to take over in the ninth inning for Chicago. With elite numbers this year, many fantasy players were excited to see Kahnle start getting saves once Robertson was out of the way. Instead, Kahnle will become one of the best 6th/7th inning guys in baseball. It kills his value in saves leagues, and even dings him a bit in holds leagues as well.

So who closes for the White Sox now? Tyler Clippard, who came from the Yankees in the deal, hasn't had his strongest year, but he has closing experience and will likely take the ninth inning for now. Rumors are already swirling that Chicago will try to move Clippard before July 31st, so they'll probably let him get as many save chances as possible until then to build up his value. Once he's traded, it seems Anthony Swarzak will have the ninth inning, unless he of course gets traded as well. The White Sox are in full sell mode, so who knows what their team will look like in August and September?

 

New York Yankees

The other half of the deal mentioned above is the Yankees bullpen. While their closer will stay the same (Aroldis Chapman isn't going anywhere) they'll have a brand new setup man in David Robertson. They'll also have Dellin Betances and Tommy Kahnle setting them up. That's a lot of strikeouts and a very short game for the opposing offense. Robertson loses a ton of fantasy value in standard leagues since he won't be picking up saves anymore. In save+hold leagues, he may actually gain some value, as he'll be pitching for a better team and likely get more chances to record holds. Tommy Kahnle goes from being the primary setup man on a bad team to being one of a few capable setup men on a better team. His fantasy value doesn't change much compared to where it was before the trade, but it takes a huge hit compared to where it was expected to be, as he won't be taking over for Robertson in the White Sox ninth inning.

 

Washington Nationals

The Nationals bullpen has been simply awful this season, with a carousel of closers going through the ninth inning. Just when it seemed like they had things figured out, Koda Glover landed on the disabled list. He was recently moved to the 60-day DL, so the Nationals had to get something done. They traded with the Oakland Athletics, acquiring two relievers with closing experience: righty Ryan Madson and lefty Sean Doolittle. Even after these moves, they are rumored to still be looking for more relief help. Still, their bullpen certainly got better with these two in it. Doolittle and Madson will likely split ninth inning duties for now, with everything subject to change if and when the Nats acquire a more bona fide closer. Right now, Doolittle and Madson both need to be owned in holds leagues. In standard leagues, however, managers can hold off on adding them, but if one should be added over the other it might be Madson if simply because the righty will end up winning the splits battle.

 

St. Louis Cardinals

Not due to a trade, but the Cardinals saw some bullpen shuffling this week as well. Seung Hwan Oh was officially pulled from the closer's role, with manager Mike Matheny implying that Trevor Rosenthal was the next guy up. What he said and what he did didn't match however, as Matheny went with lefty Brett Cecil for the first save attempt after stating Rosenthal was the next guy up. Cecil blew the save, so what did Matheny do the next time there was a save opportunity? He went with Cecil again. For now, it seems like it might be a closer-by-committee, but if Cecil can get some separation from the other guys, he may end up with the job outright. Rosenthal seems ahead of Oh in the hierarchy now as well.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Brett Cecil, St. Louis Cardinals- Managers desperate for saves may want to take a stab at Cecil here. As mentioned above, he doesn't have the job in St. Louis right now, but he may end up with it as long as he pitches well. Trevor Rosenthal is a decent speculative add as well, since his ratios will help even if he's not collecting saves. Cecil and Rosenthal aren't must-adds in any format, but they're decent roster fillers on teams with an empty spot willing to take a stab in the dark.

Tyler Clippard, Chicago White Sox- Owners looking for a quick but almost certainly temporary source of saves can look at Clippard. He should close for the White Sox for the next ten days or so, before he moves to another team to work earlier innings. He could be a decent grab for next week though, just don't expect much value from him after that.

Drops

David Robertson, New York Yankees- Robertson has been one of the better closers in baseball for a few years now, but he'll slide into a setup role behind Aroldis Chapman now that he's rejoined the Yankees. He'll still have plenty of value in leagues that count holds or in deep leagues where his ratios play, but in standard leagues his value just took a huge hit.

Tommy Kahnle, New York Yankees- Many fantasy owners (including me!) were hanging onto Kahnle and enjoying his strong ratios just waiting for Robertson to open the door for Kahnle to take over the ninth. Robertson did indeed leave, but he took Kahnle with him. The sure-to-be White Sox closer is now basically an elite middle reliever for the Yankees. That won't play into much fantasy value at all unless you're in a deep league in which case Kahnle is a fine guy to hold for ratios and Ks.

 

Best of the Week

Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners- 5 IP, 5 SV, 10 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.60 WHIP

Mariners closer Edwin Diaz seemingly never got a break this week, as he racked up five saves in five innings, striking out ten. It was an incredible week for a guy who not too long ago was ousted from the closer role. Possibly due to that, he is only owned in 85% of fantasy leagues. That needs to be a full 100%.

Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers- 3 1/3 IP, 3 SV, 5 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.90 WHIP

Another week, another excellent performance by Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, who is trying to leave no doubt in anyone's mind who the best closer in baseball is. For the season, he has 62 strikeouts and TWO walks. He's on pace for one of the best seasons in baseball history by a relief pitcher.

Felipe Rivero, Pittsburgh Pirates- 4 2/3 IP, 3 SV, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.64 WHIP

Pirates closer Felipe Rivero was great this week also, collecting three saves and a win. He struck out six and allowed just two hits and a walk. He's only owned in 70% of leagues, probably since he didn't start the season as a closer. He needs to be owned everywhere, as he has the upside to be one of the top closers in fantasy baseball.

 

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