MLB Closers and Saves Report - Week 5

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We are through the first month of the season, and bullpens are starting to figure out their real identities. Some teams have stuck with closers through early-season struggles, others are on their second or third closers already.

It was a crazy month of April, with nearly one third of closers fighting for their jobs, due to injuries, suspensions, or poor performance.

Let's take a look at how the month wound down with Week Five's Closers and Saves Report

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Bullpen News for Week 5

Oakland Athletics

Death, taxes, and Sean Doolittle on the disabled list. Those are the only sure things in life. The A's lefty landed on the DL this week with a shoulder strain, his third in three years. The early news is that Doolittle could be out for a while. He had worked his way into the closer-by-committee along with Santiago Casilla. Casilla will likely take over full time now, boosting his fantasy value quite a bit. Ryan Dull, Ryan Madson, and John Axford (once he returns from his injury) may be saves candidates as well, but Casilla should see the highest increase of opportunities in Doolittle's absence. He should be picked up in mixed leagues where he isn't owned.

Washington Nationals

Nationals closer Shawn Kelley was always seen as a relatively high upside closer, but with injury risks attached. He's been unavailable the last few games not because of an injury, but because of an illness. While his former committee-mate, Koda Glover, has been on the disabled list, Kelley has only made one appearance. He had a chance to cement himself in the closer role in D.C., but instead it seems the team may return to a Kelley/Glover committee once the latter is ready to return.

Baltimore Orioles

Brad Brach was amazing for a few weeks and would possibly be a top-10 closer if given the chance. However, an established top-10 closer, Zach Britton, returned from the disabled list and pushed Brach down to his familiar setup role. Brach is still absolutely a must-own in leagues that count holds, but can't be considered more than Britton's handcuff in standard leagues. Brach will provide nice ratios, but outside of AL-only and very deep mixed leagues, his spot could be taken by someone with more potential for saves.

St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals closer Seung Hwan Oh got off to a slow start this season, but seemed to be putting things together lately. He had a rough extended outing a few nights ago (even though the runs he allowed were unearned) so Trevor Rosenthal picked up his third save this week with a brilliant inning. His re-emergence is certainly making Oh's owners nervous, but "The Final Boss" is safe in his ninth inning spot for now, and should continue to have a rather long leash. Rosenthal is definitely the next man up though, and makes for a strong handcuff to Oh.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

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Santiago Casilla, Oakland Athletics - Casilla is now the unquestioned closer in Oakland. He was formerly sharing the ninth inning with Sean Doolittle, but with Doolittle landing on the disabled list this week, Casilla will be taking over on his own. He's only owned in 34% of fantasy leagues right now, so take a look at that waiver wire.

Drops

Sean Doolittle, Oakland Athletics - Sometimes, the injury bug bites at random and other times it buzzes around the same player year after year. A's reliever Sean Doolittle has missed significant time in each of the last two seasons due to a shoulder strain. That's exactly what landed him on the DL this week, and he's expected to miss an extended period of time again, making it three straight years. He's droppable in most formats now, since he'll miss enough time that he'd have to work his way back into the closer hierarchy, and that's assuming none of the current A's relievers run away with the role.

Brad Brach, Baltimore Orioles- With closer Zach Britton back from the disabled list, Brach's run as an excellent closer comes to an end. He's absolutely worth hanging onto in holds leagues and should be considered for a roster spot in deeper leagues for Britton owners, but in standard leagues, he can be dropped. He'll still provide good ratios, but Britton will take all of the Orioles save chances.

 

Best of the Week

Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox- 4 IP, 7 K, 3 SV, 0.00 ERA, 0.25 WHIP

Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel only allowed one hit this week on his way to four saves. He added seven strikeouts for good measure. He was just on the outside of the top tier of closers when the season started, but he's busted that door down and is sitting comfortably in that top tier once again.

Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians- 3 IP, 5 K, 3 SV, 0.00 ERA, 1.67 WHIP

Indians closer Cody Allen allowed more base runners than his fantasy owners would have liked this week, walking two and allowing three hits, resulting in a bloated WHIP. But he and Kimbrel were the only closers to record three saves, and he ultimately did not allow a run despite all the base runners. Allen has been excellent this year and is working his way up the fantasy closer ranks.

Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers- 3.1 IP, 10 K, 2 SV, 0.00 ERA, 0.30 WHIP

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen recorded 10 outs this week. Every single one was a strikeout. He had three one-inning appearances where he struck out the side and one appearance where he faced one batter and struck him out. He only saved two games, but his fantasy owners certainly won't complain about seeing those strikeouts pile up for the top-tier closer.

 

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