MLB Closers and Saves Report - Week 7

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Another week gone by, and another few bullpens shaken up.

It seems to be the theme of the season, at least early on: managers are not afraid to make changes in the ninth inning and leashes for closers are getting shorter and shorter. It has resulted in the fantasy-abhorred closer-by-committee thing happening a few more times than we may be used to in mid-May, but it's also resulted in players finding solid gold on the waiver wire.

"Now what?" is a pretty good slogan to use for bullpens this season, at least so far, so for the week that passed, here's what:

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Bullpen News for Week 7

Seattle Mariners

Mariners closer Edwin Diaz was removed from the closer's role this week, with manager Scott Servais originally stating he'd move to a closer-by-committee that would include Steve Cishek, Nick Vincent, Tony Zych, and Mark Rzepczynski. Later on, though, general manager Jerry Dipoto indicated that James Pazos may get the first chance to close in Diaz's place. It's a frustrating development for Diaz's owners, who certainly bought into the offseason hype and probably spent a decent draft pick on him. Diaz had pitched 15 1/3 innings and struggled to the tune of a 5.28 ERA (backed up by a 5.97 FIP). He was striking out plenty of batters with his 11.74 K/9, but walking way too many with a 5.87 BB/9. Last season, when he took the ninth inning job and ran with it, Diaz was striking out 15.33 per nine innings and walking just 2.61.

Servais has said he would like to give Diaz a multiple-inning, low-leverage situation the next time he sends him out to the mound. "I'd like to get him out there and let him go a couple of innings," Servais said. "As a pitcher, that's when you have a chance to work on things. You can go out there for an inning and not get into your pitches or get a feel for what you're doing." For now, there is no clear arm to pick up from the Mariners bullpen, but Pazos seems to be the best bet. Diaz owners in deeper leagues may want to hang onto him for a bit to see if it seems the team wants to work him back into the role, but in shallower leagues, he can probably be dropped and replaced with a closer that's still closing.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants got closer Mark Melancon back a little earlier than expected, so that's the first good thing that has happened to the Giants in 2017. He'll be the closer again right away, taking his inning back from Derek Law who was filling in while Melancon was on the shelf. Melancon returns to a 2.53 ERA, six saves, and 8.44 K/9 with a sparkling 0.84 BB/9. Melancon doesn't have the strikeout upside of some of the elite fantasy closers, but he's excellent at his job and is always a great source of saves and low ERAs and WHIPs. Derek Law can be dropped outside of holds leagues.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals have become the mainstays of the Bullpen News section with all of their moving and shaking of the ninth inning. Koda Glover is back from the DL and worked the ninth inning with a four-run lead. He was seen warming up when it was only a two-run lead, though, so he would have been in for the save if the game script had provided it. After the game, manager Dusty Baker was asked if Glover was his closer, and he replied, "We'll see" in typically unhelpful Dusty fashion. For now, it seems like the Nats may still run a Glover/Kelley/Albers committee, but one of them should ultimately pull ahead, and it seems more likely to be Glover than either of the other two at this point. He's worth a speculative add, but only for teams with an open roster spot or an easy drop.

San Diego Padres

Padres closer Brandon Maurer has been pretty bad. He has a 6.75 ERA and two blown saves in seven chances along with three losses. The Padres have elite-All-World-reliever Carter Capps working his way back from Tommy John Surgery, but his rehab is taking a bit longer than expected so he's still at extended spring training. Once Capps returns, he'll almost certainly work his way into the ninth inning, after several games of low-leverage work, of course.

For now though, it seems the Padres will stick with Maurer. To be fair to him, he has been a lot more unlucky than just plain bad. His 6.75 ERA stands out, but he has a 2.54 FIP/1.97 xFIP and is already halfway to his career-best fWAR number, with 0.4. He's striking out 11.25 per nine innings and only walking 1.13 in that span. He's been BABIP'd to death a bit, with a .395 BABIP against this season after .243 and .296 the past two seasons. Maurer is a nice bounce back candidate, but he's not much of a buy low option since Capps is almost certain to claim the ninth inning as his own by the time summer starts.

 

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds

Koda Glover, Washington Nationals- Glover would have had the most recent Nationals save chance (he was warming for a save before the Nationals padded their lead), and manager Dusty Baker didn't outright deny that he was the team's closer. It's still unclear if he's the closer, the head of a committee, or anything at all, but he has some nice upside and seems to have the trust of his manager. Glover isn't a "must add" right now, but fantasy players with an open roster spot or a player they've been meaning to drop could do worse than giving Glover a speculative add.

Seattle Mariners Reliever, Seattle Mariners- In an even less clear ninth inning situation, the Mariners demoted Edwin Diaz and have gone to a committee for their closer role. Several guys will be in the mix, with manager Scott Servais naming Nick Vincent, Tony Zych, Steve Cishek and Mark Rzepczynski as the guys who will get save chances going forward. Cishek has the most closing experience, but he's just coming off an injury and has struggled lately. Vincent has the most upside of the group. None of these guys are recommended adds right now in mixed leagues, but AL-only players may want to pick their favorite and take a chance. Meanwhile, everyone should be keeping an eye on the Seattle bullpen in case one of these guys end up breaking out of the committee and taking the job for himself.

Drops

Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners- Mariners closer Edwin Diaz was amazing in 2016. Mariners former closer Edwin Diaz has not been even half that good in 2017. He was removed from the closer role this week and manager Scott Servais has already said that he wants Diaz pitching multiple innings in low-leverage situations. He may eventually get his ninth inning back, but if that happens, it will be a while.

 

Best of the Week

Greg Holland, Colorado Rockies -  2 1/3 IP, 4 K, 3 SV, 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP

Rockies closer Greg Holland makes his second consecutive appearance in Best of the Week, this time only needing 2 1/3 innings to get here. Holland struck out four of the seven batters he retired this week, saving three games and allowing only one base hit in his three games.

Brandon Kintzler, Minnesota Twins - 3 2/3 IP, 4 K, 3 SV, 0.00 ERA, 0.27 WHIP

Twins closer Brandon Kintzler was likely one of the last closers taken in fantasy drafts this season, if he was even drafted at all. He's come out of the gate extremely well though, saving 10 games and providing a solid 2.21 ERA. He doesn't get too many strikeouts (10 in 17 innings), but he keeps the ball down and gets his job done. This week, he saved all three games he pitched in, striking out four while allowing only one hit.

Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox - 4 2/3 IP, 9 K, 2 SV, 0.00 ERA, 0.21 WHIP

Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel faced 15 batters out this week. Nine of them struck out and only one of them reached base. Kimbrel earned two saves and a win. He's firmly put himself back in the top tier of fantasy closers with his quick start to 2017.

 

More Waiver Wire Pickups and Adds

 

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