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Week 20 MLB Closers and Saves Report

The dust finally settled after the trade deadline, and teams are starting to set their bullpens and pitching rotations up for the stretch run. Things can still change with waiver claims and post-deadline waiver trades, but any big names that were going to move already have. Brad Hand is settling in nicely in the Cleveland bullpen, Brad Ziegler is having a hard time in Arizona, and Brandon Kintzler hasn't allowed a run as a Cub yet.

In non-deadline news, we saw a fill-in closer get hurt, so now we have a fill-in for the fill-in. We saw a guy who started the season off basically untouchable suddenly unable to get outs. We also saw a few committees start to take on a more predictable shape, but at the same time, some others got even less predictable.

All that and more in this week's Closers and Saves Report, so let's dive into the news, the best performers, and any suggested moves for your fantasy team this week:

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!


Bullpen News for Week 20

Miami Marlins

Marlins manager Don Mattingly used Kyle Barraclough a lot early this season. Barraclough responded by being almost untouchable, putting up an ERA that hovered below two and eventually usurping veteran Brad Ziegler for the ninth inning. But then, the overuse came back to bite the Marlins, as Barraclough somewhat suddenly became unable to get anyone out. He allowed 12 runs in just over four innings, pushing his ERA up to 3.75. He was removed from the closer's role earlier in the week, and then in his first non-save appearance, he coughed up two runs in an inning. Mattingly has said the Marlins will use a committee approach at closer, but Drew Steckenrider seems to be the most likely candidate to take over before long. Javy Guerra and Adam Conley could get some chances too, but Steckenrider certainly seems like the one to own in Miami.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals had one of the best closers in baseball, Sean Doolittle, holding down the ninth inning in the nation's capital. When Doolittle got hurt, the Nationals turned to veteran Kelvin Herrera, who they'd acquired from Kansas City. Going from one of the best closers to an excellent veteran wasn't a huge drop-off, but then Herrera got hurt too. The Nationals will now turn to another veteran closer, Ryan Madson. Madson has been okay this season if we're being generous. He has a 4.32 ERA to go with a 1.39 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings. His experience closing games should help a bit, but it could be a noticeable drop from Doolittle and Herrera.

Houston Astros

The Astros acquired Roberto Osuna from Toronto before the trade deadline, making waves for all the wrong reasons. Still, he's a solid reliever with closing experience, so it was assumed by some that he'd jump right into the ninth inning. Instead, it now seems like Osuna will work in a setup role with Hector Rondon keeping his ninth-inning job. Rondon's leash will be shorter, of course, but it seems like it's still his job to lose.

Cleveland Indians

Cleveland hasn't made an official ninth inning move yet, but since Brad Hand was acquired, he's saved three games while Cody Allen has only saved one. A blown save by Allen this week (even though he ended up with the win) may also continue to tilt things in Hand's favor. For now, it's still a committee, but another week like this one and Hand may claim the closer's role in Cleveland for himself.

New York Mets

The Mets formed a closer committee after trading Jeurys Familia to Oakland, but it looked like Anthony Swarzak was working his way to the top of the group. But then, in true Mets fashion, Swarzak landed on the disabled list. Robert Gsellman is likely at the top of the committee now, but Seth Lugo and perhaps the newly-acquired Bobby Wahl could see some ninth-inning work as well.

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox are employing a true committee in their closer role. This week, they had a slim lead late in the game for three games in a row and brought in a different pitcher to go for the save in all three games. The new name in this committee is Thyago Viera, who has looked strong in the big leagues despite less-than-stellar numbers in his minor league career. He can hit triple digits and seems to have some upside, but until things settle down in the Chicago ninth inning, none of these relievers seem like they need to be rostered.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Kenley Jansen was hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat, and is expected to miss a month. Scott Alexander is expected to fill-in as the Dodgers closer, although the team may go with matchups for some games. Still, Alexander is a strong add in all formats at least until Jansen is able to return. Jansen's fantasy owners can throw him in a DL spot or weight their options on the waiver wire if DL spots aren't available.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins traded closer Fernando Rodney to the Oakland A's, who are stockpiling experienced relievers to improve their already impressive (albeit somewhat surprising) team. Rodney will work in a setup role in Oakland along with Jeurys Familia ahead of Blake Treinen. Back in Minnesota, Addison Reed seems the likely candidate to replace Rodney in the ninth inning.


Roster Moves of the Week


Drew Steckenrider, Miami Marlins- The Marlins knocked Kyle Barraclough into middle relief, giving Drew Steckenrider a chance to serve as the team's closer. For now, it's officially a committee, with Javy Guerra and Adam Conley also likely to get save chances, but "Steck" is the best reliever in the group and should carve out a consistent role before long.

Ryan Madson, Washington Nationals- Madson will be the replacement's replacement, and a noticeable step down from the two previous closers the Nationals have used, but he should still record plenty of saves if given the chance and that always has fantasy value. Madson isn't an immediate must-own throughout fantasy, but he should be a valuable temporary piece in most formats.


Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians- Allen isn't a guy who needs to be dropped right away, but owners looking at the waiver wire with something in mind could maybe move on from him. With Brad Hand saving three games and Cody Allen blowing one this week, it's looking like a changing of the guard could be happening in Cleveland.

Kyle Barraclough, Miami Marlins- Something is wrong with Kyle Barraclough. The guy who couldn't be hit earlier this season now suddenly can't get outs. He was removed from the closer's role this week and promptly gave up two runs in his first non-save situation. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him end up on the DL for a bit, and he seems unlikely to make it back to the ninth inning this season.


Best of the Week

Hector Rondon, Houston Astros- 3 1/3 IP, 6 K, 3 SV, 0.00 ERA, 0.60 WHIP

There was some concern that Hector Rondon would lose his ninth-inning job with the acquisition of Roberto Osuna, but it seems like he'll get to keep his job. Excellent weeks like this one will help: he struck out six and saved three games without allowing a run and giving up just one hit and one walk.

A.J. Minter, Atlanta Braves- 4 IP, 3 K, 3 SV, 2.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP

Braves closer A.J. Minter had a solid week despite a blown save. He saved three games and added a win while striking out three. He allowed a run on three hits and a walk.

Blake Treinen, Oakland A's- 4 IP, 7 K, 2 SV, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP

A's closer Blake Treinen continued his excellent season with another strong week. He struck out seven batters in four innings, saving two games while giving up three hits and a walk.


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